Over time it is easy to forget or become complacent about things in our lives that once were of great importance and how we think about or are part of the parish community of faith is no exception. Our busyness, distractions and mood can all impact this. We are sharing articles over the next few weeks to answer some questions and raise awareness about how we all can share in a very intentional way in our celebration of Mass and faith together. Our third question is:
Sacrifice: “Does it Matter what I Offer to God?”
When you come to the Eucharist, you are bringing a sacrifice – the sacrifice of your very self. You are not only giving thanks, not only making petitions. You are offering to God all that you are. You are putting your life in God’s hands. Some people find this easy. It does not feel like a sacrifice any more than parents feel they are sacrificing when they take care of their children, or spouses when they cooperate with each other. Some people, though, find it hard to do what God wants. No matter how it feels, offering yourself is a sacrifice.
Just showing up at Church means you have sacrificed the comfort of your own home, the lure of other distractions, and the taunts of non-believers. Present with other worshippers, you will enjoy their company, or – in some difficult cases – you will tolerate their company. People offer themselves “by their deep religious sense and their charity toward brothers and sisters who participate with them in the same celebration” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 95)
You have probably brought something to out into the collection. Priests sometimes remind you how they rely on those gifts for the support of the parish, its staff and its ministries. Your gift does play that practical role, but it has a Eucharistic meaning too. It is part of the sacrifice that you bring to this celebration, a symbol of your desire to offer God your very self.
The bread and wine brought forward in procession are symbols of the gathered community. They represent the work of farmers, bakers, truckers and salespeople, engineers and craftspeople – many of whose skills are represented among the priesthood of the baptized. We each find ourselves in the story of the bread and the wine – many grains and grapes gathered into one, ground and crushed by the sorrows we carry, baked and fermented by the warmth of patient love, broken and shared by all.
During Mass, when the priest receives the gifts from the faithful, he praises God for the bread and wine “we offer.” Even before these elements become the Body and Blood of Christ, they are signs of what we offer – gifts already received from God, and the gift of ourselves.
Questions for Discussion and Reflection:
- What sacrifice did I bring to Mass this week?
- Did my contribution in the collection sufficiently reflect the sacrifice of my will to God’s will?
- What else can I give that will symbolize the offering of my very own self to God?
-Parish Leadership Team-