The New Missal began to emerge from its cocoon recently in a parish with a strong liturgical, scriptural and social justice orientation.
“And with your spirit.”
That was the subject three weeks ago of the first of two bulletin articles that announced the parish would begin implementation with the Preface Dialogs, the Sanctus and the Memorial Acclamation at the end of the month.
The first article emphasized both the literal and scriptural reasons for the choice of the word “spirit.” Paul frequently ended his letters wishing that the grace of Christ be with the spirit of the community, e.g. “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters” (Galatians 6:18).
Last week, the second article emphasized “God of hosts” (think angels not bread) and the choice of “We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your resurrection, until you come again.” for the Memorial Acclamation because of its similarity to “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” For both changes a detailed scriptural background was given.
This parish has a sung Eucharistic Prayer at each Weekend Liturgy. The implementation clearly focuses upon the changes in the people’s parts relevant to the Eucharistic Prayer.
The priest came to the lectern before Mass for the usual announcements, and then invited the music director to join him. Together they practiced the Preface Dialog followed by the people. The priest made a mistake in his singing the first time around! Then the pastor went to get vested while the music director practiced us with the new Haugen Mass of Creation Hosanna, and the new Acclamation. Took eight minutes altogether. All the relevant texts and music were in the bulletin.
About 75% of the people gave the correct “and with your spirit” at the opening greeting. The priest said “let’s try that again.” At the Gospel, the choir came in quickly and strongly cueing me (and every one else) to the correct response. Everyone did the Preface Dialog and Hosanna well. The new Acclamation was less loud than the usual one. The priest stumbled over the “peace” greeting; everyone laughed but got the correct response. Many people in my section enjoyed using “and with your spirit” as their response in the mutual greeting. Before the dismissal, the priest congratulated us before saying, “and one last time”
On my way out after Mass I waved to the pastor “And the Lord be with your spirit the whole week long!”
The implementation was never mentioned in any homily. No distractions anywhere with the history of the translation, translation issues or principles of translation, or church bureaucracies: just a constant appeal to scripture, and focus upon the practical aspects of the implementation that we might be able to worship better. There were links in the bulletin to the NCCB website for those who wanted more information.
Brief mention of spirit of community in the bulletin reminded me of the excellent presentation on the multiple meanings of spirit by Saint Paul in Gustavo Gutiérrez’s We Drink from Our Own Wells, the Spiritual Journey of a People; the 20th anniversary edition, 2003. Here are some quotes:
In many passages of Saint Paul “spirit” designates… the human person looked upon as a totality but from the perspective of its dynamism…(p.61)
Love is the source of dynamic activity and life. Filiation and fellowship are the two dimensions of a life centered on the Spirit. (p.63)
The dominion of the Spirit as the source of life is so powerful in Saint Paul that in many passages it is impossible to decide whether “spirit” refers to the human person under grace or to the Holy Spirit. (p. 64)
The body (soma) is rather to be regarded as the field upon which the flesh as death dealing power operates but the Spirit, the power that gives life, is also active. The word soma likewise implies a dimension of union among human beings… a basis for speaking of the church as the body of Christ. (p.65)
This spiritual potential that the body has permits Paul to say of it that it is the temple of God. “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” Rom.12:1. (p.67).
From Gutiérrez’s preface to the Anniversary Edition:
The peak of the spire of theological reflection is the classic sequella Christi, the following of Jesus which, especially since the seventeenth century, we often call spirituality. M.D. Chenu in one of his first works said “Clearly theological systems are nothing but the expression of spiritualities….a theology worthy of the name is a spirituality that has found the appropriate rational instruments for its religious experience.”
Our methodology is our spirituality. Everything begins with silence; that is the first step in speaking of God; that is the moment of listening and prayer; later the language engendered in that quiet will come. The deepest sense of the encounter with the poor is the encounter with Christ. That… is the source of a spirituality, of a …communitarian… journey to God. That is what we meant, when referring to a phrase from Bernard of Clairvaux, we said it is necessary “to drink from our own wells” not only as individuals but also as members of a people.
In the vignette above I tried to express not only my spiritual experience but also this particular community’s spirituality.
Jack Rakosky, a regular commenter at Pray Tell, has an interdisciplinary doctorate in sociology and psychology and a master’s degree in spirituality. His main interest is spirituality in relation to voluntarism in both church and society.