I am aware that in my last three bulletin columns, I have written about the meanings of new words found in the Roman Missal, Third Edition. Permit me to comment on two more words or phrases—one this week and one next week—and I’m done. The new Roman Missal contains several words or phrases that are unfamiliar to most people. I believe it’s important to explain these words or phrases to help people enter into worship more fully.
Today, I would like to comment on the word “oblation.” To my knowledge, this word was absent from the last Roman Missal or Sacramentary, which just went out of use. In the current Roman Missal, it is found in Eucharistic Prayers I and III as well as in various Prayers over the Offerings. (The Prayer over the Offerings is the prayer the priest prays at the conclusion of the Preparation of the Gifts before he begins the Eucharistic Prayer.) “Oblation” is a word one seldom hears in everyday parlance. What does it mean?
An oblation is that which we offer to God or the act by which we offer it. At every Mass, the priest takes bread and wine and consecrates them to become the Body and Blood of Christ. He then offers to the Father this holy and perfect sacrifice, this oblation of Christ’s Body and Blood, for his own good and the good of the whole Church. In turn, the Father gives us his Son back in Holy Communion, so that we may receive him and become like him. What a marvelous exchange of gifts!
During the season of Advent, when we’re usually scurrying around trying to buy Christmas presents for everyone on our list, we need to ask ourselves, “What am I getting God for Christmas?” There can be no better gift to give God for Christmas than to make an oblation of ourselves in union with his Son, Jesus Christ. This means among other things to keep God’s commandments and to participate faithfully at Mass. This is a gift that keeps giving the whole year through.