I remember meeting Pope John Paul II. It was in the papal palace and there we were lined up in a room and he walked down the line shaking hands and saying a few words. I remember thinking, “What do you say to the most popular and powerful man in the world? ‘Hey! Everyone back home says, “good job!”’” Everything just seemed too trite.
In a similar way, what do you give as a gift or offering to God? What do you buy for the God who not only has everything but made everything in the first place?
This is where the interesting word “oblation” comes in. It is one of the Eucharistic prayers. “Accept this oblation.” I know of a number of people who cannot abide by the new translation, one of the reasons being words like this. On the other hand, words like this are great opportunities to learn the language of the Church and to expand our horizons. Oblation means an offering to God.
Keep that word in your hip pocket because paragraph 79 (yes, we are still on 79) subsection f of the GIRM wants you to carry that concept around with you. First and foremost is the oblation of the Mass. What do you give to the Father? What do you give to Perfection itself? Why not give back perfection? What do you give Love itself? Why not Love? Where do we find this perfection? In Jesus Christ. Where do find Jesus? First and foremost in the Eucharist; Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. We offer to the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus, His Son. “Through Him (Jesus) and with Him, and in Him, O God Almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is Yours, for ever and ever. Amen! Amen! Amen!” This is truly the hight point of the Mass when we make this incredible, mind-blowing oblation to our Father. That is yet another reason why, as Flannery O’Conner says, “If it’s just a symbol, to hell with it.”
But this paragraph says this is not the only gift we have to offer. At the Mass we also (dear priests of the baptized) learn to offer our very selves. That is why it is important to participate in such things as singing, kneeling, praying, because we are offering our very selves. Even the offertory becomes a liturgical action and not a convenient way to collect money to keep the lights on and to candles on the altar. The fruit of our labors we bring to this Mass and offer it in service to God and His Church as our offering. That’s one reason I tell people that, even if they can’t (or don’t want to) give, bring and empty envelope and enclose it with prayer.
Our lives, our thoughts, our bodies, our actions, our souls we must grow in the habit of giving to God, “and so day by day to be brought, through the mediation of Christ, into unity with God and with each other, so that God may at last be all and all.”