The Armchair Liturgist: Handing Off The Gifts

Consider when people bring the bread and wine to or toward the altar for Mass. Where does the handoff take place between people and clergy?

My parish doesn’t have servers, and the sacristan is usually busy with duties about the time the priest is ready to take the large ciborium and the pitcher. We’ve also adjusted our low-gluten bread procedures–this is now brought to the altar in a separate ciborium. So I’ve asked people to take the gifts up the steps for an easier handoff.

What would you do in your parish? Should the lay people go all the way to the altar? Is there a value in an offering farther away?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: Handing Off The Gifts

  1. The rubrics and the GIRM are slightly inconsistent on this point. The rubrics state, “The Priest, standing at the altar, takes the paten with the bread and holds it slightly raised above the altar with both hands, saying in a low voice.” (23). Which would seem to mean he is standing at the altar when the gifts are handed to him. By whom ??? However GIRM 73 in the third paragraph reads as follows: “The offerings are then brought forward. It is praiseworthy for the bread and wine to be presented by the faithful. They are accepted at an appropriate place by the priest or the deacon and carried to the altar”. In the pastoral resource, “Introduction to the Order of Mass” (2003/2009) issued by the USCCB, they seem to duck the question as to where the gifts are received (see pg 78). Similarly with respect to the English & Welsh Bishops, in their publication, “Celebrating the Mass – a pastoral introduction” (2005, pg 74-75). The latter is occasionally more detailed than the USCCB document, and can be downloaded from the English & Welsh Bishops website. Perhaps the most extensive coverage of the Preparation of the Gifts can be found in Paul Turner, “Let Us Pray – a guide to the rubrics of the Sunday Mass” (a Pueblo Book, The Liturgical Press, rev ed 2012). The paragraphs in the book are numbered, beginning from the Introduction, and in para 452 on pg 96, he indicates that there is nothing to prevent them being brought all the way to the altar. The situation you describe would be one where that seems an appropriate option. I have a slight mobility issue sometimes I indicate that I want the gifts brought all the way to the altar. My regular congregation understands this and so responds appropriately.
    There seems then to be no hard and fast rule as to location. Unless someone can come up with documentation I have missed.

  2. Liam says:

    On an unrelated upcoming liturgical note, next Sunday, no Gloria (the Creed is said, but the Gloria is omitted on All Souls Day, as it is a Mass for the Dead, even when it falls on Sunday).

  3. Jim McCrea says:

    “Should the lay people go all the way to the altar?”

    Heaven forbid!

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