Order of Mass – And With Your Spirit

January 2nd, 2011  |  Published in New Roman Missal

Dear Friends,

Christmas seems to come and go faster and faster these days. We were just preparing for the birthday of our savior and now it’s Epiphany – the celebration of Christ’s manifestation to the world. Before we know it, we’ll be back celebrating Christmas again. Before we can do that, though, we must enter Advent and Advent this year will take on a very different look with the use of the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal beginning on November 27th.

In preparation for that time, I’d like to look at the “Order of Mass” with you, those parts of the Mass we pray every week, with only slight variations. For example, Mass always begins with the words said by the priest, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” As a congregation, you respond, “Amen.” This will not change with the new missal. Immediately following the Sign of the Cross, the priest extends one of three different greetings to the people. The most common greeting is, “The Lord be with you.” That, too, will remain the same, but the response will change. Instead of responding, “And also with you,” you, the congregation, will respond, “And with your Spirit.” This new response will also be made at four other times during the Mass when this exchange of dialogue occurs: at the proclamation of the Gospel, at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer, during the Our Father, and at the conclusion of the Mass.

Why the change? At the most basic level, “and with your Spirit” is the proper translation of the original Latin text: “Et cum spiritu tuo.” By correctly expressing this dialogue in English, we are saying what every other major language group has been saying at Mass. For example, in Spanish, the response is “Y con tu espiritu.”

Beyond the proper translation of the Latin, the use of the word “spirit” carries great Scriptural meaning. One form or another of “The Lord be with you” appears many times in the Bible, including the greeting given by the Archangel Gabriel to Mary at the Annunciation. Then in the letters of St. Paul multiple variations of “The Lord be with your spirit” are used as his parting words to the many Church communities he founded and to whom he later wrote. Understood together this dialogue in the Mass whereby all who are present – priest and people – ask that the Holy Spirit establish a stronger communion among us.

This new response will take time to remember. It may seem like a small adjustment, our current response has become second nature to us. Yet, in time this new response will become just as familiar, especially with its frequency of use. Most importantly, though, it’s important to reflect on how it conveys the content of Sacred Scripture, as well as the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

Fr. John