And with your spirit: the new, beautiful, English translation of the Roman Missal

[Edited Dec 6: At the end of this post I listed some related posts from around the web. Edited Dec 8: I’m making this a featured post since we’re still getting used to the new translation of the Mass. See the comments at the end for a discussion that represents two very different reactions to the translation.] I went to Mass this morning [Note: This post was originally written on the First Sunday of Advent.] at the chapel at EWTN. The first day of the liturgical season of Advent, the first day using the new English translation of the Roman Missal, and the first day using the new Mass cards showing the changes in the responses of the congregation. (See notes at the end for more resources.) Thank goodness we had these cards.

New English translation of the Roman Missal, thanks be to God!

And thank goodness these changes have been made! I had to keep my mind on what we were doing, I had to pay attention. And the words themselves called our attention to the sacredness of what was going on. I am always aware that the atmosphere at the chapel is–how shall I say it–more prayerful than I have encountered in most parishes I’ve been in. And I’ve been in quite a few. But today, with all of us having to be mindful so as not to slip into auto pilot and give the wrong response, the liturgy was especially marvelous. And the new wording of the liturgy, for both the priest celebrant and the congregation, are inspiring. What we have now is a return to the holiness that was present in the liturgy before the ill-advised “reforms” that took place in the wake of Vatican II.

Now do not misunderstand me. I am a faithful Catholic, faithful to the Magisterium which includes all the Ecumenical Church Councils, every one of them, Vatican II included. But many things were done in the name of the council and reform that simply were not in the spirit of that council and were not aimed at reform, no matter what the perpetrators said. The new translation is a wonderful step in the right direction, that of returning to an awareness of what we’re about, what we are doing, what we are celebrating, who we are, and to Whom we are offering our worship. Not to each other but to God Almighty! Thanks be to God!

New Roman Missal Resources:

Mass Responses for the Congregation: These are the new pew cards being used at the chapel at EWTN.

From Magnificat magazine: A page of resources for the parish and the parishioner to aid in the celebration of the Mass with the new Missal, including pew cards and a Roman Missal Companion booklet.

From the USCCB: Main page for the new English translation of the Roman Missal. All of the below are from the USCCB and are in PDF format:

Order of Mass. Order of Mass, annotated. Celebrant’s texts with commentary. People’s responses with commentary. Music for the Roman Missal.

A Biblical Walk Through the Mass: Adult Faith Formation Program, by Dr. Edward Sri, STD. Brief highlight video. Uses the new translation, not sure if that is in addition to the old or instead of. I haven’t used these materials yet but I have read and listened to Dr. Sri many times and I expect this resource to be as excellent as everything else he’s done. Just found this YouTube video: A Guide to the New Mass Translation, Information Session with Dr. Edward Sri.

Edited on Dec 6 to add a few more related articles/posts I found around the web.

And with your spirit”, Fr. Z, What Does The Prayer Really Say?
“And With Your Spirit” — It’s Not What You Think, Msgr. Charles Pope, Archdiocese of Washington
And with Your Spirit”, Mike Aquilina, OSV

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About Disciple

I am a pro-life activist, blogger, writer, poet, singer songwriter, musician, photographer, nerd, bookworm and Mac fan. I have two dogs, one of whom is well-travelled. (I had three for a while after adopting a senior dog, but he has now passed away, and the pack is back to two girl dogs. One was born after, the days of mammoth road trips.) And the most important thing is: I was received into Holy Mother Church in 1996 and, through the grace of God, I love Christ and His Church more with every passing day. Thanks be to God!
This entry was posted in Eucharist, Liturgy, Liturgical Prayer, Sacraments, Seasonal and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to And with your spirit: the new, beautiful, English translation of the Roman Missal

  1. AthenaC says:

    I know I have heard before (many times!) that we are regaining some sacredness that was lost or some such. How, precisely? Am rather underwhelmed. I miss last week’s Mass.

    I am familiar with the English version of the Mass I grew up with, absorbed some Latin somewhere along the way, and I have read the new translations. I think the changing of the phrase “And also with you” to “And with your spirit” is very symbolic of what is wrong with the new translation. When one translates a language, literal word-for-word translation is rarely the best option. You have to dig a little deeper, think about the underlying concepts those words express in the original language, and then think about how those concepts are best expressed in the language you wish to speak. I know “Et cum spiritu tuo” is literally “and with your spirit,” but what is that trying to convey? The best way to express that concept in English is “And also with you,” which is why we translated it that way originally. Changing it to “And with your spirit” accomplishes nothing but forcing clumsy phrasing that is virtually meaningless in English.

    Unless I am missing something.

    • Disciple says:

      I think the translations we had been using were riddled with problems. And, as with so many things in the liturgy and the faith in general, it seems we had gone in a particularly American direction. But the liturgy is not about us as Americans, it’s not even about us. It’s about God and us worshiping God. I think the language in the new translation brings out something that was, indeed, missing from the former one. The sacredness, the sense of the sacred, the sense of God’s grace and His action in the Mass. I think the language was overly familiar in the former translation, not familiar as in we were too accustomed to it, but familiar as in a little too familiar in tone when speaking to God Almighty.

