Jewish prayer about Gentiles and Catholic prayer for the Jews

You have heard by now that it is strongly rumored that Pope Benedict will by his supreme authority make a change to the texts of the 1962 Missale Romanum and alter the prayer for the Jews on Good Friday.

Lot’s of you will be confused by this, some will not care, some fewer will be hysterical.

I frankly have never thought we should them, but I have such great respect for Pope Benedict that I am forced to think more deeply about this possibility.  I have to get my head around it.  He wouldn’t do this simply because he want to go to the Roman Synagogue or to Israel in 2009, etc.  It goes beyond his respect for Jewish thinkers, such as the one who influence him in his book Jesus of Nazareth.

Before going on, let’s find some clarity about what the old prayers for the Jews on Good Friday really say. 

On Good Friday the Church has always prayed for civil authorities, ourselves as Catholics, non-Catholics and non-Christians.  Let it be said that prayer for others is a work of mercy and is performed out of charity, not malice.

The more ancient form of the prayer for Jews, all the way back to the 1570 editio princeps, went like this:

Oremus et pro perfidis Iudaeis: ut Deus et Dominus noster auferat velamen de cordibus eorum; ut et ipsi agnoscant Iesum Christum Dominum nostrum. … Let us pray also for the unbelieving Jews: that God and our Lord take away the veil from their hearts; that they also may acknowledge Jesus [as] Christ our Lord.

Omnipotens sempiternae Deus, qui etiam iudaicam perfidiam a tua misericordia non repellis: exaudi preces nostras, quas pro illius populi obcaecatione deferimus; ut agnita veritatis tuae luce, quae Christus est, a suis tenebris eruantur.  Per eundem Dominum.  … Almighty eternal God, who does not reject even Jewish unbelief from Your mercy: graciously hear the prayers which we are conveying for the blindess of that people; so that once the light of Your Truth has been recognized, which is Christ, they may be rescued from their darkness.

Tenebrae, plural in form, is "darkness". According to the mighty Lewis & Short, it can imply, literal darkness, or darkness of the mind, the darkness of death, ("death shades")or even the infernal regions.  So, one could translate the above as a prayer to "rescue" or "pluck out" the Jews from death which is hell.  With the imagery of Christ as the light, it concerns illumination of the intellect and heart.  The "veil" also recalls not just blindness, but how at Christ’s death the great curtain in the Holy of Holies tore asunder. 

It bears repeating that, just as Pius XII explained, perfidus in this context has nothing to do with being "faithless" in the sense of "shifty" or "untrustworthy".  It means "faith-less" in the sense that they don’t have Christ faith, they do not believe, they are unbelieving.  It is not a pejorative, as I hear it.

There was no genuflection for this prayer in the old day as with others because, as I understand it, Jews had mocked Christ by kneeling to Him.  However, Pius XII put one in when he reformed the order of Holy Week.  If the reason for omitting it is true, then Pius putting the genuflection in was actually an ecumenical gesture!

By 1959 this prayer was changed by John XXIII.  The words perfidis and perfidia were excised:

Oremus et pro [...] Iudaeis: ut Deus et Dominus noster auferat velamen de cordibus eorum; ut et ipsi agnoscant Iesum Christum Dominum Nostrum

Oremus.  Flectamus Genua.  Levate.  … Let us pray.  Let us bend our knees.  Arise!

Omnipotens sempiternae Deus, qui Iudaeos ["the Jews"] etiam a tua misericordia non repellis: exaudi preces nostras, quas pro illius populi obcaecatione deferimus; ut agnita veritatis tuae luce, quae Christus est, a suis tenebris eruantur.  Per eundem Dominum.

Also in 1959 Pope John eliminated from the rite of baptism the phrase used for Jewish catechumens: Horresce Iudaicam perfidiam, respue Hebraicam superstitionem … Dread Jewish unbelief, spurn Hebrew superstition!

Horresco has to do with your hair standing on end at something terrible.  Respuo is literally "to spew out".

Given that Catholics believe that not believing in Christ puts you in danger of eternal hell, it was actually a good thing to pray for all these different groups, including Catholic themselves and also the Jews.  The language is powerful, but the words actually mean something.  There are layers of meanings possible as well. 

The hearer is going to perceive something different, if he is educated enough to get the nuances. 

When you now see these prayers, you will know a little more about them.

As I looked into these Good Friday prayers again, I started thinking about some of the prayers Jews pray which could be offensive to non-Jews.   After all, turn about is fair play, right?

Consider the commonly prayed "blessing prayer" to be recited by Jewish men, thanking God that they were not non-Jews, Gentiles.

Observant Jews laudably pray constantly during the day, every day, not just one day of the year. They say berakhot or blessing prayers at different times and in various rites.  (There are various spellings of berakhot verging on barucha, etc.)

To get an idea of how this works, consider the following order for the recitation of morning prayers:

Siman 46 . The Laws of the Morning Blessings

46.1: When one wakes up from one’s sleep, he should say ‘My G-d, the soul etc.’. When one hears the sound of a cock crowing, he should say the blessing ‘Who gives the heart [the ability] to distinguish between night and day’. When one dresses, he should bless ‘Who clothes the naked’. When one places one’s hands on his eyes he should bless ‘Who gives sight to the blind’. When one sits he should bless ‘Who releases the bound’. When one stands up he should bless ‘Who straightens the bent’. When one puts his feet on the ground, he should bless ‘Who spreads out the earth over the waters’. When he ties his shoes he should bless ‘Who has provided me my every need’. When one walks he should bless ‘Who firms [prepares] man’s footsteps’. When one ties his belt he should bless ‘Who girds Israel with strength’. {wears trousers (pants) that separate the heart from the groin}. When one puts his hat on his head he should bless ‘Who crowns Israel with splendor’. When one washes his hands he should bless ‘regarding washing the hands’. When one washes his face he should bless ‘Who removes sleep from my eyes etc.’ ‘And may it be Your will etc.’ until ‘Blessed are you Hashem, Who bestows beneficient kindnesses on His people Israel’. One should not answer ‘Amen’ after ‘Who removes sleep from my eyes’ until the conclusion, ‘Who bestows beneficient kindnesses on His people Israel’ because it is all one blessing.

