“And With Your Spirit”- It’s Not What You Think

Of all the questions I’ve had about the New Translation of the Roman Missal the most common revolves around the response of the people “And with your spirit” as a replacement for the current  “And also with you.” One woman said to me, “It sounds as if our bodies no longer matter?”

Flawed Premise? Most of the controversy around the issue is based on a notion that the current expression “And also with you” is a more formal equivalent of “Same to you.” As if when the Priest says, “The Lord be with you” the congregation is responding, “Same to you, Father.” But this is not really what is being said by the congregation or what is meant by the Latin response et cum spiritu tuo (and with your spirit). The current translation is not only inaccurate, it is misleading, because most people think they are saying, “Same to you,  Father.”

Well, if that isn’t what is being said, what really is being said? In effect, the expression et cum spiritu tuo (soon to be accurately translated “and with your spirit”) is an acknowledgement by the congregation of the grace and presence of Christ, who is present and operative in the spirit or soul of the  celebrant. Christ’s Spirit is present in the priest  in a unique way by virtue of his ordination. Hence what the dialogue means is,

  • Celebrant: The Lord be with you.
  • Congregation: We do in fact acknowledge the grace, presence, and Spirit of Christ in your spirit.

This understanding of the dialogue was not uncommon among the Fathers of Church. For example St. John Chrysostom wrote,

If the Holy Spirit were not in our Bishop [referring to Bishop Flavian of Antioch] when he gave the peace to all shortly before ascending to his holy sanctuary, you would not have replied to him all together, And with your spirit. This is why you reply with this expression … reminding yourselves by this reply that he who is here does nothing of his own power, nor are the offered gifts the work of human nature, but is it the grace of the Spirit present and hovering over all things which prepared that mystic sacrifice (Pentecost Homily).

The priest or bishop who celebrates Mass is configured to Christ by the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The Spirit of Christ is in him in a unique way that is unlike any other non-ordained member of the congregation. The priest acts in persona Christi. That is, Christ personally ministers through him in such a way that we say that Christ is the true priest and celebrant of every Mass. The phrase “and with your spirit” is an acknowledgment and statement of faith in this fact. The congregation says in effect, “We acknowledge the Spirit, presence, and grace of Christ in your spirit, Father.”

A hat tip to Louie Verrechio for bringing this to my attention and for the quote from St, John Chrysostom. You can read his article here:  No Mere Greeting.

This understanding of the Greeting and response is confirmed by the fact that only a bishop, priest, or deacon may give the greeting “The Lord be with you” and hence receive the response, “and with your spirit.” For example, the General Instruction for the Celebration of Mass in the Absence of a Priest says,

The layperson is not to use words that are proper to a priest or deacon and is to omit rites that are too readily associated with the Mass, for example, greetings – especially “The Lord be with you” – and dismissals, since these might give the impression that the layperson is a sacred minister (SCAP # 39).

Disclaimer: Not all sacramental theologians accept this line of thinking. There is seldom perfect agreement on most things liturgical and how they are historically understood. However, the view presented here seems largely to be the thinking in Rome and in the Vox Clara Commission, which is responsible for overseeing the New Translation. I attended a gathering of all the priests of the Archdiocese of Washington yesterday on the topic of the New Translation. Msgr. Anthony Sherman, who is coordinating the implementation of the New Translation for the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB),  confirmed for us that this is part of the thinking in returning to the older “and with your spirit” translation. The other reason is that almost all of the other major language translations render the Latin et cum spiritu tuo as “and with your spirit.”

Whoever posted this video on YouTube misspelled the title (Which should be Dominus Vobiscum). Now of course I have never misspelled anything on this blog 🙂  The video is a meditation on the sacred architecture of a certain church. It is also true that God is present in every Catholic Church through the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

78 Replies to ““And With Your Spirit”- It’s Not What You Think”

  1. Thank you for explaining this so well. Although I understood the Latin, I did not understand the meaning behind it until reading this. Yes! The priest is in persona Christi, and this is why the Holy Communion prayers can bring me to tears.

  2. Your post raises a question for me. I understand the theology you present for the response of the people to the priest and it makes sense. I wonder though, during the sign of peace, after the priest (deacon) says: “Let us offer each other the sign of peace” how are the people to respond to each other when offering a sign of peace. My inclination is to say that “and with your spirit” applies as through our baptism we share in the common priesthood of Christ. However, would this be perceived as a distraction from the sacramental priesthood of the priest acting in persona Christi at the Eucharistic celebration?

    1. The correct response when some one says “Peace Be with you” and offers you his hand is “Amen” (So be it). You can find this written in Msgr Peter J. Elliott’s book “Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite.”

      1. Lay persons are not to say “The Lord be with you” nor “Peace be with you”.

          1. One thing that shocked me when I first when I heard the respond of “And with your spirit” to the prayer of ” Peace of the Lord be with you always” pronounced by a priest or deacon. Why would the congregation wanted to wish peace upon the priest’s spirit unless they thought he’s dead as in the common thinking of “Rest In Peace”.

            I think this was why when the translation “And also be with you” was born.

  3. Msgr Pope, the translation: “and also with you” from the Latin has befuddled me for 40 years! You have settled, healed a small hairline fracture in my liturgical thick skull…. Thanks!

  4. Since the response of the congregation “is an acknowledgement by the congregation of the grace and presence of Christ who is present and operative in the spirit or soul of the celebrant,” wouldn’t a more accurate translation be something like this: Celebrant: “The Lord be with you.” Congregation: “As he is with you.” In English, “and with your spirit” as a response to “The Lord be with you” still sounds to me like a version of “same to you,” (mainly because of the conjunction ‘and’ I think).

    1. Perhaps, though there are two matters operative here: what the repsonse means and how it has traditionally been rendered. It is clear that the new translation’s main purpose is to render the Latin accurately. In so doing it brings us closer to the teaching. Finally, the reference to the spirit of the celebrant seems a recognition that the Lord’s spiritual presence in the celebrant work primarily in a spiritual mode. It is true the Lord makes use of the priest’s body by using his voice, hands etc. But the way the Lord does this is not by roboticly moving the priest’s hands and speaking through him as a ventriloquist. Rather his Spirit interacts with the priest’s spirit. The priest thus freely consents and cooperates with the Lord’s Spirit in his spirit. The congreagation’s resonse thus refers to the fact that the Lord’s Spirit is present to and interactive with the priest’s spirit.

  5. Monsignor, thank you for another enriching post – and link.

    I have a question respecting the grammar, and the scope and details of its theological implications.

    In “Dominus vobiscum. – Et cum spiritu tuo” the verb is implied in what the Celebrant (Priest or Bishop) says, and both the grammatical subject and verb he has used are implied in the response.

    In the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, where all such exchanges only take place after the dismissal of the Catechumens, in one of them the Celebrant uses the words of St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:13. Here, in the Greek, the form of the verb ‘to be’ is not implied but is explicitly a third person singular optative subjunctive: we might translate “May the grace […] be with you. – And [may the grace […] be] with thy spirit”. (Using “thy” to distinguish second person singular).

    So (with no derogation to the welcome new translation), I suggest it might be possible to translate the Latin ‘exhaustively’ or ‘thoroughly accurately’ (if not ‘slavishly’), supplying ‘sit’: “May the Lord be with you. – May the Lord be with thy spirit.” (I do not know whether ‘vobiscum’ can have, or cannot have, any ‘distributive’ implications: “with each one of all of you”.)

    My question, with an eye to grammar, is: if the response “is an acknowledgement by the congregation of the grace and presence of Christ who is present and operative in the spirit or soul of the celebrant”, what does the scope of the theological meaning of what the Celebrant says include – as addressing together those each personally Baptized (and Confirmed) ‘in Corpore Christi’ – ‘in the Body of Christ’? Is it, for example, an acknowledgement of a distinct grace, presence, and operation in (each member of) the Body of Christ, then and there?

