School is officially out for summer. I drove our children to school for the last time this year and realized that we had prayed the Morning Offering prayer every morning since the first day of school in August, effectively “offering up” our entire school year to God! It was very comforting to know that we had given God all of our prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of the entire year for him to use as he wishes. We will not know until we (hopefully) get to heaven what good we may have done by releasing into his hands all of our actions. God in his limitless wisdom is infinitely more capable than any of us of appropriating our works most effectively.
The Perfect Gift
I attempt to make the Morning Offering the first thing I do when I get out of bed or on the morning drive with the children during the school year. It reminds me to place myself immediately under the mantle of the Immaculate Heart and within the protection of the Sacred Heart. I like to think of the Morning Offering as presenting a beautifully wrapped present to Our Lord, which contains all of the good actions, words, and deeds I will perform that day. When I do so, I am encouraged to make a greater effort to be pleasing to God, to refrain from sin, and to love others more perfectly so that my present will be one that is worthy of so great a God and King. For all of the good gifts he gives me, this is the most perfect gift I can think to give him, and it is something I can give him at the beginning of each and every day.
“Offer It Up”
What exactly happens when we make a special offering to God or advise a person to “offer something up?” I recently heard it cleverly explained as “Catholic for ‘don’t whine,'” and I thought that was a most fitting clarification for the times when we are enduring difficult or painful circumstances. However, we can offer up our joys and positive situations as well. As I wondered about this, I determined that I should probably delve deeper into the meaning of offering things up since we engage in the practice daily.
To Jesus, Through Mary
The Morning Offering is a perfect way to begin the day. Before doing anything else, it is beneficial to go to prayer, asking God’s blessing on everything that happens that day. The introduction, “Oh Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” immediately place us under the mantle and protection of the Blessed Mother. The devotion to the Immaculate Heart originated with the Fatima apparitions, in which Our Lady told the three shepherd children about Our Lord’s desire for devotion to her most pure heart. In the July 1917 revelations to the children, Mary said, “[Jesus] wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. I promise salvation to those who embrace it, and these souls will be loved by God, like flowers placed by me to adorn His throne.” Mary, in her Immaculate Heart, wishes to protect and save us and all sinners. In the Morning Offering, we first dedicate ourselves each day to Mary, through whom God chose to send his Son. As in the Total Consecration, which I recently wrote about, we go “to Jesus, through Mary.” As a mother, she takes our offering and purifies and perfects it for Jesus.
Giving All to Him
”I offer you all of my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day,” provides that we include all of the good and bad of our day, the happiness and sadness. We offer the mundane and the extraordinary. Every action and every moment are Jesus’, presented as a beautifully wrapped present for him to use as he sees fit. The moments of suffering are the events that we most recall when we “offer something up.” In my own mind and heart, I have always understood offering something up to mean something along the lines of “endure it patiently without complaining.” When a person is ill or in pain, they are instructed to offer the suffering up and to unite it to Christ’s suffering on the cross for the salvation of souls. When we make our Morning Offering, we can be assured that every problem, difficulty, and painful situation that we endure during the day is united to the suffering of Jesus on the Cross and is used with his suffering in the salvation of souls.
For the Intentions of the Sacred Heart
The next line in the prayer, “for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart,” indicates that our offering is made not only for our own intentions, but for those that Our Lord holds in his heart. How can we know the intentions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus? No one can know with certainty all of the intentions of Our Lord; however, salvation of all people would most certainly be a primary intention of his heart. We can also know his intentions through the prayer he makes in John’s gospel as he prepares his disciples for his Passion and death: “I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.” (Jn 17:15) “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. (Jn 17:20-21) These words of Jesus show how he wants to protect us from the evil one and that he desires us to be united with each other and with him and the Father.
Jesus has revealed the intentions of his heart to particular saints as well. Devotion to the Sacred Heart can be traced back to the Apostle John, who rested against the Heart of Jesus at the Last Supper. “One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side…He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, “Master, who is it?” (Jn 13:23-25) In 1675, Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, exposing his Sacred Heart and requested atonement and increased devotion to that heart, which he told her was met with ingratitude and contempt by men whom he loved so much. He then relayed to her one of the great intentions of his: “I come into the heart I have given you in order that through your fervor you may atone for the offenses which I have received from lukewarm and slothful hearts that dishonor me in the Blessed Sacrament.” Again, we can not fully grasp or understand the mind and heart of Christ; however, from his words in scripture and his revelations to the saints, we can come to comprehend a small fragment Our Lord’s intentions and be sure that the offering of our day is contributing to fulfilling these intentions.
United to the Sacrifice of the Mass
“In union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world.” At any time of day, the Holy Mass is being offered up somewhere in the world. This line of the Morning Offering is included since the Holy Mass is the greatest sacrifice of all, the continual perpetuation of the sacrifice of the Cross. The Mass “makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the Savior and includes the Church’s offering. The terms holy sacrifice of the Mass, “sacrifice of praise,” spiritual sacrifice, pure and holy sacrifice are also used, since it completes and surpasses all the sacrifices of the Old Covenant. sacrifice continues perpetually.” (CCC 1330) Our own joys, prayers, works, sacrifices, and burdens can be offered and united to the sufferings of Christ in the Eucharist through praying the Morning Offering. We can also make a Spiritual Communion during the day to recall the Eucharistic sacrifice, even if we are not able to be present at daily Mass.
We ask the Lord to receive our offering “in reparation for our sins” that we commit daily. After receiving absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we are forgiven for our sins. However, atonement and satisfaction for the damage done from our sin still must be accomplished. In the Morning Offering, we ask Our Lord to use all of our works to help repair the damage done by our sins and faults and to atone for them.
To Pray for Others
“For the intentions of all my relatives and friends, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father.” According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, intercessory prayer, or praying for others, is one of the most powerful ways we can support others. Praying for others is one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy, and an excellent form of charity towards them. Our Holy Father, entrusted with the tremendous burden and responsibility of serving as shepherd of all of the faithful people of God. We include the intentions of our Holy Father in the Morning Offering in order to assist him with our works and actions during the day. In this way, we are aiding and assisting the Body of Christ through and its head, the Holy Father.
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all my relatives and friends, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father. Amen