Monday, December 3, 2012

Devotion for today: The Lord be with you…

In our year of faith study of the Mass, we now look at the beautiful greeting which welcomes us into the holiness of the Mass.

Scriptures for meditation:  Ruth 2:4: And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem; and he said to the reapers, ‘The Lord be with you!’ And they answered, ‘The Lord bless you.’ 

1 Chronicles 22:11,16: Now, my son, the Lord be with you, so that you may succeed in building the house of the Lord your God, as he has spoken concerning you…. The Lord be with you!

2 Tm 4:22: The Lord be with your spirit.

Phil 4:23: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us: 446 In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the ineffable Hebrew name YHWH, by which God revealed himself to Moses, is rendered as Kyrios, "Lord". From then on, "Lord" becomes the more usual name by which to indicate the divinity of Israel's God. The New Testament uses this full sense of the title "Lord" both for the Father and - what is new - for Jesus, who is thereby recognized as God Himself. 451 Christian prayer is characterized by the title "Lord", whether in the invitation to prayer ("The Lord be with you"), its conclusion ("through Christ our Lord") or the exclamation full of trust and hope: Maran atha ("Our Lord, come!") or Marana tha ("Come, Lord!") - "Amen Come Lord Jesus!"

Mike Aquilina tells us: …The greeting…is more than a “Hi, how are ya?” It’s an important moment highlighting the Spirit’s power to transform not only the elements offered in the Mass, but also the communicants who partake of the sacrament…. St. John Chrysostom… held that the congregation’s response, “And with your spirit,” is an implicit profession of faith in the power of the sacrament of holy orders. Chrysostom’s claims demand our closest attention:  “If the Holy Spirit were not in this your common father and teacher, you would not, just now, when he ascended this holy chair and wished you all peace, have cried out with one accord, ‘And with your spirit.'Thus you cry out to him, not only when he ascends his throne and when he speaks to you and prays for you, but also when he stands at this holy altar to offer the sacrifice. He does not touch that which lies on the altar before wishing you the grace of our Lord, and before you have replied to him, ‘And with your spirit.' By this cry, you are reminded that he who stands at the altar does nothing, and that the gifts that repose there are not the merits of a man; but that the grace of the Holy Spirit is present and, descending on all, accomplishes this mysterious sacrifice. We indeed see a man, but it is God who acts through him. Nothing human takes place at this holy altar.” One 20th century commentator, Maurice Zundel, spoke of it as a rallying cry. The priest issues it as a summons whenever the Church is about to do something new in the liturgy — launch the Mass, proclaim the Gospel, make the offering, or dismiss the faithful to be Christ to the world. At every new beginning in our Mass, we draw nearer to the divine mystery. We draw closer than Moses was on Mount Sinai, closer than the high priest had been in the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem Temple. We need the Lord to be with us. We need the Spirit of Christ as we advance. Because that’s the only way we can be safe, so close to the divine fire. In our sacramental liturgy, the things of nature are elevated to supernatural significance. It happens with bread. It happens with wine. It happens with common words. They can speak with power that’s supernatural, and they can effect what they signify. They don’t need great pomp to do this. But clarity and completeness can only help. Liturgical formality is, of course, no guarantee of congregational reverence. It’s funny that in another long passage where St. John Chrysostom analyzes the meaning of “And with your spirit,” he also decries the irreverence he witnesses in church every Sunday. In the old days, he pointed out, the houses became churches; now, he said, the churches have become mere houses, where Christians behave with casualness and carelessness, heedless of the divine mystery in their midst. He continues in an imploring tone, “When I say, ‘Peace be unto you,’ and you say, ‘And with your spirit,’ say it not with the voice only, but also with the mind; not in mouth only, but in understanding also.” That should be our rallying cry today. May the Lord indeed be with us!

My thoughts: Although we are examining the expression “The Lord be with you…” as it appears at the beginning of the Mass, its importance to our faith cannot be understated. Take, for example, the fact that it appears five times in the course of a Mass. We say it in the introductory rites, at the Gospel, at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer, in the Communion rite and, in the concluding rites. The new translation makes it perfectly clear what is happening at this moment: the priest is calling the Lord into our lives, and we are acknowledging His presence in the priest. Let us ponder the beautiful and powerful event occurring at this age-old utterance, and remain throughout the Mass in a posture and attitude worthy of being in the Lord’s presence.

Prayer: Prayer for Priests (St. Catherine of Siena)
[Father,] I beseech You, direct the hearts and wills of the servants of Your Bride, the Holy Church, unto yourself so that they may follow the poor, bleeding, humble, and gentle Lamb of God on the way of the Cross. Make them angels in the shape of men; for after all, they have to administer and distribute the Body and Blood of Your Only Begotten Son! Amen (

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