    (And could you point to any convenient official/approved translation(s) of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom on-line?)

    1. I can read enough Latin to read the Scriptures, my breviary and the Mass. But I am no gramarian. I remember endless debate about this in seminary days. There was the rather silly tradition among some priests in those days (25 years ago) to say “The Lord is already with you!” or perhaos less egregiously: “The Lord is with you” And the debate always came down to two positions: 1. Stick to the prescribed text ! and 2. Where’s the verb in Dominus vobiscum?

      In the end the debate about the Latin Grammer went on and on! It seems that grammar is as much art as science. I will emphatically attest that I am NO GRAMMARIAN! I just don’t have them mind to keep all the arcane details straight. I think David a couple comments below has presented a good answer to your question but will also admit he writes aouve my pay grade. I hope you’ll read what he says.

  6. Why does the Latin in the title of the YouTube video say “Domini vobiscum,” which would mean “The LORDS be with you?” Is it taken from a longer phrase in which “Domini” is genitive (e.g. “Spiritus Domini vobiscum”)? I don’t recognize that as being a commonly used liturgical phrase. We ought to be careful about our Latin lest we be unwitting polytheists.

  7. Louie Verrechio answers your question, David; and I believe that his answer is correct. He explains that the Deacon’s, Priest’s, or Bishop’s “Dominus vobiscum” is “a blessing imparted by the spirit of Christ at the hands of His ordained minister.” Our response to the minister is of a different kind from his words to us. Ours is a profession of faith in the presence of Christ working through the ordained (see Verrechio’s article).

    The ellipsis or omission in the Latin, then, is important; for it allows a brief, eloquent exchange, even though the mood of the verb omitted in each sentence is different. It is subjunctive in the Priest’s words (i.e., sit), since it is an exhortation; and it is indicative in our response (i.e., est) , since it is a statement of belief that the Lord IS with the soul or spirit of the ordained. Unfortunately, English does not allow for this kind of eloquence; and trying to translate the English without supplying the omitted verbs will cause precisely the confusion indicated by your question, David.

    Cervantes once wrote that reading something in translation was like looking at a tapestry from behind. The outline is certainly there, but the details are lost. Any English translation of the Latin ordo will have deficiencies. We can only be conscious of what the English fails to communicate by engaging in the kind of liturgical preparation Verrechio recommends.

    1. Dear Peregrinus,

      Thanks you. After submitting my comment, I wondered if I was not being circumspect enough, in failing to address the possibility of different implicit/omitted verb forms.

      I also wondered if I should have addressed the most obvious ‘liturgical’ difference: that the Faithful respond, rather than initiating.

      Looking again to the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, (if I am not mistaken) the only other explicit verb spoken by the Celebrant in such an exchange is a third person singular future indicative (in the translation I have to hand): “And the mercies of Almighty God and of our Saviour Jesus Christ shall be with you all.” In no case does the response have an explicit verb.

      So, a similar eloquent economy of expression(!).

      But I still seem to be left with the question, wherever none is stated, what verb form ‘ought’ we to ‘understand’? Is there any ‘linguistic weight in the balance’ one way or another?

      Theologically, and for that matter ‘liturgiologically’ (if that is the right – or a fitting – word), one cannot, of course, simply isolate the exchange(s).

      And one could say, even if understanding the identical verb form, the fact of being a response has a certain decisive weight.

      I certainly do not mean to suggest there are no distinctions! But I still wonder about (so to put it) the full(er) contours of the distinctions. (I hope this is part of an aspiration to liturgical preparation.)

      Again, thanks.

  8. Thank you for validating what I have been saying to my Catholic friends who see the upcoming changes as a sort of crumbling away of Vatican II. I am a layperson who chose not to be a priest. I saw a type of necessary priesthood in my role of layman but never confused my lay role with that of an ordained clergy. I intrinsically (from the Spirit) knew that phrase was speaking directly to the Spirit of Christ present in the presider.
    I was one of the first to pick up a guitar after Vatican II and cherished the return to the tradition of vernacular liturgy in the church. But… even as a teenager, I was aware of and deeply concerned with the implementation of Vatican II. I never bemoaned the latin being laid to rest (as it were). I did think throwing chant (the baby) out along with the latin (the bathwater) was a huge mistake. We must be careful not to implement these present corrections (I do not think of them as changes) with an emotionally charged attitude. We are called to pull the Church together in charity and prayer (denotes care). Anyone who thinks of the new missal as “payback” for the “fiasco” of Vatican II (which it wasn’t because God doesn’t work that way), well those people never really will understand the meaning of “et cum spiritu tuo”.

    1. Yes, thanks, in the end it is good to remember that the matterhas been setted and it’s time for unity in this matter. We priests were cautoned in this manner at the convocation yesterday. We were told not to burden the people of God without great debate which has ben settled by the Bishops.

  9. Dear Monsignor and fellow-readers,

    Please excuse my forgetfulness and forgive my idiotic sloppiness in not catching it when I said that all such exchanges in the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom come after the dismissal of the Catechumens, when the first such exchange there comes before the Gospel! I have just been trying to do a little more ‘homework’ on all this and encountered the suggestion that such words from the Celebrant before that dismissal are addressed to the Faithful among all those present, which seems a sensible one.

    But I may well have been trying to sift or squeeze more out than is likely truly to be there, and certainly do not want to lead anyone into a mare’s nest or bramble patch.

    Thanks again, variously, for the thought-provoking post, link, and comments.

  10. A Jewish Catholic explained much of the above to me and also added that the fuller meaning of the word “spirit” has to do with the particular charism of the priest too.

    We all know priests who are adept at some things and not so adept at other things, but they are all called to be priests with the variety of talents they possess. I’m not sure, but that enters into their charism, doesn’t it? A Bishop may recognize a particular talent in a priest and place him where such talent is most needed.

  11. All I can say is that Advent 2011 cannot come soon enough for me. Maybe the Holy Spirit will be so pleased with us that this will be the beginning of more to come. I love all the people who leave comments, you make me feel that there is hope out there. Thanks.

  12. Thanks Msgr for the explanation. I always regards priests having the Spirit of Christ in their person especially during the Eucharist and their homilies too inspire me as if Jesus is talking to me or to the whole parishioners, but as i said it takes close communication with the Spirit of the Lord in order to know Him in person. I remember sharing an experience on an Easter Sunday telling the people that “behind the white robe of this priest is the Spirit of Jesus in his person.” That is the reason why i love talking to priest and asking for some guidance every time i am in doubt. God bless us all.

  13. Why fix something that is not broken. My whole life as a “cradle Catholic”, I have been saying “And also with you”. Now, another change is being forced upon me and for really no good reason I can think of. It just confuses everyone.

  14. I became a Catholic in 1949, an Altar Boy in 1952, and a Priest in 1983. I have always said the Tridentiene Mass, because it was the Mass which Pope St. Pius V, ordered to be said for all time.
    I also believe that the Tridentine Mass can be said in Latin or in the Language of the Congregation, as long as the translation of the Mass does not change the intent of the the Mass as the rubrics state.
    We also forget that so many beautiful prayers were changed or shortened, for convenience sake,, such as the Confitior or the Credo, which no one has mentioned, now will state “I Believe”, instead of “We Believe.”
    Praise the Lord, Now and for ever more

    1. Yes, it appears we will surely be getting a more accurate translation, at least from what has already been released. This will at least help be sure, as you say that the intent of the prayers is not “lost in translation.”

