Explanation of the Mass - Liturgy of the Eucharist (Part 2)

Through a series of informational articles, we will try to explain terms, prayers, and actions that happen at Mass and why they happen.  You will learn about the prayers the priest prays silently during Mass, as well as the people’s parts.  References to GIRM in italics refer to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the book from which rites related to the Mass are codified.  We hope this information will help to make your participation in Mass more meaningful and understandable.


GIRM 76. Then the Priest washes his hands at the side of the altar, a rite in which the desire for interior purification finds expression. 

After the presentation and preparation of gifts, the priest washes his hands, quietly praying, “Wash me, O Lord, from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”  This purifies the priest for the celebration.

GIRM 77. Once the offerings have been placed on the altar and the accompanying rites completed, by means of the invitation to pray with the Priest and by means of the Prayer over the Offerings, the Preparation of the Gifts is concluded and preparation made for the Eucharistic Prayer.  At Mass, a single Prayer over the Offerings is said.  The people, joining in this petition, make the prayer their own by means of the acclamation Amen.

Facing the people, the priest prays, “Pray brethren (or my friends or brothers and sisters), that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.” 

An important part of the Mass is about to begin, so we again stand.  The people respond, “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of His name, for our good and the good of all His holy Church. 

Think about the significance of this prayer.  We are presenting ourselves as a sacrificial gift to God.  We want God to like what He sees in this gift of our lives, and we pray that God will use us for the good of the Church.