These are wonderful, really.  I wonder what we Catholics would be like were we to pray in this manner during the day.  But wait… we do have prayers for during the day, and they obtain indulgences in the proper circumstances… but I digress.

One prayer observant Jews must pray is:

Baruch atah Hashem Elokenu melech haolam, shelo asani goy … Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who did not make me a Gentile.

The prayer is from a Tana’itic source and it is in Rabbinic rather than Biblical Hebrew.   "Goy" means an individual Gentile.

What is the context of this prayer for an observant Jewish man?

Siman 46:4: A person must say the Blessings shelo asani goy (Who did not make me a non-Jew), shelo asani aved (Who did not make me a slave), and shelo asani isha (Who did not make me a woman) every day.

In fact, some commentators on these berakhot say that if you skip the blessing that you are not a slave or a woman, you should not go back to them after the blessing that you are not a Gentile, because, in logical order, it is worse to be a Gentile than a slave or a woman. The thinking is that even Jewish slaves and women can perform mitvos (roughly, meritorious pious works), and it would be better to be them than a Gentile who can’t.  Also, converts to Judaism are not to say this blessing because they did not belong to Jewish people or race.  So, there is a racial aspect, not merely one of choice or faith.

Frankly, the rules for these prayers are pretty complicated.

I can fully understand how a pious and observing Jew would pray the prayer about Gentiles, if he is truly convinced in his faith.  I am not in the least offended by it and the racial issue interests not even a little bit.  Some reforming Jews, I understand, have changed their prayer to say something like "Thank you for making me a Jew" rather than "not a non-Jew".  Traditional Jews seem to reject this.  

Should there be some world-wide campaign on the part of Catholics to convince observant Jews not to pray this berakhah according to their conviction and tradition?  

No.

Should there be a world-wide campaign that similarly puts pressure on male Jews to thank God that they were not made women?

That’s up to women, I guess.  Jews understand that men and women pray differently, please God in different ways, etc.  Their prayers reflect that reality with which I generally agree.  I don’t know about the whole issue of equality for Jewish women.   I’ll leave this for Jews to sort out themselves, it being not really my business.

If Jews are convinced in their faith, why shouldn’t they pray this way?  If Catholics are convinced in their faith, why shouldn’t they pray for the conversion of the Jews?  

I frankly have a hard time getting my head around this issue. 

However, going back to those Jewish morning prayers….

Read them again.

Consider them now in light of the imagery of the Good Friday prayers. 

Perhaps I am over analyzing… perhaps not… after all… some think this blog isn’t very analytical    o{];¬)   but I am getting a sense of how hearing the Latin prayers or reading translations of those Good Friday prayers might, just might, for an observant Jew who says his morning prayers and other berakhot, be struck pretty close to his heart.  They could be disturbing.

The Jewish morning prayers, in rapid succession, deal with light and blindness and washing the eyes clear, the heart having the ability to distinguish night from day, etc.

Now think of the old Good Friday prayers.

I haven’t looked at all the berakhot, but there is something more going on in the conflict than mere contrasts of religion. 

The way we pray has a power affective dimension. 

Centuries of power, disastrous, tragic and supremely affective experiences have shaped the way Jews hear what others pray. 

After all, they hear what they hear in their mode of hearing, not the Catholic mode of praying it.

I offer this as food for thought.

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.

78 Responses to Jewish prayer about Gentiles and Catholic prayer for the Jews

  1. Chironomo says:

    If Benedict believes there is a reason to consider changing these prayers, it must be a good reason. There is no sense of “bending” to political correctness or such trivialities in the entirety of his writings or in what he has said, and there is no reason to believe that this would be an exception. I also hope that there will not be cries of Benedict “betraying our faith”… as though we have some kind of a priori claim to Catholicism the way we want it. That attitude properly belongs to the progressives and “cafeteria catholics”, not to those who strive to follow the Catholic faith in its entirety… an entirety which includes changes from time to time.

  2. Chironomo says:

    Dan… you don’t SERIOUSLY think that the Holy Father would change these prayers in such a way that it would allow that Jews, or people of any other faith are granted salvation outside the Church, do you?

  3. danphunter1 says:

    Father,
    If His Holiness makes a change, will it then be called the,2008 Missale Romanum, or because the change is limited to one specific prayer on one specific day, will it remain 1962?

  4. Thank you, Fr.Z., for one of the most thoughtful and thought provoking post I have ever read on your blog.

    The Church must do as it sees fit, of course.

    As a Catholic, I pray the Lord God to have mercy on me, a sinner, and to receive me into his presence in the kingdom of heaven, where I hope I may praise him forever, along with all good men and women.

    In my journey through this life, I would like to think that no men or women of good will pray against me, as I do not pray against them.

  5. David Kubiak says:

    Father:
    Living in the academy as I do one learns that logical arguments like the ones you have made mean nothing when one group saying something is considered the oppressor, and the other group saying something is the oppressed. It is only those perceived as powerful who need speech-codes under this way of thinking.

    That said, the history of the Church and Judaism is not a very happy one, and if the Holy Father can create a prayer which is theologically impeccable (no question there) and makes Jewish leaders a little happier about the Church, why not.

    I don’t know whether to call it unfortunate or fortunate that the Pope will be infuriating the SSPX and even some very radically right elements back in communion with Rome, since for them the old Mass and anti-semitism go hand in hand.

  6. paul says:

    Really, it’s not a case of praying against anyone but rather for them. After all, we are called to pray for others that they may come know the light which is Christ.

  7. danphunter1 says:

    Chironomo,
    I do not think that the Holy Father intends to change those prayers to the extent that salvation is opened up to those outside the Church, but people will read that into it if the prayers are altered in such a way that the wording loses its intrinsic power to convey the truth, namely that everyones eyes must be open to the absolute need to convert to the Catholic Church.
    Deo Gratias.

  8. Maureen says:

    If the Pope changes the prayer, he will do so in a manner which will be more fitting, beautiful, worshipful — and useful for the good Lord’s purposes.

