And with your spirit!

By | November 23, 2011

Related commentary on revised Roman Missal

Advent and Beyond: Sr. Ann Rehrauer

Guest opinion: Why I love the Mass

And while this spiritual salutation is new to our liturgical lexicon, it’s ancient in other parts of the world. English is the only major European language that does not mention the spirit in this greeting at Mass, according to Liturgy Training Publications of Chicago. LTP is one of several Catholic publishing houses overseeing publication of revised texts that will be used for the first time this weekend

The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments insisted that the Latin phrase, Et cum spiritu tuo, be translated as literally as possible, according to LTP. So why the fuss with spirit?

“And with your spirit” isn’t so much a response to “the person of the priest” who says, “The Lord be with you,” according to Peter Finn, associate director of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), which oversaw revisions in the Roman Missal (the book containing prayers for the Mass). It’s a response to “the Spirit of God” within the priest, who “ordained him to permanent service in the church.”

Finn adds that “And with your spirit” is an “acknowledgment of the ‘spirit’ and grace which is in (the priest).”

Many other word changes are in store for us this weekend. Not all of them will be popular or even familiar and some may take weeks or months to remember. That is why most parishes are providing pew cards with the word changes.

No matter what we think about learning new words in our prayers at Mass — prayers we’ve been reciting for decades — it’s important to remember that the Mass is a celebration of unity, a gathering of the Christian community around the altar.

Let’s not allow this time of change and transition to become a moment of resentment or bitterness.

First, patience and understanding should be key. If someone at church, relying on memory rather than a pew card, misspeaks, or out of habit raises his or her hands during the Our Father, do not react with raised eyebrows or finger pointing. Over time, what was new will become old habit.

Second, for those of us who abhor change, let’s see this as an opportunity to deepen our faith by studying these changes and being more conscious of the words we are saying. Just as the above explanation on “with your spirit” is enlightening, learning about the background behind revisions in the Roman Missal might help us better understand and accept them.

Sr. Ann Rehrauer has written about the changes in prayers and our responses at Mass for the past six months. (See the last column in her series on page 11.) The entire series is posted online at If you haven’t read the series, why not do it now?

In his reflection on the upcoming changes, Jesuit Fr. James Martin wrote about the sadness that he and other priests who grew up with the “old” Mass are feeling. He concludes his reflection with words we can all take to heart:

“As we move to the new, let’s not forget the value of the old. After all, tradition is an important part of the church, and we would be remiss if there was not an elegy for the old Sacramentary, the prayers of our youth: simple, clean, clear, direct, unadorned, beautiful.”

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