Saturday, June 11, 2011

"And also with you" damages us

Pax at Brompton Oratory: picture from here

Speaking recently to someone about the new translations: they couldn't quite see the point, in particular they couldn't see the point of, "And with your Spirit".
And that, indeed, is the point!

The current ICEL translations have cut us off from this Christian greeting which goes back at least to the first century. For 2,000 years Christians have used it, those four words have formed the theology of ordinary Christians, replacing them by "And also with you", meaning ,"same to you", has done immense damage to the thinking of English speaking Christians over the last 40 years. No wonder some priests prefer to supplement or replace it with the even more prosaic, "Good morning everybody". Not understanding or seeing the point, demonstrates the serious rupture that has gone on in the Church's thinking in the English speaking world.

"Dominus vobiscum: Et cum Spiritu tuo", implies one is saying something quite different than the current response, it causes us to acknowledge that the Spirit of God is upon us, that Grace is present in our lives and that we have capacity to receive Grace. "Also with you" gives us a closed circle, were there is a problem with Grace.

At the heart of the problems we experience, at least in the English speaking Church, is a distancing from Sanctifying Grace and our ability to receive it. Lex orandi: lex credendi. I think the correct translation of these four words will do a great deal heal a dangerous trend. Their absence hits at the very heart of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and our anthropology, it does indeed damage us seriously!


Left-footer said...

Completely agree. There's no more for me to say.

Pablo the Mexican said...


There is a Roman Catholic Priest in the United Kingdom.


Stanley Anderson said...

I look forward to the new old words and agree whole-heartedly with your comments. I would suggest, though, that given that the "and also with you" has been used, the initial addition (but not replacement, certainly) of "Good Morning everyone" followed by "Good Morning Father" at least distinguishes the "and also with you" as something separate and distinct following after that initial casual greeting. Not that I suspect it has that effect on those who need it most, but in theory anyway. And of course, best to simply revert back to the original, as you say.

Anonymous said...

Even much much worse is the Portuguese translation used in Brazil: "Ele está no meio de nós". That in English is something like "He is in the middle of us", or "He is between us".

tempus putationis said...

Yes, Father, but why didn't the Church in England rise up as a whole 40 years ago and shout "No!"? A lie is a lie, and you don't need much Latin to see what 'et cum spiritu tuo' should be in English. Even the French, who were responsible for much of the committee-inspired misinterpretation of Vatican II documents, managed to get this right! (Et avec votre esprit).

Anonymous said...

The Italians managed to get it right, too ("e con il tuo spirito"). Truly not a complicated feat.

When I first heard "and also with you" I had the distinct impression that the translators were trying to transform the liturgy in an informal chat. The "good morning everyone" actually fits the thinking perfectly.


Physiocrat said...

I always thought "and also with you" was naff. Verbal kitsch. That it was also a bad translation just added to the irritation. I am not surprised that it is damaging from a pastoral point of view as well, though that is not my area of expertise.

Good riddance anyway.

It is also time that an explicit instruction was given forbidding the use of "Good morning everybody" and other ad hoc additions to what is printed in the liturgical books.

Physiocrat said...

There is an amusing anecdote, probably apocryphal, about this, before the use of the vernacular.

A little boy was taken to church for the first time by his aunt and uncle. After the service, they asked him what he thought of it.

Quite nice and now I know God's telephone number.

Telephone number?

Well not all of it, but it begins with an 8 and ends in 220.

JARay said...

An Excellent posting which is much needed. This should be compulsory reading for all English speaking Catholics.

JARay said...

I am horrified by the current Portuguese. Muito obrigado, Luiz

Anonymous said...

My family and I were traveling and were in a town somewhere in New York State - we went to Mass as visitors and I almost died laughing when the priest said, "Peace be with you" and after the congregation responded, "And also with you", the priest would then say, "Thank you very much!" EVERY SINGLE time we said, "And also with you"!!! My husband and I thought his night job might be that of an Elvis Presley look-alike.

I enjoy your blog, Father!

Physiocrat said...

And the Swedes

Och med din ande

pelerin said...

I enjoyed 'God's telephone number story' from Physiocrat. It reminded me of the time one of my lads asked me why God's name was Peter. Somewhat confused I pressed him further as to why he thought that only to receive the reply that the Priest always says 'Thanks Peter God!' Out of the mouths .....

So it was not only the Latin which children heard strangely - we all remember the 'Prairie tortoise' before it was changed. When that translation was written it was obvious nobody had said it out loud before committing it to paper.

Tempus putationis asks why the Church did not rise up against the faulty translations 40 years ago. I'm not sure whether he refers to the clergy or the laity of the time but I do wonder if we in the laity would have been so accepting if we had had the internet then.

