What does it mean to be 'an eternal offering' to the Father?

(Photo by Melissa Moon | Detroit Catholic)

Recently, I was struck by the words in the Eucharistic Prayer, “May He make of us an eternal offering to You …” We are destined to be “an eternal offering” to God! We are meant to be — for all eternity in heaven — an offering to God.

What does it mean to be an offering? In the Old Testament, grain, sheep and bulls were all offered as a sacrifice; the “first fruits,” the best of the best, were given back to God in worship. In the New Covenant, Jesus Christ, God Himself, far better than the best sacrifices of the Old Law, is offered to the Father — on the Cross and in the Eucharist. To be an offering to God means to give ourselves to Him in union with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ himself.  

What does this look like in practice? While the ministerial priest offers the sacrifice of the Mass, we, the priesthood of the faithful, unite to this ultimate sacrifice the offering of our lives to the Father. We place all in His hands — every joy, every sorrow, every victory, every defeat — in order that each moment may give glory to Him. We recognize everything as a gift from His hands, and, receiving it, we return it with love and trust. We surrender our lives to Him.

This surrender is not always easy. But if we are meant to be an offering to God even in heaven, it cannot just be painful either. There is a joy in giving yourself to One you love, to find little ways to show your love for Him. Even when the surrender is painful, the peace of His presence is there, deep in the midst of it all.

How does one give a joyful offering at the moments when it does not feel like His yoke is really easy or His burden really light (cf. Matthew 11:30)? I recently heard a retreat talk that highlighted four steps to abandoning ourselves to God’s will at these moments. 

First, acknowledge that the situation is difficult. Do not try just to push through; admit your weakness and your need. Next, relate the difficulties to God in prayer. Tell Him truthfully about them, and seek to see the situation as He does. Then, in the quiet of prayer, receive from Him the way He views the situation. We can only receive this as a gift from Him, but we must open ourselves up to receive this gift. Finally, respond to the grace God has given you to live surrendered to His providence. These steps themselves bring great peace.

When we live in this peace, seeing God at work in each situation, we are able not only to give an offering to Him but moreover to be ourselves an offering to Him, in union with the loving sacrifice of His Son Jesus. Let us seek to be a joyful offering to God in each moment of our lives and throughout all eternity.

Sr. Mary Martha Becnel is a member of the Ann Arbor-based Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.