Do you ever notice how we greet one another? We might look one another in the eye or maybe we smile and utter a friendly “Hello,” “How are you,” or “How’s it going?” In Australia, you will be greeted with an upbeat “G’day mate, how ya goin’?” In parts of Austria and Southern Germany, you will hear “Grüß Gott.” This common salutation literally means greet God. It is another way of saying “God bless you,” a way to acknowledge that the presence of God is with the person who receives the greeting.
Likewise, at the beginning of the liturgy, we are greeted with words that acknowledge the presence of God with us as the guidelines for Mass explain:
Then he (the priest) signifies the presence of the Lord to the community gathered there by means of the Greeting. By this greeting and the people’s response, the mystery of the Church gathered together is made manifest. General Instruction of the Roman Missal 50.
The Roman Missal gives the priest three greetings from which to choose:
- The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
- Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The Lord be with you.
All three greetings are rooted in Scripture. For example, in Luke’s Gospel when the angel Gabriel is sent to announce the birth of Jesus, he greets Mary by saying, “Hail favored one! The Lord is with you!”
Greeting A is the only greeting to specifically mention all three persons of the Holy Trinity. It comes from the conclusion of St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. But it is more than a simple “good-bye.” Paul reminds the community that they are to live a new existence, one that reflects “the grace of Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit.” In the same way, this greeting is used at the beginning of our liturgy to remind us that we gather in the name of the triune God who calls us to live in the fellowship and love of the Holy Trinity not only during the Mass, but long after the liturgy has ended.