Venerable Bruno Lanteri recommends these sentiments in his Spiritual Directory, “At the Offertory, that of Melchizedek.”
Background: Extraordinary Form of the Mass
Because Venerable Bruno wrote his preparation for the Tridentine Mass, it would be good to see what is going on at this point in the extraordinary form of the Mass.
The priest offers up the bread and asks God that it be acceptable to Him. Next, the wine and a drop of water are put into the chalice with an accompanying prayer. Then, the priest offers up the chalice and asks God that it be acceptable to Him. He calls upon the Holy Spirit to bless it.
At High Mass, the gifts would be incensed. Then, the priest, clergy and people are incensed.
The priest washes his hands, reciting Psalm 25:6-12 and concluding with the Glory Be. He recites the prayer over the offerings.
The priest asks the people for their prayers, “Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours …” The people respond, “May the Lord accept the sacrifice …”
The Offertory concludes with the silent recitation of the Secret. “The priest acts as a mediator speaking directly to God on behalf of man” (The Latin-English Booklet Missal for Praying the Traditional Mass, p. 28).
Lesson: What can I offer to God?
Many years ago, I was asked how much I donated weekly to the Church. I replied a dollar, which I have always done as a child. But a relative encouraged me to give more. I eventually relented. Right before the time I entered the seminary, I was giving … $5 a week.
Sometimes, we limit the concept of giving in the Church to just money. How much is needed to repair the roof? How much is needed to fix the air conditioning or the boiler?
However, in the Mass, God offers an opportunity to give more of ourselves. Jesus had offered everything to the Father on the Cross. We are invited to do the same.
Venerable Bruno recommends fostering the sentiments of Melchizedek at the Offertory. Melchizedek offered bread and wine to God after Abram’s victory over the kings to save his nephew, Lot. He blessed God and Abram. In response, Abram gave a tenth of everything.
In the Mass, the priest offers bread and wine to God the Father for Jesus’ great victory over sin and death. The priest blesses God. In response, Jesus doesn’t give a tenth of everything. He gives his whole self, body and blood, soul and divinity, in the Blessed Sacrament.
For the rest of the congregation, what do we offer? Of course, money. But can we also give our hearts over to God? A heart that loves God and wants to receive his love.
One way to open our hearts more to God is to offer all our pains, worries and sufferings at this point of the Mass. We undergo tribulations. Sometimes, we’re afraid to expose those tender places of our hearts. But giving our whole selves means giving God those things, too.
A long time ago, children about to face some pain or difficulty were taught to “offer it up.” Eventually, that phrase was interpreted to mean “suck it up” or “get over it.”
But we had forgotten a key point. We “offer it up” so that our tribulation unites with Christ and his sufferings. That unity redeems suffering. It doesn’t take the pain away. (I wish it does.) That unity gives meaning and purpose to our suffering. Just as Christ’s sufferings unleashed grace into the world, our suffering releases grace. We sometimes don’t know where and how. But by faith, we believe it happens. Certainly, Jesus responds to that offering with grace to help us persevere.
But where do we offer our suffering up? It doesn’t float up in the great wide open. There must be a concrete reality to offer our pain and sufferings. In the Mass, specifically at the altar, we give them to God. We can offer this quick prayer as the bread and wine are lifted up: “Lord, I give you my pains, worries and sufferings.”
That little act of generosity expands our hearts a little more. We find that we are more prompt to help others, serve and volunteer. Always offer something to God at Mass. God is never outdone in his generosity.
Scripture passages for prayer:
- Genesis 14:17-20: Abram meets Melchizedek after his victory over the kings.
- Hebrews 7: Jesus is the new high priest in the line of Melchizedek.
- Colossians 1:24-26: I complete in my flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of the Church.
- What pains and sufferings can I offer up in this Mass?
- How often do you give your pains and worries to the Lord?
- How can you give more (time, effort, money, etc.) to support the Church?