  15. The discussion has overlooked the evident fact that the liturgical greeting/ response dialogue derives immediately from St. Paul – I leave aside the parallel greetings at Lk.1:28b (“Dominus tecum”) and Rt.2:4 (“Dominus vobiscum”) because, in the former, the Blessed Virgin gives no verbal response, and, in the latter, the reapers respond with a blessing (“Benedicat tibi Dominus”) unmatched in the liturgical dialogue.

    At 2Tim.4:22 we find this farewell: “The Lord be with your spirit”. The core phrase appears in three other places (Gal.6:18; Phil.4:23; Phm.25) with variants: “[The grace of] the Lord [Jesus Christ] be with your spirit, [brothers]”.

    The liturgical dialogue, therefore, can be explained grammatically as this:-

    Priest: “[May] the Lord be with you”
    People: “and [may He be] with your spirit”

    The suggestion that the people’s response is descriptive (“The spirit is with you”) is not at all convincing.

    The question is whether “with your spirit” is no more than a periphrasis for “with you” (as Fr. Jungmann, among others, certainly thought was the case). As to that, there are numerous instances in the Epistles of farewells which parallel those cited above but which use the simple pronoun “you” in place of the phrase “your spirit”(e.g., 1Co.16:23; 2Co.13:13; 1Thes.5:28; 2Thes.4:18).

    The variations may seem arbitrary, but since the liturgical dialogue is modelled on one particular scriptural variant, it seems presumptuous to ignore it.

    1. Excellent points all. This of course is the purpose of my “disclaimer” paragraph and you have well stated the opposing view. One question however would be how you understand St. John Chrysostom. Would you also consider his teaching unconvincing or perhaps just another way or school of thought? Your argument is entirely scriptural, which is not a problem, at least for me. However we do have additional things to consider in terms of sacramental theology that emerge from sacred tradition and the lex credendi that emerges from the lex orandi. An additional question I might have would be why the greeting was not “The Lord be with your spirit”….”and with your spirit” if a simple equivalence was intended and that ALL we were doing is deriving it immediately from scripture. Perhaps St. John C is filling in the detail that there is more going on here that just a derivative from scripture. Any thoughts?

  16. Dear Monsignor (with apologies for such a long response – but since you posed a couple of what I took to be non-rhetorical questions I thought I should answer them as best as I could),

    I certainly accept that the liturgical dialogue is doing more than cannibalising one of St. Paul’s epistolary farewells, and that it has its own dynamic which perhaps eludes easy analysis. I also accept that the unique and irreplaceable role of the priest in the Eucharistic sacrifice is inextricably bound up with the work of the Holy Spirit.

    As a resident of South Africa (where the new translation of “Ordo I” has been in force for 18 months), I am still not entirely sure what the people’s part in this particular dialogue intends to convey, but I am consoled by the fact that it is (a) scriptural, (b) of great liturgical antiquity, and (c) brings Anglophones into harmony with Catholics who celebrate Mass in the other major liturgical languages (including Latin, Spanish, French, German and Italian – the Portuguese translation of “et cum spiritu tuo” is highly anomalous).

    A fourth justification is that the priest’s greeting at the start of Mass (even in the simple form “The Lord be with you”) is a solemn one, demanding a solemn response. The case is a fortiori where the priest uses the greeting taken bodily from 2Co.13:14.

    For my part, I see no difference in substance between any of the farewells in the Pauline Letters, including the difference between “grace . . be with you” (1Thess.5:28) and “grace . . be with your spirit” (Phm.25).

    Again, the first letter to Timothy ends “Grace be with you”; the second ends “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you”. The longer salutation does not signify any increase in St. Paul’s love and concern for Timothy, or any change in his theological perspective. Similarly, the two letters to the Corinthians end very differently. I cannot see that these differences in and of themselves “mean” anything, or that the Corinthians (who, I am sure, were entranced by the extended close to the second letter, at 13:11-14) spent any time trying to work out why the farewells differed.

    God forbid I should repudiate what St. John Chrysostom says, but we can distinguish between (a) using a text as a hook on which to hang stimulating and important ideas, and (b) explaining what that same text means in context. The Fathers went to great lengths to draw out every conceivable grain of truth from each word of scripture – the explanation of the number “153” in the miraculous draught of fish as reported by St. John is a case in point – a style of exegesis no longer much favoured. We can be grateful for the Fathers’ virtuosity and insights without agreeing with them in every detail.

    If the bare mention of the word “spirit” induces the people to think of the action of the Holy Spirit at the priest’s ordination and/or at the epiclesis, then all well and good; but the word “spirit” is not capitalised in the official text, and the simple phrase “and with your spirit” does not naturally evoke the complex (not to say confusing) idea “and may the Lord be with the Holy Spirit in-dwelling in you”. Your own explanation of the phrase is even more complex (“We do in fact acknowledge the grace, presence and Spirit of Christ in your spirit”).

    Incidentally, Monsignor, you say that the understanding you give of the people’s response “was not uncommon among the Fathers of Church.” I have never seen any but St. John Chrysostom cited on this, however.

    In Christ

    1. I am not sure which Fathers. I was told this in a lecture. The notes I took referenced a statment from the USCCB to wit:

      What do the people mean when they respond “and with your spirit”?
      The expression et cum spiritu tuo is only addressed to an ordained minister. 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.

      What further reading could you suggest on this dialogue?
      For those who wish to pursue this issue from a more scholarly perspective, they might consult

      J.A. Jungmann, S.J., The Mass of the Roman Rite: its Origins and Development, trans. F.A. Brunner C.Ss.R. (Westminster, MD: Christian Classics, 1986), 363.

      Michael K. Magee, The Liturgical Translation of the Response “Et cum spiritu tuo”: Communio 29 (Spring 2002) 152-171.

      W.C. Van Unnik, “Dominus Vobiscum:” The Background of a Liturgical Formula: A.J.B. Higgins (ed.), New Testament Essays (Manchester, University Press, 1959) 270-305.

      The full USCCB Reference is here: http://www.nccbuscc.org/romanmissal/translating_notes.shtml

      1. Dear Monsignor and Bain Wellington and fellow readers,

        For what it is worth, I have seen a reference stated “Cf., e.g., Theodore of Mopsuestia […] ‘Catecheses’ vi. ed. Mingana, p. 91” – which does not add any other examples, or make a point of the Antiochene provenance of Theodore and St. John.

      2. The reference to a homily by John Chrysostom is used very often to justify the notion of an hieratic priesthood, but none of those who refer to the homily provide the entire text. I find it curious that a quote, taken out of context, has become a proof-text for an innovation.

  17. My problem is in reading “spiritu tuo” as if it meant “the Holy Spirit in-dwelling in you”. From what I have read of it (in fragmented books.google form) Unnik’s necessarily laborious discussion side-steps this crucial point.

    Since the liturgical phrase is undoubtedly Pauline in origin, it is as well to note that he writes of his own spirit (“I serve God with my spirit”, Ro.1:9; “I had no relief in my spirit”, 2Co.2:13 etc.); of Titus’ spirit (“his spirit has been refreshed by all of you”, 2Co.7:13); and of the spirit of all the Corinthian Christians “[Stephanus and companions] refreshed my spirit as well as yours”, 1Co.16:18).

    In at least one place, there is an express distinction drawn between the Holy Spirit and the spirit “of” someone: “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Ro.8:16).

    The spirit, then, is an aspect of what we might call “personality”. It is not to be confused with the soul (cf. Lk.1:46f.) or with the in-dwelling Holy Spirit (cf. 1Co.6:19), but is, properly, that part of our existence which makes us truly human: the will. Hence the contrast between the spirit and the flesh: “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Mt.26:41b; Mk.14:38).