      And I certainly cannot agree that “And with your spirit” is virtually meaningless in English. Perhaps some of us are much in need of language that puts such an emphasis back on the spiritual where it belongs. I know that I was profoundly moved by Sunday’s Mass as were the people around me, including my friend who is a fellow convert. I have been Catholic for fifteen years and she, for only two years; neither of us grew up with any of this. But I can tell you that I have a 1962 missal and other older prayer and meditation books that were written to accompany the older liturgy. And I had often wished that I could find books like them to follow the current liturgical calendar because I recognized that these older books are things of beauty and depth.

      That is what I see coming back to the Church. In liturgy, in architecture, in music. Oh, praise God, the music! We have had some really awful music in these past years and I am so glad to see things moving in this direction. It’s what I’ve been praying and hoping for. Just a beginning, but I will be watching things develop. And thoroughly enjoying discovering the treasures of the Mass anew. Peace be with you. :)

      PS: I’m a BSG fan too. Love love love that show! And Firefly and Serenity. And Star Trek. Of course. :)

      • Athena C says:

        Do you have any other examples handy of the problems you saw in the old translation?

        Also, could you clarify your opinions on the music? I read an article in “This Rock” awhile back called “The Curse of Bad Liturgical Music,” and frankly I could not have disagreed with it more. I love many of the contemporary songs. I think some of the old school Latin songs (for example, Gaudete at Christmas) are phenomenal but they are better enjoyed as one style of music among multiple styles (like revival hymns, contemporary songs, etc.)

        If I understand you correctly, your philosophy is that the faithful should focus more on ascending to God rather than bringing God down to our level. If that is the case, then we should abandon the Mass in the vernacular and should go back to Latin, especially since apparently the Latin patterns of expression sound more sacred to us (i.e. “and with your spirit”). If we need to reach for God, then we should reach for Latin, which my dad describes as the “cultural language of the Church.” And he’s right.

        Deliberately mucking up good American English into some half-baked attempt to create a liturgical dialect of American English is not a good option. In the first place, top-down changes to language doesn’t stick. Language is fluid and organic, and it responds to the needs of the people who use it; language is as pure grass-roots as you can get. In the second place, the people and the culture who created American English in its present form (as well as any other language out there) are disrespected by deliberate literal translations from Latin which, effectively, don’t translate into American English. Plus, context matters. “And also with you,” or “Peace be with you,” said in church automatically implies a spiritual component to anyone thinking about it.

        Speaking of thinking about what you say, I believe that is the critical component in the sense of sacred at Mass this week. Any time you stop and think about what you are saying at Mass, you renew your sense of the sacred. I am going to go out on a limb and say that it was not the words themselves that gave everyone the sense of sacred, as you say, but it was the extra attention en masse. (That kind of thing is contagious.) As a former somewhat-fallen-away Catholic whose Mass attendance was sporadic for a while, I can tell you that when I returned to Mass from a long absence, I savored every minute, every word, every song, and could not make it through Mass without tears at the beauty of it all. But then, I have a capacity to appreciate American English as the expression of our culture as well as appreciate the deeper meanings underlying the surface words. It was God, after all, that gave us the capacity for language and designed language’s properties to be as fluid and organic as they are. (Side note: In ANY language, the deeper concepts in the Mass cannot be adequately expressed, so deeper contemplation is needed. More evidence that it should be either Latin or a good vernacular. Not the half-baked version we have now.)

        You mentioned familiarity with the Almighty as well, which is a valid point. Such familiarity (in the linguistic sense, as you used it) is all we have. Formality (think formal / informal pronouns, sentence constructions that some languages have) doesn’t exist in American English, because our culture has no need for it. It cannot effectively be forcibly created. So if we need to keep the formal, sacred language, we need something other than American English anyway. Hey, I know! We used to have Mass in … what was it? Oh yeah! Latin! Hey, that’ll work! :)

        Anyway, very much enjoying this exchange. You have no idea (or maybe you do!) how difficult it is to find a faithful Catholic (rather than a Catholic-in-name-only) who actually enjoys discussing this stuff.

        P.S. Thanks for checking out my blog! We are starting to watch Firefly when we get time. Great show, although the horrible Mandarin makes me cringe. Lol.

        • Disciple says:

          A good Catholic conversation is hard to find, isn’t it? :) So many points to try to respond to. I’ll try to address (most of) them.

          “Do you have any other examples handy of the problems you saw in the old translation?”

          Right off the top of my head, no. I’d have to sit down with it and go through it and tell you what bugged me. But that would only be my own opinion which may not be worth that much. A far better use of time would be to listen to someone who really knows his/her stuff when talking about other languages including the Latin of the Church, the English language, the liturgy, the Bible, the teachings of the Church and much more besides. Someone like Fr. Mitch Pacwa. On this week’s episode of EWTN Live Fr. Mitch spoke with Colin Donovan, head of the Theology Dept. at the network, about the changes.

