why "et cum spiritu tuo"?

Here is something I’ve never understood the reason for:

In the tridentine, eastern liturgies and soon to be reformed ordinary form, the latin states “dominus vobiscum” (the lord is with you, although why there is no ‘est’ between the subject nominative and ablative plural pronoun i don’t know either. shouldnt there be a linking verb in there as well?) and the response has been traditionally “et cum spiritu tuo” (and with your spirit). what is the reason behind just “and with your spirit”? why is the lord with JUST the priest’s spirit? i always liked the NO (and also with you, “et quoque tecum”) because to me it implied the lord was with the priest’s physical and emotional person as well as his spirit. the traditional response always seemed to be theologically lacking to me, unlike what appears to be the fuller implication of the NO.

what is the reason behind and defense for using “and with your spirit”? in depth answers are most welcome. thanks.

The OF formula is “Et cum spiritu tuo” (not “et quoque tecum.”) I have watched and attended quite a few OF Masses where Latin is used, and the response is always “Et cum spirtu tuo.”

The substandard ICEL translation was “And also with you.” Not only was it a substandard translation, it was also substandard English as any copy editor or English teacher would tell you because “and” and “also” are redundant.

Not exactly.

“And” is a conjunction; one does not normally start a sentence with a conjunction. This construction implies that it is continuing a prior sentence or fragment.
“also” is not a conjuction, it’s an adjective on the object, indicating plural object, specifically an unspecified additional object.
“with you” is a preposition and object of said preposition. It is a dependent clause, not a sentence.

It is as if there is a third party speaking:
To the people: The Lord be with you …
then, to the celebrant: … and also with you.

The answer “And also with you.” is bad not becuase of the 1st two words, but because it is not a sentence. To make a sentence out of it requires additions and a deletion: “-]And/-] May it also be with you.” But that’s even FURTHER from the latin…

To the people: Dominus vobiscum … (The Lord be with you)
then, to the celebrant: … et cum spirtu tua. (and with spirit yours).
Again, a third party type dialog.

It’s a construct that is gramatically poor in either language, but conveys a specific meaning despite its grammatical idiosyncrasies.

The following Q&A from USCCB’s website might be of assistance to you:

  1. Why has the response et cum spiritu tuo been translated as and with your spirit?
    The retranslation was necessary because it is a more correct rendering of et cum spiritu tuo. Recent scholarship has recognized the need for a more precise translation capable of expressing the full meaning of the Latin text.
  1. What about the other major languages? Do they have to change their translations?
    No. English is the only major language of the Roman Rite which did not translate the word spiritu. The Italian (E con il tuo spirito), French (Et avec votre esprit), Spanish (Y con tu espíritu) and German (Und mit deinem Geiste) renderings of 1970 all translated the Latin word spiritu precisely.
  1. Has the Holy See ever addressed this question?
    In 2001, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments published an instruction entitled, Liturgiam authenticam, subtitled, On the Use of Vernacular Languages in the Publication of the Books of the Roman Liturgy. The instruction directs specifically that: “Certain expressions that belong to the heritage of the whole or of a great part of the ancient Church, as well as others that have become part of the general human patrimony, are to be respected by a translation that is as literal as possible, as for example the words of the people’s response Et cum spiritu tuo, or the expression mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa in the Act of Penance of the Order of Mass.”2
  1. Where does this dialogue come from?
    The response et cum spiritu tuo is found in the Liturgies of both East and West, from the earliest days of the Church. One of the first instances of its use is found in the Traditio Apostolica of Saint Hippolytus, composed in Greek around AD 215.
  1. How is this dialogue used in the Liturgy?
    The dialogue is only used between the priest and the people, or exceptionally, between the deacon and the people. The greeting is never used in the Roman Liturgy between a non-ordained person and the gathered assembly.
  1. Why does the priest mean when he says “The Lord be with you”?
    By greeting the people with the words “The Lord be with you,” the priest expresses his desire that the dynamic activity of God’s spirit be given to the people of God, enabling them to do the work of transforming the world that God has entrusted to them.
  1. What do the people mean when they respond “and with your spirit”?
    The expression et cum spiritu tuo is only addressed to an ordained minister. Some scholars have suggested that spiritu refers to the gift of the spirit he received at ordination. In their response, the people assure the priest of the same divine assistance of God’s spirit and, more specifically, help for the priest to use the charismatic gifts given to him in ordination and in so doing to fulfill his prophetic function in the Church.

Personally, I find “And also with you” quite childish, the kind of response kids rebut to each other when he was insulted by another and had no wittier response. I’ve stopped using it entirely, and will almost always respond in Latin.