    I feel that the true sense of the people’s reply is to be drawn from a consideration of these texts (especially 1Co.16:18 and 2Co.7:13 quoted above). These also can help explain why the dialogue is repeated at various places in the liturgy (meaning that it is not sufficient to call it a mere greeting):-

    the priest repeatedly reminds us of the presence of the Lord – recalling both the assurance at Mt.28:20b and the Divine name “Emmanuel” (Mt.1:23) – and we affirm it and offer him our spiritual support.

  18. I would add to Bain Wellington’s references that reward consideration, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, with its tripartite elaboration of spirit, soul, and body, and also with the Apostle Paul’s saying “May the God of peace Himself sanctify you ‘holoteleis’/’per omnia’ and may your spirit, soul, and body be kept ‘holokleron’/’ínteger’ ‘amemptos en tei parousiai’/’sine querela in adventu’ of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Notable are pehaps both the range of ‘parousia’/’adventus’, and the emphasis on ‘peace’.

    In the 1937 Dutch adaptive translation of Pius Parsch’s ‘Messerklärung’ that I have to hand, attention is paid to the circumstance that (when the ‘Gloria’ is included) a Bishop or Abbot says “Pax” instead of “Dominus” vobiscum (as in the sermon of St. John), with an eye to John 20:19-23. He says, “The Bishop wishes the People the fullness of the graces of salvation, which have been give him in the fullness of his power/authority” (my translation).

  19. Your argument is unclear to me, Bain. You are not maintaining that the Church cannot incorporate phrases or verses of Scripture into the text of the mass and give those phrases or verses a different, or at least an additional, meaning in their new context from the one previously had, are you?

  20. Dear Peregrinus,

    In a previous post I wrote: “I certainly accept that the liturgical dialogue is doing more than cannibalising one of St. Paul’s epistolary farewells, and that it has its own dynamic which perhaps eludes easy analysis.” The principle that the Church can incorporate scriptural texts into the liturgy and that they there can acquire a new dynamic is self-evident (cf., e.g., “Domine non sum dignus etc.” to the end of that prayer).

    The instant question is what can “et cum spiritu tuo” reasonably be taken to mean, viewed as a response to the priest’s salutation, and having regard to each of the four words the response contains.

    Does “spiritus tuus” in this phrase refer to the Holy Spirit? I suggest that the personal pronoun actually excludes that possibility. I would be interested to hear of any other example in scripture or the liturgy where “my spirit”, or “your spirit” means (or even alludes to) the Holy Spirit in any language you might care to mention. We simply do not speak of the Holy Spirit in that way, do we?

  21. Thank you for the clarification, Bain. Your argument has thus far been unclear to me precisely because you both have written that you accept the fact that words from Scripture can acquire new meaning in the context of the mass and yet you seem to argue against the new meaning attributed to those words, at least as you understand that meaning, by appealing to what they mean in the Bible. You write that “the true sense of the people’s reply is to be drawn from a consideration of these [Biblical] texts.” Why should you claim that the true sense of the reply is to be so drawn, if you, in fact, accept that the true sense of the reply may now be different from the sense(s) it has in Scripture? I assume from your clarification that the apparent conflict in your argument is only apparent and that you allow for a new meaning to the phrase under discussion.

    You are right to reject reference of the phrase “et cum spiritu tuo” to the Holy Spirit. This reference has no basis in fact. Note, however, that neither I nor the article refers the phrase to the Holy Spirit. The phrase refers to the ordained by referring to his soul or spirit, as you yourself have recognized in an earlier comment (see the post time-stamped 05/29 3:32 p.m.). There is, in fact, no reference to the Holy Spirit even in the phrase’s context.

    1. My apologies in advance (again) for a very long post.

      Your comments, Peregrinus, are challenging in a fruitful way, although I cannot understand what it is about my own remarks that is inconsistent or even confusing. There is a general point concerning the meaning of scriptural phrases when employed in the liturgy (which I do not want to pursue here), and there is the question of the translation of a specific phrase (which is the heart of this thread) which I want to concentrate on.

      The line of argument presented by Mr. Verrecchio and adopted by Mgr. Pope and by you, Peregrinus, assumes that the mere word “spiritu” in the people’s response refers or alludes – in some way – to the Holy Spirit in-dwelling in the priest by virtue of his sacred ordination. If I am wrong as to that, then (as is quite possible) I have seriously misunderstood the entire discussion.

      Mr. Verrecchio (in the article linked by Mgr. Pope) wrote:-

      “St. John says that when we respond, And with your spirit, we are actually making a rather profound and timely profession of faith. We’re acknowledging that the priest who stands before us is not just another member of the congregation . . when we say, ‘And with your spirit’, we are actually professing our faith in the sacrament of Holy Orders and the mark that is bourn [sic] on the soul of the ordained minister who leads us.”

      Mgr. Pope wrote in his article:-

      “In effect, the expression et cum spiritu tuo . . is an acknowledgement by the congregation of the grace and presence of Christ who is present and operative in the spirit or soul of the celebrant. Christ’s Spirit is present in the priest in a unique way in virtue of his ordination . .”

      You yourself, Peregrinus, emphasising what you (incorrectly, as I contend) take to be a change of mood in the unexpressed verb, wrote (May 27, 11:47am):-

      “[the phrase] is a statement of belief that the Lord IS with the soul or spirit of the ordained”


      My stance is that the theology (a) is correct, but (b) cannot be extracted it from the words “et cum spiritu tuo”.

      The people’s response does not, on the face of it, assert, refer to, or (still less) profess as true, the fact that the Holy Spirit is “present in the priest in a unique way in virtue of his ordination”; nor is it “a profession of faith in the presence of Christ working through the ordained.” Nothing in the phrase “[the priest’s] spirit” indicates sacred ordination.

      The study notes issued by the USCCB (Mgr. Pope gave the link above) are quite tentative on the subject:-

      “The expression et cum spiritu tuo is only addressed to an ordained minister. 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 take it that the third sentence just quoted from the study notes is an expansion of the theory cited in the second sentence and is not an independent assertion of fact<

  22. I must qualify my remarks in the last paragraph of my previous post by conceding that many liturgical prayers addressed to God do indeed contain the phrase “Your Spirit” (and see the prayer of Nehemiah at Neh.9:20, for example); but the liturgical phrase under discussion is not, of course, so addressed. Similarly, the phrase “my Spirit” can easily be found in prophetic discourse (“it is the Lord who speaks”) – at Is.44:3, for example.

    Therefore the challenge (precisely formulated) is to find further or other examples – in Sacred Scripture or the Liturgy – of the phrases “my spirit” or “your spirit” where the referend of the pronoun is a human but where the noun to which the pronoun is attached means the Holy Spirit in-dwelling in him (or her). I doubt that there are any.

    Compare, however, a prophetic phrase such as “Spiritus meus qui est in te” (Is.59:21) which successfully achieves what the phrase “et cum spiritu tuo” is said (obscurely) to mean. Or compare Ps.50 [51]:13 “. . spiritum sanctum tuum ne auferas a me”. When Scripture speaks of the Holy Spirit in-dwelling in someone, there is no scope for confusion.

    1. I do not know if (or when) anything like this has been explicitly suggested in Patristic and later discussions, but it suddenly struck me that it might be a matter of ‘spiritus’/ ‘pneuma’ naturally resonating (so to put it) with Divine ‘Spirit’ in the context of ‘Dominus’/’Kyrie’, with (as it were) Our Lord the Incarnate Son’s words to the Samaritan woman in John 4: 24 in the back of the mind of the Church. And cf., too, John 14: 23 and 25 in this context. In effect, ‘May the Lord [God, Who is Spirit, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] be with you. – Any may the Lord [God, Who is Spirit, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] also be with your spirit.’

