Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bring Up the Gifts

During Mass there’s a little moment that can often go unnoticed, a ritual that if you are not careful you’ll miss. After the homily, during the time the collection baskets are being passed around, we bring up the gifts. Did you miss it? Did you notice who carried the bread and wine up to the priest?

This is a very meaningful and solemn part of the Mass, actually. It is not just bringing up hosts and wine as a formality, the bread and wine represent of you! These are the gifts, talents, pain and sufferings of each and every believer sitting in the pews. In Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Letter, “Sacramentum Caritatis,” he discusses the parts of the liturgy, this is what he says about the presentation of the gifts:

“The presentation of the gifts

47. The Synod Fathers also drew
attention to the presentation of the gifts. This is not to be viewed simply as a
kind of "interval" between the liturgy of the word and the liturgy of the
Eucharist. To do so would tend to weaken, at the least, the sense of a single
rite made up of two interrelated parts. This humble and simple gesture is
actually very significant: in the bread and wine that we bring to the altar, all
creation is taken up by Christ the Redeemer to be transformed and ,presented to
the Father. (144) In this way we also bring to the altar all the pain and
suffering of the world, in the certainty that everything has value in God's
eyes. The authentic meaning of this gesture can be clearly expressed without the
need for undue emphasis or complexity. It enables us to appreciate how God
invites man to participate in bringing to fulfillment his handiwork, and in so
doing, gives human labor its authentic meaning, since, through the celebration
of the Eucharist, it is united to the redemptive sacrifice of
Christ. “
~Sacramentum Caritatis, 3/2007

The wheat and the grapes, gifts given to us by God, through our human efforts have been made into bread and wine. They represent each and every one of us as we gather together to come into unity with Christ’s incarnation and passion. This ritual helps us understand the power of our own personal gift of our selves to God our father in appreciation to Jesus’ redemptive love for us.

It is also the representation of the incarnation of Jesus. The bread, through this ritual, represents the body of Christ and the people in the body of Christ both in Heaven and on Earth.

Lord Jesus, that bread and wine represents my life, and I am putting my life on the altar to be joined with your body and blood, and I ask you to take my life and make it holy with the power of your sacrifice of your flesh and blood. Help me to accept your gift of forgiveness and healing of the pain of sin… Deacon Tim, Two Edge Talk

Part of the Eucharistic Prayer II prays:

“Almighty God, We pray that your angel may take this sacrifice to your altar in
heaven. Then, as we receive from this altar the sacred body and blood of
your son, let us be filled with every grace and blessing, through Christ our
Lord, Amen.”

Entering into communion with God through Christ’s sacrifice and redemptive gift of the Mass is something that we should be aware of, pay attention to, and cherish each and every day. We have something to share, give, and offer to our Father, our lives, our talents, our very selves in atonement for our sins and transgressions. We are a broken people and at Mass we are a forgiven people.

Next time at Mass, volunteer to bring up the gifts, knowing that you are carrying the entire community in your hands, their pains, sorrow, faults, love, thanksgiving, and their love for the angels to take up to God. When the head usher asks you to bring up the gifts, don’t say no, say, “Thank you, it’ll my honor to carry the gifts today.”


Anonymous said...

Since I've been in the Church for just under 3 years, I still am learning the significance of many of the things Catholics do. Thanks for explaining this seemingly small part of the mass. Everything means something!

Can I ever request to bring the bread or wine to the altar?

See you in church!


Barbara said...

Love Pope Benedict. He is a true teacher and helps us get so much more out of our Faith and sacred liturgy.

deanna said...

I think the reason why people may miss this is because it happens as the collection is being taken up(at least in my parish). I can recall a time when the bread, wine and collection all were brought forth to the priest, making it a more distinct action.

Moonshadow said...

Evan askes, "Can I ever request to bring the bread or wine to the altar?"

There must be a sign-up for it in the back, no?

We have something to share, give, and offer to our Father,

What's most interesting to me - and you seem to have missed it - is that the Church provides the bread and wine that the People bring up.

No doubt, it's possible to make gifts - literally - of these things, but generally the church supplies those eucharistic goods. And this is certainly fitting because anything we offer back to God was already His in the first place.

"We pray that your angel may take this sacrifice to your altar in heaven."

BTW, my missal ascribes those prayers to the Roman canon, commonly called "Eucharistic Prayer I" - I only know because it's my favorite part of a favorite prayer.