Another way to live in the presence of God is to offer ourselves and all our actions to God the Father in union with Jesus crucified. This way of prayer is often called the morning offering. It is more than a prayer; it is really a way of life keeping us in constant touch with God in all our daily thoughts, desires, and actions. Through the morning offering, we walk no longer alone, but in the presence of Christ crucified, whose perfect surrender of His life to His Father we strive to imitate in all our actions.
Pope Pius XII, in his encyclical on the Mystical Body of Christ, recommended the daily offering of the Apostleship of Prayer to all the faithful:
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer Thee my prayers, works, and sufferings of this day
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout
the world, in reparation for my sins, and for the
intentions recommended by the Holy Father.
Or you may use the short form, which gives the substance of this prayer:
Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer Thee this day all my thoughts, words, actions, joys, and sufferings.
Many of us have practiced the morning offering since early school days, but often it has not colored our lives. Too many have been content to offer each day to God and then go about their daily affairs without further thought of what they have promised. For them, the morning offering is an isolated prayer that does not lead them to personal love of God and friendship with Him. Unwittingly, they consider the morning offering a duty, the right thing to do for one who professes belief in Christ. Somehow, it does not occur to them that the morning offering is an introduction to an intimate, friendly life with God. They are quite satisfied to do things for God on special occasions. They are not aware that God is asking them to do all things with Him.
The morning offering extends its influence beyond our waking thoughts. It implies giving ourselves, surrendering our wills in all things as Christ surrendered His will in the Garden of Olives and on the Cross. The morning offering really means that we strive to live in the presence of Jesus and that we unite the offering of ourselves with His offering on the Cross. It means we live and work with Christ, offering ourselves to God the Father to carry out the work of salvation of souls begun on Calvary and destined to be completed in the Church and through the Church. This is truly our vocation, because at Baptism we have been made one with Christ. In the words of St. Leo the Great: “Baptism has made us flesh of the Crucified One.” We must, therefore, strive to live continually in the presence of Christ, that is, to be mentally and effectively aware of Him to whom we are most intimately bound by the ties of the Redemption.
Your offering must come from your heart
The most important thing to remember is that the morning offering should be renewed frequently during each day. It is this continual renewal of the morning offering that changes man’s way of living and makes him Christlike.
Of course, the mere recitation of the prayer, no matter how frequently, will not bring about the change. Reciting prayers can become mere lip service. The morning offering and its renewal will affect our way of living only if it comes from a soul that thinks of God and desires to do His will. If the offering comes from the heart, if there is a determination to perform all the actions of the day for the love of God, for His glory, and for the salvation of souls, then the offering will bear fruit.
The morning offering is a good way to start the day. But let us actually give our thoughts and actions to God. How insincere it is to make the offering and then to complain about the weather, lack of sleep, or the hundred and one other inconveniences that plague our waking hours.
Offer yourself to God through the Mass
We will indeed be fortunate if each day, or at least frequently, we are able to be present at Mass. In the Mass, we have not only the greatest incentive but the greatest opportunity to make the perfect offering of ourselves to God.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is Calvary perpetuated on the altars of our churches. The same Victim of Calvary, the same Priest, our Lord Jesus Christ, offers Himself in an unbloody manner again and again through the priesthood of His Church. Jesus offers Himself in the Mass in order that the fruits of the Redemption on Calvary may be poured forth upon the world. The offering of Jesus on the Cross was not merely a violent death, but a death that was willed by Him. He died on a Cross because He willed so to die. His offering was an act of love for man. Each day, He continues to offer Himself to the Father through the priests of the Church.
Just as the gift of Himself to the Father was not merely external but internal, so the offering of the Church, that is, the priests and the faithful, must come from the heart. If their offering is not to be merely a ritual, the priest and the faithful must, in union with the Victim of the Mass, offer themselves. Is it not the nature of every gift to express the secret thoughts and sentiments of the heart? Who is pleased to receive a gift that is given begrudgingly?
The Mass, it is true, is always a perfect act of adoration and thanksgiving, because of the High Priest Jesus Christ. But only when the Mass contains the internal offering of the priest and the faithful can it produce the desired spiritual change in them. The more generously the priest and the faithful offer themselves to God in the Mass, the more will grace flow into their souls and draw them into close union with God. So, when we go to Mass, let our offering come from the heart.
The morning offering is not only intimately connected with the Sacrifice of the Mass, but even with the sacrament of Holy Communion. At Holy Communion, we complete the Sacrifice of the Mass by receiving within us the same Victim we offered to God. We offered God a gift; He now gives one to us. We must remember that it is a Victim we receive in Holy Communion, and, if there is to be a common union between the Victim and us, we must conform ourselves to the Victim.
Too often, Holy Communion has little effect upon us because we do not offer ourselves to Jesus in the Mass. We receive Holy Communion from force of habit, or so that we may be esteemed by our fellowman, or because it gives us consolation. If we approach the altar with such sentiments, there is no deep love of Jesus in us, no burning desire to follow in His footsteps, no generous offering of ourselves to Him. Because of this barrier, which we ourselves raise, there can be little common union between Jesus and us. But if we learn to live in the presence of God, to make the morning offering continually and sincerely, then surely it will prepare us to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, through the priest, and to receive Holy Communion in a manner that will lead us to closer and more intimate friendship with God. Let us study the Mass, think often of it, so that we may learn to offer ourselves after the manner of Jesus.
Aside from Mass and Holy Communion, let us not forget that the rest of the day, too, belongs to God. At the breakfast table — in fact, at every meal — we can renew the morning offering. It is not necessary to repeat the words of the prayer; the offering can be made mentally. We might add an aspiration, a brief prayer from the heart, if inclined, such as “My Jesus, Thy will be done!”
Editor’s note: This article has been adapted from a chapter in Fr. Healy’s Awakening Your Soul to the Presence of God, available from Sophia Institute Press.