My Sacrifice and Yours

The Offertory

What Not to Miss

  • There are a lot of pieces to the Offertory, but don't be intimidated! The basic idea is that we are offering bread and wine, alms for the poor, and our own lives as sacrifices to God.
  • Most parishes in the U.S. replace the Offertory Chant with a hymn, so don't be surprised if you don't hear it.
  • While the priest and the ministers are preparing the altar, members of the assembly typically bring forward the bread and wine that will become the Eucharist. This symbolizes our participation in the sacrifice happening on the altar.
  • In many parishes, a collection for the parish and the poor is taken at this time. These gifts are also brought forward. These sacrifices will also be caught up into Christ's sacrifice.
  • The priest prays several prayers in a low voice during the offertory chant (the assembly may hear these prayers if the chant is not sung). Some other prayers in the offertory are private between the priest and God and are also said quietly.
  • The ministers may incense the holy things and people that will be involved in the Liturgy of the Eucharist: the gifts of bread and wine, the altar, the cross, the priest, and the people. Incense is itself a kind of offering to God; it symbolizes our prayers rising up to heaven.
  • The priest symbolically washes his hands and prays that God will cleanse him from sin before he offers the holy sacrifice.
  • The people rise to their feet to show their attentiveness, prayerfulness, and reverence.
  • The dialogue between the priest and the people asks God to accept the sacrifice for his glory and our good.
  • Just as Jesus took bread and wine in his hands at the Last Supper, the priest takes up these elements in his own hands, acting in the person of Christ.
  • The Offertory is getting everything and everyone ready for the Eucharistic Prayer, in which Christ and his sacrifice will become present on the altar.

Next Time You Go to Mass...

  • Don't worry if you don't catch everything during the Offertory. Focus on offering your life—your joys, sufferings, relationships, possessions, talents, hopes, work, hobbies, and more—to God and giving him thanks.
  • Take to heart the words of the priest: "my sacrifice and yours." Join your own sacrifices with those of Christ to truly participate in the liturgy.
  • As the priest adds drops of water to the wine, pray that you will be completely and inseparably united with Christ in the same way that the water has become one with the wine.
  • Thank the Father for accepting your small sacrifices and giving you his Son in return!

Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.

This collect prayer begins the Mass for Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Jesus is calling us to "take up battle against spiritual evils." We'll explore fasting itself in a few weeks; during the week of Ash Wednesday, we're going to dig into an important set of weapons the Lord gives us to fight evil: sacramentals.

What's a sacramental? Well, if you attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, you're probably going to receive one on your forehead.