    Btw, I noticed that Jewish men were supposed to thank God for their heart’s discernment of night from day.

    Peter and cockcrow, anyone? There you’d be, automatically thanking God — and there God would be, looking right at you.

    Brrrr.

  9. Paul says:

    “There is no salvation outside the Church.”

    Dan here illustrates the real stumbling block to SSPX reconciliation. One aspect of this which has not been discussed so far is that Benedict by reforming these prayers is confronting the SSPX rejection of the V2 concept of freedom of worship head on, as the new prayer will inevitably reflect the post V2 position on this. Which is probably why there is such vociferous condemnation of it before even the text is released. This issue is the “filioque” of the Lefebran Schism.

    Personally I think we have to remember that our Lord said “Thou art Peter etc.” and trust Benedict. It has to be said that trusting Benedict is easier than with certain predecessors, he is eminently trustworthy.

    This will also mean that the Extraordinary Rite is no longer exclusively a product of the pre V2 church.

  10. Habemus Papam says:

    “the old Mass and anti-semitism go hand in hand”. What a preposterous prevocative statement. And ignorant since Mass is not said on Good Friday. I’ll wait and see if the Holy Father changes this prayer and if so what the changes are.

  11. Paul(different) says:

    The case of the genuflection at the invocation for the Jews on Good Friday has always intrigued me. I happen to have a number of hand and altar missals from the 1930s and 1940s and these contain the instruction “flectamus genua” during this invocation as during every other. I have heard from a priest who purported to study such things that this rubric was simply ignored as a matter of custom (although I tend to find it unlikely that a canonically stipulated rubric would be universally ignored throughout the entire Church for several centuries, given that we don’t seem to be able to universally follow many rubrics today). I have never heard that Pius XII added the instruction — Pius XI, maybe, which would explain its presence in a missal from his pontificate.

  12. Paul (south midlands) says:

    Theres actually 3 pauls here. I did the one at 3.35pm

  13. Joe Wichmann says:

    It is my understanding, from reading, that during the Triduum, only the ordinary rite is to be used. If that is true, then the prayer in question is not an issue.
    Joe

  14. Prof. Basto says:

    The jewish prayer against heretics, added to their liturgy in the second century of the Christian era is much more offensive than any of the Good Friday prayers could ever be to them: “For slanderers, may there be no hope; and may all wickedness quickly be destroyed, and may all your enemies be cut off swiftly. The intentional [sinners], swiftly may they be uprooted, broken, cast down and subdued, swiftly and in our days. Blessed are you, L-RD, breaker of enemies and subduer of intentional [sinners] .

    So, until they change their prayers that ask for others to be destroyed, cast down, etc, why should we change ours, that is merely asking for their conversion to the Truth?

    Why should we change our prayers for un-Catholic reasons, on account of demands by unbelievers? Isn’t it our duty to pray for the conversion of the Chosen People to Christ the Messiah? Isn’t it true that the reference to veil in the hearts of those israelites that do not acknowledge Christ is found in the Bible itself? So, why should the 1962 prayer be changed????

  15. Diffal says:

    Clearly we cant be drawn into a true discussion of the changes the Holy Father may make to the prayer until such changes become public knowledge. Knowing, however, of his wish for true and supreme reverence in the liturgy and his extreme dislike of relativism I am sure that what ever does happen Pope Benedict will choose the correct course of action. I am also fairly sure thaton matters such as this he will not bow to external pressure simply to appease. Would it be possible to change perfidous/perfidiam to another word which emphasises prayer for salvation of the Jews rather than the misunderstanding we currently have?

  16. David says:

    Father Z said: I am getting a sense of how hearing the Latin prayers or reading translations of those Good Friday prayers might, just might, for an observant Jew who says his morning prayers and other berakhot, be struck pretty close to his heart. They could be disturbing.

    In all charity, it is sometimes good to disturb people, to stir them up, in order to help them realize the gravity of something which they have not previously considered. Maybe we need to be “struck pretty close to the heart” in order to be moved to conversion. If nothing in our heart is ever profoundly moved, why would we ever consider converting?

  17. Patrick Rothwell says:

    The more interesting question is whether the Good Friday prayer for the Jews was designed by its authors as a gratuitously polemical (blasphemous?) parody of the Jewish berakhot.

  18. Alexander says:

    Father,

    You forgot to add that the Rabbinic Talmudic Jews also pray the (13th) blessing, the so-called Birkat ha-minim, in which along with other heretics (Samaritans and certain other groups), the “Nazarenes” (Christians) are not only condemned or called unbelieving, but in which the Talmudic Jew (daily) asks the Lord for the Christians’ extermination from the face of the earth.

    But of course only non-Jews again are guilty etc. That is the agenda of the ADL c.s. All Jews are innocent of course, all Catholics guilty. And do not spit on me, I am partially Jewish myself (well, ethnically only).

    Anyway, I fear this change will give many traditional Roman Catholics the impression that the dogma of Faith was altered (non-Christian Jews múst convert, as per ‘Cantate Domino’, Council of Florence, 1442, which is de fide), and therefore might resort to actually believing most conspiracy and sedevacantist theories on the last fourty years.

    I promote religious tolerance and a good harmonical living next to each other. But this seems again dispensationalism and even neo-modernism.

    But our Roman Catholic Faith remains and cannot change. Jews must convert. Bl. John XXIII already went far too far in adapting the prayer. Modern Judaism is not original temple Judaism at all.

  19. Henry Edwards says:

    Joe: It is my understanding, from reading, that during the Triduum, only the ordinary rite is to be used.

    This understanding is incorrect. Summorum Pontificum says nothing of the sort. Such a misunderstanding might have stemmed from:

    Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without the people, each Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use the Roman Missal published by Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1962, or the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and may do so on any day with the exception of the Easter Triduum. …

    This article deals only with private Masses, and says nothing about public (scheduled) parish Masses. For example, a parish’s scheduled Holy Thursday Mass can be either form, depending on pastoral circumstances. For instance, a TLM parish would naturally celebrate only the TLM during the Triduum (as outside it). TLM communities all over this country will be celebrating extraordinary form rites during the coming Triduum.

