Last week we made it to the “Creed”. Traditionally, everything we have covered concerning the Mass up through the “Creed” was called “The Mass of Catechumens” as those adults who had not been baptized and confirmed were not allowed to stay beyond that part. We evoke this tradition during Lent when we have our catechumens come forward for a blessing and dismissal after the “Creed”.
The Mass from the General Intercessions forward has traditionally been referred to as “The Mass of the Faithful”. So at this point Jesus is coming near the end of his public life as the homily and intercessions are finished. He is preparing for his great sacrifice: his passion, death, and resurrection.
During the offertory we think of the agony in the garden. It is at this point we are called to join his sacrifice by putting our tithe into the basket. If we do electronic giving we should reflect on that at this moment and attach our sacrifices to the sacrifice of Christ; and even those who prefer to bring their tithe to the church should be attaching their sacrifices spiritually to the sacrifice of Christ.
Giving from our material blessings to Christ is not the only way we participate in his sacrifice, but we do so by offering up our good deeds and other sacrifices that we have made for others as well. When we do this we can offer them with an intention. For example, I am worried about my Grandmother in Cleveland who just had a serious surgery. I cannot be with her to help in her recovery, but I can offer up the fact that I shoveled the neighbor’s driveway out for them. By offering this sacrifice at the Mass and attaching it to the sacrifice of Christ, the effect of it is greatly multiplied and it becomes much more meritorious for my salvation and also for my Grandmother’s recovery.
So what happens is that we offer up the sacrifice of the shoveling, placing it spiritually on the paten with the host that the priest offers to God the Father. In the first offering during the offertory, before the priest washes his hands, the host is symbolic of all the sacrifices of the community that are to be offered with Christ. That is why we bring the bread and wine forward in the offertory procession through the gathered community. (to be continued).