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PREPARATION OF THE GIFTS
The offertory of the Mass. It is recommended that the faithful bring up the bread and wine, which the priest or deacon receives and places on the altar. While doing this the priest says some prescribed prayers. Money and other gifts for the poor or for the Church may be collected from the faithful at this times and carried to the altar, but placed in some convenient place rather than on the altar itself. The offertory antiphon is to accompany the procession of the gifts, after which the altar may be incensed, rising like a fragrant odor in the sight of God, as a symbol of the prayers and sacrifices of the faithful. Then the priest washes his hands as a sign of his desire for inward purification. Following this he says the familiar Orate Fratres, (Pray, Brethren), in which the faithful are invited to ask that their common sacrifice may be pleasing to God. The Prayer over the Gifts leads into the climax of the Mass.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.