And With Whose “Spirit” ?

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“And also with you.” “And with your Spirit.” Six of one half a dozen of the other ? Mox nix ? Who cares? What difference does it make? The difference is all the difference in the world. Actually, all the difference in all the universe and all Heaven. The difference is: Jesus Christ present as Head of His mystical body only in the person of the ordained priest.

Some History

Over half a century ago, the priest offering the sacrifice in the standard Latin Mass form, said “Dominus vobiscum,” and the faithful’s response was “Et cum spiritu tuo.” For some time from 1970 A.D. to 2010 A.D., the response in English – which was improperly called a “translation” since the word “spiritu” was ignored and not translated – was “and also with you.”

Following Vatican II and going back to the beginning of the 1970 liturgical year – beginning November 30, 1969, in the new English Mass 1970 Lectionary For Mass – “and also with you” was the laity’s response to “The Lord be with you.” Today we say “And with your spirit.” What “spirit” was deleted until the new/old translation began to be used again?

There was, indeed, a liturgical kerfuffle over what was to be the new translation of “et cum spititu tuo” (“new” as compared to the “and also with you” non-translation mandated in the U.S.A. after Vatican II). The “why” of the motivation of some of those who did not want the word “spiritu” translated is summed up in one goal of those “liturgical progressives, believing in the absolute primacy of the contemporary” who somehow saw good in “breaking down the distinction between clergy and people.” (1)

Spiritu – Literally

To begin with, the literal translation from the Latin is clear. The correct translation – and the centuries-old translation – of what the people say is “and with your spirit.” Had the original Latin been something like “etiam et cum te,” or “item et cum te”, or with any word such as “idem,” “praetera,” or “insuper,” to indicate simply “ditto, that the Lord be also with you,” then the “also” could have been correct. But there is that word, “spiritu,” there for almost two millennia, and the priest does not and never has said that word in any greeting within the Mass such as “Dominus vobiscum” as applicable to the laity who are present, those not ordained as priests.

“I am With You”

The phrase from early Masses – the Lord be with you – is a direct and explicit reference to the words of Jesus Himself at the end of Matthew’s Gospel when He commissions the remaining eleven apostles on a mountain in Galilee: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20).

Before Jesus tells the eleven apostles “I am with you,” He says: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28: 18-19).

It is clear that these words are addressed to the apostles – and to only these eleven apostles – who were “ordered” (Matthew 28:16) by Jesus to go to this mountain. In Mark’s version, only the “eleven” are “at table” with Jesus. (Mark 16:14). Each of these apostles had received the then-new sacrament of Holy Orders at the Last Supper; and the Gospels make it clear that only the apostles were present for the reception of the new sacrament. There are no other persons present at the Last Supper who received Holy Orders, nor does anyone, except the apostles, ordained priests, receive the final commissioning in Matthew. To say that there were others present, although unmentioned, who were also ordained – whether lesser disciples or the Virgin Mary or women – is to engage in fantasy, to promote a non-sacramental agenda, to denigrate and misrepresent the sacrament of Holy Orders as it was given to us by Jesus Himself, to add one’s own words to Holy Scripture, or to contradict sacred tradition and the Magisterium.


Many scholars and writers of the early Church discussed the meaning and significance of the “et cum spiritu tuo” response of the laity. Among them was Theodore of Mopsuestia (350 A.D. – 428 A.D.):

And those present answer him: “And to your spirit.” … Indeed all of us are one body of Christ our Lord and all of us are members one of another, and the priest only fills the role of a member that is higher than the other members of the body . . . It is in this sense that the phrase: “And to your spirit” is addressed to the priest by the congregation, according to the regulations found in the Church from the beginning, . . .” [emphasis added by this author] (2)

Such an understanding of this “spiritu” was assumed in celebrations of the Eucharist from the time of the apostles.

Early Masses

There is no question that from the earliest times, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the people were not referred to as having this “spiritu” of the “et cum spiritu tuo.” For example, in a section of an ancient work on the liturgy entitled “The Bidding Prayer For The Faithful” (3) is found:

And let the bishop salute the church and say, the peace of God be with you all. And let the people answer, And with thy spirit.” (4)
And let the bishop say, “The peace of God be with you all.” And let the people say, “and with thy spirit. (6)

This use of “spirit” exclusively with respect to ordained priests and bishops is also evident throughout other ancient Masses, e.g., The Divine Liturgy of James (6); The Divine Liturgy of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark (7); and The Liturgy of the Blessed Apostles (8).

