Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Liturgy: And with your spirit...

We still haven't heard anything from the CBCP regarding the implementation of the correctly translated to English Roman Missal.  Well, what do you expect from the CBCP, eh?

So, we will start our series of catechesis on the Roman Missal with article coming from various reliable sources online starting with Fr. Edward McNamara of Zenit.


ROME, SEPT. 14, 2010 ( Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: As in the English-speaking world, we will have to change the people's answer from "And also with you" to "And with your spirit." [This has deep implications folks!]  I have been looking for a good theological and historical-liturgical explanation for this change, in order to make it understandable for the faithful. Why this insistence on the spirit? And don't the people have the spirit as well? [Valid point, right?] Apart from one short paragraph I have found no treatment of this question in the liturgical books available to me. Could you provide me with some background?" -- H.T., Kundiawa, Papua New Guinea

A: As is well-known, the Holy See has asked that the Latin "Et cum spiritu tuo" said in response to greetings such as "Dominus vobiscum" should always be translated literally as "And with your spirit."

Most major world languages had already translated the expression literally, English and Brazilian Portuguese being notable exceptions.

The brief form of this dialogue ("The Lord be with you. And with your Spirit") is taken from the Book of Ruth 2:4 and 2 Timothy 2:22. Christians probably took these formulas over directly from the synagogue. There is clear evidence, for example, in St. Justin Martyr (100-165) that Christians spoke these answers from the very beginning.

The fact that from the earliest times Christians conserved these phrases in their original form, in spite of their being foreign to both Greek and Latin mentalities, is a good argument to keep them intact in our current translations. In this way, we maintain a living connection with Christianity's historical origins just as we do with the conservation of other Hebrew forms and expressions such as Amen, Alleluia and Hosanna. [Yet you know who are against this?  The very same liturgist who are pro archaeologism!]

The formula "be with you" is considered as a greeting, of benevolence and of recognition of a reality: The Lord is present. The Semitic response, "And with your spirit," literally means "And also with you," as "your spirit" literally means "your person." [There you have it!  YOUR ENTIRE PERSON!] Therefore the current English translation could be considered as an accurate rendering of the Hebrew background.

Historically speaking, however, the text was quickly separated from its Jewish context, and the patristic tradition has interpreted it in the sense of the spirit that the bishop or priest has received in ordination. [Now, it gets deeper!] For example, St. John Chrysostom in his homily on 2 Timothy (in II Tim. homily, 10,3. PG LXII 659 ff), refers to the "your spirit" to the indwelling Holy Spirit: "There can be no better prayer than this. Grieve not for my departure. The Lord will be with you. And he says, not with you, but with your spirit. Thus there is a twofold assistance, the grace of the Spirit, and God helping it. And otherwise God will not be with us, if we have not spiritual grace. For if we be deserted by grace, how shall He be with us?" In his first Pentecost homily (PG L. 458 ff) John Chrysostom sees in the word "spirit" of the reply an allusion to the fact that the bishop performs the sacrifice in the power of the Holy Spirit. [Remember our catechism class where we have lessons about sanctifying grace and being in a state of grace and that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit?  Do you...Did you...Oh.  Kids don't don't have this days, eh?  I guess they know more about Al Gore's advocacy than Mother Teresa's charities.  More about Greenhouse gases than the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, eh?]

Such patristic reflections are one reason why from early times the greeting "Dominus vobiscum" was reserved to those who had received major orders: bishops, priests and deacons. [And why it is not allowed as a greeting for even charismatic groups!]  This restriction of the liturgical greeting to the ordained is still in force today. A layperson who leads, for example, a celebration of the Word with distribution of Holy Communion, or an office of the Liturgy of the Hours, may not use the greeting "The Lord be with you" with its response. [And here in the Philippines, I notice the people, when responding "And also with you", be it in English, Tagalog or any dialect, raise their hands in an orans posture. Notice this?]

This does not mean that the faithful are lacking the Spirit or that they are mere passive attendants at the liturgical action. [Cleverly placed since You-Know-Who would react to the lack of actual participation and inculturation!]  Actually, through its response to the priest the congregation constitutes itself as a liturgical assembly presided over by the priest in the name of the Lord and responding in this way to his call.

As the great Jesuit liturgist J.A. Jungmann wrote: [Jesuit!]

"We can best understand the 'Et cum spiritu tuo' as a popular consensus in the work of the priest, not that the congregation here gives the priest authority or power to act in its stead, [the priest does not need the people in order for the Mass to be valid and licit!] but that the congregation once more acknowledges him as the speaker under whose leadership the united group will approach almighty God. [The people cannot have a Mass without a validly ordained priest in communion with the Holy See.]  Thus in the greeting and its response we have the same double note that reappears at the end of the oration [opening prayer]; the 'Dominus vobiscum' seems to anticipate the 'per Christum' of the close of the oration, and the 'et cum spiritu tuo' is a forerunner of the people's agreement expressed in the Amen" (The Mass of the Roman Rite, Volume 1, Page 365).

Although the dynamism contained in this brief exchange is difficult for us to grasp today, [It will remain the same if we continue the lukewarm response of our Pinoy bishops!] the fact of the new translation could present an excellent teaching moment to underline the faithful's active participation in the liturgy and the true theological sense of hierarchical communion[Unless the liturgical hijackers, as Abp. Jesus Dosado aptly put it, are brought to jail!  Liturgical jail that is, liturgical renewal here in the Philippines will always be under the shadow of Anscar and Genaro!]


If there are news in your parishes about the new translation of the Missal, please send me a note.

Maybe Defensore Fidei can start a seminar series about this?  Calling CAP!

1 comment:

  1. A parish priest informed the Pinoy Anglican Use Chapter that implementing the new ICEL translation is not on the list of priorities for the CBCP.

    According to our liturgist with the Anglican Use Chapter, if the CBCP implements this now, they will have to retranslate the Filipino vernacular missals since they are all based on the faulty ICEL translation.

    And that is why we are awaiting permission to use the Anglican Use mass books and with that the Ordinariate Mass books when that comes along.