Philippians 4:6; Psalm 51:1-19; THE MASS PDF Link
The preparation of the gifts is one of my favorite parts of the mass. To many, when we sit there, it is the portion of the mass where it’s like the seventh inning stretch. Father is done talking, there is the second rush for the bathroom, the collection baskets are going around, the altar is being prepared, the gifts are being brought up and the congregation is singing a preparation hymn. It’s the part of the mass that many seem to use as a bathroom break rather than what it is truly intended for: to prepare for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
During this time of our “seventh inning stretch,” we are supposed to be preparing ourselves and our hearts for the breaking of the bread, the ultimate sacrifice. Just as the altar is prepared. Note that when the priest, deacon and altar servers are prepping the altar they don’t just slap everything on the altar and call it a day. They reverently bow to the altar before placing anything on top of it. They then place a cloth down on which everything is placed on top of. So during consecration if anything were to drop, it would fall onto the cloth and easily be collected to be cleaned up and properly disposed of.(1)
The second major thing happening during our “seventh inning stretch” is the collection and offering of the gifts. Just as the collection baskets go around and collect each individuals tithe offering, we are to be collecting what we want to spiritually offer up at that time. What prayers, hardships, and intentions do we want brought up with the gifts and collection basket to be lifted up at the pinnacle of our faith?
Next the ushers and people of the congregation bring up the bread and wine which are then blessed and the priest thanks God for these gifts and they are then placed on the altar. There is also the monetary offering that gets brought up at this time as well, and of course, what we don’t see - our spiritual intentions & prayers. While we are preparing our hearts during this act of offering, the physical gifts, intentions, and prayers we have, are all being brought up as well to be offered. These offerings aren’t just to get in a good word to God, but so that we can free our minds and be fully attentive to the ultimate sacrifice.
So next mass, we challenge you to not only participate in the song and tithe, but to also prepare your heart so that you can fully be attentive and an active participant in the offering of the mass.
1. An extra note: if anything were to drop, it would be consecrated pieces of the Bread or Wine - aka JESUS. The cloth isn't just for easy clean up of bread crumbs and spilled wine, but so that every bit and piece of Jesus is properly consumed or disposed of. Our Church believes that this is Jesus, so this "bread" never will hit the trash.
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