Quam Oblationem

Quam Oblationem – English
Be pleased, O God, we pray, to bless, acknowledge, and approve this offering in every respect; make it spiritual and acceptable, so that it may become for us the Body and Blood of your most beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Quam Oblationem – Latin
Quam oblationem tu, Deus, in omnibus, quaesumus, benedictam, adscriptam, ratam, rationabilem, acceptabilemque facere digneris: ut nobis Corpus, et Sanguis fiat dilectissimi Filii tui Domini nostri Iesu Christi.

Quam Oblationem, Part 1

Be pleased, O God, we pray, to bless, acknowledge, and approve this offering in every respect; make it spiritual and acceptable, so that it may become for us the Body and Blood of your most beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

With the Quam Obaltionem, we have arrived at one of the essential elements of the Eucharistic Prayer: the Epiclesis. The Epiclesis is the calling down of the Holy Spirit upon the gifts of bread and wine that they may become the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

For the Roman Canon so far there have been various gestures and postures employed by the priest. The Canon begins with the Te Igitur with the priests hands extended in the orans posture. This is an ancient posture of the prayer where the priest holds his hands extended to the sides with palms facing upwards. This is a posture of offering. The priest is offering prayers to our Heavenly Father. Then, as the priest is asking God to bless the gifts, he traces the Sign of the Cross over the bread and wine. Then, he returns to the orans posture.

During the Commemoratio Pro Vivis, his hands are together with fingers pointed upwards and thumbs crossed as he calls to mind specific intentions. This signals that the priest is not making an offering, but instead is interceding in often silent prayer during a slight pause. Then, he returns to the orans posture. At the very end of the Hanc Igitur, when the priest says “Through Christ our Lord. Amen,” he joins his hands.

Why does all of this matter for the Quam Oblationem? Because he only makes the accompanying posture at this time. The rubrics read: “Holding his hands extended over the offerings, he says:” By his ordained priesthood, through the Action of the High Priest Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is being called down in power upon ordinary bread and wine that they may become the Holy Eucharist. The Epiclesis is necessary for the Eucharist to become present.

God has given us the way that He would like to be worshiped. This is why it is so important to do His will in offering the Mass as it was meant to be offered, according to the competent authority of the Church. We are on the firm foundation and hope that this offering will please the Lord.

The word “pray” here is the same as the modern English “ask.” We are asking God to bless these gifts, that is, to set them apart for their sacred purpose. We ask him to acknowledge this offering in every respect; this acknowledgment is to show God that we know how important this oblation, of offering, is. We are asking Him to note it down. Then, finally the approval, or ratification, is that this oblation be confirmed by Heaven as truly good and fitting.

Quam Oblationem, Part 2

Be pleased, O God, we pray, to bless, acknowledge, and approve this offering in every respect; make it spiritual and acceptable, so that it may become for us the Body and Blood of your most beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

In order to understand this next phrase of the Quam Oblationem, we need to look briefly at the Latin. The priest is asking that the oblation be rendered by God as “… rationabilem, acceptabilemque…” in the official Latin. The translation is given as “spiritual and acceptable.” Of course, we do not have to be Latin scholars to recognize “rationabilem” as a cognate with the English word “rational.” How, then, does the Church reckon this word as “spiritual.”

To understand why rational and spiritual are related, we have to go back to the Old Testament. In the Old Covenant, the victims of sacrifice were cereal offerings and animals, which were burnt at the altar. This was a sacrifice, because they were no longer available to the people and thus were offered back to God in trust that He will always provide. There were also animals offered as an atonement for the sins of the people, such as the scapegoat. But, all of these victims were figurative and had no real worth other than pointing forward to the Cross.

In the one Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the bread and wine offered on the altar are the offering of the one Perfect Sacrifice. This one Sacrifice renders all previous offerings obsolete, unnecessary, and sterile. This is because through the Epiclesis and Consecration, the bread and wine cease to exist, transforming whole and entire into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, the High Priest, the Victim, the Altar and Place of Sacrifice, and the God-man.

We often think of something “spiritual” as something “figurative.” This is so wrong. God Himself is pure Spirit. The spiritual is more real and lasting than the material. The spiritual, transcendent realities of the created order and of God Himself are infinitely more rational than the material. Why is that? The spiritual points to God and His creation and the material points only to the creation. Therefore, any material offering is nothing compared to the infinite and eternal majesty of the Almighty. However, the Sacrifice of the Mass is not material only. The Sacrifice of the Mass is a Sacrifice which unites the material and the spiritual, earth and Heaven.

All of this is possible because of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. The Eternal Word of God, the most beloved Son of God, became man. By humbling Himself to share in our humanity, the God-man Jesus Christ beckons us to share in His divinity. What happens to the bread and wine on the altar, where the material is made spiritual, is what happens to each of us at Holy Mass. We are made more rational. We are made more spiritual. In other words, we are made more after the likeness of God. As an iron left in a fire takes on the element of fire, so too do we become like God by allowing ourselves to be changed by the encounter of the Holy Mass.

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