Other gifts placed at altar during the offertory? Allowed?

I thought I read somewhere once that bringing up and placing other gifts around the altar at the offertory (the collection basket, flowers brought up by children, cans of food for shelters, blankets for the homebound, etc.) was not allowed. Can someone help me on if this is correct or not, or where I can go to find some type of ‘official’ guidance on the topic?

Thanks!

There is one exception:

The Holy Oils at the Chrism Mass during Holy Week (traditionally on Maunday Thursday).

In the Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Churches, the Chrism is brought in during the Great Entrance (corresponding to the Western Offertory Procession) with the oblata and placed on the altar.

Where did you find this information?

This is simply standard liturgical protocol.

The OFFERTORY of the Liturgy refers to the OFFERING of the Bread and Wine for the Eucharist–which historically is their actual placing on the altar, regardless of what other prayers or ceremonies accompanied this.

Since nothing else can be the matter for the Eucharistic Sacrifice, besides bread and wine mingled with water, nothing else can be or should be on the altar.

The Holy Oils are placed there since the are the matter of a Sacrament.

Wedding rings are blessed on the altar since they are the emblem of a Sacrament.

Perhaps tokens of other things, such as gifts for the poor, can be brought up–though not at the same time as the Eucharistic matter–to be blessed, but should NOT be placed on or near the altar, and should be removed immediately after this blessing.

But this must be documented somewhere? In the GIRM for example, Letter from Congregation of Divine Worship, etc. I can’t find where this protocol is defined.

Here is the relevant GIRM article:

  1. At the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist the gifts, which will become Christ’s Body and Blood, are brought to the altar.

First, the altar, the Lord’s table, which is the center of the whole Liturgy of the Eucharist,70 is prepared by placing on it the corporal, purificator, Missal, and chalice (unless the chalice is prepared at the credence table).

The offerings are then brought forward. It is praiseworthy for the bread and wine to be presented by the faithful. They are then accepted at an appropriate place by the priest or the deacon and carried to the altar. Even though the faithful no longer bring from their own possessions the bread and wine intended for the liturgy as in the past, nevertheless the rite of carrying up the offerings still retains its force and its spiritual significance.

It is well also that money or other gifts for the poor or for the Church, brought by the faithful or collected in the church, should be received. These are to be put in a suitable place but away from the eucharistic table.

Here is what Redemptionis Sacramentum says about the offertory:

[70.] The offerings that Christ’s faithful are accustomed to present for the Liturgy of the Eucharist in Holy Mass are not necessarily limited to bread and wine for the Eucharistic celebration, but may also include gifts given by the faithful in the form of money or other things for the sake of charity toward the poor. Moreover, external gifts must always be a visible expression of that true gift that God expects from us: a contrite heart, the love of God and neighbor by which we are conformed to the sacrifice of Christ, who offered Himself for us. For in the Eucharist, there shines forth most brilliantly that mystery of charity that Jesus brought forth at the Last Supper by washing the feet of the disciples. In order to preserve the dignity of the Sacred Liturgy, in any event, the external offerings should be brought forward in an appropriate manner. Money, therefore, just as other contributions for the poor, should be placed in an appropriate place which should be away from the Eucharistic table.150 Except for money and occasionally a minimal symbolic portion of other gifts, it is preferable that such offerings be made outside the celebration of Mass.

I hope this helps.

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