Other Early Liturgies

Fifth century Syriac liturgies used a response of the laity such as “with you and with your spirit”. Their languages were similar to the actual Aramaic of Jesus and His apostles. Clearly for them the response was much more than simply “and with you”. For example, Narsai of Nisibis, a fifth century A.D. Syriac theologian-poet, says:

The people answer the priest lovingly and say: ‘With you, O priest, and with that priestly spirit of yours.’ They call ‘spirit’ not that soul which is in the priest, but the spirit which the priest has received by the laying on of hands. By the laying on of hands the priest receives the power of the Spirit so that he may be able to perform the divine mysteries. That grace the people call the spirit of the priest and they pray that he may attain peace with it and it with him. (9).

Vatican II

Saying “and with your spirit” recognizes the “special character” of the ordained priest referred to in the documents of Vatican II in its treatment of the sacrament of Holy Orders:

Through that sacrament priests by the anointing of the Holy Spirit are signed with a special character and are so configured to Christ the priest that they are able to act in the person of Christ the head.” (Decree On The Ministry And Life OF Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis, No. 2.)


In explaining the sacrament of Holy Orders, the Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to the the power given by Jesus to His Church:

Today the word “ordination” is reserved for the sacramental act which integrates a man into the order of bishops, presbyters, or deacons, and goes beyond a simple election, designation, delegation, or institution by the community, for it confers a gift of the Holy Spirit that permits the exercise of a “sacred power” (sacra potestas) which can come only from Christ himself through his Church. (10)

Jesus gave His Church the power to ordain men (and only men) to serve as His priests. Canon Law, Canon 1024 prescribes: “Only a baptized male validly receives sacred ordination.” The laity do not and cannot act in the person of Christ as Head of the mystical body, in persona Christi capitis, in the way that the ordained priest does:

In the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, high priest of the redemptive sacrifice, Teacher of Truth. This is what the Church means by saying that the priest, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, acts in persona Christi Capitis. (11)

There has never been in all history a laying on of hands in the Church that is a reception of the sacrament of Holy Orders – the ordination of bishops, priests, and deacons – for non-ordained positions or roles in the church such as singer, acolyte, deaconess, porter, and lector.

Christ-Priest, Priest-Christ

At Mass, the priest is not simply another member of the congregation or “assembly” who happens to be tasked with some role and function that any member could do – “presider,” “celebrant,” “stage director.” Such reasoning – that priestly acts are merely functionary and anyone can do the functions – can lead to a common protestant heresy that each and every member of the faithful is a priest of equal kind, of equal ecclesial and christological status and power. This heresy is a denial of the sacrament of Holy Orders. Such reasoning also directly implies that anyone, women included, can be ordained to Holy Orders, because anyone can say “now be seated,” or “This is My body;” “Have a good day,” or “I absolve you of your sins;” or “Good morning” and “This is My Blood.”

One does not refer to a Queen as a citizen of the realm, or to a General as a non-com soldier. Nor is an ordained priest a mere “presider,” “member of the assembly,” or mere “celebrant” at Mass. Announcements at the beginning of Mass such as “And our presider today is Father Michael Carter,” (M.C.), which ignore the priest’s holy orders and the special sacramental mark on his soul, can be implicit declarations of false Church teaching since they deny the priest’s Holy Orders and reduce him to a functionary with a specific role to play that can be played by anyone.


Jesus Christ acts personally – in a unique, divine, sacramental way – at every Mass through His priest. Put another way, the ordained priest acts in persona Christi, as leader or head of the mystical body, as does no one else present. The priest does not say “Jesus said that this was His body;” but, since Jesus is there truly present acting through the priest, He says “This is My Body.” When the laity say “and with your spirit,” they are acknowledging and proclaiming this truth, faith in Jesus, and belief in His ordained priesthood made personally present in the ordained priest.

(1) Smith, Jr., “Traditionalist & Progressive Totalitarians In the Church, New Oxford Review, April 2016, p. 31.
(2) “Commentary on the Lord’s Prayer, Baptism and the Eucharist, Theodore, t15, 37). Translated by Alphonse Mingana, 15, 37; link:
(3) Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Roberts et al, “Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, 1886),
(4) Id. at p.486
(5) Id. at p. 490)
(6) Id. , “Early Liturgies,” p. 537 et seq.
(7) Id. At p. 551 et seq
(8)) Id., p. 561 et seq.
(9) Exposition of the Mysteries Homily 17 A, Narsai; Link:
(10) Catechism, 1538)
(11) Catechism, 1548)

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15 thoughts on “And With Whose “Spirit” ?”

