When St. Paul instructed his readers to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), he meant the same for us. But how can we do that in a busy day? Gary Zimak found the answer.
And when Pope Benedict XVI said in his apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis that the Eucharist is a mystery to be believed, celebrated and lived, just how do we live it? Jesuit Father James Kubicki knows.
The Morning Offering is the answer.
“The Morning Offering is a simple yet profound prayer,” notes Father Kubicki. “In it we thank God for the gift of the coming day and we show our gratitude and love by making an offering of it to God.”
“Living the Eucharist means making an offering of our day to the Father with Jesus,” he explains. “It means joining our day with all its prayers, works, joys and sufferings to the perfect offering of Jesus on Calvary that is renewed in every Mass. At any given moment, a Mass is being celebrated somewhere in the world. We can join the moments of our day to those Masses and, in that way, the moments of our day have eternal significance.”
Father Kubicki is the national director of the Apostleship of Prayer, which promotes the Morning Offering. The apostleship began in France in 1844 with Jesuit Father Francis Gautrelet, who taught: “Offer everything you are doing each day in union with the heart of Our Lord for what he desires: the spread of the Kingdom for the salvation of souls.”
“The daily offering,” stated the 2005 Synod of Bishops, “can help each one to become a ‘Eucharistic figure,’ following the example of Mary, uniting one’s own life to that of Christ, who offers himself for humanity.”
Zimak, the founder of Following the Truth Ministries (FollowingtheTruth.com) and a regular guest on Catholic radio, including EWTN’s “Son Rise Morning Show,” is grateful for the Morning Offering. The offering can take various forms; the point is to begin one’s day offering all that will happen to God. (See the end of the article for links to a common variation.)
“When we unite our work with the Lord and his sacrifice through the Morning Offering,” he says, “Jesus allows us to participate in the salvation of mankind; he allows me to have a small piece in that offering. When I have a rough day, this keeps me going. It gives me a sense of accomplishment offering it up to Our Lord.”
Finding time for formal prayer can be difficult during his full-time job, but with the daily offering, he’s turning duties into prayer. Whether dealing with project deadlines, the budget or personnel, he offers it up to the Lord for the intentions recommended in the Morning Offering.
“It allows me to join in his sacrifice to the Father,” Zimak says, “especially in the unpleasant things during the day.”
Consequently, those suffering moments are no longer meaningless or annoying for him.
“All that’s changed knowing I offer everything up to for the Lord,” he says. “The Morning Offering allows you to turn that mundane work into prayer so nothing is mundane; the simplest takes on meaning.”
Says Father Kubicki, “It’s important to not only say that prayer but to try to live it. That means trying to call to mind throughout the day the opportunities we have to offer a work or difficulty to the Lord. Then, at the end of the day, it’s a good idea to review the offerings that we’ve made or the things we are ashamed of that were part of the day we said we were going to offer to God. In this way we will grow in holiness one day at a time.”
To help, we can renew our Morning Offering any time throughout the day with a short prayer like “All for you, Jesus.”
No wonder Pope John Paul II once said that the practice of praying the Morning Offering is “of fundamental importance in the life of each and every one of the faithful.”
Zimak reminds himself to pray by attaching a Morning Offering prayer card to the visor of his car.
Right after his alarm goes off, Father Kubicki says the Morning Offering with other prayers. Some people like to put the Morning Offering on their bathroom mirrors as a reminder, so the apostleship even offers “clings” with the prayer’s words that adhere easily to mirrors.
The Morning Offering is a wonderful way to start the day, and praying the Angelus at the traditional times of noon and 6pm can help us refocus ourselves on God’s presence throughout the day.
“In the Angelus we remember how Mary was completely open to God’s will as it came to her through an angel,” explains Father Kubicki. “By praying that simple prayer and remembering how Mary offered herself in obedience to God’s will, we’re reminded to do the same. When we offer ourselves the way Mary did, the Word will take flesh in our lives.”
The Angelus has been a popular daily prayer since about the mid-13th century. St. Bonaventure encouraged people to pray at least three Hail Marys in the evening, since he believed that was the hour Gabriel visited Mary. The present form traces back to at least the mid-16th century, as does reciting the prayer in the early morning, noon and evening.
One of the most recognizable of European paintings is Jean-Francois Millet’s 1859 scene titled “The Angelus,” which shows a man and woman, farmers, pausing in a field to reverently pray when the church bells ring.
The Vatican’s Directory of Popular Piety teaches “every effort should be made to maintain and promote this pious custom and at least the recitation of three Aves (195).” In fact, recent popes pray and greet audiences at their weekly Angelus talk.
At noon at Pinecrest Academy in Cumming, Ga., “Everybody stops on campus,” says school spokeswoman Nancy Palmer. All 870 students, from pre-K through seniors, stand and face the crucifixes.
An intention is announced prior to the prayer.
“We had a mom with a brain tumor who we prayed for, and she was healed,” says Palmer. It’s one of many examples of answered prayers.
Praying the Angelus is “one of the most powerful things we do outside the Mass,” concludes Palmer. “The children have seen miracles, see answers all the time, and know the Angelus is very powerful.”
Together, the Angelus and the Morning Offering make every moment count.
Register staff writer Joseph Pronechen is based in Trumbull, Connecticut.
See ApostleshipOfPrayer.org for various forms of the Morning Offering.
The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary: And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to thy word.
Hail Mary …
And the Word was made flesh: And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary …
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, thy son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by his passion and cross be brought to the glory of his resurrection, through the same Christ our Lord.