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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Monday, April 04, 2011
Fourth Sunday in Lent Year A 3rd April 2011
NEW TRANSLATION OF THE MASS – begins September 4th
3. The Response to the Greeting: - “AND WITH YOUR SPIRIT”

One of the major changes in the people’s responses this September will be to say “And with your spirit” instead of “And also with you”. Last week we looked at the meaning of “The Lord be with You” –this week we look at the new response.

With the new translation we will be coming closer to the original Latin (in line with the translations for most other languages). This means we will be responding to “The Lord be with you” with “And with your spirit”. This might at first feel less ‘normal’ language. ‘And also with you’ is more obviously carries the easily grasped meaning of a polite: “And may God be with you, too.”

In fact the new, more literal translation, captures some deeper meanings also. The phrase actually comes from the last words of St Paul’s second letter to Timothy: “The Lord be with your Spirit” (2 Tim 4:22, see also Gal 6:18). Timothy was the young bishop that Paul had left in charge of the Church at Ephesus, and Paul explains that he is referring to the Spirit of Christ which, and by which, Bishop Timothy is ministering – that is The Holy Spirit.

Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago and until last year president of the American Catholic Bishops explains this quite forthrightly:

“Our current translation might seem more personal and friendly, but that’s the problem. The spirit referred to in the Latin is the spirit of Christ that comes to a priest when he is ordained, as St Paul explained to Timothy. In other words, the people are saying in their response that Christ as head of the Church is the head of the liturgical assembly, no matter who the particular priest celebrant might be.”

So by returning to the response "And with your spirit" we are acknowledging more explicitly the Holy Spirit's unique activity through the priest during the sacred liturgy by virtue of his ordination – and we are reminding the priest of his need for humility! As a Benedictine monk writes “In effect we are saying ‘Be the priest for us now,’ aware that there is only one priest, Christ Himself, & that this one who represents him now must be finely tuned to perform his sacred duties well."

In conclusion St John Chrysostom (a 4th Century saint) said in a sermon:- “By this cry (‘And with your Spirit’), you are reminded that he who stands at the altar does nothing …” and went on to explain that it was the Holy Spirit acting through the priest who accomplished all, concluding with the words “We indeed see a man, but God it is who acts through him. Nothing human takes place at this holy altar.”

Based on a chapter in a new book ‘A Biblical Walk through the Mass’ (by Edward Sri, Ascension Press).

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:12 am