          I can say what my impressions are, not my scholarly opinion since I am not a scholar. My impression is that we are not engaging in as much “Howdy Doody!” time with the new translation. Yes, I know part of it is that we have to pay attention to what we are saying now, can’t drift off into auto-pilot (as much) as before. But that does not account for all of the difference I noticed. The very language calls to mind a difference in attitude, a reverence, more of an emphasis on reverence. I generally attend Mass at EWTN where reverence is usually the predominant attitude anyway (though not universally, some people are distracted, and distracting, all the way from the opening prayer, which they nearly miss by coming in late, to the dismissal, which they miss when bolting for the door ahead of the priest).

          I could do a post wherein I take the translations and compare them side by side and offer my impressions, but that is a large project and has already been done by people more knowledgeable than I am. So, no, I don’t have examples handy. As I notice them at Mass, however, and as time goes by, I might attempt to write brief posts about them. That doesn’t sound nearly so exhausting. :)

          Also, could you clarify your opinions on the music? I read an article in “This Rock” awhile back called “The Curse of Bad Liturgical Music,” and frankly I could not have disagreed with it more. I love many of the contemporary songs. I think some of the old school Latin songs (for example, Gaudete at Christmas) are phenomenal but they are better enjoyed as one style of music among multiple styles (like revival hymns, contemporary songs, etc.)

          Now, as far as the music goes, I know a little (and only a little) more about it. I grew up in the choir as a Methodist and I was surprised (not pleasantly) to find myself as a Catholic convert singing songs that expressed, not Catholic theology as one might reasonably expect, but Protestant theology, which one would not reasonably expect unless one had only stumbled into Mass when aiming for the Protestant service across the street. I remember one song that sounds lovely and which I truly enjoyed singing…until I really looked at the words and realized that I was singing about receiving bread and wine during Holy Communion.

          :O

          We do not receive bread and wine at Holy Communion and I never did sing that hymn again. Which was really noticeable since not many in our parish sang out like I did, so my voice was conspicuous in its absence. ;) There were other such hymns but I don’t have that problem any more because, as I mentioned, I attend Mass at the chapel at EWTN most of the time now where we use the Adoremus Hymnal. No Protestant theology in that book, lemme tell ya! ;)

          And while we’re talking music: I love love love Gregorian chant. I loathe loathe loathe that certain type of music that I so often hear in parishes, the kind where no one can sing the songs that presume a range and ability and training in the average voice that simply isn’t there. Heck, it’s not even there in the trained ones. Or what passes for trained ones. And the music didn’t even seem musical to me, nothing of beauty, not inspiring, merely tiring.

          Bad music sung or played badly turns me off. I’ve heard more than I ever want to of that kind of thing. Simple, sublime, Gregorian chant in the Latin, that is what I really want. We sing the chants at the chapel most every Sunday, in Latin, and for me, it really helps me realize that the Mass is Heaven on earth. It helps me remember what we’re doing, who we are, where we are, Who we are worshiping, that the angels and saints are present with us, that we are all worshiping the Lord together, in His Presence, that He is offering Himself, truly present on the altar, offering Himself to His Father in Heaven and before us, and inviting us to be one with Him.

          If I understand you correctly, your philosophy is that the faithful should focus more on ascending to God rather than bringing God down to our level. If that is the case, then we should abandon the Mass in the vernacular and should go back to Latin, especially since apparently the Latin patterns of expression sound more sacred to us (i.e. “and with your spirit”). If we need to reach for God, then we should reach for Latin, which my dad describes as the “cultural language of the Church.” And he’s right.

          Deliberately mucking up good American English into some half-baked attempt to create a liturgical dialect of American English is not a good option. In the first place, top-down changes to language doesn’t stick. Language is fluid and organic, and it responds to the needs of the people who use it; language is as pure grass-roots as you can get. In the second place, the people and the culture who created American English in its present form (as well as any other language out there) are disrespected by deliberate literal translations from Latin which, effectively, don’t translate into American English. Plus, context matters. “And also with you,” or “Peace be with you,” said in church automatically implies a spiritual component to anyone thinking about it.

          I agree with part of what you say here. But I don’t see the new translation as the mucking up of good American English into a half-baked attempt. I see that as the former translation that we are finally getting away from. “And also with you” is not what the Latin says, is it? I thought it said, “And with your spirit.” Which is a phrase that goes right back through Church history and back to the Bible itself. It’s a return to earlier clarity and accuracy, a clearing up, not a mucking up.