    Again, the article addresses only unscheduled private Masses (technically “without the people”, though people may happen to be present). It merely extends to the extraordinary form the previous prohibition of private ordinary form Masses during the Triduum. In short, it says that no private Masses of either form — 1962 or 1970 — can be celebrated during the Triduum.

  20. Diffal,

    There is no need to change the word “perfidious”.
    It was removed by Blessed John XIII in 1960.

  21. Neal says:

    David wrote: “I don’t know whether to call it unfortunate or fortunate that the Pope will be infuriating the SSPX and even some very radically right elements back in communion with Rome, since for them the old Mass and anti-semitism go hand in hand.”

    I hope you’re merely uninformed. I’ve met more jews through the SSPX than I have through work and school combined. These include two Society priests and my wife, who entered the Church through the Society.

    Pax,

  22. Patrick: That is a good question. Were they purposely made so as to be an attempt to resonate with those formed by prayer Jewish? I don’t say”parody”, for that would not make sense: they wanted to convert, not to offend.

    I don’t know. This would need lots of study. I sense a book or thesis.

  23. Alexander: I didn’t forget to add those prayers. This is not a polemical entry.

  24. LeonG says:

    To reduce arguments against The Latin Mass by exploiting this prayer which is not in The Holy Mass itself anyway is absolutely ridiculous and does not deserve the media space it has been given. Nonetheless, powerful minorities hold sway today. Would muslims, talmudic jews and hindus alter patently controversial tenets of their scriptures? Of course not, because they believe in their faiths. It is because unholy doubt has seized The Church over the last 40 years and is still systemic within. Ultimately, the contemporary ecclesiastical obsession with ecumenism and the church’s image according to the world has the final say.

    Many rabbis such as Rabbi Jacob Neusner of Rhinebeck could not care a fig about this prayer. But bigots such as Foxman of ADL and his ilk have been exploiting the media mercilessly to bully society into their version of bigotry & hatred. They have decided this prayer must go and it is going. There is nothing at all uncharitable about this prayer unless you happen to hate The Church and there is plenty of that in abundance in contemporary society. This bodes ill for the Latin liturgy in general. There can be no doubt that further changes and novelties are afoot.

  25. Jordan Potter says:

    Alexander said: But of course only non-Jews again are guilty etc. That is the agenda of the ADL c.s. All Jews are innocent of course, all Catholics guilty.

    So many here seem to be opting for some form of the “tu quoque” argument. But I don’t have a problem with the Church being held to higher standards and expectations. Quite the contrary. As long as the expectations and standards are reasonable and fair.

  26. Manuel says:

    Father Z,

    Perhaps you could clarify this. It was my understanding that the word “perfidus” meant “he who breaks the faith” (per + fides) and not just “unfaithful”, for that would be the same as “infidel”, which we understand the Muslims to be. In other words, perfidi refers to Jews, because they had the faith, then broke it; whereas infidels refers to those who never had the faith: pagans and Muslims. Is this correct?

    Sorry, don’t mean to be picky. :-)

  27. To put an end to what “perfidious” and “perfidy” really mean, here is the decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites (1948)to people asking for the meaning (especially after these words are translated into the vernacular) of the words “perfidi judæi” and “judaica perfida:”

    *** Sacra hæc Congregatio, de re interrogata, hæc tantum declarare censuit: “Non improbari, in translationibus in linguas vulgares, locutiones quarum sensus sit: ‘infidelitas, infideles in credendo.’” ***

  28. Tim says:

    Just a guess, but to me it makes sense that the official changes to the Good Friday prayers be presented together with the “clarification” about the MP. Thoughts?

  29. Tim says:

    Just a guess, but to me it makes sense that the official changes to the Good Friday prayers be presented together with the clarification about the MP. If my guess is right, we’ll have the clarification about the MP before Easter.

  30. Father Klingele says:

    To be noted, the Roman Missal printed in 1964 with readings in the vernacular, etc., contains the prayer as Bl. Pope John XIII revised it and as it exists in the Missal of 1962. This Missal printed in 1964 – not yet adding alternate Eucharistic Prayers but already including much of the Ordinary like the Gloria in English – only contains the Johannine prayer in Latin.

    The Roman Missal printed in 1965 Latin-Italian – with the Roman Canon in Latin and Italian but no added Eucharistic Prayers – has not only published the Good Friday prayers in Latin and in Italian but the Latin prayer has been revised. This Latin version is the same found in the Roman Missal printed in the USA in 1966, which also includes Eucharistic Prayers II-IV.

    Oremus et pro Iudaeis: ut Deus et Dominus noster auferat velamen de cordibus eorum; ut et ipsi agnoscant Iesum Christum Dominum nostrum. (in 1964 American)
    Oremus et pro Iudaeis: ut Deus et Dominus noster FACIEM SUAM SUPER EOS ILLUMINARE DIGNETUR; UT ET IPSI AGNOSCANT OMNIUM REDEMPTOREM, IESUM CHRISTUM DOMINUM NOSTRUM. (in 1965/1966)

    And compare the actual prayer:

    Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui Iudaeos etiam a tua misericordia non repellis: exaudi preces nostras, quas pro illius populi obcaecatione deferimus; ut, agnita veritatis tuae luce, quae Christus est, a suis tenebris eruantur. Per eundem Dominum… (in 1964 American)
    Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui PROMISSIONES TUAS ABRAHAE ET SEMINI EIUS CONTULISTI: ECCLESIAE TUAE PRECES CLEMENTER EXAUDI; UT POPULUS ACQUISITIONIS ANTIQUAE AD REDEMPTIONIS MEREATUR PLENITUDINEM PERVENIRE. PER DOMINUM NOSTRUM… (in 1965/1966)

    So Bl. Pope John XIII’s 1959 revision lasted half of a decade. So the Ordinary Use of the Rite of Good Friday in Latin or in the vernacular must include the new prayer first included in the Missal printed in 1965, right? No. The prayer of the mid and late 60′s was revised again to what is used today in the Ordinary Use.