      1. That is a good point. There is a deliberate ambiguity in the word “Dominus”, so it would be too restrictive to say that in the phrase “Dominus vobiscum” it necessarily refers to Jesus Christ (I was guilty of this in citing Mt.20:28b, for example).

        The scriptural use of “Kyrios [Dominus]” fluctuates in reference between Jesus and the Father, and in the liturgy “Kyrie eleison” is ambiguous whereas “Domine non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum” and “Dominus Deus sabaoth” are not. Consider also “Domine Deus rex caelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens. Domine filii unigenite, Iesu Christe” etc.

  23. Perhaps somewhat tangentially, with reference to the interrelations of Scripture and liturgy, in trying to do some more ‘homework’ on ‘et cum spiritu tuo’, I came across a couple interesting suggestions.

    First, with reference to Ruth 2:4, a quotation from the Talmud (cited as “Tractate ‘Berakoth’, Tos. vii. 23”), “It was used of old time when a man would recall his companions to remembrance of the Law.” This might well suggest a Jewish liturgical use, and one continued directly into early ‘Church’ usage, of (something like) the ‘Dominus vobiscum’ – especially in the context of the Scripture reading(s) which follow in the service.

    Similarly, the ‘parallelism’ of the reply may reflect such a Jewish – and Church – usage which may already precede and be echoed in 2 Timothy 4:22.

  24. Dear Bain Wellington (and other fellow readers),

    With reference to ‘Kyrios/Dominus’, and the Gloria, an interesting development is (as I understand) that from the text as found in Codex Alexandrinus and the Latin text in the Bangor Antiphonarium (7th c.) to the Latin text (more or less as we now know it) in the Psalterium of Wolfcoz of St. Gallen (9th c.), with its “Quoniam Tu solus Sanctus, Tu solus Dominus, […] Jesu Christe cum Sancto Spiritu […].”

    Re. Scriptural use, I seem to remember reading something about the possible interpretations of the last clause of 2 Corinthans 3:16 – “apo Kupiou Pneumatos”, including “[the] Lord [the] Spirit”- but cannot recall exactly where…

  25. You do not, Bain, adequately consider the context of the words of the people’s response (see my question to you time-stamped June 1st at 1:24 p.m.).

    You first consider a single word of the response, viz., “spiritu” in your comment of June 3rd at 5:34 a.m. You state that I and the article assume that this “mere word…refers or alludes – in some way – to the Holy Spirit in-dwelling in the priest by virtue of his sacred ordination.” You apparently deny that it does refer or allude to this in-dwelling; and you are correct. The “mere word ‘spiritu’” certainly does not refer to the Holy Spirit; nor do either I or the article claim that it does. “Spiritu” refers, as I have stated, to the soul or spirit of the ordained and to nothing more.

    You then consider later in the same comment, Bain, the entire response, i.e., “et cum spiritu tuo.” You state:

    The people’s response does not, ON THE FACE OF IT, assert, refer to, or (still less) profess as true, the fact that the Holy Spirit is “present in the priest in a unique way in virtue of his ordination;” nor is it “a profession of faith in the presence of Christ working through the ordained.” Nothing in the phrase “[the priest’s] spirit” indicates sacred ordination. (emphasis mine)

    This statement is also true. The response does not, “on the face of it,” i.e., considered without reference to its context, necessarily mean any of those things; but the actual meaning of a response is not determined apart from its context, for the context of any response, including this one, affects its meaning.

    What is the context of the response? The response occurs in the context of the mass in which the ordained, acting in the person of the Christ, greets the assembly of faithful; and the assembly of faithful responds to his greeting. The ordained turns to the people and says “Dominus vobiscum.” The people then give their reply. Now the reply contains an ellipsis, as I have noted above. That is to say, the subject and verb of the reply are omitted, as Latin some times allows; and one must, therefore, determine what the omitted words are from both the portion of the reply actually given and from the reply’s context. If we assume that the sentence is properly written, then we must conclude that the subject is the same as in the sentence that precedes it, i.e., that it is “Dominus.” The verb omitted is obvious. It is “esse,” the Latin verb meaning “to be.” The mood of the verb, at first, also seems obvious. It appears to be subjunctive to express the exhortation or wish of the people that the Lord also be with the ordained or, literally, with his soul or spirit (apparently a synecdoche). The people’s response, in this case, is, as one would expect, parallel to the ordained’s greeting.

    There are, however, two reasons for concluding that the mood of the omitted verb is not subjunctive. The first is that the Church has apparently determined that the mood of the verb is not subjunctive, since it has seen the need to revise the current English version of the response translating the verb in the subjunctive. The translation “and also with you” would be a satisfactory, if the faithful were expressing the exhortation or wish described.

    The second reason for concluding against the subjunctive is that the meaning of the response would be inappropriate, if the verb were subjunctive. Remember that the ordained is, in a real sense, the Christ; for it is the Christ, by the power Holy Spirit, who “makes present efficaciously the grace [of the sacraments] that…[the sacraments] signify” (CCC, Para. 1084) The Christ is, “by His power…present in the sacraments so that when anybody baptizes, it is really Christ Himself who baptizes;” and when any one celebrates the mass, it is the Christ who does so (CCC, Para. 1088). In what sense, then, would the faithful desire or wish for the Lord, i.e., God, to be with the one acting in the person of Christ, God incarnate? The Lord is clearly with the ordained; and He is so in a special way. There is, therefore, no need to desire or wish that He be. To do so would be to misunderstand to whom one is responding.

    If the mood of the verb is not subjunctive, then it is indicative. The people’s response, in this case, is a declarative statement and, given what it declares, a profession of faith. Note, however, that the response is not, precisely speaking, a profession that the Holy Spirit dwells within the ordained, as you have characterized it, Bain. Celebration of the sacraments is not, properly speaking, the act of the Holy Spirit, notwithstanding the fact that the one who acts does so through the Holy Spirit. It is the act of the Christ, the High Priest, as noted above. The profession is, then, “an acknowledgement by the congregation of the grace and presence of Christ, who is present and operative in the spirit or soul of the celebrant,” as Msgr. Pope states. This grace and presence alone allows the Eucharist to be confected.

    1. If I have mis-characterised your understanding of what you say is a profession of faith by the people in their response, I apologise. Readers will draw their own conclusion from the passages I quoted above.

      As for the first reason which you give for arguing that the mood of the suppressed verb is NOT subjunctive, I cannot follow you at all. Neither the current translation nor the new translation which will replace it expresses the verb. The change in the English wording offers no handle for deducing what “the Church” considers the mood to be.

      Your second reason is also wide of the mark. To be sure, the priest confects the Sacrament “in persona Christi” and as “alter Christus”, but it is wrong to absolutise this condition. Immediately after the initial greeting and the people’s response, what happens? Both priest and people together confess their sinfulness before God. When the people respond to the priest’s greeting, they are addressing a very human, very fallible man who stands before them as their unworthy priest.

      Consider also the 4th of the 5 occasions when the salutation and response are exchanged at Mass: embedded in the “Pax”, it follows the “Libera nos” which contains a very mortal and human plea (“Libera nos . . Domine ab omnibus malis . . ut ope misericordiae tuae adiuti . . a peccato simus semper liberi”).

      David has already anticipated my reply on both of your reasons: see his comment below.

      I venture to say that, apart from the words of Institution, the priest, at Mass, invariably speaks “in propria persona” (whether on his own initiative, as it were, or as intercessor, or as spokesman in the name and on behalf of himself united with the congregation).

  26. Dear Peregrinus and Bain Wellington and other fellow readers,

    Monsignor had an admirable observation in a reply of 1 June under his post on the “Old Latin Mass”: “I also suppose that there are mixed motives in just about anything we humans do. The hope is to have more of the better motives (worship) than some of the lesser ones (impressing people).”

