Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Prayer for the Jews Changed

The Pope has apparently decide to change the prayer for the Jewish people in the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite on Good Friday:

It was from 1962:

Let us pray also for the Jews: that almighty God may remove the veil from
their hearts; so that they too may acknowledge Jesus Christ our Lord.

Almightly and everlasting God, you do not refuse your mercy even to
the Jews; hear the prayers which we offer for the blindness of that people so
that they may acknowledge the light of your truth, which is Christ, and be
delivered from their darkness.

It will be from this year onwards

Let us also pray for the Jews: that God our Lord might enlighten their
hearts, so that they might know Jesus Christ as the Saviour of all Mankind.

Almighty and eternal God, whose desire it is that all men might be saved and
come to the knowledge of truth, grant in your mercy that as the fullness of
mankind enters into your Church, all Israel may be saved, through Christ our
Lord. Amen.

Compare it to the Ordinary Form which will be used in most parished this Holy Week:

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

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. We ask this
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The 1962 version changed the words of the previous version which spoke of "perfidious Jews" perfidious meaning in Latin unbelieving, rather than anything detrimental, though in most European languages it came to mean "untrustworthy".
Th revised form removes the phrases "veil from their hearts", "blindness of that people" and "delivered from their darkness", which modern sensitivities should find distasteful. What remains in the new version is that Christ remains central and the source of salvation and that we pray for the Jews that they might know Jesus Christ as the Saviour of all Mankind.

The Ordinary Form, which most of the Church will use this Good Friday, says nothing of conversion or of encounter with Christ, it expresses the new teaching of the Second Vatican Council that the Old Covenants of the the Old Testament have not be replaced by the New and Everlasting Covenant of Christ but they are still in force. It strikes me that up until the Council exactly the opposite was universal teaching of the Church. The Covenants of the Old Testament were a prohecy or a foretaste of the one which will be made in the blood of the lamb.

Now I have a difficulty, I tend to think the latest prayer is really where the Church has moved in its slow organic development, so, which expresses more accurately the Church's current teaching? Is it the one I will use this Good Friday or the new one in the Extraordinary Form?

It might well be that we just have live with ambiguity for a few years but the different expressions of theology highlight a significant problem.


Chris said...

Fr., do you really think the new prayers are the lex orandi of the teaching of nostra aetate? It seems to me that the new 1962 prayer is the proper way to interpret the intention of the Council and perhaps also the modern prayer. Just unfortunate most Catholics wont actually have the opportunity!

Michael Clifton said...

I think I can help with understanding a proper interpretation of the Novus Ordo prayer which clearly presents difficulties. A good priest told me that the only way in which you could interpret "be faithful to their covenant" is to understand this as stating that their covenant involves accepting that the redeemer has come and fulfilled the old covenant which has now merged into the new Covenant ...ie the Church, the \mystical Body of Christ. I also tend to think that the new version for the old rite is simply giving in to worthless pressures.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Yes, I do, if put into todays cultural context. The Pope's decision seems like "organic growth", the O.F. not quite so.
The current Ordinary Form prayer seems to imply there is no need to evangelise Jews, not quite the thinking of the NT.
I think we must accept God does not retract his promises but in Christ they are excelled. That seems to be current thinking but there are problems.

Henry said...

Surely we should always be praying for conversion? For all of us. For ourselves individually. For each other. It is a continual effort to be turned towards Christ. I am not very good at it.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Fr Michael,
I think the interpretation of the OF, is a little too, err.. "interpreted".

I think maybe the HF is giving us a lesson in "organic development". We are still praying fo conversion but without making offensive remarks or suggesting malicious faithlessness, which the former 1962 prayer, I think, does. It goes back to the occassional Patristic idea of the Jews being supernaturally blinded, almost by divine will.

Moretben said...

This is a disaster. I really didn't think this was going to happen.


