Your Moment in the New Mass, Part 1: 'And With Your Spirit'
Dr. Edward Sri discusses some parts of the New Mass
Catholic Online is pleased to present this six-part series on the New English Translation of the Mass by Dr. Edward Sri. This series focuses specifically on those parts of the Mass that impact the average person in the pew; what we say and what we pray. Dr. Sri has devoted himself to a life-long study of worship and the Mass. The new translation was announced just as he was working his latest book "A Biblical Walk Through the Mass," allowing him to incorporate this historic work in the contents. The book and study guide, published by Ascension Press, is available now.
But do we really grasp the meaning of these words? Do we understand the significance of what we are doing and saying in the Liturgy?
The new English translation of the Mass, which will be promulgated this November 27th, will provide a unique opportunity for Catholics to reflect on the meaning of the prayers in the Liturgy. This updated translation will bring about the most significant change in the way most English-speaking Catholics participate in the Mass since the years following the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), when the liturgical texts were translated into English and officially used in worship for the first time.
The basic structure of the prayers will remain the same, but the changes in wording at many points throughout the liturgy will be quite noticeable. For a time, most Catholics will no longer be able to walk into church on Sunday and automatically recite the Gloria, the Creed, and other Mass parts by memory. They will need a guide to help them become accustomed to the new translation of these prayers.
As we are taken out of our routine, we will have the opportunity to ponder the significance of all that we say and do in the liturgy and re rediscover the splendor of the Mass.
For example, consider the meaning behind one of the most noticeable changes found near the opening of Mass. It involves the people's response to the priest's greeting, "The Lord be with you." In the new translation, we will reply, "And with your spirit." This more adequately reflects the Latin text of the Mass and the biblical language of St. Paul (see Galatians 6:18; Philippians 4:23; 2 Timothy 4:22).
It also more fully expresses an important theological point. When we said, "And also with you" in the older translation, one might get the impression that our response was merely intended to express an exchange of personal greetings or reciprocal good will: "May the Lord be with you, too, Father."
But there is much more to this response. When a man is ordained a priest, the Holy Spirit comes upon him in a unique way, enabling him to perform the sacred rites of the Mass and consecrate the Eucharist. By responding, "And with your spirit," we acknowledge the Spirit's activity through the priest during the Sacred Liturgy. We are referring to the "spirit" of the priest, the very core of his being, where he has been ordained to offer the sacrifice of the Mass. Indeed, we are acknowledging that while God works through the priest who is offering the Mass, ultimately it is Jesus Christ who is the head of the community gathered for the Liturgy, and it is his Spirit who is the primary actor in the Liturgy, regardless who the particular priest celebrating Mass may be.
This is just one of many spiritual gems found in the new Mass translation.
Dr. Edward Sri is provost and professor of theology at the Augustine Institute in Denver. This reflection is based on his new book, A Biblical Walk Through the Mass: Understanding What We Say and Do in the Liturgy (Ascension Press).
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2013
General Intention: Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary Intention: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.
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