    Oremus et pro Iudaeis, ut, AD QUOS PRIUS LOCUTUS EST DOMINUS DEUS NOSTER, EIS TRIBUAT IN SUI NOMINIS AMORE ET IN SUI FOEDERIS FIDELITATE PROFICERE.
    Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui promissiones tuas Abrahae EIUSQUE [instead of et eius] semini contulisti, Ecclesiae tuae preces clementer exaudi, ut populus acquisitionis PRIORIS [instead of antiquae] ad redemptionis [instead of Redemptionis] mereatur plenitudinem pervenire. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. [instead of the longer ending]

    So in just over a decade (from 1959 onward), we have three different revisions/creations to replace a prayer found in the Gregorian and Gelasian Sacramentaries and in all Roman Missals until 1959. My point in mentioning this is not to question whether or not the prayer should have been revised in the first place but to question whether it needed to be revised three different times in about 10 years.

  31. magdalen says:

    The SSPX folks are already saying that if this change goes through, any
    ‘deal’ with them is off! So they would rather stay outside than come
    home to Rome. They do not think the Holy Father knows what he is about and
    that they know better.

    Me, I am going to look to the Holy Father who has the authority of the
    Keys of Peter.

  32. dcs says:

    Somehow I do not think that it is observant Jews who would be putting pressure on Rome to change the Prayer for the Conversion of the Jews.

  33. If the changes (in the form they are rumored on your blog) are true, then I think it’s a good thing.

    Some might reply — aren’t those without Christ blind? Perhaps, but if you think it’s wrong to remove “blind” in the reference to the Jews, why aren’t you lobbying to add “blind” to the references about pagans and atheists?

    Moreover, it is hypocritical to pray for something while explicitly acting to prevent it. If we pray for Jewish conversion using words that offend Jews and make them refuse to listen to what we have to say — even if their offense is irrational — then we are belying our own prayer.

    And I don’t think you can compare it to Jewish prayers. The Jews do not consider themselves under a mandate to preach Judaism to all nations, nor are the potentially offensive words contained in a Jewish prayer whose aim is the conversion of the Gentiles.

    Of course, the best part about this is that if there is an update, however small, to the Extraordinary Form, then that proves that the TLM is still a living rite of the Church!

  34. dob says:

    It’s strange that they don’t pray for the faithless.

    “These are wonderful, really. I wonder what we Catholics would be like were we to pray in this manner during the day. But wait… we do have prayers for during the day, and they obtain indulgences in the proper circumstances… but I digress.” Yes Fr Z. indeed we do. Prayers that beg for humility, Christ’s love … because we know we are sinners. Prayers for the conversion of unbelievers and poor sinners because we care. Prayers for the dead because Love transcends it.

    I don’t think you digress at all. Jews are right to object to Catholics praying for them. Our prayers are effective. They are eager for the Church to confirm them in their own faith because at some level they must believe that Peter has indeed been given the keys to bind and loose. Why else would it concern them at all. They protest like the blind man when Jesus insisted on healing him. Leave me alone, leave me alone. Sorry, Love from the very beginning, wills that man is not to be so left. His Bride will follow Him.

    I would like to see the CDW concern itself with the daily insults to Christ being perpetrated on our altars in the No Mass. That is their area of expertise and so much needs to be done. Ecclesia Dei is responsible for the older rite not them. Hands off CDW. This kind of tinkering we’ve seen before. Announcing the Pope’s intentions for him. I for one will not accept any change until the Pope’s signature is on it. They treated Paul VI and John XXIII the same way. Not going to get away with it again.

  35. dob: I for one will not accept any change until the Pope’s signature is on it.

    I do not condone that.

    The Roman Pontiff is the legislator.  He gets to decide how things are to be done.

  36. C.M. says:

    The SSPX folks are already saying…

    magdalen, do you have a source for this horrible, horrible news?

  37. LeonG says:

    “Somehow I do not think that it is observant Jews who would be putting pressure on Rome to change the Prayer for the Conversion of the Jews.”
    Comment by dcs

    This is so – it is pressure from unrepresentative powerful minorities coupled with a modernist-oriented church which has lost faith in its sense of direction. The addiction to change is difficult to cure, as a result.

  38. Matt Robinson says:

    Father Z,

    What is the difference between perfideles and infideles?

    I read once that the term perfideles originally meant something
    closer to “semi-faithful”, as opposed to infideles, which means “unfaithful”.

    Please clarify, thanks.

  39. Jordan Potter says:

    Fr. Z said: The thinking is that even Jewish slaves and women can perform mitvos (roughly, meritorious pious works), and it would be better to be them than a Gentile who can’t.

    “Mitvos” is “mitzvot,” plural of “mitzvah,” which has usually been translated in English Bibles as “commandment.” A “mitzvah” is one of the 613 commandments that God gave Israel through Moses. Only Jews are required to keep the mitzvot. In orthodox Judaism, a Gentile does nothing meritorious by obeying the mitzvot of the Laws of Moses, because God does not require that he observe the laws of Moses. There have been two approaches in Judaism to the fact that only Israel is under the covenant: one is the superior and triumphalistic approach, in which Gentiles are defective or inferior for not being Jewish (apparently reflected in the “Thank you, God, for not making me a Gentile” prayer), and the other is that righteous Gentiles are “saved” apart from the covenant, which only Israelites are obliged to obey.

  40. Matt: I read once that the term perfideles originally meant something
    closer to “semi-faithful”, as opposed to infideles, which means “unfaithful”.

    That is interesting. Maybe someone can dig into that.

  41. Father M says:

    Might it be useful simply to plead ignorance to the workings of the Holy Spirit in this? The Holy Father knows and seems to have real sympathy for the SSPX. And he has great love for the Jewish people. And he is the vicar of Christ. I myself would rather he not touch anything in the older Mass but any such change would seem to be within the limits of what has been done historically. If he does, it may in fact make things more difficult for a time. But the Pope doesn’t seem enamored of change for change sake, and if done well, it may turn out not to be a deal-breaker at all. At any rate, I opt for acknowledging a little ignorance here and for more fervent prayer (including more fervent prayer for the conversion of the Jews).

