By Jayson M. Brunelle
Among the vast treasury of prayers and pious practices that comprise our heritage as Catholic Christians, one of the most significant, salutary and sanctifying of all holy practices consists in making a complete offering of all the prayers, works, joys and especially the sufferings of one’s entire day to the Eternal Father, through, with and in Christ, as the first action of one’s day. This practice, owing its origin to Fr. Francois Xavier Gaulrelet, of “The Apostleship of Prayer,” is commonly referred to as the “Morning Offering.”
Each morning, as we emerge from a state of unconsciousness to wakefulness and full awareness, we become cognizant that, once again, God, in His infinite goodness, has granted us the tremendous gift of yet another glorious, undeserved and unmerited day on this earth, to deepen our relationship with Him, to atone for the sins of our past life, to continue to preach the Good News – the Gospel – of Christ, chiefly through our lived example, and to revel in the glory of His marvelous creation.
What better way to thank and glorify Him for this gift of our continued earthly existence than to offer Him, through the Immaculate Heart of His Mother Mary, all the prayers, works, joys and especially the sufferings of our entire day, as an act of gratitude for the countless graces He has so freely and lovingly bestowed upon us; as an act of adoration and glorification, thereby rendering unto God that praise and worship that is His due as our Lord, Creator and Redeemer; as an act of reparation and expiation, to participate in the atonement of our own sins, as well as those of all humanity, in union with Christ as co-redeemers; and finally, as an act of supplication, in calling down the mercy of the Lord upon humanity, which has, in large measure, rejected the Lord and His Law of Love.
Thus, these little “spiritual sacrifices” which we offer through, with and in Christ‘s perfect offering of Himself to the Eternal Father, that once-for-all sacrifice of Christ which is renewed daily, throughout the world, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, enables us, the members of Christ’s Mystical Body, to exercising our Royal Priesthood – a tremendous gift that was conferred upon us in Baptism, as we were grafted to and made true members of Christ’s Mystical Body, and therefore, participants in His three-fold function as Priest, Prophet and King.
Thus, the daily prayer of the “Morning Offering” is not just one prayer among many; instead, it is an essential, foundational prayer, through and by which we actualize and exercise the sublime gift of our participation in the Royal Priesthood of Christ. Thus, the ongoing work of Redemption wrought by Christ and renewed each time the Holy Mass is celebrated affords us, His Priestly People, the stupendous opportunity and obligation of not merely participating in the offering of Christ to the Eternal Father – which, in itself, would be quite incomprehensible – but additionally, the opportunity and obligation of offering ourselves, our prayers, our works, our joys, and – in a manner that allows the Spirit to more perfectly conform our hearts and souls into the image of Christ – our sufferings and sacrifices, through, with and in Christ, as members of His Mystical Body, to the Eternal Father. Thus, it is absolutely no exaggeration to state that we, in imitation of our Most Holy Mother Mary, are likewise called to carry out the work of Redemption with Christ as co-redeemers.
Christ, having assumed a true human nature, thereby elevated and sanctified the otherwise mundane and monotonous elements of a purely human existence. Thus, Christ, in laboring with Joseph as a carpenter’s apprentice, thereby sanctified human labor, bestowing upon it a new, supernatural significance and dignity. The same can be said of human pain and suffering – a reality that, at first glance, seems to undermine the Omni-benevolence and Omnipotence of God. Quite to the contrary, it is precisely through the means of human pain and suffering that Christ accomplishes His greatest act of love; for, as Christ Himself states, “Greater love no man has than this: than to lay one’s life down for one’s friends.” Love is self-sacrificial, and self-sacrifice is painful, precisely because it runs contrary to our own will. Again, turning to the words and lessons of Christ: “Anyone who would come after Me must deny his very self, pick up his cross, and follow Me.”
Finally, Christ clearly states that although He is a king, His Kingdom is “not of this world,” and that “[He] came not to be served, but to serve.” Further, “He is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven who serves the rest,” and “many who are first shall be last, and many who are last shall be first.” In essence, the wisdom of the Kingdom of Heaven is diametrically opposed to the wisdom of the world. To understand what God requires of His Children, one needs only to understand the worldly power-structure and worldly socio-political paradigm at the heart of said structure, and then turn this paradigm on its head.
Thus, the “Morning Offering” is intimately tied to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, where we, through our participation in it, offer ourselves, our prayers, works, joys and sufferings of each day as so many spiritual sacrifices to our Heavenly Father, through, with and in Christ, Who is the supreme Head of His Body, which is the Church.
There are, indeed, many versions of the “Morning Offering” prayer, and these may be found simply by conducting a google search. Yet, one of the first of these types of prayers, upon which many later versions were patterned, was composed in 1844 by Fr. Francois Xavier Gaulrelet, Founder of the Apostleship of Prayer:
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 prayer, by Fr. Francois Xavier Gaulrelet, has been quoted from the website, http://www.ourcatholicprayers.com/morning-offering.html)