Almighty and merciful God,
by whose gift your faithful offer you
right and praiseworthy service,
grant, we pray,
that we may hasten without stumbling
to receive the things you have promised.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Two thoughts things jump out at me from this collect. First, that it is a gift for us to be able to offer worship to God. We should not take it for granted that we will always be able to offer public worship. Persecution or indifference could force the shuddering of our churches. In many countries around the world this has happened or is happening–think of the Church in China or places where there are fewer people worshipping today than ten years ago. In the Old Testament, worship centered around the Jerusalem Temple. When the people were in exile, on account of their sinfulness, the sacrifices ceased. Sometimes people do not recognize the gifts that they have until they are gone.
Second, the phrase, “hasten without stumbling.” The original Latin says, “sine offensióne currámus.” I love this phrase–it reminds me of when people says, “Hurry! But, don’t rush.” Often when people are in a hurry, they make mistakes, and get into accidents. For the Christian aspiring to divine things, there is a certain risk to religious zeal that is not regulated by the virtue of prudence. Practically, one can avoid this pitfall by being a part of a parish community. We must be sure-footed in our following of Christ. With St Paul, we need to remain faithful, “so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
Prayer over the Offerings:
May these sacrificial offerings, O Lord,
become for you a pure oblation,
and for us a holy outpouring of your mercy.
Through Christ our Lord.
This prayer shows that liturgy is a two-way street. We offer to God. God gives to us. The sacrifice offered to God becomes a better gift given to us. At the offertory of the Mass, we should see in the unconsecrated bread and wine everything that we want to give to God (our gifts, hopes, sorrows, struggles, etc.). God takes up what is offered, transubstanciates it into something infinitely better, and gives it back to us in Holy Communion. If we merely attend the Mass, we miss significant moments where the Lord beckons us to be closer to him (penitential rite, offertory, etc.). If we pray the Mass and become its intentional participant, then we can truly receive everything that the Lord wants to give us.
Prayer after Communion:
May the working of your power, O Lord,
increase in us, we pray,
so that, renewed by these heavenly Sacraments,
we may be prepared by your gift
for receiving what they promise.
Through Christ our Lord.
Each of the Seven Sacraments prepare us for Heaven. The Sacraments give us renewal of spirit. They stir up in our hearts love of God and love of neighbor. More than just pointing a person to Heaven, worthy reception of the Sacraments bring a person to Heaven.
This is the second post in the weekly series, “Euchology Notes.”