Moretben said...

the only way in which you could interpret "be faithful to their covenant" is to understand this as stating that their covenant involves accepting that the redeemer has come and fulfilled the old covenant which has now merged into the new Covenant ...ie the Church, the \mystical Body of Christ. I also tend to think that the new version for the old rite is simply giving in to worthless pressures.

I entirely agree. Catechesis will struggle - and struggle in vain - to correct the implicit dispensationalism (which remains a heresy - dogma does not "develop organically") of the Novus Ordo prayer. This new prayer seems, on repeated readings, if anything even more strongly susceptible of a dispensationalist interpretation.

And now what? What next? 1965 all over again?

Total train wreck.

gemoftheocean said...

I like the new extraordinary form best. I think both forms of the Mass should use it.


Tomas said...

Father, I don't think that the OF is trying to say that the Jews don't need to convert. It may sound like it but then a lot of things around VII can very easily be misinterpreted if we do not base the new documents on the old teaching.

Jews weren't saved under the under the Old Covenant, were they? It is only through Jesus Christ that we may enter eternal life and that includes Jews. The Old Covenant is over for it has been fulfilled by Jesus Christ and replaced by the New.

I think the Conference of American Bishops produced a document where they said something about the Old Covenant still being in place. They were however soon criticized and eventually removed the document.

God bless!

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Every year, the Good Friday intercessions, or I should say, lack of intercessions, particularly over the idea of conversion of Jews, pagans, heretics and the fallen away, are the thing the Church does that brings me closest to believing the sedevacantists are right.

That you have confirmed (again) that the Church after the Council teaches something opposed to what it did before the Council, just brings it all rushing back. The Church cannot promulgate error. Two opposed ideas cannot both be true. If the Church taught before the Council that the Old Covenant has been replaced with the New and now teaches the opposite, then we have quite a little problem, don't we?

Going with the principle of non-contradiction, there are only a few logical possibilities open to us.

1 - what was taught before the Council was wrong. this would mean that the Church, in this most fundamental area of the Faith, was wrong for 1965 years. That our Faith is, as Paul said, futile.

2 - what was taught before the Council was right and the documents of V-II have negated and denied it. This leaves us with the inescapable conclusion that V-II was wrong and that everything that has been changed to conform to it has been a deviation from the truth.

Neither of these is very nice, but I know which I think more likely.

Big lies require a lot of maintenance. I have observed in political systems that when a group or country bases its political work on a Big Lie (legal abortion, for example) the longer the lie is maintained, the greater a percentage of your resources must be diverted to maintaining it, you start, in the case of abortion, with the judiciary, then Parliament, then you co-opt the medical establishment, then the media, then education.

The same has happened in the Church. We have had the Big Vatican II, Novus Ordo lie for 40 years. In that time, nearly every aspect of Catholic life has been re-ordered to support it, liturgy, charitable works, catechesis, education, religious life, Catholic involvement in the public square. All these Catholic institutions, the very heart of Catholic life, have been dedicated to the two-fold lie that the Church does not teach what she teaches, and that the calamity that has arisen in the wake of the first lie has not actually happened. (I don't know which part of John Paul II's pontificate irritated me the most, but the constant chirpily cheerful denial that anything serious was going wrong, is a contender.)

I have long believed that Catholicism and Novus Ordoism or Vaticantooism, are different and opposed religious beliefs.

And the Good Friday intercessions have gone a long way to bolstering that belief.

I have managed thus far to withstand the tension it creates, but I have also just moved out of my Oratorian comfort zone to live in the vast and poisonous wasteland that is British Catholicism. Not sure how well it is going to hold up now.

michael petek said...

Tomas, the Old Covenant isn't over in all respects. There were at least three covenants before the New. The only one that has been superseded is the covenant of Moses, which provided for worship according to the Levitical laws and the Temple at Jerusalem, which no longer exists. It had to be superseded because Jesus, being of the tribe of Judah, could not be a priest under the Law of Moses, as this was restricted to the sons of Aaron.

