through him 1

I would like to focus our attention on a portion of the Mass which, I believe, is not well-understood. But, before we go there, think about the start of your day. You get up in the morning, brush your teeth, (or possibly, like me, retrieve some of them out of their soaking liquid). You then get dressed, go into the kitchen, have a cup of coffee, and maybe a Danish, or a donut. Kiss the husband or wife and the kids, and off to work you go. Wait a minute…let’s go back a bit. Did we forget something? Did we thank God for this day that is starting? Did we tell Him of our love? The prayer, The Morning Offering, goes a long way in doing all these things. In it, we tell Him, of our love, our joy, and most importantly, we dedicate all that we think, say and do that day, to Him. This day, there may be pain and suffering, but we offer that, as well. In our gratitude to Him, we tell Him that our day is dedicated to Him. However, you do know that if we say this in the morning, it makes it difficult to offer that finger gesture, that curse word, that flash of anger to Him. Doesn’t it? I guess we have to watch what we think, and say and do.

Okay, let’s move on. Say it is a Sunday, or a special occasion. This morning you are going to church, to Mass. It’s someone’s anniversary, or, someone who you love is very sick and you want to go to Mass, or, you are attending  a wedding and nuptial Mass, or it is simply a Sunday. What I am saying, here is, you find yourself at Mass. The readings are said. The priest’s sermon (homily) is given. And then, the priest begins the Offertory. (Oh, yeah, I know. That is when they take up the collection.) Unfortunately, THAT is the portion that was being alluded to in the first sentence up above. (Go up and re-read it if you want to. I will wait.) This portion of the Mass is not well-understood. Yes the collection is taken up, but much, much more is happening, something much more personal.

The Offertory is where we can offer ourselves (and mention all of our concerns, our intentions, like sick family members, the dying and deceased family and friends). But what is it that we are really offering? Do you remember earlier when we were talking about the Morning Offering? It was then that we offered to our God, our joy, our love, and every thought, word and action of the day. But isn’t that really like an ant saying to YOU, “Take these efforts of mine, they will be good for you.” Our intentions, no matter how noble; our offerings, no matter how fine; our lives, no matter how good… we are still like the ant giving what we have to Someone infinitely greater than ourselves. You might say, “Then why bother?”

We say that prayer in the morning, every day, so that, when we next attend Mass, we can put all of those offerings on the paten (the little gold plate) together with the bread that will rest on it. The monies collected (representing our sacrifices made to and for others), our thoughts, words and good actions of prior and future days, these are what we bring to the Mass. Our daily offerings are gathered up, and together with the bread and wine, are made holy, through Jesus. All of this is totally associated with the sacrifice that Jesus made on the Cross. The priest softly utters Christ’s words which He said at the Last Supper, “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood”. By this far-sighted loving action, before His death, Jesus enables mankind to rise up from its depths and legitimately praise their God. These words will transform these natural, everyday items, resting on the paten, into Christ. But, you know our offerings are resting there, as well as the bread and wine. Our acts of love for one another, our concerns for others, our acts of generosity, all of these are transformed also. If we are capable of doing anything good, it is only because of the love of Jesus within us. Our lives, puny as they are, are made noble on that paten and they will be offered up to God. This is not blue-sky stuff. This is not make-believe. This is the love that God has for His children, His divine plan. We need Jesus to be in our lives, to be part of our lives. Otherwise, we are just so many other animals walking on this earth.

In this way, our insignificant lives become noble and suitable gifts to God, our Heavenly Father. The priest even says later on in the Mass, as he holds up the Consecrated Bread and Wine, now Jesus’ Body and Blood, “Through Him, with Him, and in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever.” To which we simply reply, “Amen”, (Yes, I know. Yes, I believe that.”) For we know, that without Jesus’ sacrifice, all of our morning offerings would be meaningless.