Chrism Mass

Our bishops invite you to join them via livestream as they commemorate the saving Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, celebrated in the sacred liturgies of Holy Week. 

All services will be livestreamed to the Archdiocese of Cape Town Facebook page and the videos will be posted later to this website and to our YouTube channel.

The Chrism Mass, celebrated by Archbishop Stephen Brislin at Immaculate Conception, Parow on Thursday 1 April 2021 at 10.00 was livestreamed directly to the Immacuate Conception Facebook page and was shared to the Archdiocese of Cape Town Facebook page. Here is a recording of the celebration.

The text of the Archbishop’s homily at the Mass can be found below.



First and foremost, I would like to express my gratitude to the priests ministering in this Archdiocese. The year-long lockdown, at various levels, has disrupted the lives of everyone, and it has disrupted the life of the Church. Nonetheless, new and creative ways have been found by priests to continue their ministry of evangelisation and pastoral care of the flock entrusted to them. I know that it has not always been easy for you. I know that for many there has been a deep sense of loneliness, frustration and inner turbulence. But you have continued, relying on your inner strength and your commitment to priesthood and many have used the time for more prayer and reading. For fidelity to ministry and your creativity I am very much grateful, as I am grateful to the deacons of the Archdiocese who have given support to their priests and continued faithfully in their ministry to God’s people.

And to you, the Family of God, our parishioners, thank you for the support and strength you have given to all of us. Without you, we would not be able to minister effectively, but you make our responsibility an easy one, even in those times when we disappoint you or fail you. We are particularly appreciative of your prayers for us, for the Lord fills us with his grace and courage through those prayers. We know that for many of you, this past year has been burdensome and painful. It is part of our responsibility as priests – both Baptismal Priesthood or Ministerial Priesthood – to intercede for others and pray for them. Please know that we pray for your continually. 

I would like to speak to the priests as they will renew their priestly vows today – not all priests can be present due to the restrictions, but I hope that those joining us virtually will use the opportunity to renew their vows as well. In the Gospel Reading of today’s Mass Jesus reads from the Prophet Isaiah. We then hear:

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’

We who share in Jesus’ ministry should reflect on this verse and question ourselves whether we too can say that through us ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ We are called to bind up hearts that are broken, to proclaim liberty, to set the downtrodden free, to give sight and to bring good news, proclaiming God’s year of favour It is perhaps difficult to see the past year as being one of “God’s favour”, yet it is often in times of disruption that God reveals truths to us, truths that we possibly already know but of which we are neglecting to take notice. One such truth is the brevity of time – we have seen how quickly life passes and how suddenly we ca be called from this life. St Josemaria Escrivá puts it this way, Time is a treasure that melts away. It escapes from us, slipping through our fingers like water through the mountain rocks. Tomorrow will soon be another yesterday. Our lives are so very short. Yesterday has gone and today is passing by. But what a great deal can be done for the love of God in this short space of time! Time is indeed a treasure that should not be wasted, and surely the past year has reminded us how precious time is, and to look at how we use time. Combatting against good use of time is complacency, when we become comfortable with how much we do and how we do them. Complacency implies that we have lost the sense of energy and idealism that we once had, the sense of being God’s ministers who can make a difference in the world. It means we have got into a rut, but in his mercy God has disrupted us from that rut. Witnessing the pain and suffering of so many people, as well as the fragility of human life, should be sufficient cause for us to recapture our sense of mission and the urgency to bring the light of Christ’s compassion and truth to the world. The pandemic has brought into sharp focus the disparities that exist in our society, the injustices that continue to degrade millions of people and new forms of domination that are appearing, often disguised by being couched the language of greater freedom and prosperity. We should not allow the time we have been given to trickle away by allowing ourselves to be minimalistic in living our vocation.

