The Secret Prayers of the Mass: At the Preparation of the Gifts

You might have noticed that on weekday mornings, I am blessed to be able to greet the children coming into our school.  But my morning routine dictates that I must have a cup of coffee at the same time, so naturally, I have acquired a wide variety of coffee mugs.  One of my favorites is the two-handled coffee mug from Mystic Monks Coffee, an order of contemplative Carmelite monks in Cody, Wyoming (Support them by buying some coffee from mysticmonkcoffee.com).  The mug is distinctive, though, because it has a handle on either side, inviting the coffee drinker to use both hands.  The monks, who use these in their monastery, say it is a powerful symbol of embracing all the many gifts that God has given us.  At 6:00 in the morning, coffee is definitely one gift I want to embrace!

The reason I bring this up is because it connects to the prayer that we pray at the offertory, when the gifts are brought forward, and then offered at the altar:

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you; fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.”

“Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you; fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink.”

These might be familiar to you, but at times, the priest prays these prayers quietly to allow musical reflection, or to encourage silent prayer.  But, as with the Mystic Monks coffee mug (mysticmonkcoffee.com, in case you forgot), we embrace all the gifts that God has given us, recognizing that we deserve none of it by our own right, and then offer it back to God to be transformed into the Bread of Life and our Spiritual Drink.  Ultimately, we’re offering back to God in gratitude what is already his.

It is very important for us to take an inventory of the gifts that God gives us, and then to discern what it is that God is asking us to offer back to him freely, whether it is our time, our abilities or gifts, or our financial treasure that we have been given.  When we freely offer back to God a portion of that in good stewardship, he receives it, and transforms it into something far greater, just as he does with the gifts brought forward at the offertory!

That’s it for this week, and actually, sorry about running a bit late with this one, but thank you for your prayers for me as I was on retreat this past week.  It was a very reflective and fruitful experience out there at Conception Abbey, and I’m happy to be back!  Tune in next week for more on the Missal!

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