Fr Ray's comments here are beautifully presented and I hope those who wonder why we need the change will have the opportunity of reading them. 'And also with you' cannot even be called a translation of 'et cum spiritu tuo.' 'And' and 'with' are correct but the two most important words 'your spirit' have vanished to be replaced by the banal phrase which many of us will be pleased to say goodbye to.

santoeusebio said...

Surely the reason for "And with you" is that we no longer believe in spirits or souls or anything supernatural. I keep noticing changes that were made in the translations - deliberately in my view by materialists who had lost their faith.

"... for our good, and the good of all his Church" No longer "holy Church" as of course we now know the Church is not holy.

"We believe..." well I suppose there will be some amongst us who taken together believe the lot but I, personally, have my reservations.

"... but only say the word and I shall be healed" - none of that nonsense about my eternal soul.

"What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world but suffers the loss of his life". Life as a translation of "animus" in the Latin or "Psyche" in the Greek! It destroys the whole point of the saying which now invites the retort "You may as well enjoy it while you have got it"

"Happy are ..." instead of "Blessed are... " - good grief.

If Douai is a bit old-fashioned why not go back to Knox for all the readings but then he was a bit too bright for the hierarchy!

Nicolas Bellord

Ignatius said...

"Speaking recently to someone about the new translations: they couldn't quite see the point, in particular they couldn't see the point of, "And with your Spirit." And that, indeed, is the point!"
This is too clever for me and, I suspect, many people who have become used to the formula "and also with you." To say that its use has somehow distanced us from sanctifying grace seems to be attributing a quasi-magical power to mere words, which, though important, are not the same as the realities to which they point. One can be using all the "right" words and hardly be praying at all, or using fewer or no words at all and be praying very deeply and intently. Praying (as in lex orandi) is not confined to words. Like others I have never been enamoured of "and also with you." It does, however, express accurately what the Latin "et cum spiritu tuo" means, as "spirit" in English is not just equivalent to "spiritus" in Latin (nor to French esprit, Italian spirito or German Geist) - the Latin "spiritus" is a metonym for the whole person, i.e. you. To change now to "and with your spirit" really is likely to distance people from their worship and God, like much else in the new translation.

janeinthemindfield said...

it is true that one can pray powerfully without words, but this does not mean that words are unimportant. words can be poetry and also an invocation. saying "and with your spirit", immediately invokes he idea of the spiritual world. with enough focus that word can be a bridge between us and that very realm.

Physiocrat said...

As I said previously, the Swedish is "And with thy Spirit", the language having retained the second person singular.

Strange that the English translators had to change the obvious, especially since the Anglicans had been using it for the past four centuries.

What was that really about?

Ignatius said...

'Spirit' and 'spiritual world' in English are more likely to convey something nebulous and other-worldly, a realm quite other than the world in which we live, but to be a spiritual person in the sense of St. Paul is to live one's human life as a person indwelt by the Spirit of God - it is not really other-worldly, but this-worldly. This is one reason why translations surely need to take account of the nature of the language being translated into, the meanings of words, idioms etc., as the new translation does not. Merely paraphrasing from Latin does not necessarily convey the same meaning in English.

santoeusebio said...

Ignatius: But what word would you use to translate "spiritu" other than "spirit"? If the word "spirit" in English has lost some of its meaning then should one not try to restore it? Thereby reminding us that we are spiritual beings, embodied spirits and not just a bunch of cells or an arrangement of particles.

Nicolas Bellord

santoeusebio said...

But Ignatius I ask again "What word would you use?" If spirit has lost some of its meaning we surely need to restore it - to constantly remind people that we are spiritual beings not just collections of genes, cells, particles, matter etc which so many sadly believe.

Nicolas Bellord

Ignatius said...

Santoeusebio, I don't know how I would translate it. I don't care for 'And also with you,' but we do need some such formula which will convey in English what the Latin means. 'And with your spirit' does not do so, and like much else in the new tr. reproduces what seems to me a stilted Latinate diction that is not much improvement on what we have now have.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Reading Physiocrat's understanding of Swedish, the problem of translation in English is compounded by the possessive pronoun which precedes the noun and how it has evolved in English. I am sure that Swedish has its own set of unique problems also.

If this was an IT problem, I would recommend that the customer go back to the orginal program and support that instead of trying these different upgrades. It would be cheaper and easier for a priest to run Latin courses (support?) in the parish hall then go through this madness for which there is no enthusiasm.

Lee Lovelock said...

I have a better recommendation, how about people learn their Latin and go back to what The sadly mismashed Pauline Mass dictated which was for the majority of The Mass to be said in Latin or just entirely in Latin. What is it with the need for the vernacular in 'Liturgy'. We are not like the Orthodox but we are Catholics in the literal sense of universal and in the Latin Rite, we were united by One mass, with one tongue;we are disunited by liberal catholic to conservative catholic, english mass to spanish mass, Eucharistic prayer I to Eucharistic Prayer IV. I pray for the day when we as Catholics return to what was sound and pleasing to Our Lord.

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