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Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: Preparation of the Gifts/Offertory Prayers

by Catherine Frakas 26 Jan 2001

Preparation of the Gifts/Offertory Prayers QUESTION from Vince Parise December 27, 2001 Fr. Joseph HarteDirector, Shrine of Mary Queen of the Universe
Below are the words of the Offertory Prayer or, as many clergy have insisted, this is the Preparation of the Gifts and not the Offertory Prayers.
I asked that you pay close attention to the words in number 1 and number 2. These words, which have been used by Orthodox Catholic Clergy for several hundred years, are, at least in my mind, The Offertory Prayers or at least the beginning of the Offertory Prayers. Each and every time that these words are said in silence, we, the faithful, are cheated out two significant and most reverant responses. And, in cheating us, we, in turn, are forced by the celebrant, organ player, and cantor, to show disrespect to our Lord and God. Was it not John who said, I must decrease that He may increase. When the organ continues to play and cantor continues to sing, for a period of so significant a duration, that the celebrant, willingly or unwillingly, is forced to wait or say the Offertory Prayers in silence, the statement made by John the Baptist becomes the reverse, He, our Lord, must decrease that I, the organist and cantor, may increase.
1. Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, Which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.
Response: Blessed be God for ever.
2. Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this wine to offer. Fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink.
Response: Blessed be God for ever.
If you would now pay close attention to the words in number 3.
3. Pray brethren, that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.
Response: May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of His name, for our good, and the good of all His Church.
Has anyone, connected with the liturgical authorities of The Church, ever, taken into consideration, the response we make to number 3. Oh, by the way, number 3 is always said, by the celebrant, in a loud audible voice. I guess what confuses me the most is the fact that this portion is always said in an audible voice. All three, however, are inseparable, and all three are part of the same Offertory Prayer that requires, if we still love, respect, and honor our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the appropiate and necessary responses.
Stop and think for just a moment. Consider the words of the responses we are asked to give. How are we to understand the significance of such a response when we were not permitted to hear the words of number 1 and number 2. More than half the people in attendance know little or nothing about the Mass or, for that matter, the teachings and doctrines of The Church to which they belong.
We are being asked to give the following response to number 3, May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, etc. My dilemma is this, how can we offer a response indicating that we know exactly what the sacrifice is that we are asking our Lord to accept when we have not been permitted to hear the words said in number 1 and in number 2.
According to GIRM(General Instruction of the Roman Missal) in the section identified as Prayers And Other Parts Assigned To The Priest, in numbers 10, 11, 12, and 13 we are clearly shown the importance of these prayers. We are told in number 10 that the prayer over the gifts is part of The Presidential Prayers. And yes, I have been told before that the preparation of the gifts is not part of the Offertory Prayers, but if one would consider the words in numbers 1, 2, and 3, without liberal prejudice, one would soon come to understand that these are, in fact, significant, sacred, and indeed Offertory Prayers.
To me this is not only an abuse to Sacred Liturgy but is indeed, also a violation of grave significance. Please help me to help others to understand how important this part of Roman Catholic Sacred Liturgy is to The Mass and to us.
God Bless,
Vincent Parise
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on January 2, 2002 Dear Mr. Parise,
I am afraid I don't quite share or understand the concern for these prayers as you do. The offertory prayers 1 and 2 (using your numbering) have always been said quietly by the priest even at High Masses, and until recently, always in Latin. How did the people understand it? They used hand missals, just as the church and saints and I encourage the faithful to do now. Actually it seems very straightforward to me anyway.. the priest asks outloud that the people pray that the sacrifice be acceptable, and the people respond May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands. The church gives the option of saying the preceding prayers outloud or quietly, the FIRST option is inaudibly. As I have shown before, these prayers are NOT part of what the instruction names the presidential prayers, which as you said are always to be said loudly and clearly. The second of the three presidential prayers, named the prayer over the gifts, is the prayer that immediately follows the pray brethren.. and the response of the people.
To be accurate, I wish to point out that these (number 1 and 2) have not been used before the reforms of Vatican II. They are new, and so is the response Blessed be God forever. In the old rite, we had the beautiful prayers Deus, qui humanae and Offerimus tibi which were the offertory prayers for the bread and wine. These prayers were eliminated in the reforms, along with a third prayer offered to the Most Holy Trinity. So in the new Mass, we have the familiar Blessed are you, lord, God of all creation. The new prayers emphasize an exchange of gifts, man offers bread and wine, God lets it become the Body and Blood of Christ. Although I cannot verify it for now, I believe that the origin of these prayers is in Jewish Liturgy. A reliable friend of mine recently told me that they were, but I am not familiar with Jewish liturgy so I won't say for sure that they are.
Number 3 did exist in the Tridentine rite, word for word.
As for increasing and decreasing, really, what is so bad about an organ playing or a choir or cantor? These are all very good holy things called for in the liturgical documents, and without liberal OR CONSERVATIVE prejudice it MUST be said that they have at least a place in today's Roman Catholic Liturgy.
So although I agree with you that in general the people need to have a better understanding of what is actually happening at Mass, I don't think it is wise to consider Rome's clear decision and law an abuse to Sacred Liturgy and a violation of grave significance.
Thank you for writing,
Mr. Slavek
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