  42. anon says:

    Where does the Bible say the Jews mocked Jesus by kneeling?

  43. Jeff Pinyan says:

    anon — 18 January 2008 @ 9:34 pm

    In the Gospels, during the Passion narrative (cf. Matt 27:29; Mark 15:18-19)

  44. Matt Robinson says:

    I wish I could remember the source.

    It is interesting to note that in the heirarchy of the prayer’s structure, it goes from praying for those who closest to Christ to those who successively further away. The prayers for the perfidis come before the prayers for the infidis, so the perfidis must in some way as Jews, be more than simply a group who is totally unfaithful. Perhaps in the Early Church, they saw the Jews as semi-believers for trying to keep the Mosaic Law ect.

    I do know that the Latin has nothing to do with the English idea of perfidy – treachery ect. Fr. Z effectively argues that it is not as loaded a term as people (including a lot of Traditional types) believe.

  45. Derik Castillo says:

    The way I understand it, the prayer does not necessarily
    wishes wrong to the Jew Religion, but the fulfilment
    of all the promises God made to his People.

  46. Malta says:

    Some of my best friends and supporters in this world have been Jews. However, I must say, if our current Pope waters-down the Good Friday prayers anymore, he is going to invite true schism. It is a mortal sin to hate Jews, but it is also, possibly, a mortal sin not to pray for them. After all, we are Catholics? Or, at least I thought we were. I thought Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant, and created a New Covenant–at least that was the Catholic understanding until modernists took over. If you think Christ was a Sacrifice and not a waiter passing out crackers, you must believe He died for a reason; and this death was very serious and very salvific. Summorum Pontificum is going to be a motu proprio of straw if already, after five months, we are starting to pick away at the missal of 1962. Come on, Catholics! Let’s show some back-bone! Remember, we also pray for protestants and pagans. We should pray for all non-Catholics if we believe that Catholicism is the path to salvation (as I do.) Let’s not be pansy-ecumenists, where we care more about feelings than about salvation! Man-up, folks!

  47. Of course, Il Giornale and Reuters would never be given over to sensationalism! Nor would I ever sensationalise [sp!] in an ecclesiastical thriller over at http://renzodilorenzo.wordpress.com/ ! ! ! Never ! ! ! :)

  48. Mark says:

    I was disappointed that after such an erudite and insightful post explaining many aspects of praying for other faiths/races that the first comment is extra ecclesia nulla salus, and then this turns into a discussion about the text. Personally I find Fr Z’s original post much more interesting! (Sorry if this is just my Saturday morning “cranky” feeling!)

  49. Nick says:

    Maybe I am missing something here but when my wife became a Catholic under the direction of a St. Pius X priest in the late 1970s her last class was on “The Jews” (o boy — here it comes) — what she was taught by the priest is that a Catholic may not persecute Jews, speak ill of Jews, and must come to the defense of a Jew who is being persecuted…

    This is the same teaching I received growing up in my home, in my grade school, in my high school (a Benedictine Abbey) and at a Jesuit University (when it was Jesuit and Catholic). I do not believe that my wife and I were given any different teaching from other Catholics.

    Sometime in the 1970s my father commented that all his Jewish friends in the neighborhood had either died, or moved away, and no new Jewish families were moving in. His point was that if an observant Jew could not stay Kosher in your neighborhood — the neighborhood was in trouble. And half dozen years later the neighborhood became the largest gathering of the gay life style north of San Francisco.

  50. Malta says:

    You know, in a sense, the Traditional Mass was saved, as it were, in a cocoon, after the failed experiment of Paul VI’s “manufactured” liturgy. But now, I must wonder, if the cocoon is broken with Summorum Pontificum, and we might not be facing a dilluting of the very thing we had so hoped to preserve. The Catholic Church is not in stasis, but neither should it dispense with tradition just because of popular opinion.

    It seems to me, the more the Church tries to regularize with the world, the more she looses respect. Respect is not won with appeasement, but with steadfastness. There is nothing uncharitable or that smacks with bigotry in the good friday prayers.

    If the Catholic Church is ruled by the Anti Defamation League or the Southern Poverty Law Center, than God help her. We are really lost.

  51. James says:

    I’m puzzled why what is so obviously a purely political intrigue is being approached from so many theological angles. The Pope is bending (and probably breaking) under the pressure of a political group. Happened before, will happen again. Doesn’t touch my faith in the least.

  52. Well, we pray, anyway…

  53. Paul (south midlands) says:

    “There is no salvation outside the church” So do some people here still hold the ridiculous and absurd belief that everyone who is not a catholic is going to go hell?

    I would also point out that during World War 2, the Japanese executed (by beheading( a group of British and Australian soldiers who had raided singapore harbour and were later captured. They were somewhat oddly convicted of “Perfidy”. Generally understood meanings of words can change over time.

  54. Alexander says:

    Most priories and chapels of the Society of St. Pius X use older Roman Missals and books for the Holy Week ceremonies, probably from 1959 or 1955 (including the Holy Week reform), in which the ‘perfidis’ (unbelieving) is still contained. The Institute of Chris the King has such still too uses those editions, some even use (with Holy See indult) the pre-1955 Holy Week, which includes the omission of the genuflection as to not imitate the Jews who mocked Our Lord Jesus Christ by genuflecting before Him in chains. (The omission was a 9th century custom, not universally observed, while the original Oremus pro perfidis Judaeis prayer indeed stems from the 4th century A.D., is older in fact that the Gelasian Sacramentary even!)

    As for an alternative prayer for the conversion of the Jews, I cite the great Pope Pius XI’s Act of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Our Saviour:

    Most sweet Jesus,
    Redeemer of the human race,
    look down upon us,
    humbly prostrate before Thine altar.

    We are Thine and Thine we wish to be;
    but to be more surely united with Thee,
    behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today
    to Thy Most Sacred Heart.

    Many, indeed, have never known Thee;
    many, too, despising Thy precepts,
    have rejected Thee.