    I hope that, in ‘sticking my oar in’ again, ‘arguing for truth’ is a part of my mix of motives: in any case, a scrupulous dissection of anything I say can remedy any failings of mine, here.

    A scattering of remarks:

    It is not clear to me that the new translation determines that one cannot understand either ‘est’ or ‘sit’ as the implied verb form in the response.

    “Celebration of the sacraments is not, properly speaking, the act of the Holy Spirit, notwithstanding the fact that the one who acts does so through the Holy Spirit” is an admirably nuanced statement. I am not sure it is an exhaustively enough nuanced one. Perhaps I am not giving enough weight to the full and exact sense of ‘celebration’. But, if we look at the example of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, after the Entry with the Holy Gifts, the Celebrant prays “O Lord God Almighty, […] receive also the supplications of us sinners […] and enable us to offer to Thee Gifts […]: look upon us as worthy […] that the good Spirit of Thy grace may rest upon us, and upon these Gifts […], and upon all Thy people.” And later, at what I understand to be the ‘Epicleisis proper'(so to put it), “send down Thy Holy Spirit upon us and upon these Gifts”.

    The Father is asked to act by sending the Spirit to act. If ‘celebration’ is focused on the ‘asking to act’, then this is indeed “not, properly speaking, the act of the Holy Spirit”.

    The asking is expressed in the first person plural, e.g., “enable us to offer”. I see no reason to suppose this is the ‘Royal “We” ‘ rather than the ‘real plural “we” ‘. So, does “celebration” include a ‘we-real-plural offering’, or only the single celebrant asking? (Tangentially, how does concelebration come into the picture?)

    If there is a single Celebrant (or Con-celebrants – each regarded (somehow) singly?) acting “in the person of Christ”, he is not,properly speaking, The Person of Christ.

    Why does it not make perfect sense for the baptized and confirmed Faithful “sinners” to “desire or wish for the Lord, i.e., God, to be with the one” baptized, confirmed and Ordained Faithful Celebrant ‘sinner’ “acting in the person of Christ, God incarnate”, since he is abundantly clearly not the Oerson of Christ, God Incarnate Himself,but a fallen and redeemed human person who (God frorbid!, but) may be in a state of mortal sin throughout the Celebration?

    As well as concelebration, it would be interesting to consider private Masses.

    1. I apologize for not responding to your comments sooner. My schedule has not allowed me the time to do so until now.

      My explanation of the implication of the revised English translation of the greeting in my preceding comment was apparently unclear. Let me clarify that explanation. The current translation of the people’s response does not, as Bain notes, contain a verb. There is, as in the Latin it translates, an ellipsis. The mood, as well as the identity, of the verb is, nonetheless, clear from the context of the response. The ordained uses the subjunctive “be” in his greeting, and the people respond in kind with “and [the Lord be] also with you.” There is no other logical conclusion concerning the mood of the omitted verb, given its context.

      The current English translation, then, attributes a subjunctive mood to “esse” in the ellipsis in the phrase “et cum spiritu tuo;” and it gives a proper rendering of the phrase, if this attribution is correct. Indeed, its rendering is, in this case, favorable to the revised one; for the literal translation of the Latin here is unnecessarily unclear and a circumlocution, if the intent of the Latin is merely the exhortation or wish the English translation assumes.

      The Church has, however, decided in favor of a literal translation of the Latin; and it has evidently done so because it understands the people’s response to be, as a Greek doctor of the Church observed matter-of-factly centuries ago, much more than an exhortation or wish. It recognizes with St. John Chrysostom that there is a profession of faith in the authority of the ordained to “act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself (virtute ac persona ipsius Christi)” in this brief reply (CCC, Para. 1548, quoting the encyclical Mediator Dei; cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7).

      Bain and David have rightly noted, as the Catechism states, that “the presence of Christ in the minister [or ordained] is not to be understood as if the latter were preserved from all human weakness…error, [or] even sin” (Para. 1550). Clearly, the ordained continues to be an imperfect, sinful man, notwithstanding his ordination. One must, however, distinguish between the ordained’s actions as merely a baptized man and his acts ex officio (i.e., in his capacity as minister of the sacraments); for the ordained is in his “ecclesial service” the “Christ himself[,] who is present to his Church as Head of his Body” (CCC, Para. 1548). “That is what the Church means by saying that the priest [or ordained], by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, acts in persona Christi Capitis” (CCC, Paras. 1548ff.).

      The liturgy of the mass is one integral act of worship in which “the People of God is called together, with a priest presiding and acting in the person of Christ, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord” (General Instruction on the Roman Missal, 27; cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 6; Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7 & 59). The ordained who presides over the liturgy, then, acts ex officio as the Christ; and he does so during the entirety of the liturgy, except for in certain moments when he “prays only in his own name” (i.e., in the silent prayers said before the reading of the Gospel, at the Preparation of the Gifts, and before and after the communion of the priest) (GIRM, 30, 31, 33, & 93). The ordained prays in every other case “in the name of the Church and of the assembled community;” as his words (e.g., the use of the first person plural) indicate (GIRM, 30 & 33). One should not mis-interpret this language of representing the community for a denial or absence of the ordained’s acting in the person of Christ.

      The presider, then, acts ex officio when greeting the people and receiving their greeting in the introductory rites. That is to say, he then acts as the person of Christ; and it is not appropriate for the people to respond to his greeting by expressing a wish or desire for the Lord to be with him, as I have previously explained. The Lord is clearly with him ex officio. Indeed, the presider is the Lord, in a sense, in this capacity.

      The bishop or priest must act in the person of Christ in the mass to confect the Eucharist: for only the Christ, who offers Himself eternally before God, the Father, on the “altar of the cross,” can offer the same sacrifice “through the ministry of the priest” before the assembly in an unbloody manner on the altar of the church (CCC, Para. 1367; cf. CCC, Para. 1085). Celebrating the sacrament of the Eucharist is, therefore, as in the case of the other sacraments, the act, precisely speaking, of the Christ, notwithstanding the fact that, as David notes, the Holy Spirit actually makes the Eucharistic species present (see CCC, 737, 1084, 1088, 1104, & 1353). The Christ, God, the Son, incarnate, and the Holy Spirit, as always, work together in this sacrament; but they, nonetheless, have acts proper to each of them (CCC, Paras. 258 & 689). The Christ is the High Priest, who offers His perfect sacrifice on behalf of His people; and the Holy Spirit is the “Sanctifier,” who makes the sacrifice what the High Priest intends it to be (see CCC, Paras. 1087, 1105, 1375).

      The liturgy of the mass is rich in meaning. Let us pray that the revised English translation of the mass makes more of that richness apparent.

      1. Dear Peregrinus,

        A belated, but still brief, word of thanks for your detailed, lucidly argued and richly documented response (which I have just gotten the opportunity to read, without any opportunity for following up your citations)! To put it a slightly different way, thanks for ‘doing so much of “our” homework for us’!

        I heartily second your concluding paragraph! – and think, also, that you ‘highlight’ a lot of richness to ponder: for which again, thanks!

        I am not convinced I should even try to address any of the things that most, first strike me, without a lot more pondering, so I will stop, now, with repeated thanks!

      2. Yesterday’s first reading (Elisha’s request for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, 2Kg.2:9b), made me glance back at this thread. I see, Peregrinus, that you are still wedded to two arguments as to the mood of the unexpressed verb in “et cum spiritu tuo”.

        Simply put, they are (a) the argument from design (by the very fact of a literal translation of the people’s response, the “church” has manifested the view that the mood is indicative), and (b) the argument that since the priest greets the people “in persona Christi”, it is otiose for them to wish on him something which is already the case.

