This afternoon it was the turn of Msgr. Bruce Harbert to speak to us. This witty and humorous Englishman is the former Secretary General of ICEL. He spoke to us about the biblical sources that inspired much of the revision to the texts of the mass. One of the most contentious issues is the response to “The Lord be with you” which will become “And with your spirit.”
Msgr Harbert showed us the Pauline origins of this expression. It is not meant to create a dualistic view of the human person but rather to use the word “spirit” in the sense that Paul uses it and the word “flesh”. When Paul condemns the flesh he is not being anti-material or against our bodies. Rather Paul is speaking of the part of us that gives in to sin. So it is with spirit. This is not meant to refer only to our spiritual reality, but rather to that aspect of us that call us (body and spirit) to transcendence.
He mentioned St. John Chrysostom who wrote that when people respond to the priest “And with your spirit” they recognize in the one who is about to begin the Eucharistic Prayer the presence of the Spirit who has called him to lead the Assembly. But St. John also adds that it is that same abiding Spirit in the Assembly that enables them to recognize that same Spirit present and active in the Presider.