“And with your spirit…”

As we progress in our examination of the third edition of the Roman Missal, with its new English translation of the Mass we will begin using this Advent, we now move on to what we’ve all been waiting for – what of our people’s parts of the Mass is going to change?

We start with the familiar greeting from the priest, “The Lord be with you,” to which we reply, “and also with you.” That’s going to change, and I’m afraid it means the death knell for that old joke where the priest is fumbling around trying to get his microphone to work, and says, “There is something wrong with this microphone,” and the whole congregation replies, “And also with you.”

So what’s going to change? Here is the Latin side by side with the new translation.

Priest: Dominus vobíscum.           Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: Et cum spíritu tuo.           People: And with your spirit.

So why the change to “and with your spirit?” Well, let’s look at the Latin original. It says et cum spíritu tuo. You don’t have to be a Latin scholar to figure out what’s going on. Even if you just know a few Latin phrases you probably know that et means “and” and cum means “with.” You’ve got tuo there which if you know a bit of Spanish you can figure means “you” or “your.” And then spíritu looks almost just like our English word “spirit.” So it’s all right there in the original. It’s not a particularly complex phrase to translate. “And with your spirit.”

More importantly, it gives us a sense of just who it is we are addressing as Mass begins. The priest is greeting us with “The Lord be with you.” And when we respond, we are not responding directly to the priest, as a man. Rather we make a point of responding to his spirit – the spirit of Christ which is operating through the priest as he celebrates the Mass. Remember, with any Sacrament, it is not the priest himself who confers it, but rather God working through His minister. Here we are reminded of that truth of our faith, right at the beginning of the liturgy.

I want to point out here again that the Latin texts I am quoting from are from the second edition of the Missal, currently in use. This does not represent a change in the official Latin text of the Mass itself. This is simply a more faithful translation of the Latin text we’ve always had.