SISTER Mary Coloe’s excellent Centrepoint article on Matthew’s Gospel (CL Easter Sunday 2008) highlights the importance and significance of an underestimated liturgical prayer.
Several times during the English Mass the priest says to the congregation: “… The Lord be with you …”; and the congregation replies: “… and also with you …”
The Latin formula of “Dominus Vobiscum” (the Lord be with You) receives a different response on behalf of the congregation: “Et Cum Spiritu Tuo” ( and with your spirit).
WC Van Unnik (1958) suggested that the early Church took up this extended formula in the face of its deep experience of the life of the Spirit.
Its use in liturgy was a spontaneous creation of the Christian Church following the Old Testament which had made magisterial use of the expression “The Lord is with you”.
Essentially the form of words described the dynamic activity of God’s Spirit manifestly and overtly given to chosen individuals enabling them to do a particular work of God.
Noticeably the Rosary also adopts Matthew’s literary technique of an “inclusion” ie the Gospel opens with a “promise” (Emmanuel meaning “God with us” – Mt 1:23) and closes with its “fulfilment” (Mt 28:20 – Jesus always with us).
The Mysteries of the Rosary begin with the Annunciation (a promise) and conclude with the Crowning of Mary in Heaven (fulfilment of the promise).
The “Hail Mary” itself is also structured this way. It also opens with the words from the Annunciation: “… Rejoice O Highly Favoured One, the Lord is with you” (promise) and concludes in the second part of the prayer with an address to Mary as “holy” in the light of her Assumption into Heaven (completion).
Therefore as often as we attend a Mass or say a Rosary, we invoke the great scriptural message that God is always with us through His Spirit active in our lives.
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