20/2/11 – What Happens At Mass, Part III

During the course of this year, we will gradually begin to use the texts of the revised translation of the Roman Missal.  This is not just a time when we need to learn new words, but will hopefully be an opportunity to come to a deeper understanding of the Mass.  Here we will take a closer look at what happens at Mass.

Once the Entrance Procession and Hymn are finished, the priest leads the people in making the sign of the cross and greets them.  As we begin to use the new translation of the missal later this year, this greeting will include a simple yet noticeable change.  In response to the priest’s greeting, “The Lord be with you” or the like, we will respond, “And with your spirit.”

We have already looked at how the new translation of the missal will be a closer match to the Latin text.  This is evident in our response here, which is translated from the Latin phrase, “et cum spiritu tuo.” You can see how the English word “spirit” finds its origin in “spiritu”.

Yet the Latin phrase has a deeper, biblical origin.  St Paul in his letters greets his audience with “be with your spirit” on several occasions.  He also write in chapter 5 of his letter to the Galatians about the fruits of the spirit.  These fruits are identified by St Paul as the very characteristics of a person that most reflect God’s goodness and make us most open to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

When we greet the priest with the phrase “And with your spirit”, we also recognise (as explained by St John Chrysostom) the gift of the Spirit in the person of the priest.  This gift, given to the priest at ordination, allows him to preside at the Eucharistic celebration.  It is also a recognition of the presence of the Spirit amongst each of us, for it is only when the Holy Spirit is present within us that we can recongise its presence and work within others.

I must acknowledge that, in learning more about the meaning of “And with your Spirit”, I myself had to do my own research.  Much of what I have said comes from the very helpful explanation given by Monsignor Bruce Harbert on the DVD resource, Become One Body, One Spirit in Christ. Hopefully we will have opportunities to use it during this year to learn more about the Eucharistic celebration.

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