Missa – Dominus Vobiscum
The second part of the Introductory Rite of the Mass is a greeting/blessing which like the sign of the cross will reappear through the Liturgy. Dominus vobiscum is Latin for “The Lord be with you.”, which is the most simple, and probably the most recognized expression. The response to this is “And with your spirit” or “Et cum spiritu tuo”.
In my youth we used to respond “And also with you” but recent reforms to render the english closer to the latin have been made. I like the new translation, not only because it fits the latin better, but because it sets a better standard. The idea of the spirit of man. When we greet each other we are greeting the deepest part of all of us, not just another body, or another stranger, but a person as God sees them, “a living soul”. During this part of the mass we are greeting the priest or person presiding the service, but later we will greet each other in a similar way. This is the sign of peace and the same terms are used here between family, friends and fellow believers. Ultimately it is a symbol of unity and fellowship among all believers whether clergy or layman, old or young, and friend or stranger.
In the liturgy there are two other greetings which may also be used:
(A)The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with you all.
(B)The grace and peace of God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
To which we also respond with “And with your spirit” or in some cases we can respond to the (B) options with “Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Dominus Vobiscum is the (C) response, and what you will see through the rest of the liturgy are similar options for prayers, readings and such. These will be listed in the Missal, which if you are new to the mass may itself be a bit intimidating to get through. But what is nice is that over time, the responses are learned and become an automatic part of our participation. The mass begins to take shape and we can move with it not as spectators but as participants. This function of the Mass, is essential to the religious community. It means we are all part of what is going on, all needed, and all important. We are not a mere audience listening to a man preach or coming for a show, but rather part of a mystical body who play their part to make up the whole church in the collective work of the liturgy.
In my youth, I recall hearing this phrase, or rather an aberration of it in a very interesting place. It was a movie which practically changed the way we look at space. Yes, you guessed it. Star Wars. And while you can probably find hints of just about every culture, religion and politic throughout the series; everything from the Samurai, Mafia, Roman Empire, Pirates and Farmers, it was the phrase “May the Force be with you” that really stuck with just about everyone I knew. I recognized the idea immediately, and not just because the guy saying it was dressed like a monk. I could see it hinting at the “Dominus vobiscum” of the liturgy and in a way making it kind of cool. Like Aslan, Jean Valjean, Neo, and Tom Bombadill; or the many other figures from literature and movies which draw their typology from biblical stories and people, it brought an idea which many would avoid or steer clear of because it was “religious” and placed it in a story, a parable, and suddenly it became a cultural symbol.