  1. I agree “Presider” is totally wrong, and as far as I’m aware has never been officially authorised. But what is wrong with saying that the priest is the “Celebrant” who “celebrates” the Mass? What alternative do you propose? I think it’s superior to the common saying merely that “Father Jones SAID Mass”, as if the Mass was mere recitation of certain words.

    1. What is wrong with saying “Father Jones said Mass”? Everyone knows what that means. When you attempt to be “superior”, that’s usually exactly how it looks. As if you’re showing off that you have a ten-dollar word when a ten-cent word would have done the job.

      Another common example of this is that forever, we have said simply that we “went to church”. But in recent years it’s become hip for the show-offs to say that they “assisted at the Most Holy Sacrifice of The Mass”. Yeah, yeah. You went to church.

  2. Laurence Charles Ringo

    Normally I wouldn’t engage in this type of discussion, but since Mr.McClung decided to throw in the polemical “Protestant heresy”,as a Protestant I feel compelled to do so.So…tell us,Mr.McClung: do all these holier-than-thou priests discard the “In Persona Christi” when they’re raping children? Would you have us believe that that’s something Jesus Himself would do,as long as He performed the Mass correctly,as ex opere operato would have us believe? I don’t know from whence this insidious, vile excuse for sinning as long as the Mass is conducted properly came from , but you have NO argument that will EVER convince this Protestant “heretic” that such a mindset would be endorsed by MY Savior; it’s theologically absurd and frankly abhorrent morally and ethically; it’s disgusting.I await your reply(if any.)—If I’m wrong, here’s your chance to set me straight…PEACE. ???.

    1. Hi, Lawrence–
      Actually,. you’re making two separate points, and while they seem for all the world to
      conflate, they actually don’t
      The first point you address is the question of whether or not Protestantism is heretical.
      You justify your objection to this by recourse to personal umbrage, and a violation of your personal point of view,. not objective fact.
      You reinforce your argument by insisting that “your” (subjective) God would not approve of the things you cite that, in reality, the Real and True (objective) God certainly does
      not approve of. But still, even in the face of being completely in the fright about the morality here, you are compelled as a Protestant to frame it in subjective language.
      The reason for this is that Protestantism is, by and large, rooted in the ancient heresies that the Ancient Church spent six hundred years refuting. Back in the
      Seventies a prominent Protestant scholar, recognizing this, wrote an apologia
      entitled “Why There Must be Heresies.” It was an anthropocentric document,
      actually a denial of objective Truth and a reduction ad absurdum of the Christian
      Yours, here in your text, is Docetism: the very sensible notion that Sacraments performed by an unworthy priest have no validity. Sensible, that is, until we reflect that there are, really, no worthy priests. In fact, there are no worthy Christians. In
      further fact, there are no worthy atheists! Show me, for instance, a man who wholly
      lives up to a code he has invented for himself. At the point where he (as he must) changes it to further accommodate himself, he has become a failure–or his code has.
      In Orthodoxy, we have no concept of ourselves as “alter Christus.” Rome teaches that
      it is the priest who, through Divine appointment, “confects” the Sacrament. Accordingly, he stands before the congregation representing Divinity. In Orthodoxy
      we recognize that the Sacraments are entirely the Sovereign and Personal Act of
      God. The priest stands on witness of this, and leads the congregation in celebration
      of it. Accordingly, the priest stands before Divinity representing the congregation.
      This is one of the things Protestantism got right, except for the part about throwing
      out, denying or vainly disfiguring the Sacraments.
      This is not to deny there are, despite the roadblocks thrown up by their many and
      conflicting doctrines (including the infallible, doctrinaire proclamations of many that
      “doctrine kills”), my toweringly holy Protestants. I have met many. They love the
      Lord, and are serious in their seeking of growth in Him. They are truly trying to get
      away from the subjectivity that haunts them, but by which they are inescapably saddled as long as they are part of an environment with five roots (Luther, Calvin,
      Cranmer, Zwingli and Wesley) that issued in thousands of branches, all of which
      disagree on some point or another, but all of which Protestants are obliged to call
      “Christian” on grounds that’s what they call themselves.
      Point two is your moral argument apart from doctrinal considerations: that God
      disapproves of homosexuality and child molestation. You present this objection.
      though, as if that is what Catholicism stands for, and in doing so indirectly call into
      question the whole Sacramental system. It is manifestly not what Catholicism stands for, as it is abominated everywhere in Scripture and Holy Tradition–even in the
      wholly Roman traditions that arose from the Franco-Latinism of he Ninth Century and
      were developed after the Schism of 1054. It is excused by heterodox and apostate
      bishops and clergy not through any Doctrinal apology, but because these always defer to the epistemology (including the moral epistemology) of the secular Left.
      The Sacraments are Opus Dei, the Word of God, and occur by His Hand. There will
      never be anyone except a sinner offering them, which is why the validity of the Sacraments themselves do not depend on the purity of the priest. This is
      why Docetism falls short.
      For the rest of it, the Bible tells us that he who eats and drinks of the Body and Blood of the Lord (which nowhere in Scripture is presented merely as a simple emotional ritual of “remembrance” ) unworthy–that is, not having repented and asked for forgiveness–eats and drinks to his condemnation. This places Liberal clerics in grave
      peril, and is a separate issue in itself.
      Hope this helps.
      Paschaltide Blessings–
      Fr. James +

