The Jews, the Latin Mass, and Good Friday

Robert Mickens, the Tablet’s Rome correspondent, has a brief piece in that mag’s latest issue, on the recently revised prayer from the "Tridentine rite," for Good Friday. "The Tablet" For those who haven’t followed the controversy, here it is in short: When Pope Benedict issued his "motu proprio" allowing a wider usage of the Latin Mass, one of the more contentious issues that arose was that the prayers for Good Friday reflected a pre-Vatican II approach to the Jewish people. Good Friday is approaching, and so are those prayers, at least in parishes that will be using the Latin Mass. Catholic News Service reports the new text as follows: "The text, made available only in Latin with no official translations, begins: "Let us pray for the Jews. May the Lord our God enlighten their hearts so that they may acknowledge Jesus Christ, the savior of all men." It continues: "Almighty and everlasting God, you who want all men to be saved and to reach the awareness of the truth, graciously grant that, as the full number of the Gentiles comes into your church, all Israel may be saved." Here’s Mickens with more: ...The revised prayer [that is, the prayer that followed Vatican II] removes references to "the blindness of that people," that they "be delivered from their darkness" and that God "may take the veil from their hearts." And already in 1959 Pope John XXIII had removed a reference to the "perfidious Jews." However, the post-Vatican II reformed Roman Rite re-drafted the Good Friday prayers, which also included prayers for the conversion of "heretics and schismatics" (Protestants and Orthodox) and "pagans" (all non-Christians). In reference to the Jews, the English translation of the Missal of 1970 reads: "Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant. Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Listen to your church as we pray that the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption." Rabbis di Segni [the Chief Rabbi of Rome] and Rosen [Chairman of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations], said that Jewish groups "had hoped the prayer in the [Tridentine] rite would be the same as that of the universal Catholic liturgy in use since 1970." What do our Catholic readers think about the latest changes? What do our Jewish readers think about them? What does everyone else think? James Martin, S.J.
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9 years 8 months ago
The most disturbing thing about this prayer is that it is not consistent with earlier Church teaching found in "Nostra Aetate" and other statements by, among others, Cardinal Kasper. Kasper in particular has taken pains to assure our Jewish friends that the Catholic Church has absolutely no plans nor reason to aim for "converting" Jews -- the Covenant has never ended between God and His people. Once again, the left hand at the Vatican acts without the knowledge of the right hand. Who is in charge over there?
9 years 8 months ago
I was so disappointed when I first heard about this a few days ago. What on EARTH is Benedict thinking? Why couldn't we just replace the problematic prayer with the one from 1970? I mean, I KNOW what he's thinking; he doesn't want to say there's no reason a Jewish person should convert to Catholicism; I know there are important theological points here. But sometimes, particularly on an issue like this, it's better just to be VAGUE, like the 1970 prayer. The liturgy doesn't HAVE to take a position on this issue. And putting that prayer in there will likely do more harm than good. Didn't we used to use that verse "cast not your pearls before swine" to justify keeping our mouths shut about certain things? In other words, the Pope has to learn to be more "Jesuitical." ;) Beyond that, haven't there been other documents or statements from the Vatican that have almost danced around with the idea that Jewish people don't have to convert, or that the original covenant is still valid, etc., etc.? Haven't we found a way to do a Doctrinal Moonwalk on this one yet, i.e., to save the appearance of moving one way while actually moving in the opposite direction? Maybe all of this is Benedict having fun playing pranks on Cardinal Kasper or whoever else deals with ecumenical and interreligious issues. "Walter, wait'll you see the present I've left on your desk THIS time!" -- "Oh Lord, what now..." -- "Just wait; next I'm calling for the return of the papal states!"
9 years 8 months ago
The poster Mr. Cleary is absolutely correct -- we don't tell God how to go about his plan when we pray. Not even Jesus did that ('not my will . . .'). Moreover, our prayers don't seek to 'make nice' to non-Catholics. All people are welcome to our services, giving them an opportunity to observe and perhaps consider our faith for themselves. 'Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.'