          Part of our problem may have been connected with the use of the New American Bible as the authorized version for our liturgy. Now I have several copies of that one at home. But I also have several copies of the RSV Catholic Edition and the RSV Second Catholic Edition, as well as some other versions, including the King James, the RSV that I received as a child when I was a Methodist, and the Tanakh published by JPS. I have all these different Bibles because I realize that it’s generally necessary to consult several translations to really get a sense of what’s being communicated. And I also realize that whenever I read a papal encyclical or the Catechism, it’s not the NAB that is referenced, it’s the RSV (either CE or SCE). Now I only read any of these in the English translation; I don’t know what they reference in the original Latin. (The Latin Vulgate, perhaps?)

          Is that an exhaustive reflection on the subject? Nope. I don’t think I’m capable of that. Calls for much more knowledge than I have.

          Speaking of thinking about what you say, I believe that is the critical component in the sense of sacred at Mass this week. Any time you stop and think about what you are saying at Mass, you renew your sense of the sacred. I am going to go out on a limb and say that it was not the words themselves that gave everyone the sense of sacred, as you say, but it was the extra attention en masse. (That kind of thing is contagious.) As a former somewhat-fallen-away Catholic whose Mass attendance was sporadic for a while, I can tell you that when I returned to Mass from a long absence, I savored every minute, every word, every song, and could not make it through Mass without tears at the beauty of it all. But then, I have a capacity to appreciate American English as the expression of our culture as well as appreciate the deeper meanings underlying the surface words. It was God, after all, that gave us the capacity for language and designed language’s properties to be as fluid and organic as they are. (Side note: In ANY language, the deeper concepts in the Mass cannot be adequately expressed, so deeper contemplation is needed. More evidence that it should be either Latin or a good vernacular. Not the half-baked version we have now.)

          Well, yes, any time you really pay attention you’re going to have a renewed sense of what we’re doing at Mass. And that is certainly part of what we felt this past Sunday. But I really do not think that is all there is. I really do think that part of what I experienced was the effect, not simply of different words that got my attention, but particular words that had a different sense, a different attitude, and that helped my own participation. I take the Mass very seriously and have for a long time. I went through a period of about a year when I was away from the Church, due to my own stupidity. I was being hard-headed and dense and gave into despair and took myself away from the sacraments. I was not angry with the Church and no one treated my badly. I put myself through all of that and had only myself to blame. But I could not stand it! I came back, went to confession, threw many books away that dealt with various New Age subjects, and have missed Mass only twice since then: once when I was sick, and once when I had a large and painful kidney stone on vacation.

          The Mass is important to me. It is the highlight of my week, the point around which my life turns. There are periods of time when I am able to go to Daily Mass and I love those times. I know exactly what you mean about savoring it and the tears, oh, the tears. I have experienced those ever since I first began attending Mass while taking instruction from a good old Irish priest, God bless him! (There were only four of us in the class so we were able to go into some depth and used the Catechism that had only just been released in English. And I was working in a Catholic bookstore and reading everything I could get my hands on about the Church. And listening to every tape set from Saint Joseph Communications that we carried in the store until I practically had them committed to memory.)

          You mentioned familiarity with the Almighty as well, which is a valid point. Such familiarity (in the linguistic sense, as you used it) is all we have. Formality (think formal / informal pronouns, sentence constructions that some languages have) doesn’t exist in American English, because our culture has no need for it. It cannot effectively be forcibly created. So if we need to keep the formal, sacred language, we need something other than American English anyway. Hey, I know! We used to have Mass in … what was it? Oh yeah! Latin! Hey, that’ll work! :)

          That would be wonderful! I wasn’t Catholic back then, didn’t know anything about the Church then, don’t know what I missed except for what I’ve read about in books or heard about from people who were Catholic “in the old days”. But I do love the Latin. I enjoy the Extraordinary Form too. But I am enjoying what we have at the chapel: a reverent way of offering Mass in English or in Latin or in a mixture of the two.

          Anyway, very much enjoying this exchange. You have no idea (or maybe you do!) how difficult it is to find a faithful Catholic (rather than a Catholic-in-name-only) who actually enjoys discussing this stuff.

          I do know what you mean. I have a few people I can talk to, well, many, actually. Most of the people I know in the pro-life movement are Catholic and faithful, knowledgeable Catholics, at that. But I can’t talk about liturgical things with most of my friends, or (non-Catholic) family (I’m the only Catholic in the bunch).

          P.S. Thanks for checking out my blog! We are starting to watch Firefly when we get time. Great show, although the horrible Mandarin makes me cringe. Lol.

          I am, fortunately, it would seem, completely in the dark about the Mandarin. I have no idea what they are saying when they do that but I laugh like a ninny anyway. A friend of mine turned me onto Firefly and then BSG. Two of the greatest shows ever. :) If you have all this knowledge of languages, then you are able to appreciate the liturgy and these programs on a level that I can’t imagine. I admit I am a wee bit jealous. Okay, that’s not true. I am very jealous! But, alas, I am but a wee bear and small of brain. And very lazy. I don’t see me learning any other languages any time soon. I flirted off and on briefly with Greek, Gaelic, Chinese and Hebrew. And how far did I get? N O W H E R E.

