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Eucharistic Liturgy: I) Presentation of the Gifts

Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Holy Mass
General Audience, Wednesday 28 February 2018 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Let us continue with the catechesis on the Holy Mass. The Liturgy of the Word — on which I focused in the last catecheses — is followed by the main part of the Mass which is the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In it, through its holy signs, the Sacrifice of the new covenant sealed by Jesus on the altar of the Cross is made continually present by the Church (cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, 47). The Cross was the first Christian altar, and when we approach the altar to celebrate Mass, our memory turns to the altar of the Cross where the first sacrifice was made.

The priest, who represents Christ in the Mass, does what Christ himself did and entrusted to the disciples at the Last Supper: he took the bread and the cup, gave thanks, gave it to his disciples and said: “Take, eat ... drink: this is my body.... This is the cup of my blood. Do this in memory of me”.

Obedient to Jesus’ commands, the Church organized the Eucharistic Liturgy into moments which correspond to the words and the actions performed by him on the eve of his Passion. Thus in the preparation of the gifts, the bread and the wine — that is, the elements which Christ took into his hands — are brought to the altar. In the Eucharistic Prayer, we give thanks to God for the whole work of redemption, and the offerings become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. This is followed by the breaking of the Bread and Communion, through which we relive the experience of the Apostles who received the Eucharistic gifts from Christ’s own hands (cf. General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 72).

Jesus’ first gesture: “he took the bread and the cup of wine”, thus corresponds to the preparation of the gifts. This is the first part of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It is praiseworthy that the faithful should present the bread and wine to the priest because they symbolize the spiritual offering of the Church assembled for the Eucharist. It is good that the faithful themselves bring the bread and wine to the altar. “Even though the faithful no longer bring from their own possessions the bread and wine intended for the liturgy as in the past, nevertheless the rite of carrying up the offerings still retains its force and its spiritual significance” (ibid., 73). And in this regard, it is significant that in ordaining a priest, when the Bishop gives him the bread and wine he says: “Accept from the holy people of God the gifts to be offered for the Eucharistic sacrifice” (cf. Pontificale Romanum — Ordination of Bishops, Priests and Deacons). The People of God who bring the offering, the bread and wine, the great offering for the Mass!

Therefore, in the symbols of the bread and the wine, the faithful place their offering in the hands of the priest who places them on the altar, or the Lord’s Table, “which is the centre of the whole Liturgy of the Eucharist” (girm, 73). Thus, the centre of the Mass is the altar and the altar is Christ. We must always look to the altar which is the centre of the Mass. In the “fruit of the earth and the work of man” the commitment of the faithful to obey the Divine Word is offered as a “sacrifice acceptable to the Almighty Father”, “for the good of all his holy Church”. Thus, “the lives of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer and work, are united with those of Christ and with his total offering, and so acquire a new value” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1368).

Certainly our offering is small but Christ needs this small amount. The Lord asks little of us and he gives us so much. He asks for little. He asks us for good will in our ordinary lives; he asks us for an open heart; he asks us to seek to be better in order to welcome the One who offers himself to us in the Eucharist; he asks us for these symbolic offerings which will become his Body and Blood. An image of this offering of prayer is represented by incense which, consumed by fire, releases a perfumed smoke that rises upwards: incensing the offerings, as is done on feast days, incensing the Cross and the altar, the priest and the priestly people visibly manifest their bond of offering which unites these realities to Christ’s Sacrifice (cf. girm, 75). And do not forget: there is the altar which is Christ, but always in reference to the first altar which is the Cross and, upon the altar which is Christ, we bring our small gifts, the bread and the wine which will become so much: Jesus himself who gives himself to us.

And all of this is also expressed in the prayer over the offerings. In it, the priest asks God to accept the gifts offered by the Church, invoking the fruit of the extraordinary exchange between our poverty and his richness. In the bread and wine, we present to him the offering of our life so that it may be transformed by the Holy Spirit in the Sacrifice of Christ and become with him a single spiritual offering pleasing to the Father. While the offerings conclude the preparation of the gifts, they prepare us for the Eucharistic Prayer (cf. ibid., 77). May the spirituality of self-giving that this moment of Mass teaches us illuminate our days, our relationships with others, the things we do, the suffering we encounter, helping us to build up the earthly city in the light of the Gospel."


"Je salue cordialement les pèlerins de langue française en particulier les jeunes venus de plusieurs régions de France. Je vous invite à développer dans le quotidien de votre vie cette spiritualité du don de soi qui s’exprime pleinement dans l’offertoire de la messe, et qui nous porte à offrir au Seigneur nos activités, nos souffrances et nos relations avec les autres. Que Dieu vous bénisse.

