And with your spirit

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q:  I had a question about the response:  “and with your spirit.” I listened to your 13 minutes Youtube – in the conclusion you say “when Christians gather this is how we say that Christ is here.”  My question is about the reference to priesthood.  At Mass, the priest gives with the welcome/intro – “The Lord be with you” and we respond “And with your spirit,” meaning the spirit that is given to the priest at ordination. Then the deacon introduces the Gospel with the same words, and we respond. To whose spirit are we responding?  Christ is given to the deacon in Ordination. Is that the same as for the priest? Or is the spirit of the ordained deacon something else?   

Any reference will be helpful.  



A:  Maybe I’m the wrong guy to ask because I do not accept the interpretation that the spirit in the dialogue is the Holy Spirit. I think it’s just another way of referring to the person who starts the dialogue.

The liturgy restricts the opening of this dialogue to priests and deacons. I know of no official explanation for this, but commonly understood is what you report – that the “spirit” refers to the Spirit received in the ordination of a deacon or a priest.

Working from current liturgical usage of the dialogue, I guess that’s a conclusion that one can draw. But I have never found it convincing. As I probably explained, the biblical testimony from the letters of Paul indicate that everyone has spirit – just as everyone has a body, a soul, a heart, and a head. The grammatical term is synecdoche: a part that refers to the whole. (When my baseball team starts to lose, we say “We need a new arm on the mound,” but that means we need a pitcher, not just his arm.) Paul prayed that the Lord would be with the spirit of those who read his letters – meaning that the Lord would be with their whole person. 

The liturgical books do not capitalize the word “spirit” in this dialogue, which I think an interpretation closer to Paul than to ordination. But not many people agree with me.