Editor’s Note: Communications Associate Bekah Galucki dives into what “gifts” and how we can offer them back to God by recalling the Presentation of the Gifts within the context of Mass. She shares how her own personal experience of bringing gifts to the altar has been transformed.
When I think of gifts, my mind immediately goes to a specific moment from an “Explanation of the Mass” session that my home parish, St. Lawrence, held. All were welcome, in more ways than one, and the priest uncovered this truth through discussing the very moment of the Mass that I had once dreaded and now hold so dear.
Now the Presentation of the Gifts, drawing from my memories of Mass growing up, was remembered less fondly by my ten-year-old self: As we would pass around the offertory baskets, we would all look to see which chosen family got to bring up the gifts of bread, wine, and holy water. All eyes would be on them. On the numbered occasions that my family and I were asked to bring up the gifts to the altar, I vividly remember this sweaty-palmed, wide-eyed nervousness leading up to the ushers giving us the signal. We would then quietly leave our pew and gather at the back of the church, where the ushers would hand us the gifts and arrange us behind the altar servers.
In the very next moments, surprisingly, my nerves had all melted away. The deep sense of peace and belonging overwhelmingly took over. The pews filled with people staring at me had faded and my gaze was fixed on the priest in front of the altar, who was awaiting these gifts with a smile. He was not only waiting for what I held in my hands, but rather for me. God waits for me.
The truth I had learned was that in walking towards the altar, you are not only offering the gifts of earthly food and drink; you offer all that you are, all that you have, your hopes and dreams, your fears and doubts, the talents God has blessed you with, the love that has been cultivated within you, your good days, your not-so-good days, your time, your strengths, your faults, your everything–all is a gift that we offer back to God in thanksgiving. And in turn, He sees you also as a gift–His beloved child coming home.
This part of the Mass–of my faith, really–transformed into something far more personal and substantial. My old memories growing up and new presently-active faith have now worked together through His grace to give me a greater understanding of these gifts which have been given to me. During this part of the Mass now, I hold my heart and pray “My Lord and my God, all that I have and all that I am, I give to You.”
I invite you to reflect and offer yourself fully to God this Christmas, in every way possible.
Reflection Question: What specific gifts do you bring back to God? How can you fully give yourself to Him and “come home”?