‘And with Your Spirit’

What is the biggest change in the new translation of the Mass? As Mike Aquilina explains, the biggest difference may be from the smallest change.

‘And with Your Spirit’

The big difference in a little phrase
By Mike Aquilina – The Priest, 6/1/2011

A reporter called to interview me about the new translation of the Roman Missal. We spoke for a while about the process and problems of translation before she asked which of the forthcoming changes I thought would be the most important.

Perhaps too hastily I said it would be the congregation’s response to the priest’s invocation: “The Lord be with you.” For the last 40 years or so, we’ve been responding with “And also with you.” As of December 2011, we’ll say “And with your spirit.”

My interviewer asked the intelligent follow-up, “Why?”

I don’t remember how I responded, but I’m sure it was some more refined version of the response I usually give to my kids: because I said so.

In the days following, however, I found myself scrutinizing my answer.

It does seem a slight change — the addition of one word, the subtraction of another. But it’s actually rather large in its implications.

Indeed, I’m not the only one to notice this. The U.S. bishop most intensely involved with the promotion of the new translation, Cardinal Francis George, has singled out this response as somehow illustrative of the whole project.