The Roman Missal: And With Your Spirit

“The Lord be with you…”

Honestly, if there’s a crowd of people talking, one of the easiest ways to get their attention is to shout out this phrase.  Everybody knows the response!  It’s something so common to us, especially in our worship, that in many cases, it’s second nature to us.  And it’s for this reason that the change in response to “And with your spirit,” will be one of the biggest and most noticeable differences to us.  So why the change?

Well, there are a few reasons.  The first one is that it expresses the translation much clearer.  A lot of other languages do this very well, simply because a lot of their words are similar to Latin.  The Latin phrase “et cum spiritu tuo” translates into Italian as “e con il tuo spirito”, into French as “et avec votre espirit”, into Spanish as “y con tu espíritu”, and even into German as “und mit deinem Geiste”.  All those languages imitate the Latin pretty closely, and at least have something pretty similar to the Latin word for spirit…all of them except the English response, “And also with you.”  So “And with your spirit” is a lot closer to the original Latin.

But all that aside, it also expresses something important about our faith.  “And with your spirit” is something that has a lot of basis in Scripture.  Various forms of this phrase were used as a greeting or a farewell by St. Paul when he wrote his letters to the Church communities he founded.  He is asking that the Holy Spirit be with each of us in order to bring us closer into communion with each other.

But it also tells us something about the way that the Holy Spirit works in each of our respective roles and vocations in our lives.  As people of faith, we believe that each of us is called by the Holy Spirit to live out our service to God in a special way, whether as a mom or dad, a husband or wife, a single person, or religious sister or brother.  We also believe that God calls some men in a special way to be ordained priests.  The priest’s spirit or soul is raised beyond anything he deserves to be formed in a special way to Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, which is bestowed on him at his ordination.  And so the specific reference to this in the Mass when we say “And with your spirit” helps us to recognize the spirit’s call in our own vocations, but at the same time, it reaffirms that transformation of the priest and helps us all to pray for his ministry.  And let me tell you, Fr. Don, Msgr. Walter and myself need as many prayers as we can get!

This is going to be difficult to get used to at first, but I think with us using it as often as we will, it will be quite easy to learn.  I think it will also help us to appreciate the connection of the Mass to Scripture, as well as the role of the Holy Spirit in our own lives and in the life of the Church.  Tune in next week!

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