Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Offering of Bread and Wine

Zenit has this scholarly article on the Offertory of the Mass, written by a porfessor of mine, Juan José Silvestre Valór, who teaches in the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (Santa Croce) in Rome. Here is just a small quotation from a much longer piece:
"The bread and wine become, in a certain sense, the symbol of all that that the eucharistic assembly as such brings in offering to God and that it offers in spirit. This is the force and the spiritual meaning of the presentation of the gifts. In this light we understand the incensing of the gifts on the altar, of the cross and the altar itself, which signifies the offering of the Church and her prayer, which ascend like incense into the presence of God".
One particular practice that is widespread in the Church in Ireland is an offertory procession (usually during a Requiem Mass for a deceased person) in which anything and everything connected to the person is brought to the altar in procession along with the Bread and Wine - sometimes with, sometimes without a commentary. It's something I strongly disapprove of, though often when I con-celebrate at a funeral it inevitably happens. I've seen lots of different things in my time that have made their way to the altar: curling tongs, toys cars, paintings, reading glasses - and the list goes on...! Never have I seen a bible being brought forward or a Rosary Bead, nor anything that points to the person having lived their faith. Oh for the noble simplicity of the Mass according to the mind of the Church!!!!
But even if these things were acceptable for the offertory procession, they aren't really offered at all - since the family always takes these things back again after the Mass. So they aren;t really offered - more like given on loan and have absolutely nothing to do with the offertory and presentation of the bread and wine.
End of rant!
For an excellent explanation of the elements of bread and wine which are used for the Eucharist this Homily by Pope Benedict XVI on Corpus Christi 2006 is well worth meditating upon.

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