Tuesday, October 11, 2011

“Et Cum Spiritu Tuo”

Dear Parishioners,
Once a priest, at the beginning of Mass, experienced some difficulties with the church’s sound system.  He started tapping the microphone and then muttered in frustration, "There's something wrong with this microphone."
Someone in the congregation who could not hear him dutifully responded, "And also with you!"
For many years, we as Roman Catholics living in the U.S.A. have grown accustomed to various responses and a certain text used for the celebration of Mass.  In November, with the beginning of a new liturgical year—the 1st Sunday of Advent—things will change.
A new translation of the Mass texts will become the norm for the celebration of Mass.
When the Mass was translated into the vernacular from Latin, the accepted translation was less precise because the translators were given some latitude so as not to have the words seem too high or lofty to the people.  The translation we currently use might be termed more pedestrian.
The translation we will be using next month will be more exact and deeply rooted in the biblical translation/meaning of the text.
For example, we are accustomed to saying “And also with you” when the priest greets us with “The Lord be with you.  Soon the response will change to “And with your spirit.”
I borrow the following explanation from Fr. Phil Bloom (Pastor, St. Mary of the Valley Catholic Church, Monroe, WA):        
Why the change?  There are a number of reasons.  First and most important: "And with your spirit" more exactly translates the Latin, "Et cum spiritu tuo."  The Latin itself goes back to the Hebrew.  "Spirit" (ruah in Hebrew) represents the entire person in his unseen dimension—his power to relate to God and to others.  So the congregation is wishing that the Lord be with the celebrant's spirit—his deepest being. To lead the people in worshipping God, the celebrant needs the Lord deeply present inside him.  For that reason you will say to (him), "And with your spirit."
When you stop to think about this change and the many others that are being made like it, we are getting into a deeper, more profound understanding of our faith and its biblical origin.  We are moving from a more pedestrian language to a more theological, biblical language.  Granted, it may seem more lofty (even transcendent) to some, but as a former educator I am tired of people trying to dumb us down.  I believe that we are quite capable of an elevated understanding of matters once things are properly explained to us.
 I hope that you agree.
Fr. Ed Namiotka

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