Associated with the use of time is another aspect of the pandemic that has made apparent the weakness of human life. That is the fragility of the the foundations that we have built our lives on, the support structures that we depend on. Many of them can be swept away in the blink of an eye, reminiscent of Jesus’ parable of the person who built his house on sand rather than rock. During the past year, we have had to rely on inner resources that we have built up over the years. If those inner resources are shallow, under-developed or built on a false foundation, they will not be able to withstand the gales and torrents of rain. How do we strengthen our foundation in faith in Jesus Christ? The obvious answer is through prayer, but I was recently reminded of what Karl Bart said. Prayer without study would be empty. Study without prayer would be blind. Our prayer is essential but even when it is individually done, in needs to be informed by the experiences and thoughts of others. To give depth to our prayer life it is incumbent on us to continue to read – to read spiritual books, theology, hagiography or whatever can help us to think and reflect more deeply on God’s action in the world. It is prayer, guided by “study”, that will strengthen the bond of communion between ourselves and God.

The second pillar in ensuring that the foundations of our inner life are strong is to love. As priests, we face not only the usual difficulties of life but also the difficulties of working with people. At times we face hostility. As disciples of Jesus we can never treat people badly, even if they treat us badly, we have to learn to live together and to make allowances for differences of perspectives. St John of the Cross said, where there is no love, put love and you will find love. Love promotes love. The only way to elicit love where it is lacking is through love. There is always the temptation in priesthood to become selfish, set in our ways, and carving out for ourselves a kingdom. But our mission is to love: to love God, to love his Church, to love our priesthood and to love those who have been entrusted to our pastoral care, whether they are co-operative or whether they wounded us. Jesus is “the wounded healer” who heals those in pain us through his wounds. We, who share in the mission of Christ, must allow our own woundedness to be a source of healing for others. If we are, in the words of the Prophet Isaiah, to “bind up hearts that are broken”, we have to come to terms with our own brokenness, to own it, accept it, and allow it to transform us. The sense of weakness and brokenness can make us turn inwards in pain and self-pity, or it can find healing and wholeness when we turn to our fellow human beings who are in need to accompany them and show solidarity to them in their own pain, confusion and loss. Our sense of brokenness should spur us on to seek those things in life that continue to bind so many in the chains of injustice and oppression, which keep them in brokenness and degradation. Rather than deny or hide our weakness we embrace it as a source of grace. As St Paul says, That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.2

The third pillar for a strong priestly foundation is the support we need from our fellow-priests. In times of difficulty we may feel unsupported by our brothers. The question we should be asking is how much do we give support to our brother priests? It is similar to the famous statement of President John F. Kennedy, do not ask what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country, and the words of Jesus, the standard you use will be the standard used for you (cf. Luke 6:38).Building the bonds between priests is not an option, but belongs to the very nature of priesthood itself. We are not meant to be lone-wolves. As with any significant relationship, it is a responsibility that requires effort and sacrifice.

All in all, on this beautiful Feast Day, we can thanks joyfully and whole-heartedly for the gift of priesthood. It is one of the greatest gifts God can ever bestow on anyone. Together with the people we serve, we face the winds and storms that life brings – we cannot fail them and we cannot fail God. Our spiritual foundations have been shaken over the past months – they will be shaken and tested even more in the future. Through prayer, love and supporting each other, may we persevere and grow in our sense of vocation, serving God, using our time consciously and efficiently. Our vocation requires that we grow in greater sincerity, – avoiding creating a false image of ourselves, or by trying to be what we are not – but through simply and humble obedience to his will, serving him in the everyday events of life faithfully. So may the words of Isaiah find fulfilment in us.

+Stephen Brislin
Archbishop of Cape Town

1 As quoted in Friends of God: Homilies by Josemaria Escrivá de Balaguer, no.9
2 2 Corinthians 12:10

Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Our bishops invite you to join them via livestream as they commemorate the saving Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, celebrated in the sacred liturgies of Holy Week. 

All services will be livestreamed to the Archdiocese of Cape Town Facebook page and the videos will be posted later to this website and to our YouTube channel.