          Sláinte! ;)

        • Disciple says:

          And I did miss one of your points when replying, so I’ll address that here.

          If I understand you correctly, your philosophy is that the faithful should focus more on ascending to God rather than bringing God down to our level. If that is the case, then we should abandon the Mass in the vernacular and should go back to Latin, especially since apparently the Latin patterns of expression sound more sacred to us (i.e. “and with your spirit”). If we need to reach for God, then we should reach for Latin, which my dad describes as the “cultural language of the Church.” And he’s right.

          For one thing, we were never supposed to get away from the Latin, so we shouldn’t have to “go back” to it. Latin and Gregorian chant were always supposed to retain “pride of place”, as Vatican II put it. So, once again, we are not changing something or mucking it up or being half-baked. We were changing something, mucking it up, being half-baked when we jettisoned all of that and replaced it with something, well, inferior. (And, really, if more people would actually read Vatican II, we’d be a lot better off.)

          As to us ascending to God or bringing Him down to our level… I hope I didn’t say anything like that. We can’t ascend to God, that’s what Christ did. I don’t think it’s an option for us, Elizabeth Clare Prophet and her crowd notwithstanding. Even Mary couldn’t ascend, she had to be assumed. Note the passive voice there, not the active. She was assumed, she did not ascend. We use this passive voice to show that the action is really on God’s part, not ours, when we speak of being received into the Church, not of coming into the Church. Receiving Communion, not taking it. It’s God Who is doing this and we are invited to participate. Not by doing so much as by being there as witnesses, invited to the banquet, not to be the host but the guests.

          And we can’t bring Him down to our level, either. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity came down from Heaven but He did not “come down to our level”. He remained fully Divine while also taking on a human nature and becoming fully human. No coming down to our merely human level for Him. So I think that’s part of our problem, we have gotten used to thinking in a way that is different from the Church’s way. Which is to say, we are not much used to thinking with the mind of the Church nowadays.

          I think it’s not quite true to say that it’s a matter of patterns of expression that the Church sees as more sacred. It’s that she has used Latin for two thousand years of meditation and reflection and communication, and she has worked out some ideas about all of this with some precision, a precision that can easily be lost in a language that is not noted for precision, and being used by people who are noted for anything but precision. Americans seem to regard precision as some sort of aberration, something to be abhorred. Why is that? But the Church sees Latin as a way of communicating very precisely something very important to her, too important to be careless about. And using such a highly developed language and vocabulary has another advantage: that language, no longer being a living language, does not change the way English does. Latin can be the official language of the Universal Church because it can be spoken everywhere, all over the world, the same today and tomorrow.

          I’m glad you got me to thinking about these things. After a month of NaNoWriMo I needed to spend some time doing some serious thinking and writing for the blog. You’ve given me some ideas for posts and I thank you. Peace be with you. :)

          • Athena C says:

            Your perspective is interesting. One final quibble – you mentioned that “And with your spirit” is a better literal translation from the Latin. It is more literal, yes. But as I mentioned in my initial reply, literal translations are not the best. The way to best translate something into another language is to reach deeper – what is the concept being expressed? In this case, the concept is the return of the greeting / blessing “The Lord be with you.” In Latin this is expressed “Et cum spirituo tuo (And with your spirit).” And that is fine – that is the accepted pattern of expression in Latin. But how do we return a greeting in English? We say, “And also with you.” Alternative expressions are “You, too,” and “Right back atcha, Father!” but neither one of those are really appropriate for Church. :)

            So yes, taking the phrase for the way the concept is properly expressed in English and deliberately mucking it up to make it bad English (but a more literal translation of the Latin) is not a good choice. It is merely bad English. Nothing more, nothing less.

            I’ll take it further – when you hear native speakers of another language speak English, have you noticed that they all make the same types of errors? (i.e. Chinese speakers will speak English a certain way with certain phrases and grammar, and the same is true of virtually every other language). Some of that will vary based on where the individual learned English, but I have observed this pattern over and over again. This is mainly because the instinct is to literally translate what one would say in their native language. In many cases, it means that they are not speaking English well at all, but in charity for our fellow man we usually do our best to understand them anyway. :) I have observed this tendency in myself and my fellow English-speakers as well when we try to learn another language. In fact, the fact that we can usually make out what the other person means (even when they are merely literally translating their own language into English) is a testament to the commonality of human experience such that most of the important concepts in different cultures are relatively similarly expressed.

            But still, when you take the time to sit down and deliberately translate something, literal translation is by and large a trap to be avoided. It is particularly frustrating to me to see good English turn into bad English because someone decided (with no valid basis) that we needed to be closer to Latin. As I said before, just go back to the Latin already. But leave English alone!

            Anyhoo, I am no longer fluent in anything but English, but I have studied a couple of languages with native speakers, read up a bit on linguistics and the way languages are formed and changed, as well as what doesn’t work to change language. This is where I get my very strong thoughts that languages need to be respected as a whole.

