Halftime During Mass
There is a story about a passenger plane that experiences some extreme turbulence while in the air. It is so severe that it rocks the plane back and forth. The passengers become terribly frightened. They noticed that one of the passengers on the flight is a Catholic priest so they ask him to do something religious. So he takes up a collection.
The collection is often viewed as something that is done during a liturgical service but it is not really a part of any of the liturgical rites of the Mass.
It’s the time to collect money to pay for the expenses of the church. This time is often viewed just like halftime at a ballgame. We went through the Liturgy of the Word, just stood up for the Creed and the Prayers of the Faithful, so now it’s time to just sit back and relax while the table is being set and send the kids up with some money. Just like half-time at a ballgame, it’s not part of the game itself; it is just a break in the action. The game resumes after half-time is over. After the collection we can get back to the second half of Mass and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
This time is really not a “break in the action”. It is actually the first part of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It is called the Offertory. It consists of the preparation of the table, the presentation of the bread and wine, and the collection. The altar servers prepare the altar with the sacred vessels and linens. The people come forward to the altar and present their monetary offerings. The gifts of bread and wine are presented by the faithful in a procession to the priest who offers them to God. These offerings represent us and all that we have. They are an expression of our gratitude to God for the blessings that he has given us. During this time, the Offertory song is sung by the choir. The people are meant to sing along with the choir in praise and thanksgiving to God.
In each parts of the Mass there is some form of active participation that is to be made by the people. The Offertory is no exception. They are a sign of the unity of all those gathered together to celebrate Mass.