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Exploring the Mass – Offertory: Preparation of the Gifts, Preparation of the Altar

Anyone can plainly see that the Altar of Sacrifice on which the Eucharist is celebrated looks to be already prepared with the beautiful altar cloth. Often with the symbols of the Church year in various colours it would seem to be enough. But the preparation of the altar really begins when the chalice, corporal and other linens and the gifts of water, wine and the bread, in the form of hosts, are brought. The large square linen is the coporal to hold the sacramental body or corpus of Christ. The special cup – chalice- is to be made of worthy and noble material and the shallow dish – paten – used for showing the large host to the people and the small linen towel – purificator – are laid out on the altar. The wine, water and hosts are, if possible, to be brought up in procession as part of the offertory. As a general rule, enough hosts should be brought up so the congregation can receive communion with those hosts.

General Instruction of the Roman Missal (The People’s Textbook)

The rite of carrying up the gifts continues the spiritual value and meaning of the ancient custom when the people brought bread and wine for the liturgy from their homes.

Reflection

“The Christian altar is by its very nature a table of sacrifice and at the same time a table of the paschal banquet; a unique altar on which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated in mystery throughout the ages until Christ comes; a table at which the Church’s children assemble to give thanks to God and receive the body and blood of Christ.”

The purpose of the action is to pepare the altar, the gifts and the community for the offering to come.

Questions for Reflection:

1. How do I prepare my heart to be brought to the Altar each Sunday?

2. Is there something else I can do to heighten myself for the reception of the Body of Christ?

Scripture:  1 Kings 7: 48-51

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