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The Liturgy of the Eucharist: The Preparation of the Gifts (6)
“Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.”
The bishop or priest invites everyone participating in the liturgy to join their voices to the prayer he’s just said in silence that the offering may be acceptable to God. Together the assembly prays that their sacrifice be pleasing to God and they exercise their baptismal priesthood by offering not just bread and wine, but all their sacrifices since the last celebration of the Eucharist. Whether it’s been a day or a week since our last participation in the Eucharist, this is the moment when we turn the ups and downs of daily life, those little acts of kindness, those great sacrifices for the sake of others, and all our efforts to grow in holiness and virtue into spiritual sacrifices that we hope are pleasing to Our Father, alongside the perfect and pleasing sacrifice of His Son. In this way we exercises a spiritual priesthood that we’ve received through Baptism, even as the bishop or priest exercises a sacramental one through Holy Orders. Maybe in that day or week between participation in the Eucharist we don’t think much about whether what we’re doing can be brought to the altar, but we should. It motivates us to not come to the next celebration of the Eucharist empty handed. The Lord is pleased by even one act of faith, hope, or charity.
“May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.”
In this prayer we’re invited to think big, not just glorifying God, not just asking for our own good, but asking for the benefit of the entire Church. The bigger the stakes, the bigger the sacrifice. Not only are we called to give glory to Glory Himself, the Lord, but to win favor for the entire Church. We make intercession, just as we know our brothers and sisters participating in the Eucharist throughout the world are interceding for us. Priesthood, whether sacramental or spiritual, entails interceding on behalf of others. That’s what transforms our prayers into something beyond a transaction between me and God, just seeking some personal benefit, into something selfless. We don’t just think big for ourselves, we think big for the Church, all our brothers and sisters in the faith who need prayers to grow in holiness and to be strong in the face of adversity, whether material or spiritual. With the stakes so high we must be emboldened in our daily lives to practice the selflessness that truly benefits others. When we keep those we can help in mind it helps us to make the more difficult sacrifices knowing that they’ll bear great spiritual fruit. That spiritual sacrifice helps us to grow in holiness as well.