Remember in the bible when Jesus told his disciples to pray unceasingly? I used to get so flustered and bothered by it. I get that these beautiful nuns in a convent can literally spend each waking moment in perfect union with God. But what about me? I’m over here in the “real world” and it’s loud, crazy, and quite chaotic! Then I would think about how terrible I was because I would only formally pray at set times throughout the day, but certainly not unceasingly because between prayer time I had laundry to do, dishes to wash, meals to cook, diapers to change, errands to run, farm chores to do, kids to homeschool and friends to love and support.
I logistically could not wrap my mind around this concept. I tend to be too practical for my own good at times, and this was surely one prime example. Then I discovered a secret- living out my vocation through serving my family was a prayer in itself! Anyone can do this, regardless of their state in life, ie. Married, single, a student, widowed, professed religious, etc. The most beneficial way is through a very short and simple prayer- The Morning Offering.
“O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, the reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.”
This particular version of the Morning Offering was written in 1844 by Father Francois Xavier Gaulrelet for his Apostleship for Prayer. I would argue that it is one of the most well-known forms of the offering. The beauty in it is it’s universality. This prayer recommends that every single prayer uttered, every single work that we do like scrubbing toilets, being stuck in traffic, or shuffling papers at the office are a gift to God. It goes on to also offer up all of the awesome things throughout the day, like the coffee we had with a close girlfriend, or a major accomplishment at work, as well as the not-so-awesome things like the embarrassing moment we were caught in, or the awful news we were given that day.
We are offering these things back to Our Lord, in union with the Sacrifice He willingly died for on Calvary that is re-presented in each and every mass said around the world.
Hold Up! Raise your hand if your super-Catholic mom told you to offer up EVERYTHING and it annoyed the crap out of you when you were a little kid, because your knee still hurt after your bike injury and you have no clue why she didn’t give you a band-aid instead of making you offer it up… whatever that even means!! Just me? Awkward… Allow me to elaborate a bit for those that may not have had a mom who was obsessed with that phrase… (FYI- I now AM that mom myself.)
I’m going to refer us to the Catechism of the Catholic Church for a second. Paragraph 618 states, “The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the “one mediator between God and men” [1 Timothy 2:5]. But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” is offered to all men.”
St. Paul gives us a very clear statement on this is Colossians 1:24, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.”
Obviously, nothing was really lacking in Christ’s sufferings, as He is God and completely perfect. But He gives us the dignity to unite ourselves to Himself. So when we suffer, we unite ourselves to His suffering on the cross. And when we rejoice, we rejoice with Him while He danced at the wedding feast at Cana for example. To offer something up, by uniting our experience to one of Jesus’ own, is an incredibly powerful form of prayer.
The second half of the morning offering is where the actual intentions come in, which is part of what makes this prayer so universal. We are first praying that, because we love as Jesus loved, we want every single person to spend eternity in heaven. We then pray to help heal the damage that is done from sin, and finally for all Christians to come back to the One True Faith. We are also including here the special intentions that our bishops are recommending, as well as other faithful Christians, and especially those that the pope has asked us to pray for.
Whew- this prayer really is a workout! It is so short and simple to pray, but it sure is a heavy lifter. I grab my morning coffee, curl up under a blanket, and pray this prayer first thing every morning. Some days I have an hour to spend quietly talking with Jesus, other mornings this is the only formal prayer I get to pray before my little people wake up and demand my attention. But regardless, I know that because I was able to offer my whole day to God through the Morning Offering, that my whole day is spent honoring Him. What a gift!
Until next time my dear friends- your sister in Christ,