            In other news, I noticed that nothing in the Creed really changed, except they took out the easy-to-understand phrases and inserted highly technical words. Now, I would be excited about this, because I am usually the first one to bust out the vocabulary, but I have learned through experience that no one really reacts very well to this. As I teach my kiddos the Creed, they are going to understand “one in being with the Father” much more than “consubstantial with the Father.” Same with pretty much everyone else in Church that doesn’t have the passion for vocabulary that some of us do. :) As I said elsewhere, the reality is so much deeper than any words we have, that at some level it doesn’t really matter what words we use, as long as it basically covers the meaning. And both phrases above are decent expressions of the same concept. So why choose the higher-level word? It seems to give the illusion of accessibility (it’s English!) but without delivering the accessibility (90% of the faithful probably don’t understand this word). Again, just go back to the Latin already. But this doesn’t bug me NEARLY as much as “And with your spirit.” :)

            • Disciple says:

              I’ll try to respond to your points one at a time.

              Your perspective is interesting. One final quibble – you mentioned that “And with your spirit” is a better literal translation from the Latin. It is more literal, yes. But as I mentioned in my initial reply, literal translations are not the best. The way to best translate something into another language is to reach deeper – what is the concept being expressed? In this case, the concept is the return of the greeting / blessing “The Lord be with you.” In Latin this is expressed “Et cum spirituo tuo (And with your spirit).” And that is fine – that is the accepted pattern of expression in Latin. But how do we return a greeting in English? We say, “And also with you.” Alternative expressions are “You, too,” and “Right back atcha, Father!” but neither one of those are really appropriate for Church. :)

              First let me say that I hope my perspective is not “interesting” at all, as I hope it is also not unusual or original. I hope I am thinking with the mind of the Church, which is my goal. I hope I am expressing, though in my own imperfect way, the teachings I have received and that I am at pains to convey properly and with fidelity. And I really must point out that this assertion, that “literal translations are not the best” is not true. It may, in certain cases, be that a literal translation is the best, that ignoring the literal might lead to all sorts of misunderstanding. It may, in other cases, be true that a literal translation would not be best. But it simply is not true that literal translations are not best. That statement is, rather, a sweeping generalization and evidence of a prejudice against literal translations or a preference for something else.

              And here I think we are getting at something. The Church means “and with your spirit” and has meant precisely that for two thousand years. This phrase goes back at least to St. Paul. Not “and with you also” but “and with your spirit”. It is precisely the phrase called for because it is not a mere greeting between equals. That, I think, is the problem that some people have with it. It is a greeting that points out, that emphasizes, that draws our attention to the fact that the priest is not merely one of us. The greeting, since the fourth century, has been given during the liturgy only to men who have taken Holy Orders.* (See below.) Not even an ordained deacon receives this greeting but only someone who has taken priestly orders. It is acknowledging that the priest celebrating the Mass has been given the Holy Spirit in a way that we of the laity have not. And we are calling that to mind with this accurate, appropriate, traditional, official phrase. The priest in persona Christi says the words of Christ, spoken to His apostles, and we acknowledge this and we say to the priest, “And with your spirit”, acknowledging that he has received Christ’s spirit, the Holy Spirit, and we are praying for him, that this spirit, the Spirit, may be with him as he offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for us.

              We are not on equal footing here. You and I are laity, we are part of the Body of Christ, we have the priesthood of all baptized believers, but we have not been ordained, we do not have what the priest has. And we need to remember it. We need to pray for priests and we need to do so in our highest, most solemn prayer, which is the Mass.

              So yes, taking the phrase for the way the concept is properly expressed in English and deliberately mucking it up to make it bad English (but a more literal translation of the Latin) is not a good choice. It is merely bad English. Nothing more, nothing less.

              I have to say that this is nonsense. “And with your spirit” is not bad English. And no amount of repetition and insistence will make it so. I wonder if there is something else behind this resistance, this annoyance that you have.

              I’ll take it further – when you hear native speakers of another language speak English, have you noticed that they all make the same types of errors? (i.e. Chinese speakers will speak English a certain way with certain phrases and grammar, and the same is true of virtually every other language). Some of that will vary based on where the individual learned English, but I have observed this pattern over and over again. This is mainly because the instinct is to literally translate what one would say in their native language. In many cases, it means that they are not speaking English well at all, but in charity for our fellow man we usually do our best to understand them anyway. :) I have observed this tendency in myself and my fellow English-speakers as well when we try to learn another language. In fact, the fact that we can usually make out what the other person means (even when they are merely literally translating their own language into English) is a testament to the commonality of human experience such that most of the important concepts in different cultures are relatively similarly expressed.

              That may be true but I don’t see how it pertains to the particular case we’re discussing.

              But still, when you take the time to sit down and deliberately translate something, literal translation is by and large a trap to be avoided. It is particularly frustrating to me to see good English turn into bad English because someone decided (with no valid basis) that we needed to be closer to Latin. As I said before, just go back to the Latin already. But leave English alone!

