What can I offer personally?

At the center of the Holy Eucharist is the offertory. What can I offer? I can certainly give money in the collection. But the offertory invites us to go deeper. Just as Christ offers himself, I am invited to give myself as well. I can offer myself, personally.

It is not difficult. I can offer my gratitude, as Psalm 116:17 suggests, “I will offer a sacrifice of praise.” I can offer, in some way, who I am at this moment. My situation. And how I am feeling. Nothing is too small to offer to Jesus. Whatever I perceive in myself, Jesus wants to hear it, and he wants to accept it as my offering. Even if I feel like it’s not enough or it’s too ugly – it can become my offering that He wants to transform.

– I feel frustrated. I can offer my frustration.

– I feel fear. I put my fear on the altar.

– I am angry: I give my anger to Him.

– I am proud. I offer my pride to Him.

– I am in pain. I offer Him my pain.

– I am in despair. I offer Him my despair.

– I feel like I have nothing to give: I offer Him just that – my powerlessness, my inability to give Him anything.

Psalm 51 says: “For you do not desire sacrifice; I would give it to you. A burnt offering you would not accept. My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not spurn.” (Psalm 51:18-19) When I give what I am, who I am, who I am at this moment, I give enough — and He will accept this as a gift and transform me. It is the humble heart that He accepts.

Lord, let me be awake at the moment of the offering. Let me give myself and hold nothing back. Look at my gift with your kind eyes. Accept me. Lift my soul to You as You lifted Your beloved Son. So let me leave the Eucharist relieved, lighter, more joyful, and filled with Your love.

There Is Blood

Kelch_Mauritius Wilde

When I became a priest, I had the longing to never get used to what I was going to do. My chalice should help to remind me. Years before my ordination I had been in Auschwitz. I could hardly bear what one is confronted with at this place of suffering. I retired a bit from the crowds and–kneeling on the ground–my fingers played in the soil, and unexpectedly found an isolator. It had probably served on one of the deadly fences around the camp. Having it in my hands, I immediately thought this piece could become the node of my chalice. – Years later, shortly before my ordination, I carried the isolator to the goldsmith of our monastery and he was able to create a chalice out of it. The broken piece is now completed with mountain crystal as sign that God heals what is broken, in life, and especially during the Holy Eucharist. God completes what is not finished, He takes the broken and heals it. He does so by the shedding of the blood of his own Son.

I am trying to imagine how much suffering, pain, and injustice this isolator “has seen”. It is a witness of the injustice that cried out to heaven, of the blood that was shed innocently. Also, Jesus was killed innocently. We believe that during the Holy Eucharist the wine is changed into the blood of Christ. We should not forget: what we have on the altar and what we receive is blood. When we lift the chalice towards heaven, we are reminded that God heard the cry of his Son. He came to take the sins away. The liturgy is not just a nice spectacle. It is about life and death. It celebrates that life prevails. That the dead will be raised. Jesus himself suffered and was killed. But he was raised from the dead and is alive now, with God. This is my prayer for all who died in the concentration camps. It is my prayer, with each Eucharist, that wounds are healed, especially those of the generations of families whose loved ones died in the Holocaust.

It does not take much to see in this chalice also the suffering of today‚Äôs times. There are enough people who suffer; who are afraid; who are oppressed; who are sick and don’t get help; who are treated unjustly; who are sidelined; who are persecuted; who are kidnapped; who are killed. Unfortunately, the suffering on earth did not find an end after Jesus’s death; although he wants us to live according to the new rules of the Kingdom of God. At least–that gives me hope–God looks at the suffering of his people. And, finally, he will bring everything to a good end.

Lord, in silence we stand before you holding the suffering of our world and our own suffering up to heaven. Look on us in your mercy. Look at the blood of your Son. Let us not become too tired to cry out to you, to celebrate your Son’s death and resurrection, to celebrate the drama of his life and the new hope you have given us.