    2. Hi, Guy–
      Thanks for the kind words!
      Paschaltide Blessings–
      Fr. James+
      demonstrably unworthy priest

    3. Dear Laurence CR-Many thanks for reading the article. I echo your final “PEACE” and the smiling faces. We are all in this together.

      I am only too well aware that -based only on what has been made public and unsealed in court documents – that some of our supposed shepherds have paid out over $2,000,000,000.00 – not of their personal forutnes [ yes, yes, bishops and cardinals have personal wealth], but out of the widow’s mites and our five, ten and twenty dollar bills from the collections for the pederasty and pedophilia of – primarily – priests and bishops. Ironic that they now require the laity to have criminal background checks.

      But none of those sins means that a validly ordained active practicing pederast priest who says “This is My Body” at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass somehow fails to effect transubstantiation. I don’t want to follow your logic for the Church or for any protestance denomination – all pulpits would be empty, except, perhaps some few populated by the rare living saints among us.

      Please continue to engage and comment. I cannot, perhaps, set you or anyone “straight” – got my own eye beams and unkempt house to straighten out first. I stand daily and say, not so loud, “I have greatly sinned.” But I can ask you to pray for me and assure you that you are in mine.

      Thank you.

      Guy McClung

    1. Dear LB-Thank you for taking the trouble to read this. Perhaps this might spur you on to read more on this topic. There has been a lot of research and comment on this subject since Vat II. You could find this interesting: page 223 of IN THE MURKY WATERS OF VATICAN II by Atila Guimaraes, forward by Malachi Martin, section entitled “An Example of Tenditious Ambiguity: The Priestly Role of the People.” I really believe it is not a matter of 6 and a half dozen – I believe it goes to the core of what Jesus’s Church is. Guy McClung

  3. I recall in the forties and fifties, there was no introduction of the priest before Mass, only the ringing of a bell as the altar boys and priest entered the sanctuary from the sacristy. The common expression was, “Fr. William said Mass”, but later, “Fr. William offered Mass.” The current practice of introducing the priest as presider implies that his role is passive. What would you suggest as more appropriate?

    1. Dear Eliz D-I am not surprised that that is what you “usually hear” – because many at all levels in the Church-laity and clerical-want to at best downplay the unique role of the men [men only] who stand with us with and who only have this special “Spirit” of Jesus Christ, in persona Christi as Head of the Mystical Body. Guy McClung

    2. Just as an aside from the Orthodox side of the house: we speak of “serving” at the Liturgy, for it is the Lord Himself Who “celebrates” it.
      We are, at best, “concelebrants” with Him and “servants” at the
      Liturgy which is conducted by Him through the Theanthropic (Divine / human) institution which is the Church. Blessings, Fr. James+

    3. Bob-Mass back then was the worship of God, was it not?

      Interesting that so much of the writings of the early fathers, council declarations, and teachings make it clear that the unordained, incld women, are not to be “at the altar,” and the unordained, incld women, are not to “offer the sacrifice.” If we introduce anyone at the beginning of Mass, this takes away from the primary reason we are there – to worship God.

      I have yet to hear, “Now folks, today for our show let me first introduce the Deity. Can we have a big hand for God?!” [I have heard a beginning like this: “Now does anyone have a birthday today?”]

      My suggestion is to follow the rubrics laid down for the Mass: we begin “In the name of the Father . . .”. To do otherwise is implicitly to promote the agenda of those who want to annihilate the ordained priesthood’s unique role as – alone – offering the sacrifice in persona Christi as Head of the Church.

      Guy McClung

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