The Liturgy of the Eucharist: The Preparation of the Gifts (7)

The Prayer over the Offerings

The Preparation of the Gifts concludes with a Prayer over the Offerings that the bishop or priest says on behalf of everyone participating. This is a simple prayer with a long liturgical development. At this point in the liturgy the names of the participants who had presented gifts were read, which led some to interpret this as more of a political moment, a moment of recognition of those who had offered something. However, it was always understood that these gifts were presented for a prayer intention, often for the deceased, but also in atonement for sin, in gratitude for healing, and so on.

Offering at this moment was focused again on what the intention was for the offering, and so the Prayer over the Offerings draws everyone participating back into focusing on that for which the Mass is being celebrated. Each participant brings his or her intentions to Mass, and those intentions are all heard by Our Lord, but through the Prayer over the Offerings  everyone reunites their intention to focus on the intention for the Mass of the day, and there are many specific intentions for which a Mass may be offered.

This prayers helps me to remember that for which “I” am offering the Mass while also remembering  that for which “we” are offering this Mass. There’s no contradiction here; “we” doesn’t annihilate me or my prayer intentions, because communion means respecting and supporting a unity without nullifying our individuality. When our intentions are at cross purposes or directly opposed there is no communion. We support the intentions of everyone with whom we’re in communion and we offer the Mass together for one or more specific intentions. Our Lord hears them all and is pleased that we not only pray for our immediate concerns and interests but for everyone who is asking something of him.

With gifts prepared and intentions brought into focus we’re now ready for the Eucharistic Prayer.

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