The custom of sending a plate round after the General Intercessions (Prayer of the Faithful) at Mass to collect the monetary contribution of the Faithful is not just for the purpose of obtaining funds for the expenses of the clergy.Its origin comes from very spiritual motives.
Bread and wines were the elements used by Christ when he instituted the Holy Eucharist.In the early Church, after the General Intercessions, bread and
wines were brought to the altar.these were offered to God as an element to be set apart for the sacrifice, in keeping with the general practice of dedicating to God what was to be used for his service.
It used to be the Practice in early times for the people to bring with them to Mass bread and wines produced in their own field, the fruit of their own labour and toil, which therefore could be regarded as something of themselves, as implied by the prayer said by the priest when offering the bread and wine:” which earth has given and human hands have made.” Moreover, as a staple food, bread and wine were thus a symbolic life.the offering of bread and wine was thus a symbolic way by which those Christ offered in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
The Early Roman document gives details of the ceremonial of bringing the bread and wine to the altar and the celebrant receiving them and offering them to God.Of the bread and wine thus offered, the quality needed for the sacrifice was taken and the rest kept for the poor.
After the 10thcentury, the practice of offering bread and wine by the people gradually ceased.St Peter Damian, of the 11th century (1007-1072) expressly mentions that people gave money instead of bread and wine. The symbolism, however, remained the same.It was obviously because bringing the bread and wine to the church was impractical and cumbersome that it was given up and replaced by the more convenient offering of money.
It should be remembered however that the collection of the contribution of money at Mass replaces and represents the former offering of bread and wine which had a deep spiritual meaning.
This excerpt is taken from the book: 50 Questions about Catholicism.
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