    Have mercy on them all,
    most merciful Jesus,
    and draw them to Thy Sacred Heart.

    Be Thou King, O Lord,
    not only of the faithful who have never forsaken Thee,
    but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned Thee,
    grant that they may quickly return to their Father’s house,
    lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.

    Be Thou King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions,
    or whom discord keeps aloof
    and call them back to the harbour of truth and unity of faith,
    so that soon there may be but one flock and one shepherd.

    Be Thou King of all those who even now sit in the shadow of idolatry or Islam,
    and refuse not Thou to bring them into the light of Thy kingdom.

    Look, finally, with eyes of pity upon the children of that race,
    which was for so long a time Thy chosen people;
    and let Thy Blood, which was once invoked upon them in vengeance,
    now descend upon them also in a cleansing flood of redemption and eternal life.

    Grant, O Lord,
    to Thy Church,
    assurance of freedom and immunity from harm;
    give peace and order to all nations,
    and make the earth resound
    from pole to pole with one cry:
    Praise to the Divine Heart
    that wrought our salvation:
    to it be glory
    and honour forever.

    Amen.

  55. Alexander says:

    Yes, Paul (from the south midlands), I do hold that outside the one, holy, Catholic, apostolic and Roman Church nobody can be saved. By that statement I do not say that innocently erring, or innocently ignorant individuals cannot reach heaven. I think they can, by an act of perfect love infused by God’s mercy, still be saved. In the way God also saved the good individuals in Polynesia who until the late 1800s had never heard of the Gospel of the Lord. But people who are well informed, who know the Christian Faith and the necessity of the Catholic Church, and are sufficiently educated and to whom the Catholic Faith is sufficiently presented, and still not want to believe, be baptized and enter the Catholic and Roman Church (which is one and the same as the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, Humani generis, par. 27, 1950), indeed are outside salvation. But when is the Faith sufficiently presented to someone, and who is innocently ignorant, ignorant without personal guilty? We cannot judge that. That is the task of God the Son Who will sit in judgement over every member of the human race. I believe there are sadly many popes and bishops in hell (given the admonitions of St. John Chrysostom), while there are certainly natural monotheist believers in heaven. But who and who not? I do not know.

    Objectively all those outside the Catholic Church, especially those opposed vocally to her, are on a way into the eternal abyss of fire. That is objectively the case. Subjectively, only God knows.

    It is our Christian obligation to lead all non-Catholics to Jesus Christ, His Redemption and His one, true Church. By honest discussion, honest persuasion and mission, by honest Evangelization (without dishonest pressure), or by personal testimony of an examplary way of living.

    All those non-Catholics who are excused, however, only reach heaven by baptism of desire, by which the effects of the Sacrifice of the Cross of Our Lord Jesus are applied to them. And they are saved through the Catholic and Roman Church, despite their possibly false personal religious affiliation. This is important to realize. Of course there were many bad Catholics – morally speaking – and many – naturally morally speaking – good or human-loving non-Christians. That is a mystery. Having Faith alone does not suffice. One must have Love too. Satan has Faith, he believes all dogmas, but he has and has shown no love. That is why he condemned himself to hell. The same goes for us human persons in the end. We must choose the good, and God is the supreme good.

    If however you continue to publicly hold the Catholic dogma Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus (properly understood, neither Feeneyite, nor in an heretically Origenist/Apocatastasian way) to be “ridiculous and absurd”, then you are not a Catholic and possibly not even a Christian. It is very logical then, that you would also reject Our Lord who taught that nobody cometh to the Father except through Him.

    “Narrow is the way, and there are few that follow it.”

    May in future the as of yet unbelieving Jews sing again, not before the Antichrist who may also appear among them, but before Our Lord the God-man Jesus Christ, the ‘Hosanna Filio David’. ‘Blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord!’ See the Maschiach of Beth-Israel. The Living Manna, the Living Bread, born in Bethlehem (which in Hebrew means “House of the Bread”).

  56. anon says:

    JEFF PINYAN: thank you for the answer. But the Passion accounts you cited only say the soldiers bent the knee to mock Jesus. How do we know they were Jews and not Romans?

  57. LCB says:

    Couldn’t this be chalked up to true organic development of liturgy?

  58. Maureen says:

    Re: Pope Pius XI prayer

    Oh, that won’t raise any hackles. Oh, no. *roll eyes*

    Can we have a little charity of expression, here? A member of the SSPX certainly ought to understand the feelings of a prickly outsider group. Imagine how you’d feel if we started praying for the SSPX on Good Friday in the words you’ve suggested, and made sure we told you all about it. Wouldn’t the SSPX regard that as a hideous unreparable insult?

    The good Pius was writing a prayer that only Catholic Christians would be likely to see. We live in the Internet age, and must assume that strangers are watching everything we do. So all our public prayers ideally have an eye toward evangelization; and that’s proper.

    Let us be all things to all men, so that, by all means, we might save some!

  59. Michael says:

    James: “I’m puzzled why what is so obviously a purely political intrigue is being approached from so many theological angles. The Pope is bending (and probably breaking) under the pressure of a political group. Happened before, will happen again. Doesn’t touch my faith in the least.”

    Because a political move has theological implications. This type of thing has happened before, but this time the Pope has changed the LITURGY because of pressure from a NON-CATHOLIC, dare I say anti-Catholic, pressure group. This doesn’t just effect the Pope, but the received tradition of the Church and how every extraordinary form going Catholic in the world prays to God on the commemoration of His passion. When past popes have removed words from the prayer, they did so of their own volition. But I find it hard to believe that Benedict would have spontaneously written a new prayer for the Jews if he weren’t under pressure to do so from aggressive Jewish organizations across the world.

  60. Maureen says:

    If you’re not a member of SSPX, btw, I apologize. Close reading of posts is not my forte in the morning before breakfast.

    (I keep forgetting that food is good for the brain.)

  61. Jordan Potter says:

    Michael said: This type of thing has happened before, but this time the Pope has changed the LITURGY because of pressure from a NON-CATHOLIC, dare I say anti-Catholic, pressure group.

