by Michael Podrebarac
You have longed for sweet peace,
And for faith to increase,
And have earnestly, fervently prayed;
But you cannot have rest,
Or be perfectly blessed,
Until all on the altar is laid.
Indeed, there’s no other way. Elisha Hoffman was spot-on.
The purpose of Lent is not to punish ourselves for a few weeks so that we can have an Easter of an eased and satisfied conscience. No, the purpose of Lent is to correct those things which stand between us and the altar of God.
It is to this altar we are called at Mass, to offer ourselves in sacrifice to God through the sacrifice of Christ. And we can hold nothing back if we are to make a good offering.
Would you walk with the Lord,
In the light of His Word,
And have peace and contentment alway?
You must do His sweet will,
To be free from all ill,
On the altar your all you must lay.
As we listen to the word of God in the Scripture readings, we better understand how we are called to offer ourselves to him. The words speak to us individually as well as to all of us as a group. God’s word is never uttered without some purpose for each of us. Therefore, each of us must think carefully upon it, if even briefly, so as to be able to fully comprehend how we are to obey him.
And, informed by the word, we are able to offer the best sacrifice of ourselves that we can upon the altar. The cross we each have carried throughout the week is placed before the altar. Jesus draws our cross into his. Our offering is joined to his perfect offering to the Father.
But Jesus cannot do that, as effectively as he desires to, unless our own offering — our own cross — is freely and fully offered to the Father, that his will be done.
Who can tell all the love
He will send from above,
And how happy our hearts will be made,
Of the fellowship sweet
We shall share at His feet,
When our all on the altar is laid.
It has been said, and rightly so, that God will not be outdone in generosity. If we’ll simply offer ourselves to God entirely, and without reservation, within the eucharistic sacrifice, the love and grace we’ll receive in return will simply be immeasurable.
Here, then, is a good “examination of conscience” for making the very best offering of ourselves we can each time we come to Mass:
Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest,
And have peace and sweet rest,
As you yield Him your body and soul.
In holy Communion, we eat of him whom we have offered. The bread of life is not only a pledge of the perfect life to come, but is also a means of the best possible life here on earth as well.