Sunday, August 10, 2008

By Fr. Daren J. Zehnle

I was reading Fr. Daren J. Zehnle's blog and thought I should share this.

And with your what?
By now you have probably heard that when the new translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal is approved for use in the English-speaking world, the response of the people that currently is rendered, “And also with you,” will more accurately be, “And with your spirit.”Many are confused about this new translation and do not quite understand what it means. To our modern ears it may sound a bit esoteric. As you might well expect, though, there is a good reason for the change.The primary reason for the change of translation is simply because “And with your spirit” is an accurate and faithful translation of the Latin, et cum spiritu tuo.The Most Rev. Arthur Roche, Bishop of Leeds (England) and Chairman of the International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) noted that the response, et cum spiritu tuo
cannot be understood without reference to Saint Paul, who will often address a person, for example Timothy, by referring to “your spirit” rather than simply to “you”. … [H]e is addressing someone close to God who has God’s spirit. So when we reply, ‘and with your spirit,’ we are indicating that we are part of a spiritual community, it is God’s spirit that has gathered us together.Bishop Roche memorably called the new translation, “speak[ing] bible.” What does he mean?Saint Paul concludes his second letter to Saint Timothy, his “beloved child” (II Timothy 1:2), with these words: “The Lord be with your spirit” (II Timothy 4:22; see also Galatians 6:18 and Philippians 4:23).To our modern ears this greeting sounds rather odd, given that we only rarely use the word “spirit.” When we do use the word we either refer to the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, or we refer to something like a geist or a ghost (as in the spooky kind most associated with Halloween).This response is first found in use in the Liturgy in Hippolytus’ Apostolic Tradition, written around a.d. 215. Its use has continued in the Liturgy to the present day, being used when the Liturgy is celebrated in the vernacular in every language except English (for example, in Spanish the people respond Y con tu espiritu; in German, Und mit deinim Geiste; etc.) Every vernacular translation has been faithful to the Latin except for – so far as I know - the English translation.For this reason alone I am happy to see the response properly translated in English. It allows us to pray in greater unity with the Church Universal by using the very same response.But why this literal response instead of “and also with you”? The theological reasons run deep for the use of “and with your spirit.” When the faithful respond in this manner they refer to the priest’s (or, in some instances, the deacon’s) spirit of ordination. In 2005, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy (now the Committee for Divine Worship) explained the change in translation thus:
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.It is not so much a greeting of the man, but of the office he holds. The response, "And also with you," simply does not capture this aspect of the greeting.This response of the faithful, then, is no mere kind acknowledgment of the priest’s greeting; it is not simply a mindless response, as we so often give in normal conversation. It is, rather, a prayer that the priest celebrate worthily and well the mysteries entrusted to him.

1 comment:

Batjacboy said...


Good post.

It's in everybody's best interest to strive for linguistic accuracy in everthing we do. By stressing accuracy, the theology becomes much more clear. Multiple different translations only lead to confusion. And, as this priest says, it gets back to the ancient Christian way of doing things, which is why the Catholic Church insists on the ancient translations of both Scripture and Liturgy. You can't go wrong if you stick to the way the early Christians did it.

By the way, he mentions the Liturgy of Hippolytus from around 215 AD. This liturgy corresponds to our Eucharistic Prayer II. It's believed that the Mass said by Saints Peter and Paul corresponds more with our Eucharistic Prayer I, with fine tuning done during the centuries leading up to Gregory the Great.

(Just a little trivia for you, R.)

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