Okay, I lied.
This is one more week of Offertory. Paragraph 77
The good news is that this is absolutely, positively the last post on it in this series.
Offertory concludes after everything in the previous posts has been completed and the following prayers are said. The first one used to give me the willies. It is introduced thusly:
“Pray brethren (brothers and sisters) that my sacrifice and yours may be may be acceptable to God the Almighty Father.”
“May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of His Name, for our good, and the good of all His holy Church.”
Now, imagine that you are a young guy just ordained, the oils are still wet on your hands, you’ve arrived at your first assignment, the pastor pushes you out on the altar and says, “Go at it kid,” and you hear that prayer. I remember distinctly when that happened to me.
The year was 1998 and I was assigned to St. Ambrose in Brunswick. A couple of seminarians showed up to help me with my first Sunday Mass. The first Mass on Sunday was music free and many people attended that Mass because of that. I tried to make them sing an opening song which as an absolute disaster and apologized and promised I would never do that to them again.
St. Ambrose is one of the largest parishes in the diocese and the size of the building reflects this so there were a lot of people of all ages at that Mass. We got to the prayer above and I hear, “at your hands,” and “for our good,” and had a slight panic attack.
Just because you are ordained doesn’t mean that you “get” being a priest yet. I also remember walking past windows as a newly ordained and being surprised to see the Roman collar, or walking into a restaurant and wondering why so many people were looking at you. “Oh right, I’m a priest.” So when you first start hearing this prayer you want to shout out, “What are you people thinking? Are you insane? Why are you trusting me with this? Last week I was just a guy from Barberton.”
Even today I don’t listen to that prayer too closely. In the end, I know it is not ME. It is the priesthood and Christ. It is my job to be faithful and let God act.
Alright, most of that was NOT in this paragraph.
But one last thing is: We have the prayer over the gifts: a petition that God accept our gifts and the work we are about to do. This is where (once again) the vital role of the priesthood of the faithful comes into play. By your “Amen” at the end of this prayer, you make its petition your own as part of your offering. It is not an inconsequential word or a simple nicety. It is an engagement of your ministry. It is very much a responsibility. By it, you are participating in the sacred action, making an offering of your life, prayers, and petitions, and promising to engage in the rest of the Mass and in the life of a Christian.
That “Amen” alone should cause you to pause in much the same way the “for our good” does for your priest.