Below is the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, celebrated by Archbishop Stephen Brislin at St Mary’s Cathedral, Cape Town on Thursday 1 April 2021 at 19.30

Prayer and Reflection by Archbishop Stephen Brislin

Archbishop Stephen Brislin offers his prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town for today, Wednesday 31 March 2021, during this time of the coronavirus pandemic. It is also available on the Archdiocese of Cape Town’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Please also see below the text of his reflection, primarily for the deaf.

We have entered Holy Week and we walk with Jesus on the path of calvary and resurrection. No matter where you are, no matter whether we can attend the Services or not we can and must make this a time of reflection and appreciation for our salvation. Tomorrow we celebrate the Chrism Mass in the morning, when the oils of catechumens, the sick and chrism will be blessed for use during the coming year. Tomorrow evening we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and the institution of the Sacraments of Orders (Priesthood) and Eucharist. On Good Friday we recall the crucifixion and death of our Saviour, and on Sunday celebrate his Resurrection. The coming days are days of blessing and holiness, let’s not waste them.

The excerpt from Scripture is from today’s Gospel, Matthew 26:14-25

Go into the city to such a one, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’ And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. When it was evening, he sat at the table with his twelve disciples; and as they were eating, he said, ‘Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me’.

Let us pray:

Almighty God and Father, you sent your only Son into the world to take of our flesh, and to submit humbly to the Cross. Graciously grant that we may learn from him patient suffering and so share in his Resurrection. We make this prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever, amen.

In the Mass, after the offertory and the “Prayer over the Gifts” (of bread and wine), the Eucharistic Prayer begins with the short dialogue, “The Lord be with you”, “Lift up your hearts”, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God”, to which the people respond “And with your spirit”, “We lift them up to the Lord”, “It is right and just”. This dialogue once again establishes the communion between priest and people. It also establishes the sacredness of the prayer we are entering into. As I have said, the whole of the Mass is “God-directed” – God is our focus, and the Mass is a prayer to God. But as we begin the Eucharistic Prayer, through which the bread and wine will be consecrated, we not only make God our focus but “we lift up our hearts to him”. Not only is this offering ourselves to him but it is the desire and hope of unity with him, it is our wish that we be with him “one heart” in the love that he has for us and we have for him. We are giving ourselves to God in love. We also acknowledge that it is “right and just” to give God thanks, an essential acknowledgement as we will see later. In fact, the word “Eucharist” derives from the Greek, meaning “thanksgiving” or gratitude.

The Eucharistic Prayer is largely prayed by the priest alone, but there are there other dialogues within it, namely the Sanctus (Holy, holy), the Proclamation of Faith and the “Amen” right at the end of the Prayer, which is the assent of the people “it is so”, “it is certain”, “it is true”.

The Eucharistic Prayer weaves elements of Jewish Table Prayers as well as the prayers of the Passover into the memorial of the Last Supper, underscoring the continuity between Old Testament and New Testament and the fulfilment of the prophecies of old.

The Prayer is structured in a certain order and includes eight distinct partsi; Firstly, thanksgiving, most especially in the Preface after the short dialogue I mentioned above and ending with the Sanctus. The priest, speaking on behalf of all gathered and, indeed, on behalf of the whole Church, thanks God for the work of salvation. There are Prefaces for the various times of the year and for special celebrations. The Sanctusby which the whole congregation joins the heavenly powers in singing God’s greatness and goodness, is based on Isaiah 6:2-3. It is a cosmic hymn of praise.

Thirdly, there is the Epiclesis, in which the Church implores the power of the Holy Spirit that the gifts offered by human hands be consecrated, that is, that they become the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This is followed by the Institution Narrative and Consecration by which the words and actions of Christ are repeated. The Sacrifice is effected which Jesus himself instituted at the Last Supper when he offered his Body and Blood under the species of bread and wine, and gave them to his Apostles to eat and drink, with the instruction to continue the practice in memory of him.