              I simply do not and cannot agree, I think this is utterly false. It isn’t bad English, it simply expresses something that you seem to not want. And I think that is really the crux of the issue here. It’s not a bad translation, and it isn’t bad English. It does say something that perhaps you wish it didn’t say.

              Anyhoo, I am no longer fluent in anything but English, but I have studied a couple of languages with native speakers, read up a bit on linguistics and the way languages are formed and changed, as well as what doesn’t work to change language. This is where I get my very strong thoughts that languages need to be respected as a whole.

              I think the Church needs to be respected, too, and one might want to put some extra effort and prayer into understanding why she has asked us to pray this way. We are not merely talking about English and Latin and common speech here, but the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the words of the Liturgy, which are filled with the Word of God. That is something to keep in mind. The Church is asking us to do something to which we are not accustomed. Something higher.

              In other news, I noticed that nothing in the Creed really changed, except they took out the easy-to-understand phrases and inserted highly technical words. Now, I would be excited about this, because I am usually the first one to bust out the vocabulary, but I have learned through experience that no one really reacts very well to this. As I teach my kiddos the Creed, they are going to understand “one in being with the Father” much more than “consubstantial with the Father.” Same with pretty much everyone else in Church that doesn’t have the passion for vocabulary that some of us do. :) As I said elsewhere, the reality is so much deeper than any words we have, that at some level it doesn’t really matter what words we use, as long as it basically covers the meaning. And both phrases above are decent expressions of the same concept. So why choose the higher-level word? It seems to give the illusion of accessibility (it’s English!) but without delivering the accessibility (90% of the faithful probably don’t understand this word). Again, just go back to the Latin already. But this doesn’t bug me NEARLY as much as “And with your spirit.” :)

              These “highly technical” words are exactly the kind of thing that drew me to Catholicism in the first place. I was searching for the truth and I had explored many paths in my search. I had asked many questions and only in the Church did I begin to really find answers. Learning about the Creed, the Councils and the meditations and reflections on the Christian mysteries that I found in the Early Church Fathers — these things opened up Christianity for me in a way that no other avenue of exploration ever did. I have to think that I am not alone in this, that countless others have been drawn to the Church because she is the repository of truth. And because she has a long, rich tradition which she has safeguarded down through the ages. I am not too stupid to learn of her traditions. I don’t think that the people around me at Mass are too stupid to learn these things either. I welcomed, I longed for just such an intellectual feast that I found in Catholicism. That, and so much more. It’s something for which others have longed for, too.

              I used to work in a Catholic bookstore, before I was even Catholic. Before I was even thinking of becoming Catholic. And I was astounded to see the number of intelligent, informed, faithful Catholics who came to us seeking more and more knowledge of their faith. I also did book tables in parishes all over the diocese and saw a great many everyday Catholics who were very interested in the books we brought, always wanting to learn more, to understand more. Not every Catholic, no; but more than most people seem to think are very much alive in the faith and hungry for more. Large numbers. I see large numbers of Catholics show up at events, to hear lectures, to take classes, to watch films. I know for a fact that a hunger is there and it needs to be fed!

              I know that Catholics deserve more than the watered down drivel they have received in so-called “catechesis” over the past many years. I know that Catholics who have pursued a knowledge of their faith have done so out of love for Christ and His Church, and that these same Catholics will not find words such as “consubstantial” to be an obstacle to their understanding or their worship. If the others don’t understand it, that does not mean the word should be changed, but that our catechesis needs to change, i.e., some real catechesis needs to be done. If large numbers of the faithful have not been catechized, then that is the problem to be addressed. But to sell them short as if they were too stupid to understand, really, that is insulting.

              We are not striving merely for so-called “accessibility”, which is all too often a way of saying “lowest common denominator” and “we wouldn’t want to challenge anyone’s ability to understand”. We are striving to lift up our hearts and minds to God. That may, and assuredly will, take effort. Then so be it! Be challenged! Make the effort! Take some time to ponder, pray and meditate and then, after coming to understand**, to explain things to others. The new translation, which recovers much of what had been lost, is an opportunity to deepen our appreciation of the Mass and also to deepen our appreciation of the priesthood, something I think we really need now. We are not there primarily for fellowship with one another, we are there to worship God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to offer the highest form of prayer there is. And that needs the highest form of language of which we are capable. I have heard nothing offered from any source that is higher than what Holy Mother Church offers us now.

              And I see no reason to desire anything less.

              ________________________________________

              Notes and Sources

              Some of the sources I’m using in preparing for the “new” translation and in replying here:

              * “And with your spirit”, Fr. Z, What Does The Prayer Really Say?
              * “And With Your Spirit” — It’s Not What You Think, Msgr. Charles Pope, Archdiocese of Washington
              *“And with Your Spirit”, Mike Aquilina, OSV

              **I wanted to add this because I think it bears saying and emphasizing: It is not enough to think we understand. As Catholics we need to try to understand what the Church teaches. And we need to be sure we understand before we teach others. It is not enough to teach our own ideas or our own versions, we must teach what the Church teaches without changing it. We are children of Holy Mother Church and we need to let her form us. We do study but we also go through formation. Formation of conscience (before you follow your conscience, you must form it by the teachings of the Church and through the sacraments and Christian living) and formation of our intellects. This is important and I don’t think I can repeat it too often.

