We have covered the Mass up to the offertory, and now we move to the pinnacle of the Mass, which of course is the consecration of the bread and wine converting them into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. During the offertory we have the first elevations of the bread and wine and then the “Offertory Prayer”. That is followed by the preface to the Eucharistic Prayer, and then of course the Eucharistic prayer itself, which is also called the “Canon of the Mass”. It is called ‘Canon’ not because a large artillery piece will be brought into the Church and loud explosions, but because the word here is derived from the ancient Egyptian word “cana” which means measuring stick. Anything that needed to be measured to be sold, especially cloth, was measured in “cana”. This was universal throughout the ancient world of the middle east. So now we come to “the measure of the Mass”, the most important part, the Eucharistic prayer through which Jesus will become present to us and then allow us to consume him.
Previously we talked about how the readings, Gospel, and homily were like Jesus’ public life: the three years he spent walking around the Holy Land from place to place preaching and doing miracles. Now the offertory procession not only should remind us to offer our sacrifice with the sacrifice of Christ, but should bring to mind his arrest and being taken before Annas, Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin and then Pilate. From this moment until communion, you will notice that I lift the bread three times and the wine three times and that I also genuflect three times at the altar. We remember that Jesus fell three times carrying the cross and three times got back up. I wash my hands just before the preface. Here we think of Pilate condemning Jesus to death. (to be continued)