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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Monday, June 25, 2007
Questions and Answers on the Mass- continued.
How does the priest respond to our offering of ourselves?
The offertory is a particularly powerful moment. During the offertory we offer ourselves to God too and join ourselves spiritually to Christ's sacrifice which is made present to us at Mass. After the offertory the priest bows and quietly prays that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God.
As we shall see later, this is an important moment because it reminds us that the Mass is a true sacrifice in which the merits of Christ's passion are offered in an “unbloody” manner. He then washes his hands. In ancient times this was probably just a practical matter of cleanliness, but it symbolises for us the purity of soul of the priest who offers the sacrifice of the Mass.
After the Offertory, there is a dialogue between the priest and people that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God. This is followed by the Preface

What is the Preface?
It is a prayer of thanksgiving and the first part of the Eucharistic prayer. It begins with the words “Father, all-powerful and ever-living God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks...”. The Preface explains why we are giving thanks to God at a given Mass so it varies depending on the season or the feast day. The preface is another very ancient part of the liturgy and is found in records dating from the First Century. In the ‘New Rite’ of Mass, which we have celebrated since the 1970’s liturgical reforms, there are nearly 100 Prefaces for many different feasts and seasons explaining the meaning behind them.

Why the hymn Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus Domine...?
The Preface concludes with the prayer “Holy, holy, holy Lord...” (Isaiah 6:3) followed by “Blessed is he who comes...”, the acclamation made to Christ on Palm Sunday (Matthew 21:9). In Latin these are called the Sanctus and the Benedictus respectively. The exclamation “hosanna” during the Sanctus is from Hebrew and literally means “oh help” but is used as a triumphal acclamation of God. The Sanctus has been included at Mass from as early as the second century AD. The mention of angels during the end of the Preface is very significant – according to the prophet Isaiah the angels praise God using the words “Holy, holy, holy...” and during Mass the angels are present (though invisible) around the sanctuary adoring Christ who is with us under the outward appearance of bread and wine.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:33 am