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And with your spirit.

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Feb 17, 2011

What are we supposed to gain from the new translation of the Roman Missal, to be implemented next Advent? Auxiliary Bishop James Conley, who is in charge of overseeing the new Missal’s implementation in Denver, sees the new translation as an important opportunity for spiritual deepening and authentic liturgical renewal. His address to choir members and church musicians last St. Cecilia’s Day is something each of us should read and savor: Sing a New Song with Your Lives: The Promise of the New Edition of the Roman Missal.

Since you can read it for yourself, there is no reason to summarize it extensively here. But I’ll mention just one thing: Bishop Conley’s treatment of the restored response “and with your spirit” instead of the current mistranslation, “and also with you.” Going back to “and with your spirit” is, I think, one of those reversions to accuracy which many people wonder about. Why is the Latin phrased that way? What value does this bring to the liturgy?

Bishop Conley answers that question as follows:

Remember those powerful lines from the prologue to John’s Gospel…. Christ gave us the power “to become children…born not of blood nor the will of the flesh…but of God” [Jn 1:12-13].
That’s who we are in God’s eyes. The love of God, the Holy Spirit, has been poured into our hearts in baptism so that we bear witness in our spirit that we are His sons and daughters [see Rom 5:5, 8:6]. We are made in the image of God and renewed in the image of His Son, who is the perfect image and likeness of God [Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15, 3:10].
That’s why Saint Paul so often said in his letters, “The Lord be with your spirit” [2 Tim 4:22; Gal 6:18; Phil 4:23]. He was taking the measure of our great dignity.
Our God is spirit. And we are His children, born of water and the Spirit. And we are made to worship our Father in spirit and in truth. So it is fitting that we recognize the Lord’s presence among us, “And with your spirit” [see Jn 4:24].

This is just one way that a renewed and corrected translation of the original Latin can help us to focus not so much on the community but on Christ who is the life of the community, and to begin to recover a connection between our own worship and the eternal liturgy of the heavens. But Bishop Conley has much more to say than this. I recommend his address, for both instruction and spiritual reading.

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  • Posted by: nacalum - Feb. 18, 2011 5:24 PM ET USA

    Bishop Conley's point is very interesting; the only problem is that he seems to be arguing "and with your spirit" recognizes Christian dignity and calling; however, the priest never uses that formula in his greeting to the people. He still says: "The Lord be with you."

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