Fifthly, there is the anamnesis, where the Church in obedience to the command ”Do this in memory of me”, recalls especially his Passion, Resurrection and Ascension into heaven, the great acts of our salvation. The Oblation by which the Church, especially those gathered here and now, offers the unblemished sacrificial Victim to the Father, in the Holy Spirit. The intention is not only to offer the unblemished Sacrifice, Christ, to the Father, but also to offer our very selves, so that day by day, through Christ, we will be brought into ever greater unity with God and with each other, so that God at last can be all in all.

Seventhly, The Intercessions give expression that the Eucharist is offered in union with the whole Church of both heaven and earth, and that the sacrifice is made for her and for all her members, living and dead. The intercessions express unity with our Shepherds on earth – the Holy Father who is the leader of the universal Church, and our Bishop who is the shepherd of our Diocese. These are prayers for the pastoral office rather than the individuals. Finally, there is the concluding Doxology, by which the glorification of God is expressed and which is affirmed and concluded by the people’s “Amen”. In many respects, the “Amen” at the end of the Doxology is the most important response of Mass for it affirms our belief in the miracle of Jesus’ Body and Blood, given to us through the transubstantiation of the Bread and Wine.

I will continue to speak about the Eucharistic Prayer next week.

Let us now pray for God’s blessing:

The Lord be with you R/ And with your Spirit

Bow down for the blessing:

God our Father, look kindly on your family for whom your Son Jesus offered his life. Do not count their sins against them, but in your abundant mercy forgive them and give them a share in life everlasting. Through Christ Our Lord, amen.

May Almighty God bless you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (+), amen.

i The explanations are based on those given in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), no 79.

Devotion to St Joseph with Bishop Sylvester David OMI

Pope Francis declared the Year of St Joseph, running from 8 December 2020 to 8 December 2021. This is a rare opportunity for us to focus on this great man who is often described as “standing in the shadows”. Joseph becomes our guide to visit the important moments of the life of Mary and the childhood of Jesus. Though operating in obscurity, Joseph leads us to a deeper understanding of Church, work, family, husband, fatherhood and prayer as we delve into some important aspects of his life. Every time we do we this have a refreshing encounter with who we are as Church in the world today. As this is also the Year of the Eucharist, Benediction forms an integral part of our devotions.

This year is an invitation by Pope Francis to celebrate St Joseph. It is an opportunity that the Church and the faithful should appropriate fully. Bishop Sylvester David OMI presents the second of the monthly reflections. It is titled: St Joseph in Scripture. It will be livestreamed to Christ the King Catholic Church Facebook page on 6 April 2021 from 19.00-19.30. The livestream link is:

Archdiocesan News 1 of 2021

HOT OFF THE ‘DIGITAL PRESS’: In this edition: Archdiocese celebrates ordination to Priesthood; Celebrating the Year of St Joseph; Discussing property matters with Mayor of Cape Town; Exciting Youth Chaplaincy events and programmes; Holy Week livestream services by our Bishops; Download your FREE DIRECTORY from our website; Happy 150th Birthday Springfield!; Child Safeguarding Matters; Updated livestream details on our website; an update from our Catholic Schools; The inevitable killing of Mthokozisi Ntumba; Why did Pope Francis visit Iraq?; Catechetics training and formation; Farewell to “the Golden Girls” of CPD; Out of the Mouths of Babes; SVP brings Christmas cheer to the needy.

Download your FREE copy of the 2021 Archdiocesan Directory

Archbishop Stephen Brislin has made the 2021 Archdiocesan Directory freely available to all! 

Instead of being printed, this edition has been made available for download as an interactive PDF. It has been adapted for use on a computer screen (as a double page spread) as well as on a cellphone (in single page portrait format). 

For your convenience, all website and email addresses will be interactive. While browsing through the directory on your computer, simply click – or on your cellphone, tap – the address you want to go to and it will launch the website you want to visit or open your default email program with the address already loaded.

A PDF reader is needed to open and read the file. Most smartphones and computers come pre-loaded with a reader, but should you not have one, it is freely available for download from The PDF reader has a “Find” function at the top of the page which makes searching easy. Simply type in a key word, e.g. “Directory” and it will take you to all instances of the word occurring in the document.