“And with your spirit” also reveals the Jewish origin of the greeting more clearly. The Jewish usage of the word “spirit” always includes the whole person, by refering to the part of the person that is most important, most in the image and likeness of God. Thus the liturgical response, “And with your spirit”, acknowledges the presence of God with the priest in his totality, by refering to that which is most precious to him: his spirit.

The liturgical traditions of East and West has from the earliest times reserved this greeting for the ordained ministers of the Church. It has been described by some Church Fathers that this greeting alludes to the request that God’s Spirit will be with the priest’s spirit, so that Jesus is presiding over the Church through the priest.

That’s an easy question… ‘Est’ does not need to be there. It is a nominal sentence. From Collins’ A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin (Unit 4, P. 29):

In a short sentence the present tense of sum ‘to be’ may be omitted if there is an expressed subject. Such a sentence lacking a verb is a nominal sentence.

Thankyou everyone. After reading the explanation given on the usccb website the explanation for using the phrase seems to make a lot of sense. although, i dont think most catholics would know the whole thing about the jewish origins of the word spirit. i think the church may have to do some serious education for the faithful once the new translation comes out so people understand why the changes have been made.

also, thankyou to the poster who explained to me the rule about sum being ommitted in ecclesial latin. im currently being trained in the classical, so obviously the omission of the copulative verb made no sense to me.

You’re welcome. I’m glad I was able to put my almost-one-semester of latin to use. :slight_smile: And having only studied ecclesiastical latin, I did not know that rule doesn’t exist in classical. So I learned something too. Thanks.

For what it’s worth, in ALL the classical rites of East and West, the response is “and with your spirit,” whether the languge is Greek, Slavonic, one of the Semitic languages, Coptic, Arabic, or Ge’ez.

“And also with you” is NOT what “kai to pnevmati sou” means.

Something used by this many languages and cultures so widely spread strongly suggests a common Apostolic root dto me.

Excellent! Thanks so much!


i think the church may have to do some serious education for the faithful once the new translation comes out so people understand why the changes have been made.

Of course questions may arise as to why little training was given to the faithful forty years ago when the vernacular was first appearing, why Et cum spiritu tuo was mistranslated into English at that time, and why it took four decades to realize/correct the error.

All the more reason for the mass in the vernacular; since nobody speaks latin anymore, we cannot be 100% certain of the translations or pronunciations. One less thing to argue about.

Don’t mean to stir the pot…:blush:

**The word ‘spirit’ denotes more of an in-depth reality (the immortal soul) than the words “also with you” which is generic. Also, it is good to keep in mind that “Et cum spiritu tuo” is a greeting which can only be made by a Christian assembly TO AN ORDAINED MAN since the reference is to the *spirit of holy ordination *which is central in his celebrating the holy Eucharist/Mass aright in Christ’s name. **

All the more reason for the mass in the vernacular; since nobody speaks latin anymore, we cannot be 100% certain of the translations or pronunciations. One less thing to argue about.

Huh??? Doesn’t that suggest the opposite??? :confused:

I’m curious, why do you think “et cum spirtuo tuo” is a grammatically poor construct in Latin? Which rules does it break?

I’ve studied a little bit of Latin, but I don’t recall anything to suggest that this is poor grammar.

Also, I believe you made a typo. The possessive adjective tua, tuae should be in the ablative, and so it should be “tuo” not “tua”

Come to think of it, maybe, in a way. Since so very few of us know latin, we’re taking the translation for granted, or more seriously, just saying the words without knowing what they really mean (in Latin).

I guess I’d rather understand what’s being said in my own language than struggle in a foreign language. Either way we’re depending on someone else’s translation.

Moot point, I guess, since my parish has mass in English.

My cases are poor.

It’s a fragment, in either language. In English, it’s an actual violation of the rules of the language. In latin, it is an unusual form. Latin is more forgiving of implied subject and verb… but it is still an incomplete thought.

Ah, I see where you’re coming from. I thought you had a problem with the use of the ablative or something.

I guess that makes sense, but keep in mind that the liturgy is almost poetic, so it’s okay to bend the rules.

The fact that “et cum spirtu tuo” is a very ancient phrase, is reason enough to leave it alone. Not that you were implying that it should change or anything like that.

heh, as I corrected your case, I realize that I’m constantly misspelling “spiritu”.

This is a trick question.
Et cum spirituo tuo, as we all should know, is code for the Pope’s phone number:
ECS -2-2-0.
How’s that?

Many of us realized this and the hundreds of other errors in translation and theology almost immediately. Two popes have been pushing English speaking bishops to correct these defective translations for decades and dissident bishops for whatever reasons have fought them every step of the way to maintain the banal and faulty status quo.