9 years 8 months ago
I think His Holiness Pope Benedict prayed long and hard over this matter. Guided by the Holy Spirit he has drafted this new prayer for use in the Extraordinary Rite. We as Catholics can rest assured that it is pleasing to Our Father in Heaven. Jesus Christ the Crucified God will always be a sign of contradiction. We need to fast and pray more ourselves so that our lives become an example to those around us of the Truth of God's Mercy and Love for all mankind. I'm going to pray this new prayer myself every day for the rest of Lent and encourage everyone to do likewise and trust in God's providence.
9 years 8 months ago
Looking at the prayer for the Intercessions on Good Friday, it follows with the Church's call to spread the Gospel to all people. We believe Christ died for all people and for everyones salvation. Although a ecumenical sticking point, the fullness of truth lies within the Catholic Church. This pray asks that God may enlighten their hearts to understand this fact. It will cause debate, but it is a far better translation than the Pre-Vatican II version of the Good Friday prayer.
9 years 8 months ago
Appears to be another unexpected slip. The proposed prayer does not reflect any of the Vatican II ecumenical or biblical approaches - it is not poetic but recalls an earlier triumphant Church. Our goal is Christian Unity; not imposing the perfect 1950's church triumphant. Some see B16 as using "affirmative orthodoxy" - unfortunately, this prayer reflects orthodoxy with no positive or hopeful words that point to our shared history as the family of Abraham.
9 years 8 months ago
Nostra Aetate does not stand for the proposition that there is no mission to convert the Jews. That does not represent Catholic teaching. Which Covenant is Mr. Hovey referring when he says "the Covenant has never ended between God and His People"? It has to be the Covenant with Abraham. Pope John Paul noted this when he met with Jewish representatives in Sydney Australia: "Where Catholics are concerned, it will continue to be an explicit and very important part of my mission to repeat and emphasize that our attitude to the Jewish religion should be one of the greatest respect, since the Catholic faith is rooted in the eternal truths contained in the Hebrew Scriptures, and in the irrevocable covenant made with Abraham." (Sydney, Australia, November 26, 1986) The Epistle to the Hebrews notes that this promise to Abraham and his descendants his fulfilled in the New Covenant. Hence there is a mission to the Jews to realize the fullness of the Promise.
9 years 8 months ago
It makes no sense to me that a new prayer was written when the 1970 prayer could easily have been substituted. That would have given a subtle affirmation to the ordinary rite. Is this a message that the extraordinary rite may continue to be "tweaked" with the result that we will have a third "middle" rite?
9 years 8 months ago
The problem with the 1970 prayer is that it really does pray for anything concrete. The beauty of the old and revised prayers for the Jews in the traditional Latin liturgy is that it has a clear purpose: to pray for the conversion of Jews to the Roman Catholic Church. This is the greatest thing we can do for Jews, is it not? Certainly there are not people here who are content with Jews rejecting the Catholic Church and, thus, going to Hell?
9 years 8 months ago
If pious Jews believe, as they presumably do, that their religion is revealed by God, why are they not trying to convert us? Do they suppose we are not good enough to be included among God's elect? I find it a little insulting that they do NOT proselytize. And I should think that if they presume we believe what we say we believe, they should likewise wonder if we do not ask them to join us in the Faith.
9 years 8 months ago
As Jew, I think these types of liturgical issues within the Latin Roman Catholic Liturgy have any meaning. The problem for us Jews is about the effects of these written and human texts. Does the Roman Catholic Church come back to the time of the Inquisition?. Yes or No? This is the question. To be or not to be?
9 years 8 months ago
It disappoints me that the language of the Good Friday Prayer at Mass is going back to pre-Vatican II. Now, above all times, the Church does not need to go back to its DARK AGES.
9 years 8 months ago
It seems to me that the Pope has given us a great gift in this new prayer. Since it reflects the latest trends of thought in Rome, and is the most up-to-date formulation yet, I see no reason why the revised prayer should only replace the prayer in the 1962 ("extraordinary") missal. Why not use this one for the ordinary form too? It would be a shame for the 1970 missal to appear to express an outmoded theology with respect to our Jewish friends.