The other two covenants, those of Abraham and of David are in force forever. Jesus is a son of both. Through His Mother He is a son of Israel. Through His legal father Joseph He is a son of David.

The first covenant establishes Israel as a nation. The second establishes the Monarchy and sets David and his sons over Israel forever. Since the Throne has divine right its legal existence and sovereign prerogatives must have been unaffected either by the political destruction of the Kingdom of Judah by the Babylonians or by the fact that the Jews do not recognise the King.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Dr Reid on http://thenewliturgicalmovement.blogspot.com/
Roma locuta est: causa finita est. This traditional maxim of Catholic life needs to be remembered. It refers to the right of the Holy See – and most specifically of the Sovereign Pontiff – to decide on matters of discipline and governance of the Church. Once the arguments have been duly heard and the Supreme Authority decides, loyal Catholics obey: even if they personally disagree about the prudence or otherwise of a decision.

I agree entirely with Dr Reid.

If we have problems with what Peter says, I really think we should have the humility to consider that it might be a deficit in our own understanding or intelligence, or even that given time God might actually fulfil his promise and guide his Church into all Truth.

If one is actually a Sedevacantist, I can see no difference between that and being an apostate. That is an untennable position both intellectually but more importantly, spiritually. Immortal souls are risk there, placed in that position not by the Pope but by pride.

James M said...

Besides being meaningful, and an advance on the 1962 prayer (thus helping bring Catholics closer to truth), I think the new EF prayer will have a strong effect on thoughtful Jews.

It is obvious that Benedict is willing to stick his neck out in order to remove what is an object of pain to many Jews, but that he will not compromise on the Church's constant teaching that Christ alone is Saviour.

This in itself may aid conversions, even before the prayer is prayed.

Sussex Catholic said...

In response to Hilary I would respectfully add that there is in fact a third possibility. This is that V.II was not a dogmatic Council, it was a pastoral Council whose intention was to "apply" the teachings of the Church to the (then) contemporary world not to "change" them. The fact that the Council's documents read often (but not always) more like a commentary on the Church's role in the world than a reasserting of immemorial teaching is one of the reasons that they are open to misinterpretation. In the same vein the subsequent liturgical reforms allowed themselves to be deliberately ambiguous about what they meant and in the case of the Good Friday prayer for the Jews require the sort of interpretational gymnastics that Fr.Clifton's colleague felt necessary to perform in order to accept them.

In this pontificate I believe we are seeing finally a genuine attempt to reaffirm immemorial Church teaching in a way more in keeping with what the present Holy Father considers was the true intent of the Council which is to express everything in the light of and in harmony with all previous Councils and Magisterial pronouncements.

I believe that this heralds the beginning of a process which will see the insertion of new Propers and Prefaces into the 1962 Missal as well as the harmonisation of the 2 calendars. These are matters dear to the Pope's heart and are a necessary move forward if the 1962 Missal is to play its full part in the life of the whole Latin Church. No doubt this will come as a bitter pill to many who have become accustomed to the 1962 Missal as a bit of a museum piece, but it is necessary for the long term good of the Church. As Fr.Ray and Dr.Reid have said "Roma Locuta" and we must have trust in the Holy Father that he sees the situation from a broader and longer term perspective than most of us.

Tomas said...

Hilary: the Church does not teach that Jews, heretics or schismatics need not to covert. Yes, the Ordinary form's Good Friday prayer lacks the teeth (which I think it should have) and is quite ambiguous, but it doesn't say imply teach that conversions aren't necessary. You can see that the new prayer still calls for conversion (and directly connects it to salvation) so it's quite clear that the OF prayer must be interpreted in light of the EF prayer (old and new) and the past teaching of the Catholic Church.

It would be very ironic (not to mention wrong and extremely dangerous) if one would leave the Church because of lack of prayers for conversion of people to the Church.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

how then, father, do we answer your original question over the indisputable fact that an impossible contradiction exists between what the Church once taught and what she now appears to profess?

