US Catholic Faith in Real Life

More making stuff up about the liturgy: "And with your spirit."

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

I just ran across this piece of misinformation on the USCCB FAQ page on the new translation of the greeting at Mass, "And with your spirit": "Some scholars have suggested that spiritu refers to the gift of the spirit he received at ordination. In their response, the people assure the priest of the same divine assistance of God’s spirit and, more specifically, help for the priest to use the charismatic gifts given to him in ordination and in so doing to fulfill his prophetic function in the Church."

I don't know which scholars suggest this--it is based on a single text from John Chrysostom, who didn't even celebrate the Roman liturgy since he was from the East--but one of them cited on that same page, Jesuit liturgical giant Josef Jungmann, certainly would not agree, although the footnote would have you believe he does.

Here's Jungmann's quote, with my emphasis added, "Both the greeting and the reply are ancient, their origins hid in pre-Christian times. In the Book of Ruth (2:4) Boaz greets his reapers with "Dominus Vobiscum" ["The Lord be with you."]. The salutation was thus part of everyday life. It is met with several times in Holy Scripture (Luke 1:28, cf. Judges 6:12, 2 Chronicles 15:2, 2 Thessalonians 3:16). The reply of the reapers to Booz’s greeting was: "Benedicat tibi Dominus." [May the Lord bless you.] We employ a phrase which means almost the same thing: Et cum spiritu tuo, a formula which betrays its Hebrew origin and has many parallels in St. Paul (2 Timothy 4:22, cf. Philemon 25; Galations 6:18; also Philippians 4:23).

No reason add any nonsense about "assuring" the priest of his charismatic gifts.

This is such a big fat problem. It's just plain bad (and self-serving) catechesis.

The greeting is just a repetition or gloss of the greetings at the beginning of Paul’s letters. The longer form of the greeting is trinitarian (The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you) and is straight from one of his letters; “The Lord be with you” is just a short form used a later invitation to prayer or the reading of the gospel. The greeting is simply (and only!) an invocation of the presence of the risen Christ in the whole assembly (presider and people). My first liturgy prof, and I think she was right, said the only purpose of the greeting was to mark significant moments in the liturgy:

Introductory rite: Greeting -> Opening prayer

Gospel: Greeting -> Gospel proclamation

Liturgy of the eucharist: Greeting (preface dialogue, lift up your hearts, etc.) -> Eucharistic prayer/communion/prayer after communion

Concluding rite: Greeting -> Blessing and dismissal

Notice the “four grand divisions” of the any liturgy: beginning, middle (word), middle (sacrament), ending.

As you can see, the perversity of saying something about the charismatic gifts of the ordained makes each of those moments—the entire liturgy!—about the priest. Who’s doing the work? The priest. Who’s watching? Everyone else. Every single change made to the liturgy since the late 1990s has had this effect, from who washes the communion dishes to this nonsensical translation.

Yes, yes, I'm beating a long-dead horse and no one is listening. But doesn't honesty matter? Doesn't good scholarship matter? The explanations for this translation are neither. The honest truth is the translation is changing because Rome changed the rules of translation for their own reasons.