Save the file to a prominent place on your computer Desktop where it is easily accessible. To keep it in a dedicated place on your cellphone, simply download and install your favourite ebook reader from the Play Store (Android) or Apple App Store (iPhone) free of charge. These also have their own “Search” functions. 

We have endeavoured to ensure that the information in the directory is up to date, but should you find anything in need of correction please contact Stephen Docherty on the contact details below. Also, should you have any queries on navigating the document, please call on 021 462 2417, or email

We aim to publish this directory on a quarterly basis, which will be indicated in the name of the PDF file, e.g. archdiocesan directory 1 of 2021, and will be available for download from this website.

There are two files available for download, one adapted for a computer screen in “spread” or landscape format, and one adapted for a cellphone screen in portrait format. Choose the one – or both – to suit your needs.

Livestreamed Holy Week and Easter liturgies in English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa and Sesotho

The details of the liturgical celebrations for Holy Week and Easter in the various languages are as follows:

The Diocese of Oudtshoorn will livestream Holy Week and Easter Celebrations as follows:
1 April – Holy Thursday – Queen of Peace, Bongolethu – 19:00
2 April – Good Friday – St Nicholas, Brighton – 15:00
3 April – Easter Vigil – St Saviour’s Cathedral – 19:00
4 April – Easter Sunday – St Conrad, Dysselsdorp – 09:00

The Facebook link for Afrikaans liturgies is:

The Archdiocese of Cape Town will livestream Holy Week and Easter liturgies as follows:
1. 28th March 2021. Palm Sunday – 10.00 Our Lady of the flight into Egypt Cathedral
2. 1st April 2021. Chrism Mass – 10.00 Immaculate Conception Parish, Parow.
3. 1st April 2021. Mass of the Lord’s Supper – 19.30 Our Lady of the flight into Egypt Cathedral
4. 2nd April 2021. Celebration of the Lord’s Passion – 15.00 Our Lady of the flight into Egypt Cathedral
5. 3rd April 2021. Easter Vigil – 20.00 Our Lady of the flight into Egypt Cathedral
6. 4th April 2021. Easter Sunday Mass – 10.00 Our Lady of the flight into Egypt Cathedral

English services will be livestreamed to the Archdiocese of Cape Town Facebook page and links will be posted to this website and to our YouTube channel.

The Diocese of Mthatha will livestream Holy Week and Easter Celebration as follows:
Palm Sunday Mass at 09:00 in IsiXhosa from St Patrick’s Parish in Mthatha 
Holy Thursday Mass at 18:00 in IsiXhosa from St Patrick’s Parish in Mthatha 

The Facebook link for isiXhosa liturgies (above) and Sesotho and isiXhosa (below) is

Bilingual (Sesotho and isiXhosa)
The Diocese of Mthatha will also livestream bilingual Holy Week and Easter celebrations from St Martin of Tours Parish, Mthatha as follows:
1. 28 March, Passion Sunday, 11.00
2. 01 April, Maundy Thursday, 16.00
3. 02 April, Good Friday, 15.00 
4. 03 April, Holy Saturday, 18.00
5. 04 April, Easter Sunday, 10.00 

Further details will be made known as soon as these come in.

Palm Sunday Mass by Archbishop Stephen Brislin

Our bishops invite you to join them via livestream as they commemorate the saving Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, celebrated in the sacred liturgies of Holy Week.

All services will be livestreamed to the Archdiocese of Cape Town Facebook page and links will be posted to this website and to our YouTube channel.

Here are the videos of the Palm Sunday Mass presided over by Archbishop Stephen Brislin, livestreamed at 10.00am on Sunday 28 March from St Mary’s Cathedral, Cape Town. Apologies: there are two videos, as connection was lost during the livestream.