Contradiction is not development, as Newman pointed out.

There must be a better answer to your very reasonable observation than,

"Rome has spoken, so shut up and obey."

Because Rome has spoken a contradictory word. To which, then, do we owe our lawful obedience? To the first teaching? or to that which came later and contradicted it?

It is not enough to tell a questioner to shut up.

Dorothy said...

I am rather distressed at the denunciations of the Holy Father's prayer which are coming from generally orthodox-minded Catholics. They are particularly fierce on another blogsite which I won't name.

While I would not dream of imputing any trace of anti-Semitism to anyone, I do believe it is important for all sides - and I stress "all", to recognise and free oneself of the unfortunate "baggage" that so often accompanies the discussion of the relations between the Catholic Church and Judaism.

To me, this prayer seems both beautiful and sound. It makes me think of Simeon's acclamation of the infant Christ as the light of the Gentiles and the glory of Israel. In effect, it is a prayer that we may all be one, in Christ Jesus.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Hilary asks: must we shut up and obey. The simple answer is: yes, we must, we are not Protestants.

Peter is given the role of strengthening the Brethren, it is to him to feed the sheep and lambs.
It is our role to accept being fed.

Complicating the matter slightly, we also have to examine closely what is actually being said; to pray about it, to meditate on it, to study it, to read the comments of the learned and holy and even in love and respect question what has been said.
What is quite unacceptable is a knee jerk attitude of disobedience and mistrust.
To refuse the food Peter offers means we die of starvation, seperated from the Lord and His Church.

Fr Ray Blake said...

The 3rd position, which I take is to accept that I am intellectually unable to reconcile these two positions, but that is a problem for me, and maybe others but it comes from our ignorance, not from the Church's error.
Time will reveal a way of reconciling, what might appear irreconcileable.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

This is that V.II was not a dogmatic Council,it was a pastoral Council

The usual desperate dodge.

Believe me, we've heard this one before.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

if the answer is, "yes we must simply shut up and obey"

it raises the next:

which teaching shall we obey?
The old or the new?

Since you have pointed out that they are in opposition. (I am not now talking about the Good Friday prayers, which are merely the annual public expression of the problem created by V-II's Nostra A.)

I stand ready to obey, but I cannot obey both the teaching and its contradiction. To do so, asks me to do something that contradicts not merely conscience, but reason and logic.

You have said that the Church contradicts its own teaching.

So, I ask again: how are we to obey something that remains unresolved?

I'm afraid we are back to the problem, and just saying "shut up and stop asking awkward questions" is not sufficient response.

Though I note that it is the response I have always received from priests who must themselves live with the contradiction in order to continue their ministry.

The contradiction is at the heart of the problem in the Catholic Church in our times. And every attempt to plaster it over and pretend it isn't there has created every rift, every failure, every disorder in the Christian life which we now suffer.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

It is our role to accept being fed.

And if that which we are being fed makes us sicken and die? If it is poison?

Do we still have a duty to swallow it?

The attempt to accept a logical contradiction in matters of faith and morals is to the spiritual life what strychnine is to the physical body.

The Faith, as Benedict himself as publicly observed, is in a perilous state. Could it be because we have been fed spiritual poison for forty years and have obediently opened our mouths for it?

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

How precisely will "time reconcile" "it is" and "it is not"?

Or are we charged with laying aside both reason and Faith?

Tomas said...

Hilary said: "how then, father, do we answer your original question over the indisputable fact that an impossible contradiction exists between what the Church once taught and what she now appears to profess?"

