The Liturgy of the Word Part II & Preparation of the Gifts

Liturgy Lines 10th April 2016

The Liturgy of the Word Part II

On Sundays and solemnities, the readings and homily at Mass are followed by the Profession of Faith, also called Symbol of Faith or Creed. A different creed cannot be substituted for the two approved versions – the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds – because it expresses the foundational belief of the whole Church, not only of the people gathered at a particular time and place.

At every Mass, the Liturgy of the Word concludes with the Universal Prayer, or Prayer of the Faithful.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal sets out the areas that should be included in the Universal Prayer: (i) the needs of the Church, (ii) public authorities and the salvation of the world, (iii) those burdened by any kind of difficulty, (iv) the local community.

The words read out during the Prayer of the Faithful are not prayers addressed to God at all but a list of petitions. The reader announces four or five brief intentions for which the faithful are asked to pray. Each intention is followed by a time of silence to allow the people to formulate their own prayer in their hearts, before the reader gives the cue (eg ‘Lord, hear us’) and the community responds (eg ‘Lord, hear our prayer’). If there is no silence, then there is no prayer - just a list of statements.

The presider concludes the Prayer of the Faithful with a collect which sums up the prayers of the assembly.

Preparation of the Gifts

The Liturgy of the Word at Mass is followed by what is called the ‘Preparation of the Gifts’. The purpose of this rite is to prepare the altar, the gifts and the assembly for the offering that takes place during the Eucharistic Prayer.

The primary elements of the Preparation of the Gifts are the bringing forward of the gifts, placing them on the altar and the prayer said over them. Other elements such as an accompanying song and the prayers of preparation are secondary.

The procession with the gifts by members of the assembly is a powerful expression of our participation in the eucharistic action. The General Instruction mentions only bread, wine and money (or other gifts for the poor and the Church) in the procession.  It is a procession of gifts: you can’t take them back again afterwards!

One vessel with sufficient altar bread for the assembly, one large container of wine, and a basket with the collection are all that need be presented. Including offerings for the poor and the Church is of ancient origin and deep significance.

As the preparation of the gifts is a secondary rite, it is not a time when singing by the assembly has high priority. A choir piece or instrumental music could effectively accompany the procession. Any music continues at least until the gifts have been placed on the altar. Silence might be a better option, as worshippers can use this quiet time to prepare to unite themselves with Christ’s offering.


Elizabeth Harrington