            • Athena C says:

              “Your perspective is interesting.”

              I meant no insult. I meant to convey that I took your words to heart but I had nothing in the way of rebuttal, except for what I said earlier.

              As far as literal translations are concerned, we will not see eye-to-eye on this point anytime soon, and that’s okay. I am glad you have challenged me (and vice versa!), but this doesn’t concern the deposit of faith, and so at this point both of our souls are in good shape in this regard. ;)

              I agree with you with respect to “what the Church means” because “what the Church means” was written in Latin. The long, short, good, bad, and ugly of it is – it was written in Latin. If that is what we should be saying, then just go back to the Latin already. Translations are never perfect, which is a big part of why I think its a tragedy we have neglected the study of other languages here in the U.S. My discussion on how native speakers of another language (say Chinese) speak English are relevant to the extent that they support my view that we should either: 1) speak the vernacular properly; or 2) go back to the Latin.

              I appreciate your point about the priest vs. laity, as well as “why the Church has asked us to pray this way”. I hadn’t thought of that before. Still, though, the liturgical dialect in English doesn’t work. Once again, go back to the Latin.

              (BTW, when I was growing up, I heard my dad often say we should go back to the Latin Mass. I never thought I would be advocating the same thing myself until I saw the new translation a few weeks ago. Lol)

              With regard to the Creed, I almost think this should be a separate topic, but what the hey. Just to be clear, I love the intellectual depth the Church offers. It comes in handy with my (very smart) agnostic husband, and with my dad who was an intellectual convert. But it does make me wonder – the whole reason we are even attempting this “Mass in the vernacular” exercise is to make it more accessible, no? I thought (for example) “one in being with the Father” to be an artful expression of “consubstantial.” I understand that in many cases, using a phrase other than a technical word can “dumb down” the concepts, but I think that with respect to the way the Creed was a few weeks ago, they did a fantastic job of using language a 4th-grader would understand. Once again – to be clear – we have 7-year-olds (!) receiving the Eucharist (including my oldest daughter, as of this spring). No matter the quality of catechesis, some words are just too high-level. At the risk of sounding lowest-common-denominator, the wording from a few weeks ago was much more intuitive to a child receiving their first Communion. The higher-level intellectual stuff is still there and available for anyone who wants it, but based on my experience with humanity as a whole, I do think it is a mistake to expect it from everyone. Especially when the language from a few weeks ago is masterful at expressing the same concepts in more accessible language.

              P.S. I realize I sound like I am going back and forth about this language business as far as “X is good English” vs. “X is more accessible English”. First of all, they are separate issues. Second of all – overall, having seen both the old and new translations, I see the benefit in more accessible vs. less accessible English (as long as we are still doing this whole Mass-in-the-vernacular-thing). Thanks again for your thoughts.

              P.S. You stickied this thread?! I’m flattered! :P

            • Athena C says:

              P.S. My opinions are not indicative of anything more sinister or malicious than what I say. They are what they are, and I believe I am articulating them properly. ;) As such, I have no particular issue saying “And with your spirit” other than the fact that it is not good English, but I believe I have said that enough times already.

            • AthenaC says:

              P.P.S. Forgot to say it last night, but thanks for those links. Very good reading.

  2. Disciple says:

    I don’t see what is “bad English” about “And with your spirit”. As someone who is concerned to speak with clarity and appreciates “good” English, I am sensitive to the misuse and abuse of the language. But I fail entirely to see any problem with “And with your spirit”. There is nothing wrong with it grammatically and nothing whatsoever wrong with any other aspect of it. Nothing. Not a thing.

    As to this insistence that young people not be made to cope with such awfully hard words as we now have in our Creed, I have to heave a sigh. My mother taught me to read when I was four years old. My reading and comprehension level was years ahead of where it was “supposed to be” and I hated it when people talked down to me or when they expected me to read childish things because of my age. Teach people and then they will know. Teach them when they are young. Don’t talk down and don’t hold back. I have taught children, too, and I know that they love to learn. They are eager and hungry to be taught. So are adults.

    I’m all for making the faith accessible, but I want to be sure that we’re still presenting the faith. The faith is vast and beautiful and it does require effort to understand and appreciate it. And to communicate it. We lived with the mangled version for forty years. And now our forty years of wandering is coming to an end. Praise God! :)

  3. “And with your spirit: the new, beautiful,
    English translation of the Roman Missal | Catholic Heart and Mind” ended up being a really nice article, .

    I hope you keep writing and I’m going to keep browsing! Thanks a lot ,Ines

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