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We Come to your Feast

posted May 14, 2011, 6:14 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Jan 20, 2013, 3:35 PM ]

After the Liturgy of the Word, the focus of the Mass shifts from the Lectern to the altar; which is about to be prepared.  And just as we would at a meal in the home of any other friend, we do the same three rituals; we 1) set the table, 2) say grace and 3) share the food.  At Mass, these actions are called 1) the Preparation of the Gifts, 2) the Eucharistic Prayer and 3) the Communion Rite.  So Michael Joncas’ song explains this visual indication that a new part of the Mass is about to begin…

We place upon your table a gleaming cloth of white:
the weaving of our stories, the fabric of our lives…

Of course we do this, since we seldom eat a formal or celebratory meal with company on a bare table top…

We place upon your table a humble loaf of bread:
the gift of field and hillside, the grain by which we’re fed…
We place upon your table a simple cup of wine:
the fruit of human labor, the gift of sun and vine;
we come to taste the presence…

Early Christians each brought bread and wine from their homes to be used for the Mass and to be given to the poor. Today, similar offerings for the parish and the poor are made; with our monetary contributions and our presentation of the bread and wine to be used for the sacrifice.  And now that the table is set, Father mixes water with the wine and washes his hands to remind us of the Last Supper; since these are things all Jews did at meals in Jesus’ day.   Finally, he invites us to participate in saying grace for the meal we are about to receive…

We gather ‘round your table, we pause within our quest,
we stand beside our neighbors, we name the stranger “guest”
The feast is spread before us…

…with the fruit of our lands and the work of our hands,
we come to your feast!