        On (a), you have said nothing to substantiate what you deduce from the change from “you” to “your spirit”. Your speculations as to what “the Church” intended by the change are unnecessary because the liturgical dicastery (CDW&DS) disclosed its mind on this topic: see “Liturgiam authenticam” n. 56. It is simply the restoration of an ancient usage.

        On (b), you have confused the general with the particular. By ordination priests are indeed conformed to Christ (“Presbyterorum ordinis”, n. 2.3 and 5.1, and cf. 2Co.2:10). Thus, every part of the priestly ministry is exercised “in persona Christi capitis” in a broad sense.

        But in the Institution narrative the priest speaks “in persona Christi” in a narrow sense for, in using the first person singular and in the accompanying act, he offers Christ his voice and hands in a unique way. But even here, it is only “in a certain manner” (“quodam modo” in Pius XII’s phrase in Encycl. “Mediator Dei”). There is no “channelling” here.

        You also err in confining the instances of the priest speaking at Mass “in propria persona” to the silent prayers you listed. In the introductory rites the priest speaks in his own behalf in the Confiteor (a fortiori in the Extraordinary form, where he speaks that prayer alone).

        Similarly, in the Gloria there is an appeal to Jesus to “have mercy on us”. Again, in the Communion rite, the priest invokes the Lord: “Domine Iesu Christe . . ne respicias peccata nostra”.

        Thus the priest passes in and out of various modes as he speaks in various ways at Mass. The mere fact of his ordination does not exclude the possibility that at numerous points (including at the greeting) he is speaking directly to the people “in propria persona”.

  27. You are most welcome, David. I am glad that you have found something of use in my little contributions.

    May the Holy Spirit guide us all to a deeper understanding of the divine exchange of the mass.

  28. I appreciate Bain’s reminding us of the directions in Liturgiam Authenticam for translating the people’s response. The body of the local Church actually responsible for revising the translation of the response in the English text rightly understood these directions to be a reaction to the inadequate rendering in the English version then in use (see “Notes on the New Translation of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia” (http://www.nccbuscc.org/romanmissal/translating_notes.shtml)). This rendering, the translators noted, failed to express the “full meaning of the Latin text” (op. cit.). That is to say, the Latin formulation of the response meant more than the exhortation or wish the English phrase “and also with you” communicated. Hence, a revised translation with a more literal rendering of the Latin, as the directions specified, was necessary to incorporate this fuller meaning into the English text. The translating body, for this reason, revised the text as it did.

    One can, as Bain indicates, distinguish several senses in which the ordained represents the person of Christ. The ordained does so in the most general and weakest sense by virtue of his ordination; for the ordained receives a character or configuration to the Christ by the laying on of hands so that he is “able to act in the person of Christ the Head” (CCC, Para. 1563, quoting Presbyterorum ordinis, 2). The ordained bishop or priest also represents the Head of the Church, and he does so “above all [maxime]” and in the fullest sense, as Bain notes, “when offering the Eucharistic sacrifice” (CCC, Para. 1552).

    There is another, intermediate sense, which Bain fails to enumerate, in which the ordained represents the person of Christ, namely, when he discharges his office of ecclesial service in ways other than confecting the Eucharist (e.g., as “shepherd” or “teacher”) (CCC, Paras. 1548ff. & 1558). When the ordained is “representing Christ…before the assembly of the faithful” as the presider at the mass, then he acts in the person of Christ in this third sense (General Instruction on the Roman Missal, 27; CCC, Para. 1552). The ordained is then the person of Christ, unlike in the most general sense, by engaging in specific “acts” as the Christ through exercising the “sacred power” of ordination, and not just as having the potential to engage in those acts (CCC, Para. 1538, 1548f., & 1551). That is to say, he is then the Christ in his actions and reactions with the faithful; and the faithful are communicating, in a true, albeit limited sense, with the Christ when interacting with him. Their communication must take this fact into account and be suitable to the person to whom it is addressed. To respond to the greeting of one acting in the person of Christ in this intermediate sense by expressing a wish or desire for the Lord to be with him would be inappropriate, as I have explained above.

    Now there are, it is true, a few moments during the mass when the ordained acts as himself (in propria persona), and not in the person of the Christ. These moments, as Bain notes, differ in the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the mass (see his reference to the Confiteors of the Tridentine form). They are, nonetheless, distinguished in either form by their context and the actions that occur in them (e.g., by words or prayers said quietly) (see GIRM, 33). There need not be any confusion, therefore, about in which moments the ordained is acting in propria persona. The ordained’s greeting and people’s response are clearly not among those moments; nor are the presider’s prayers said with or “in the name of the whole Church” (GIRM, 50; CCC, Para. 1552). The presider is not a mere “delegate of the community” when representing it during the mass (CCC, Para. 1553). He acts as the Head, whose “prayer and offering are inseparable” from those of His Church (op. cit.).

    I have enjoyed participating in this discussion and apologize from the lack of clarity any of my comments have had. May the Holy Spirit continue to guide us into greater truth.

    1. Just three rejoinders (in under 300 words), and then my quietus in this joust.

      1. The USCCB “Notes” indicate a judicious straddling of the question what the people’s response actually means. I do not find anything there which unreservedly vindicates (a) Peregrinus’ contention as to the mood of the unexpressed verb, or (b) the contention that the people’s response definitively alludes to the gift of the Holy Spirit at ordination.

      In any event, the “Notes” are ex post factum. “Liturgiam authenticam” (in the section I cited) compelled ICEL to translate “et cum spiritu tuo” literally, and national episcopal conferences were never going to be able to persuade the Congregation otherwise. I am not surprised the US bishops felt something more in the way of justification was needed, but it was certainly excogitated after the event.

      2. I did not fail to enumerate (?) an “intermediate sense in which the ordained represents the person of Christ, namely, when he discharges his office of ecclesial service in ways other than confecting the Eucharist . .”.

      What I wrote (relying on “Presbyterorum ordinis”, nn.2 and 5) was that “every part of the priestly ministry is exercised ‘in persona Christi capitis’ in a broad sense”. The passages I cited from PO are specifically directed to the priest’s triple office of teaching, sanctifying and governing. What part of “every part” does Peregrinus not understand?

      3. Peregrinus wrote: “There need not be any confusion, therefore, about in which moments the ordained is acting in propria persona. The ordained’s greeting and people’s response are clearly not among those moments”.

      He is perhaps confused. I am not ignorant of his opinion on this topic, but I am – and, I suspect, ever will remain – ignorant of his reasons for holding it.

  29. fried brains on last night’s menu: “ex post facto”, of course

  30. Msgr. Charles, your blog post is a lovely piece of eisogesis, but there is no way that the English “and with your spirit” continuation of the subjunctive “The Lord be with you” can be reconfigured to mean the indicative “We do in fact acknowledge the grace, presence and Spirit of Christ in your spirit.” Hence, it is not surprising that you yourself found this an “eye opener” in John Chrysostom’s eisogesis of Καὶ μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματός σου. You will need more than one quote to convince me that Chyrsostom’s eisogesis is “not uncommon among the Fathers of Church”. Faithful Roman Catholics will make the change to the text, but the vast majority of excellent English speakers will continue to think it is merely a quaint way the Vatican is enforcing of saying “And also with you.”


    1. Dear Fr. Peters, it is not a “quaint” way of saying “and with you”, because it had no existence as an English phrase in actual use (quaint or otherwise) until November 2008 when the revised ICEL translation of the Ordo Missae (Part 1) was introduced into South Africa. We have been saying “and with your spirit” for 18 months now, and I have to say it continues to uplift me every time.

      The antiquity and ubiquity of the full phrase (with the scriptural reminiscences) is quite sufficient justification. Being “forced” by the supreme liturgical authority in the Roman Catholic Church – Sacrosanctum concilium, n.22 (1) – to abandon a divergent practice that obtained for a mere generation, and in certain places only, is a useful reminder that the liturgy isn’t quite as plastic as we had persuaded ourselves it was.