Hilary, I think, when you read the new prayer, you will see that there is no change between what the Church has taught in the past and what the Church teaches today. The new prayer seems even clearer about it. In this case it is logical at the very least to read even the OF prayer with this in mind. You might want to read this article: http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/archive-2008-a_papal_masterstroke.htm

You see, it's about what the Church teaches and not about how we interpret her teaching. If things are a bit ambiguous (like in the case of OF) then you should actually listen to the Church even more rather then flee away from her.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Hillary, First shut up and pray, ask your questions, express doubts at the foot of the Cross.
What appears contradictory might simply be what "appears" rather than what actually "is".

I trust, Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia, et ubi ecclesia vita eterna.

HJWAn said...

Sorry Father,

Hard to believe, but I didn't intend to just stroll in here and pick a fight. To put it in context, this is a battle I go through every year, one that any of my friends will tell you makes me a tiresome bore for at least the length of Holy Week. Last year, some kind friends invited me to their traditional fish n' chips luncheon after Good Friday service. They were very patient with my outraged rant but I'm sure they're glad I've moved far enough away that they are relieved of the obligation to invite me again.

The question will not go away for us wishing it, but nothing will induce me to join the Sedes. If I were every to apostasize, I'd probably go join the "Traditional Anglicans". I've had experience of their tea and garden parties and am sure they are more fun and put on a better spread than the disaffected Catholics.

Sensible pastoral advice always welcome.

michael petek said...

For the benefit of Hilary Jane, might I suggest the following principles for the resulution of conflicts in Papal teachings concerning the same matter.

By the principle of implied repeal, the later precept or teaching must be reconciled as far as possible with the earlier, but if this is not possible, the later disposition prevails.

But if the earlier is an infallible teaching, then it is irreformable and controls everything subsequent.

If the two dispositions are meant to apply to different and mutually exclusive situations, then there is no conflict. Either must be applied to its own.

George said...

Hilary, it is unthinkable that Pope Benedict (a very learned thinker indeed) would issue anything that he hasn't thought, prayed and pondered over for some time before being made public.

He chooses his words very carefully and very purposefully. There is obviously a reason for what has been written, and rest assured he is perfectly aware of the wording both of the original and the new.

So, as Fr Ray put it, shut up and do some thinking, praying and pondering yourself. You are seperating Faith from Reason and just trying to figure it all out by yourself. We need to give this some time - I know for sure that a Catholic 'dunce' like me certainly needs to give it plenty of time. No doubt the full explanatory text will follow in due course. God Bless.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

but if this is not possible, the later disposition prevails.

um Michael, no.

If you are proposing that one must dump immemorial doctrine whenever someone, or some Council, comes up with something that contradicts it, you are making a serious error about the nature of Catholic teaching.

What we are looking at is a situation in which a perennial doctrine of the Church has been denied by an act of an ecumenical Council. There is no rule to judge this situation.

Think of it this way,

A council of mathematicians gets together and decides it is "unjust" to limit arithmetic to "right and wrong" answers. Two and Two might equal four for one person, but another might become offended by such intractable adherence to doctrine. So the Maths Council decrees that the previous doctrine of twoandtwo was misguided and offensive and has been changed . Two and two now equal whatever makes a person feel most comfortable.

Would you then say that the answer for lay people and math teachers in schools is to obediently adopt the newer teaching?


Because it is new?

Or because we now get to change the nature of truth to suit our preferences?

Michael Clifton said...

Michael Petak where on earth did you get this idea that there were 3 old covenants of which two are still binding. The early ones are promises which only bind surely until the coming of the Saviour, so for me only one genuine Old Covenant and one New Covenant and the old is blended into the New as one of the bloggers said..

Ottaviani said...

Is this the same Hilary that said on another blog, she wanted to go and clap in mass and not be identified with "annoying trads"??

Anyway... she raises a good point which a lot of people dodge - namely that Nostra Aetate implies something inherently different to what the church said before 1962 (and the gospels for that matter).

And this change aptly demonstrates to traditional minded Catholics that there is no such thing as the so-called "hermeneutic of continuity" - how can a prayer that was acceptable for hundreds of years now be prohibited and "revised" at the whim of a non-Catholic lobby group? Is this really "continuity" or a revolution in the style of Paul VI?

