Hey, Fr. Smith!
When the Offering Plates get back to the Altar, filled with cash and checks- I see you lift up the Plate and say some words. Since you’ve got your head looking up, I’m guessing that you’re praying up to God, right? Sometimes, you speak them out loud, and I hear people responding. Don’t know what they’re saying…and would love to join in. (Or, is this one of those “secret sayings” that only veteran GSAC’ers know)
Oh, my, No. There are no “insiders” or “outsiders” responses in the liturgy. Let me take you through this action, and maybe it will make more sense.
When the offering plates are given to me at the Altar, I do what is called an “oblation”…I literally “lift up” (“oblate”) the financial sacrifices of the worshipers that represent hard work… and are costly to those who put their money in the plates. As I lift them up to the LORD, I do indeed say something to Him. Here is what I say:
- Declaration: All things come of thee (you) O LORD;
- Response: And of thine own have we given thee.
The first sentence is said by me alone. The second line is said by the whole congregation (including YOU). So, it is a kind of “declaration and response” offering prayer, with both Priest and People joining in.
The reasons you sometimes do NOT hear me start the prayer out loud, is that there may well be music or singing going on when I have the Plate in my hand. At such times, it would be confusing for me to stop singing, start the Offering prayer, and interrupt the flow of worship. If there is silence, I will utter the first phrase out loud…with my microphone on. Then you can join the others as they respond, “And of thine own have we given thee”. Otherwise, I will have my microphone off, and say both parts of the Offering prayer.
You may wonder about the purpose of this little 2 line prayer? It is important to know why we say what we say in the liturgy.
This is a declaration to God that we give Him ONLY what He has actually previously given us.
We are reminded that our paychecks, for which we labored so mightily, and are the source of our offering at Church are only possible because God gave us Life itself, and the skills to earn those wages. We shouldn’t kid ourselves: We aren’t doing God a favor by filling the offering plates on Sunday!
Still, The LORD has given us the dignity and freedom to take from what is “ours” (in the limited sense of ‘ownership’) and oblate it…lift it up in Sacrifice, like the OT lamb lifted up before being slaughtered as a blood offering to God. We thrust “up to Him” (via the Priest’s gesture) the signs of our love and desire to give Him back a gift. We know- because we are about to speak of it in detail in the Mass- that the True, Holy Sacrifice is the Offering Jesus has already made on Calvary on that first Good Friday. The Mass simply echoes down the years the power of that Sacrifice. We offer to God our “oblations” of Wine, Bread, and Money. He gives us the Very Body and Blood of His Son Jesus Christ, in the Power of Holy Spirit. This exchange is Holy, beautiful, and deeply personal.