First video of the Palm Sunday Mass
Second video of the Palm Sunday Mass

Prayer and Reflection by Bishop Sylvester David OMI

Auxiliary Bishop Sylvester David offers his prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town for today, Friday 26 March 2021, during this time of the Coronavirus pandemic. It is also available on the Archdiocese of Cape Town’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Please also see below the text of his reflection, primarily for the deaf.

Reflection for Friday 26 March 2021. Gospel passage: John 10:31-42

As startling as it might seem to some, we have to conclude that it was religion – badly practiced religion, which put the Son of God on the cross. Why do I make such a claim? All genuine religion represents a genuine search for the genuine God. Being an authentic religious leader Jesus revealed the true God to the world but the God he revealed angered the religious leaders of his time. 

In our Gospel passage of today’s Mass the Jews wanted to stone Jesus, accusing him of blasphemy. Those who opposed Jesus in the Gospel of John become a symbol for those who resist the divine message. In the synoptic gospels they are identified as Pharisees, who used religion to control people and boost their own egos. These were the people who knew the catechism but did not know God, otherwise they would never have passed the death sentence on Jesus. We see this clearly in the Gospel of Mark, for example, when the religious authorities had him condemned: “You heard the blasphemy. What is your finding? Their verdict was unanimous: he deserved to die” (Mark 14:64). 

The charge was blasphemy which means to insult God with language. When Jesus said that God was with the outcast, the marginalised, the sinners, the tax collectors, the lepers and the other untouchables they became enraged. They forgot that it was the sick who need the doctor and not the healthy. They reverenced the outwardly holy and forgot about the “circumcision of the heart” (Jeremiah 4:4). The God Jesus revealed irritated them because it robbed them of their status and their power over the people. One way to enrage a power-broker or a control freak is to threaten his/her power. Power brokers will do anything to protect their power – even to the extent of murdering the innocent. 

In this year of St Joseph, who was a family man, perhaps it will be good to see the ways in which power is exercised in the family. Among the spouses, is there a demonstration of God’s decision that the two shall become one – or is it more a case of one domineering the relationship while minimising the other? Parents, do your children love you – or do they fear you? Are they free enough to have an opinion that is different to yours or must they always reverence your soccer team, your political party, the brands you prefer, and bow down to the demands of your ego? It will be good to take the Passion of Christ into our homes knowing that the Cross does not transform us by by-passing our difficulties, but transforms us through helping us face our difficulties. It is not a spiritual bandage for a relational wound – rather, it is power to dialogue about our difficulties and to agree to respect each other’s differences. But the first step is always to recognise that we need God’s help.

Blasphemy literally means to insult God with language. We insult God with language when we say one thing and do another. For example when marriage vows are taken and then not kept, God is insulted with the utterance of vows in a faithless way. The same can be said of baptismal vows, priestly vows and religious professions. Other ways in which we insult God with language is through telling lies and through gossip. I wish you a meaningful reflection on how blasphemy can sometimes creep into the home in unnoticed ways and cause damage to our relationships. 

Let us pray: Lord, give us the grace to become more authentic in our speech and our actions and in that way to be a true disciples of Jesus. We ask this through him who is the way, the truth and the life. Amen. [Blessing].

Prayer and Reflection by Archbishop Stephen Brislin

Archbishop Stephen Brislin offers his prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town for today, Wednesday 24 March 2021, during this time of the coronavirus pandemic. It is also available on the Archdiocese of Cape Town’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Please also see below the text of his reflection, primarily for the deaf.

We are now in the fifth week of Lent and are rapidly approaching the celebration of the Easter mysteries, the heart of Christian belief. We will commemorate the Last Supper and keep vigil with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, walk with Jesus on the way of the Cross and stand with Our Lady and others at the foot of the Cross. In stillness we will prayerfully remember his burial and rejoice with the angels at his Resurrection. 

In the First Reading of today’s Mass (Daniel 3:14-20, 24-25.28) we hear of the three young men who would not obey the order of Nebuchadnezzar to worship his gods and were duly thrown into the fiery furnace. Here is an excerpt from the end of the narrative:

Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set at nought the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.