The Holy Father, with the respect we all should owe him, has bowed down to the decadence of public opinion in this matter. Even non-Catholics can see this. And we also hear that Abe Foxman of the ADL is still complaining! Just wait till he figures out what older brievary says for Tenebrae on Good Friday?

Incidentally Abe's comments are very revealing:

"It is less offensive in its language but it still is in contradiction to changes that the late Pope John Paul brought about... John Paul taught that the Jewish people are the older brothers of Catholics and that Judaism has its own merits and viability. The language is better but it's still troubling."

Does this not show a revolution in Catholic teaching? The church is even willing to go to lengths to sacrifice her most ancient and venerable traditions in order to placate the very people, at whose benefit the prayer was aimed at? I cannot think of a worser anti-Semitism that that.

This change has also opened the door to the rampages of liturgical revisionists. What's to stop Cardinal Kasper from knocking on the door of the pope and asking that the prayers for heretics and schismatics be changed to "Prayer for the well-being and faith sharing of our separated brothers and sisters"? How much more will the Vatican sacrifice truth on the altar of ecumenism? When will the Vatican stop kidding us around and just admit that the council aimed to change teaching?

James M said...

Can anyone explain EXACTLY how Nostra Aetate contradicts pre-Vatican II teaching?

I've read it again and again and cannot find a problem.

There are various people out there who say "Vatican II says this" and "Vatican II says that" when it does nothing of the kind.

If any Catholic has a problem with Nostra Aetate, could they please quote exactly which words are troubling them?

Sussex Catholic said...

James M (and pace Hilary) I am with you on this. I do not see a "desperate dodge" in asserting the position that V.II did not make any dogmatic definitions. If it did then please point them out. As to whether it sought to develop doctrine in any particular direction I would again ask the question where does it propose a doctrinal position to be held by all the Faithful(leaving aside the Decree on Religious Liberty for a separate discussion) which is at variance with previous Catholic teaching? If V.II is guilty of anything it is that its decrees (as I said in my previous post) are open to different interpretations- but it seems to me, only one interpretation if taken together with the entirety of Catholic teaching down the centuries.

Hilary, your problem seems to be with the reforms of the Liturgy carried out by the Consilium set up after the Council which promulgated the New Missal including the new prayer for the Jews. I have absolutely no problem with asserting that the work of this body not only created deliberate ambiguities but consciously attempted to bring Catholic worship into line with Protestant. This is the very situation which the present Pope is seeking to address.

If Christ's promise to Peter is to mean anything it must mean that if the Church ever existed then it still exists now and will until the end of time. There is no need to start looking for a hierarchy or "remnant" Church if you remember that even the Pope's authority is subject to the immemorial teaching of the Church and is limited by his freedom to act within those margins. For the present Pope to present to us a prayer which fully and comprehensively asserts immemorial Catholic teaching is a reason to rejoice not to start questioning his authority.

HJMW said...


yes, actually. But only to annoy you personally.

Ottaviani said...

Then you've failed in that regard HJMW...

Cardinal Kasper is already putting a spin on new Good Friday prayer here. That is, the Jews maybe converted in the end times but we don't pursue their conversion now.

More or less the indifferentism he frequently spouts all the time.

Anonymous said...

When were we supposed to have stopped praying for the conversion of the Jews? I thought Our Lord came to primarily to the "lost sheep of the House of Israel". Who said that the Mission to the Gentiles supersedes and abrogates the Mission to God's people, Israel? Ergo, what is new, alarming or unacceptable about the revised Good Friday Prayer? The Jewish leaders don't like it? Be astonishing if they did! Anyone here need reminding of the events of the Gospels and Acts?
When has anyone, anywhere said anything of any worth that was liked by everyone? Make sure you're right - then go ahead.

George said...

Nice one anonymous!