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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Friday, June 08, 2007
We continue our series on the Mass by looking at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

What is the Offertory?
The Liturgy of the Eucharist begins with the offertory. This is the rite by which the bread and wine are presented (offered) to God before they are consecrated, and the prayers and singing that accompany it. The collection of alms is made during the offertory as this is another offering to God.

What does this presentation signify?
First and foremost it is the actual provision of material food from our lives, which matter will become one with the flesh of Christ during the Eucharistic Prayer, which flesh is the best food-stuff and medicine for our own flesh, and so ourselves. It is all in order that our lives may be united to his life of self-giving (Sacrifice) to the Father for us. The bread and wine then also signifies our lives, joys and sorrows which will be transformed and swept up by becoming more part of the vine which is Christ.

Why the Collection?
This is also a provision of something real from our lives, earned by the sweat of our brow, to be transformed into spiritual fruit. Monies collected go towards the upkeep of the Church and Presbytery, any expenses from parish groups, and the wages of anyone employed within these parish structures. Direct financial support of clergy is through the Christmas & Easter offerings, & stipends for baptisms, marriages, funerals & daily masses. Full accounts are published each year, scrutinized by the diocese and our own finance committee. Recently we were successfully audited by external accountants.

In what manner does the priest offer the bread and wine?
The priest holds up the bread with the prayer “Blessed are you, Lord God of all cre-ation, through your goodness we this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made, it will become for us the bread of life”. It is similar with the wine.
Before the wine is offered, the priest adds a few drops of water to it. This is derived from the custom practised in Jesus' time of always drinking wine mixed with water. While doing this he quietly says, “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity”. Hence the mixing also represents the divine and human natures of Christ in his one person.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 12:39 pm