Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Is " And With Your Spirit " Pre Vatican II Bad Ole Clericalism ?

Over at the National Catholic Reporter at New missal translation subtly moves church away from Vatican II there is mention of the "new" liturgical response "And with your spirit."

..First, to me, these changes in a subtle way represent still another move away from the reforms of Vatican Council II. I think this is especially the case with Vatican II's emphasis that all of us as Catholics, clergy and laypeople, represent the church.
Symbolically, the priest now facing the congregation as well as the greater involvement of the congregation in the saying of the Mass framed this. The new response "And with your spirit," however, according to The Catholic Voice, published by the Diocese of Oakland, Calif., is supposed to stress the priest's ordination when the bishop confers the spirit upon him, and to remind us of his primacy.

I don't mind refreshing, in a sense, the priest's particular place in the church, but it seems to me that this ostensibly innocent new change detracts from the concept that all of us are Church. The change from "you" to "spirit" represents this moving away from this significant Vatican II reform

I see this charge echoed in may places and I think it misses the mark. The not so subtle undertone in many places is that this is big bad clericalism. First What I believe this article that she is quoting says a lot more than that. The article takes note:

...“And with your spirit.”Five times during the Mass, the priest (or deacon) will address the people with some form of, “The Lord be with you.” This is a substantially more significant greeting than the colloquial, “Hi, how are you?”The “Lord be with you” is a prayer. It is weighted with faith in the presence of the Risen Lord Jesus and it is laden with desire that all gathered be in Christ, in one spirit and one faith and one body

.Many times in the coming weeks we may automatically reply with the old form, “And also with you.” This time of transition calls us to pay greater attention to the mystery that surrounds us when we are involved in the Liturgy.The expression “And with your spirit” is only addressed to an ordained minister. That “spirit” refers to the gift of the spirit he received at ordination.In the response, the people pray that the priest receives the same divine assistance of God’s spirit and, more specifically, help for the priest to use the gifts given to him in ordination. “And with your spirit” is not an everyday greeting. It is a prayer, a prayer that the priest may fulfill his call to serve in the person of Christ in the midst of the Liturgy...

While yes the ordination aspect of the Priest is present in the "and with your spirit" it also reminds us of something else. That is that is not just Father X "doing" "saying" etc the words of Consecration but in a sense Jesus Christ himself. It shifts focus in fact from the personality of the Priest himself.

It should be recalled that we were often told that Vatican II wanted us to get back to the basics of the Mass. To do it more like the early Church did it. Well its hard to imagine there is not much more early Church than "and with your spirit"

It is of ancient origin and we see DOCUMENTED evidence of it established use in 215 AD!! (note there is some controversy about the date). See the “Apostolic Tradition” of Saint Hippolytus.

Regardless the once familiar response et cum spiritu tuo (“and with your spirit”) has been the universal response in both Eastern and Western Churches. The fact that term is used in the EAST even gives more reason for our sense of eventual unification hopefully that the Western Church use it.

Also "and with your Spirit" has been used by all Catholics since Vatican II except by ENGLISH SPEAKING CATHOLICS" . Right there blows away the argument many are making. Unless we are to believe that Vatican II wanted English speaking Catholics to have a different tone and experience with the Mass than the everyone else .

Returning to a prior point, what spirit are we talking about. Well a good source is the Church Father St John Chrysostom. He notes:

...If the Holy Spirit were not in this your common father and teacher, you would not, just now, when he ascended this holy chair and wished you all peace, have cried out with one accord, ‘And with your spirit.’
Thus you cry out to him, not only when he ascends his throne and when he speaks to you and prays for you, but also when he stands at this holy altar to offer the sacrifice. He does not touch that which lies on the altar before wishing you the grace of our Lord, and before you have replied to him, ‘And with your spirit.’
By this cry, you are reminded that he who stands at the altar does nothing, and that the gifts that repose there are not the merits of a man; but that the grace of the Holy Spirit is present and, descending on all, accomplishes this mysterious sacrifice. We indeed see a man, but it is God who acts through him. Nothing human takes place at this holy altar

Also see an overview of this via an article that Father Z links.

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