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from England, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Slovakia and the United States of America. With prayerful good wishes that this Lent will be a time of grace and spiritual renewal for you and your families, I invoke upon all of you joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!

Herzlich heiße ich die Pilger deutscher Sprache willkommen, insbesondere die Gruppe aus Latzfons in Südtirol. Die Bereitung von Brot in Wein in der Eucharistiefeier lehrt uns die Spiritualität der Selbsthingabe. Bitten wir den Herrn, dass die heilige Messe unsere Hingabe an Gott und an unseren Nächsten in all seinen Nöten stärke. Gott segne euch alle.

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos provenientes de España y Latinoamérica. En este tiempo de cuaresma los animo a vivir profundamente la espiritualidad de la entrega que la Eucaristía nos enseña, de modo que la oración, el ayuno y la limosna de estos días, den frutos concretos de auténtica conversión del corazón. Muchas gracias.

Dirijo uma saudação cordial a todos os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, particularmente aos fiéis de Portugal e do Brasil. Faço votos de que esta peregrinação reforce em vós a fé em Jesus Cristo, que, na celebração da Santa Missa, nos associa ao seu sacrifício na Cruz, chamando a todo fiel a colaborar na construção de um mundo mais justo e belo. Que Deus abençoe a cada um de vós!

أرحّب بمودّةٍ بالأشخاصِ الناطقين باللغةِ العربيّةِ، وخاصةً بالقادمين من سوريا، ومن الأراضي المقدسة، ومن الشرق الأوسط. في
‏الإفخارستيا نحن نقدمُ للربِّ من الأشياءِ التي أعطانا هو إياها، طالبينَ منه في المقابلِ أن يهبَنا ذاتَه. ونحن نتعلّمُ، من هذا التبادلِ بين فقرِنا ‏وغناه، أننا فقط في العطاءِ نغتني، وأننا فقط في فتحِ قلوبِنا للربِّ ولأشقائِنا، نسمحُ لله بأن يغمرنا بوافرِ نعمتِه. ليبارككم ‏الربّ ‏‏جميعًا ‏ويحرسكم من الشرير!‏ ‏ ‏‏

Pozdrawiam serdecznie obecnych tu Polaków. Przeżywamy Wielki Post: czas refleksji, nawrócenia i duchowej przemiany. Z uwagą rozważajcie wydarzenia Drogi Krzyżowej, lamentacje Gorzkich żali i treść rekolekcyjnych konferencji. Niech one pomogą wam odnowić, umocnić lub nawiązać osobistą duchową relację z Chrystusem. Miejcie serca otwarte na moc Boga i oczy skierowane na potrzeby bliźnich. Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus."

* * *

"Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai fedeli di lingua italiana.

Sono lieto di accogliere i partecipanti al Capitolo Generale delle Salesiane Missionarie di Maria Immacolata; i Fratelli delle Scuole Cristiane e i “Volontari di Dio” del Movimento dei Focolari.

Saluto i fedeli di Pavullo nel Frignano, accompagnati dal Vescovo Mons. Germano Bernardini; i giovani ospiti presso il Centro di Accoglienza di L’Aquila; gli Istituti scolastici, specialmente quelli di Civitavecchia e delle Suore Pallottine di Roma; i membri dell’Ordine di Malta della Lombardia e del Veneto e gli associati FAIPA: “Le Chiavi d’Oro”. Auspico che tutti possiate vivere la fede come servizio per Dio e per i fratelli.

Saluto infine i giovani, gli anziani, gli ammalati e gli sposi novelli. La Quaresima è un tempo favorevole per intensificare la vita spirituale: la pratica del digiuno vi sia di aiuto, cari giovani, per acquisire maggiore padronanza su voi stessi; il pensiero sul futuro aiuti voi, cari anziani, a dare la speranza ai giovani: parlate con loro; la preghiera sia per voi, cari ammalati, il mezzo per affidare a Dio le vostre sofferenze e sentirlo sempre vicino; le opere di misericordia, infine, aiutino voi, cari sposi novelli, a vivere la vostra vita coniugale sempre orientata alle necessità dei fratelli."

[Saluto ai fedeli presenti nella Basilica di San Pietro]

"Grazie! Grazie tante per la pazienza di aspettare fino adesso. Il Signore vi benedica, benedica la vostra pazienza. Ma credo che era meglio essere qui che al freddo, no? Davvero? Sì? Va bene. Adesso vi darò la benedizione, ma prima preghiamo la Madonna.

[Ave o Maria…]