9 years 8 months ago
Given another opportunity to clearly break away from our Church's sad and painful legacy of mistreatment and bigotry towards the Jewish people, this latest “modification" disappoints. It is not clear if the Vatican is tone deaf, or simply is pandering to a reactionary minority that will never accept the legitimacy of Vatican II or both. Either way, I must respectfully disagree with other writers who state the 1970 Good Friday prayer doesn't pray for anything concrete. When I pray this Good Friday for the fullness of redemption for the Jewish people, I pray not with the presumption that I can tell God how he should accomplish this redemption but rather with the humility of one who can not earn his redemption but receives it only by the grace of a merciful and loving God. What could be more concrete then praying for God's grace for the nation of his parents, family and apostles and followers?
9 years 8 months ago
I blogged a bit about this subject myself; in short, I don't believe the prayer is respectful of the Jewish people. With our Christian roots in the Jewish faith, of all the traditions out there one would think we'd hold Judaism in the highest respect. May our own hearts be enlightened on this subject.
9 years 8 months ago
Jesus was born and raised a Jewish man. Yet because of His Baptism in the Jordon River, He went out to the desert to prepare for ministry. He knew the Word because Truth was always there. The Word was both in and with God. He didn't preach to create a new religion but challenged existing structure with His Wisdom. He wanted those who practiced the precepts of Faith to know what they were. When we overemphasize our difference forsaking our similarities we do Him an injustice. Sure we can pray that those who seek Him, will find Him and that He will make Himself known to our Hearts but the reason behind the changes in policy was an act of outrage against a portion of humanity, or have you forgotten the sacrifice of St. Maximillian Kolbe. Or have we simply gone back to the words of Eugenics, that condemned lives to Death.
9 years 8 months ago
I am puzzled by the dismay. Whoever said this was a throwback to pre-Vatican II (ahem) 'Dark Ages' language is precisely wrong. This is why the prayer had its language updated. However, if we as Catholics believe in the salvific and redemptive power of Christ and in His Church (and at last count, we did) why wouldn't we pray that others come to that same belief? How does it show disrespect to pray that God ILLUMINATES hearts in the direction of His Church? After all we are not praying for God to smite anyone, nor are we calling fire down on those who believe differently. The 1970 prayer was not used (I surmise) for two simple reasons: 1- To demonstrate the 1962 Missal is a living and organic thing (important, because I believe the Holy Father wants the Extraordinary form used), and 2- To underscore the differences between the Extraordinary Form and the Ordinary Form. Is the prayer in the Extraordinary Form more pointed (or more precise, depending on your stance)? Yes, it is. But it also serves to underscore the belief it is valid and legitimate for Catholics to desire Jews (and Protestants, and Muslims, and...) to see the light of Christ and His Church. After all, in a weak-tea sort of way the 1970 prayer asks exactly the same thing. It's not a prayer for God to make nice to one group or another. In sum, it would be a massive disservice to leave anyone out in our prayerful desire that all people come to Christ and His Church. You simply cannot love humanity unless you prayerfully desire all people to come to know Christ sacramentally. Not really sure why this is so complicated.
9 years 8 months ago
Firstly, shame on the Catholics who keep referring to the Good Friday Liturgy as a "Mass." Mass is NEVER said on Good Friday. Secondly, every Christian must believe in the conversion of non-believers and must work toward that end either through active evangelization (a euphemism for proselytizing) or through prayer. It is our duty if we believe Jesus is the way to salvation. To deny that is to deny Him and all the holy evangelizers the have gone before us starting with the apostles. Thirdly, if Jews do not believe Jesus is God, how can they believe that a prayer for their acceptance of Jesus Christ would have any efficacy? Lastly, Gerald Scott makes a good point about the attitude of Jews toward converting others to Judaism. My experience has been that they are very much against it. One Jewish friend told me that he liked being a Jew because it was like "belonging to an exclusive club." Another told me she was alarmed at how many Jews were converting to Christianity after entering inter-religious marriages. In her words: "This only perpetuates a Jewish minority.” With such a mindset it is difficult for Jews to understand the Christian idea of a universal Gospel to be preached to everyone.
9 years 8 months ago
I have a question for all, why is that the Jewish leaders feel they have the right to tell the Catholics how they can and cannot practice their Faith. Do we tell them what should and should not in their Talmud as an example? This has been a 45 year one way road folks and now maybe we should tell them that in the spirit of "dialog" that we have a few changes ourselves as to how they practice their Faith. Anyone dare to guess their reaction to this suggestion?

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