Occasionally, when attending mass with one or more of my siblings and their adorable little children (AKA my nieces and nephews), God will smile on me, and one of those little kiddos will decide it’s cool to sit with Aunt Mary for part of the mass.
Because it’s extra important to me that all of my nieces and nephews recognize how important the mass is even from an early age, I try to take the opportunity to invite them to be engaged in what’s going on. This usually means a lot of pointing at the priest, telling my niece or nephew to listen to what is being said, and generally just leading by example.
But one of my favorite parts of the mass to have my nieces or nephews sitting with me is during the offertory. There’s a lot going on at this point. The basket is coming around and the kids are getting all excited; the altar boys are moving candles around; and the priest at this part of the mass is harder to find than at any other point, which makes it fun for me to ask the kids to point out where he is.
So, when I have the pleasure of having a niece or a nephew with me during the offertory, I like to build up the anticipation and excitement at this part of mass as much as I can. “Where is the priest going?” “Look, there he is!” “Watch! They’re bringing bread and wine up to the altar and the priest is going to offer it to God!”
As much as I love sharing my excitement with the little ones, I love it most especially because it’s what is going on in my heart every mass during the offertory. Having the kids with me just gives me an opportunity to verbalize it in some way. The priest prepares the altar and I begin to prepare my heart. The basket comes around and, whether or not I give financially that day, I fix my intention: What will I offer you today, God? What am I still holding on to? What is it I need to give over to you? What should I chose to bless you with today?
“This humble and simple gesture [the offertory] is actually very significant: in the bread and wine that we bring to the altar, all creation is taken up by Christ the Redeemer to be transformed and presented to the Father… In this way we also bring to the altar all the pain and suffering of the world, in the certainty that everything has value in God’s eyes… It enables us to appreciate how God invites man to participate in bringing to fulfillment his handiwork, and in so doing, gives human labor its authentic meaning, since, through the celebration of the Eucharist, it is united to the redemptive sacrifice of Christ.”
–Pope Benedict XVI
The offertory is our chance to give over to God, not only our gifts, but our yearnings as well as our shortcomings. All that we offer is taken up with the bread and wine and is presented to God the Father.
So what is it that God is calling you to give?