Let us pray:

O God of compassion, guide us your people to serve you, the one and only true God, and to surrender ourselves completely to your will, in trust and confidence of your love and mercy for us. We make this prayer, through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever, amen.

After the Liturgy of the Word at Mass, we enter the Liturgy of the Eucharist, beginning with the collection (on a Sunday). In the early days of the Church the collection was intended for the poor and those in need. As the Church grew, support was needed for the Church itself and for the upkeep of the clergy, as well as for those in need. Nonetheless, part of the collection should always be used for the poor. Sometimes gifts “in kind” were brought to the altar for the poor. The collection is important, not only for the support it gives, but also as an act of giving and sharing from what we have. Christian life is characterized by our willingness to share.

At the offertory, bread and wine is offered for consecration. There are four essential aspects to the Eucharist and, despite some changes in the Mass in history, the four Eucharistic actions have always been present and must be present. They are to be found in the Scriptural accounts of the Last Supper: Jesus took bread, he gave thanks, he broke it and he gave it to his disciples – similarly he took wine, gave thanks and gave it to his disciples. In the offertory of the Mass the priest fulfils the first of the Eucharistic actions, he takes the bread and wine. It is always preferable if there is an offertory procession where the bread and wine is brought forward, although it is not always feasible to do so. And, of course, in this time of pandemic, it is not possible at all. 

The offertory procession should be confined to bringing forward the gifts for the Church/those in need, and the bread and wine. It is not appropriate to bring forward other symbols which may distract from the bread and wine, such as candles, bibles, pictures of saints, and so on. If there other symbols at a celebration, these can be presented at the beginning of Mass.

The celebrant offers the bread to the Father, using words based on traditional Jewish table prayers, blessing God the Creator  for giving us the fruits of the earth and they are offered as the “work of human hands”. Before making a similar prayer for the wine he mixes it with a small amount of water, saying softly “By the mingling of this water and wine may we come to share in the Divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity”. This action can be seen as a reference to the blood and water that flowed from Christ’s side, as a symbol of the divine and human nature of Christ – the divine exchange between Christ’s divinity and our humanity – and as a prayer that we will never be separated from Christ, just as the water and wine can no longer be separated.

After the Blessing Prayers, the celebrant washes his hands, saying quietly, “Wash me, O Lord, from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin”, a verse from Psalm 51. From Old Testament times the Levites were required to undergo ritual washing before performing their duties. It is possible that the washing of hands at Mass was a practical thing to do in the past, since the celebrant received multiple gifts in the offertory, such as vegetables, fruit and so on, and needed to wash his hands. It is now understood as a symbol of the need for inner purification and integrity of heart.   

The priest then invites the congregation, “Pray brethren (brothers and sisters) that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Almighty Father”. However, there is only one sacrifice being offered. “My sacrifice and yours” refers to the different natures of the priesthood: the priesthood of the baptized – in which we all share through our baptism – and the ministerial priesthood imparted through ordination. The people respond, “may the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and good of all the Church”. The function of a priest is to offer sacrifice; as we all share in the baptismal priesthood our offering to God is our very lives in their totality, body and soul, our works, our dreams, our happinesses and sorrows – all is offered to God, and we combine our offering with the self-offering of Christ. The ministerial priesthood is responsible for offering the Sacrifice of Christ at Mass, the perfect sacrifice that is never repeated. We share in it as a “memorial”. The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ’s Passover, making it present in the “here and now” – it is the sacramental offering of his unique sacrifice. The memorial is not merely the recollection of past events but they become, in a certain way, present and real.

The celebrant then says the prayer over the offerings which brings the Preparation of the Gifts to completion.

Let us now pray for God’s blessing:

The Lord be with you                                      R/ And with your Spirit

Bow down for the blessing:

Listen to the cry of your people, O Lord, and receive our prayers, as we place all our hope in you. May we feel the effects of your mercy and never doubt your presence among us. Through Christ Our Lord, amen.

May Almighty God bless you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (+), amen.