In recent morceaux our main topic has been the Preparation of the Gifts at Mass. Now we need to make a transition to the next part of the service – the most important part, I’m happy to say – and this can be done by making one last point about what we call this small part of the Eucharistic celebration.
You frequently hear people call it the “offertory,” but this is wrong. Nothing is being offered at all during this part of the Mass! The gifts are brought forward and prepared, but the real “offering” of the gifts in sacrifice happens later, during the great Eucharistic Prayer. We need to make a real effort to banish the word “offertory” from our vocabulary!
But one more thing ought to happen during the Preparation of the Gifts. Not only are the bread and wine prepared for the eventual offering, but it’s our last chance to prepare ourselves as well. One of the things I try to do during this time of Mass is focus on what I am about to offer to God along with the Eucharistic presence of Christ Jesus. A good question to ask ourselves is “What am I placing at God’s disposal today, right here, right now?”
Frequently I try to “lift up to God” in my prayer at Mass some special focus: maybe a friend or family-member who I care about; perhaps a particular intention, like a parishioner who’s asked my prayers or something in the news of the day; often someone who’s ill or suffering in some other way, etc. If you like to “offer up” the grace of Mass when you participate in it, the Preparation of the Gifts is the last opportunity you have to get ready to do this.