      1. Dear Bain

        I have no idea how old you are, but your comment that “and with your spirit” “had no existence as an English phrase in actual use (quaint or otherwise) until November 2008” is patent nonsense. It has been used liturgically since at least the sixteenth century, was the translation in parallel Latin-English missals, and was used in the Roman Catholic Mass in English in the early days after the Second Vatican Council.

        That aside, your confusion makes no response to my primary point that the majority of English speakers will not understand (and never have understood) “and with your spirit” to mean “We do in fact acknowledge the grace, presence and Spirit of Christ in your spirit.”.

        In Christ


  31. Dear Fr. Bosco, what I said might be incorrect, but error is not necessarily nonsense (patent or latent), nor does it justify the obloquy of “confusion”. So let’s look at the facts of “actual usage” in a more charitable manner:-

    “used liturgically since at least the sixteenth century”: In the Book of Common Prayer, you mean? The phrase in the BCP (and Rite B of the ASB, 1980) is “and with thy spirit”. My overlooking the BCP has nothing to do with my age; your focus was on Catholic practice and experience, so I was focussing on Catholic usage too. Since I can’t agree that most English-speaking Catholics would have any idea that the BCP contained the phrase “and with your spirit” (which it does not), I respectfully reject this counter-instance as having no bearing on what “the vast majority of excellent English speakers” do in fact think about the phrase.

    “was the translation in parallel Latin-English missals”: it depends what I meant by “an English phrase in actual use” and I was picking you up on your remark “a quaint way of saying” (emphasis on “saying”). The presence of a phrase in a book which no-one actually spoke aloud or used in the context of a greeting certainly falls outside “saying” in ordinary parlance, so I do not accept this as a relevant counter-example either.

    “was used in the Roman Catholic Mass in English in the early days after the Second Vatican Council” Ah. well there you have got me! In chinks and crannies, maybe the phrase was used by those who jumped the gun. Or do you mean that throughout the English-speaking world “and with your spirit” was universally in use at some time between, say 1964 and 1968? I am hazy over the course of events which constitute the first (and chaotic) phase of the introduction of the vernacular in English-speaking countries. Your own phrase “in the early days after the Second Vatican Council” suggest such usage (whether or not widespread) implies it was fleeting at best. Something used fleetingly and “ad experimentum” in the 1960’s (are the 1960’s “quaint” already?) hardly qualifies as a counter-instance either.

    I was not obliged to address, applaud or even notice your main point, surely (which, as it happens I agree with), so I am unclear why you take such an aggrieved tone with me. My point was and is that the experience of the actual use of the phrase at Mass in South Africa is contrary to your thesis. Gripings of disaffects aside, we do not (in my experience) think it is “a quaint way the Vatican is enforcing of saying ‘And also with you’.”

  32. “Your own phrase ‘in the early days after the Second Vatican Council’ suggest such usage (whether or not widespread) implies it was fleeting at best”

    Defective redaction, sorry. It should read:-

    Your own phrase “in the early days after the Second Vatican Council” implies such usage (whether or not widespread) was fleeting at best

    I meant “

  33. I meant ”

    Arggh! Delete, delete, delete! That is what comes of no preview facility, Monsignor 🙂

  34. If I am in any Christian church (Catholic or Protestant) and a minister says to the congregation “The Lord be with you” I always have responded “and with thy spirit.” I don’t care if it’s a modern rite. What’s right is more important than the rite!

  35. If this is what the Latin ‘really means’ why not say something like “The Spirit of the Lord is upon you” rather than inviting dualistic ambiguity.

    This translation further obscures an already obscure phrase – it does not enrich our understanding.

    So many people have fallen away from the outward practice of the Catholic faith, many more are woefully ignorant of the basics of Christianity even in supposedly Christian countries. This wording will invite dualistic misunderstanding – most people are not Latin scholars. Literal translation of this phrase (as insisted upon in Liturgiam authenticam) by the Prefect (a native Spanish speaker), and presumably agreed by a native German speaking Pope as the unbending literal translation for every culture will lead to further obscurity.

  36. Thank you for this wonderful explanation (and references). I’ve used this blog entry as a jumping off point for an article in the bulletin about the new translation, with thanks to you, Msgr. Pope, and to Louie Verrechio.

  37. Maybe it should be- as a matter of compromise- itshould
    Be as the following:
    Celebrant: the lord be with you.
    Choir: and also with you, with your spirit, and to youall.

    Sounds a bit easier, doesn’t it?

  38. i don’t mean to sound rude, but i feel the Church has more important things to worry about.

    But to be on topic, i think that “and with your spirit” doesn’t seem like an actual response to what the celebrant is saying. i feel like there’s a disconnect between “The Lord be with you” and “We do in fact acknowledge the grace, presence and Spirit of Christ in your spirit.”

    Perhaps if the priest were saying something like “The Lord is with ME”, the response would make sense, because then it really seems like they are hearing what the priest is saying and acknowledging it. But otherwise it doesn’t quite work, at least in my mind.

    i think, perhaps, it is “The Lord be with you” that deserves more thought and discussion, because i haven’t seen it explained what exactly that phrase means, or why it’s only proper for a priest to say it.

    Also, i don’t quite appreciate the levity when speaking about the “and also with you response” as equivalent to saying “Same to you, Big Guy!” or “Right back atcha, Father!” It may not be meant as poking fun or insulting, but not intending it doesn’t make it go away. i think it’s quite insulting to suggest that it doesn’t mean anything to us when we say “and also with you”, like we don’t know what we’re doing and we’re children that need to be led by the hand. It’s patronizing and paternalistic and it’s exactly the sort of thing that turns a lot of people away from the Church.

    Maybe if the Church spent more time actually following through with this “liturgical instruction” i keep hearing about, there wouldn’t be so much “grumbling” in regard to changes like this.

    “sitting back and waiting for liturgical instruction hasn’t served anyone very well in the past. It’s time to take the bull by the horns.”

    Sounds to me like it’s US who are being blamed for not knowing things like this. But the key word here is instruction. Meaning we’re supposed to be taught. Well, then teach. Make it a normal part of the Mass and our religious education. Explain to us what everything means, when it was thought up, why it is important. Revealing the significance of our rituals in snippets over a long period of time, whenever it’s deemed appropriate by the people in charge, is NOT the way to do it.

    Why do we have to think that old ways are best, that the way the Church did it in centuries past, or continues to do it, is the way it must always be done? i always feel like it leads us into circular logic: The Church does it because it is tradition, and it is tradition because the Church does it.

  39. Thank you for this wonderful explanation. In my native tongue (Gĩkũyũ), the new response makes much more sense when directly translated. In fact, I had a problem getting used to the old English response when I went to high school and later college.

  40. I believe that the correct translation on Dominus Vobiscum should be the Lord is with you, which is the plural of dominus tecum as recited in the latin version of the hail mary.

  41. “and with your spirit” puts the priest at the same level as the Lord. It is saying that the priest’s spirit is something that should be a part us the people. NONSENCE!!! The priest and all of the clergy have shown that they are sinners just the members of the congregation. I believe the child abuse by priests and covered up by everyone all the way to the Vatican is just a small part of the atrocities that has occurred over the years. And I want these men to have their spirit be along with the Lord helping me – I don’t think so. I have enough problems with my own sinful spirit let allow adding another sinner’s spirit onto my path to salvation. Amen.

  42. When is the Mass going to again read the Offertory? I grew up when it wasn’t read. It then was read and now sung through at Sunday Mass. The beauty of the words set the stage for each individual to be transformed into becoming more in the image and likeness of God at the transubstantiation.

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