Radio Show

Why Do We Say, ‘May the Lord Accept the Sacrifice at Your Hands?’


On another “Mass Class Wednesday,” a radio listener calls in to ask Father Dave about the phrase “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.” She has always wondered what exactly is happening when that phrase is uttered by the congregation during Mass. “Is that us, as a community giving permission or blessing the priest to go forward with … transubstantiation?”

Father Dave says he’s never really thought of it that way — whether or not that phrase is sort of like a “green light” for the priest to go forward with the Eucharist. To delve into what this part of the Mass is all about, Father Dave first reminds us of what the priest says just before the congregation utters this phrase: “Pray, my sisters and brothers, that your sacrifice and mine may be acceptable to God the Almighty Father.”

When we take the congregation’s response in the context of the priest’s line, Father Dave explains, it becomes clear that the priest is not requesting consent from the community: “It doesn’t sound like the priest is saying, ‘Now I await your permission to proceed.’ It’s he and the congregation asking God. So … it’s not about the priest, it’s not about the congregation, it’s about God.”

But to answer the caller’s question about what it’s all about, Father Dave says you have to look at the word sacrifice. He explains that in biblical times, there would often be animal sacrifices and other kinds of sacrifices made to God by the Hebrew people, but Christians understand that Christ’s death on the cross was the “ultimate and final sacrifice,” and no longer sacrifice other things “trying to appease God in the same way that people were in the Old Testament.” What we are doing as a church community in that moment of the Mass is reliving the sacrifice Christ made for us on the cross, not asking God to bless some new sacrifice. (Original Air 02-08-17)

Photo credit: People pray during a Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)