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The Mass and Its Meaning: Part IV – The Liturgy of the Word Continued (part 2) 

The Liturgy of the Eucharist includes the Presentation and Preparation of the Gifts, the Eucharistic Prayer and the Communion Rite.

We begin with the Presentation and Preparation of the Gifts. The bread and wine have been prepared in advance and set out. The next part of the Mass, we collect the gifts from the assembly, both monetary and ourselves. We collect the stories of the many lives in the assembly, our joys, sorrows and desires and ask that we be transformed into what God has called us to be. We collect monetary gifts representing the assembly’s work, many hours of our lives. We now give it away in sacrifice for the work of the Church – charity and evangelization. This has been a tradition since the second century.

The bread, wine and collection are brought forward by people in the assembly. We ask that God will give back these gifts to us as the Body and Blood of Jesus. This is called spiritual worship and can be found in Romans 12:1 where Paul says “I urge you, therefore, by the mercies of God to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.” We can only do this through and with and in Christ’s offering. The priest receives the gifts and then takes them to the altar.

After the priest sets out the bread and wine on the altar he picks up the bread and says a short prayer of presentation and then does the same for the wine. Next the deacon or priest pours wine into the chalice and mixes a little water. Wine represents divinity and the water represents our poor humanity, which will be completely joined to Christ’s divinity in the source of what follows. The priest may then use incense marking the gifts out as holy, along with the altar also being marked with incense making it holy. After the priest is done, he is incensed followed by everyone in attendance standing being made holy by an altar server, marking us with incense. The whole church is a mysterious and holy place. Next the priest will wash his hands and inaudibly say “Wash me, O Lord, from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” He will then pray for himself that he will perform the mystery well. He will then turn to the assembly and invite them to pray. “Pray brothers and sisters that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.” The assembly rises to their feet and responds with a short prayer asking God to accept our sacrifice offered through the hands of the priest. This is followed by a Prayer over the Offerings by the priest. This varies from Sunday to Sunday and by feast day, but it will always mention in some form the gifts we have brought and prays for the transformation and ours. We then say Amen acknowledging all that has happened since collecting the gifts to this moment. We now stand for the Eucharistic Prayer.