[The Priest genuflects, reverences the altar with a kiss, goes to the presiders chair, leads us in the Sign of the Cross, and then says:]
Priest: The Lord be with you.
Congregation: And with your Spirit. (From here the changes in words will be denoted by italics.)
The greeting and response acknowledges and expresses a desire that the Lord be present to the Spirit, that is, present in the Soul of each member and in the entire community.
“Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in their midst” (Mt 18:20).
The priest asks it for the people and the people ask it for the priest. This initial dialogue establishes the interdependence of the priest and the people as they take up their roles in praising God. This also begins the dialogue that happens between the priest and the congregation throughout the Mass.
We repeat this exchange several times during the course of the Mass, each time the Priest (or the Deacon at the Gospel) greets the congregation with “The Lord be with you, “ the congregation responds with “And with your Spirit.”
“The Lord be with your Spirit” (2 Tim 4:22).
“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with your Spirit, [Amen]” ( cf. Gal 6:18 & Philemon v. 25).