What does the Offertory at Mass Symbolize?
When we attend Mass on Sunday, typically families within the congregation are asked to present the bread and the wine to the parish priest before he completes preparation of the altar for the consecration of the Eucharist.
While it may seem like an intermission between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, this liturgical action is full of deep symbolism and is vital to the laity’s participation within the Mass.
In the early church, members of the faith were responsible for baking unleavened bread and donating liturgical wine for the celebration of the Eucharist. The offering of gifts was done between the two parts of the Mass since it was a natural progression into the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Catholic Encyclopedia states, “Originally at this moment the people brought up bread and wine which were received by the deacons and placed by them on the altar.”
I have always found the symbolism of the Offertory to be quite beautiful. To understand the symbolism, let’s look at the different parts of the Offertory. First, the gifts of bread and wine are “withdrawn from common use.” They are set aside for a purpose. They are to be consecrated to God and are purposed for Jesus Himself. Secondly, we are giving up our ownership of these earthly gifts and are offering them to God with the intention that He change them into the most holy Body and Blood of Christ.
Simply put, we are offering our earthy gifts to God for Him to become physically present to us through the Eucharist. Finally, the faithful are encouraged at this time to join the offering in a spiritual way. They are asked to place their own hearts on the altar with the intention that God might transform their hearts in a mystical way into the “body” of Christ, as well as, for God to use their hearts for His intentions and divine mission.
After the gifts are gathered on the altar, the priest recalls this symbolism when he says, “Lift up your hearts to the Lord” and the congregation responds, “We lift them up to the Lord.”
The Offertory sets our hearts aglow with a holy love of God. With this holy love, the soul disengages itself from the world and worldly desires. It wakes the soul and stirs within it a desire to grow closer to God. Therefore, the Offertory is an opportunity for us to surrender our own desires to the Lord and invite Him to transform our lives, desires and aspirations into His life, desires and aspirations.
We would like to invite your family to participate in the Offertory! A Mass registration form can be found on the table in the Commons Area. By registering your family, you are opting in to be scheduled for Masses throughout the year. A schedule will be emailed to you in advance and there is no major time commitment in this ministry. All we ask is your family sign up to represent our parish family at Mass. I hope you pray as a family and discern if this is an opportunity that will benefit your family.