Occasionally, you might hear someone jokingly refer to “halftime” during Mass — the interval following the Prayers of the Faithful, as the Liturgy of the Eucharist begins. It can be easy, even tempting, to zone out as you sit, waiting for the collection basket to make its way to your pew.
But if you pay attention, you’ll have the opportunity to enter into something deeper — a significant moment in our prayer.
It’s mentioned by St. Justin Martyr, one of the earliest Christian writers, when describing the Mass in the second century, “Bread is brought up and wine and water…”
This practice, of people bringing up the gifts, has been part of our Catholic tradition from the very beginning. Although we might think of this action as being merely practical, in reality, it serves a much deeper spiritual purpose.
Each Sunday Mass, a member or family of the parish volunteers to bring forward “the gifts” — the bread and wine, which are fruit of God’s creation. Through the effort of human hands, these are made into the gifts that we present to the Lord.
Certainly, the offertory collected during the Mass also serves to represent the work and sacrifices of the previous week. Sharing our monetary “treasures” is one of the ways that we embrace stewardship. It’s an opportunity to generously give back to the Lord, from the fruit of our work.
In his book What Happens At Mass, Fr. Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, explains, “We should not think of the collection of money at this point as some sort of banal, dirty but necessary affair. Money is our work. Money is hours of our lives. And now we give it away, we sacrifice it, for the work of the Church.”
In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul instructs Christians to “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1).
The physical act of carrying the gifts of bread and wine forward to the priest is meant to serve as a tangible reminder of the fact that we are all called to stewardship and, most importantly, that we are gathering at the table to share in the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith.
Those who bring forward the gifts each week have the privilege and responsibility of remembering what their action represents — that we are called to give generously of our time, talent and treasure to God, who gives us His very self, at Mass. And for those sitting in the pews, tempted to “check out” for a few minutes, seeing the gifts being brought forward should serve as a powerful reminder to offer our lives back to God, through serving and honoring Him.
For more information on Gift Families, please contact Sarah McKinzie, 812-219-2903, email@example.com.