    You’re assuming that Tornielli’s rumors that he has been spreading are true. But there’s one major thing wrong with Tornielli’s rumors: he says within a few days we should expect the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to publish this revised prayer, and yet under church law, as established by motu proprio data Summorum Pontificum (7 July 2007), it is Ecclesia Dei that would make any such revisions to the traditional Roman Rite. The CDW doesn’t have jurisdiction here, and last week Msgr. Perl of Ecclesia Dei said this matter of the prayer for conversion of the Jews was “not a priority at this time” for Ecclesia Dei, and it won’t be addressed in the new document due out before Easter on the proper implementation of Summorum Pontificum. So, whoever Tornielli’s been listening to doesn’t seem to be very reliable. Therefore, as I’ve said before, I’ll believe it when I see it.

    This question is very controversial, is a matter of great import — and in the Vatican, such matters do not get addressed so quickly, so hastily, as Tornielli’s rumor is saying. Just remember that rumors of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum were flying for years before the text was ready and finally promulgated. But the motu proprio just came out in July, so in my judgment there’s no chance the traditional Mass will be changed in any way by March — especially since any change at all, let alone this change, would be sure to cause more problems than it would ostensibly solve.

  62. Habemus Papam says:

    Jordan Potter, good points and I hope you’re right. Theres no obvious benefit to be had by changing this prayer whereas it would raise plenty of difficulties.

  63. ALL: Does anyone remember at all why I posted this entry?

  64. “In other words, perfidi refers to Jews, because they had the faith, then broke it; whereas infidels refers to those who never had the faith: pagans and Muslims. Is this correct?”

    I was always under the impression that the Mohammadans fell under the category of heretics. They do believe in Jesus as the Messias and fulfilment of the prophecies, but do not accept His divinity–somewhat similar to the early Gnostic and Arian heresies, which is of course what Mohammad drew from. Can someone clarify?

  65. Alexander says:

    Oremus et pro perfidis Lefebvristis; ut Deus et Dominus noster auferat velamen de cordibus eorum; ut et ipsi agnoscant Concilium Magnum Spiritus Sancti Secundum Vaticanum, Dominum nostrum.

    Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui etiam Lefebvristarum perfidiam a tua misericordia non repellis: exaudi preces nostras, quas pro illius coetus obcaecatione deferimus; ut, agnita veritatis tuae luce, quae Concilium Vaticanum Secundum cum renovatione liturgiae Romanae est, a suis tenebris eruantur.

    Some signs are making me fear, that Tornielli may be right. He was right on the MP SPC and other issues too. I fear…. Especially given the personal history of the theologian Joseph Ratzinger vis-a-vis modern (Talmudic) Judaism and his previous actions in the Vatican (e.g. lighting a Menorah inside St. Peter’s Basilica….

    I do not want to sound bitter.

    As for the SSPX, I am not a member of that group. I think they would just laugh about a prayer like the one above posted by me (beginning of this post).

    Why would they care?

    And it is nonsense to state that the Prayer of Consecration to the Sacred Heart could be not read by Jews at the time. All Jews could read it. It is a very loving prayer actually, in my eyes and in the eyes of Jewish converts like Sister Teresa Benedicta a Cruce too. As if the “Internet Era” makes necessary a change of the immemorial Roman Liturgy or prayers…..

    I just laugh at a Talmudic Jew praying a curse over me and calling for me to be exterminated (as I am a Nazarene of course, a Christian with rabbinically speaking, Jewish ancestry) in the Birkat ha minim. Why I laugh? I know that Our Lord will not hear such of their prayers anyway.

  66. Matt Robinson says:

    I was always under the impression that the Mohammadans fell under the category of heretics. They do believe in Jesus as the Messias and fulfilment of the prophecies, but do not accept His divinity—somewhat similar to the early Gnostic and Arian heresies, which is of course what Mohammad drew from. Can someone clarify?

    No I don’t think so. One has to be baptized Christian in order to have the title of heretic. Since Islam is a completely alien religion, though one which is explicit in rejecting Christ, they are rightly termed infidels, or unbelievers not heretics.

  67. Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. says:

    Maureen noted (quite well): “I noticed that Jewish men were supposed to thank God for their heart’s discernment of night from day. Peter and cockcrow, anyone? There you’d be, automatically thanking God—and there God would be, looking right at you.”

    Thank you, Maureen. This is something I’ve never heard nor considerd. This puts Peter’s denial in a whole new light for me. It is something I will be meditating on.
    +++++

    Alexander, what a great concise definition of “Extra ecclesiam nulla salus.” One of the best I’ve seen. Would you mind if I used it? How would you like it attributed? (You can respond directly to jscottbaileycssr@aol.com)

    Sorry, Fr. Z. There is no other way to comment on the comments. My comment on your post follows.
    +++++

    All of us sense through filters that have been developing since childhood or even birth. Among the contributing factors to these filters are our families, our stories and lore, and our history. Much of what makes up those filters is not part of our conscious awareness. This is very evident in the ways we react to things and are surprised at our reactions.

    The Jewish people have a collective filter that goes back many thousands of years. Their collective history vis a vis Christianity is not pleasant and involves persecution, blame, separation, marginalization, hatred, ignorance, and genocide, among others, on the part of Christians, which for most of history means Catholics. Whether factual or not, events which color their history are very difficult to overcome, especially when they are traumatic. I think, with few exceptions, it would be almost impossible for a Jew to hear these prayers in a positive light. Even those who are very well educated still have the collective filter buried deeply within.

    As an example I cite my own experience. Growing up in a Boston suburb we had a few African American children in school. They were all great kids and I don’t remember any racist incidents taking place. They had a different color skin, but so what? One of the girls was a friend of mine through high school. My sister’s best friend was African American. My parents taught us they were people like everybody else. Unfortunately society taught something different. It was the time of forced bussing in Boston and there was a lot of recist rhetoric flying. I thought it was awful and mean. People are people. Period. But not everyone agreed and they were the loudest. I never felt I was a racist or that racism was part of my filter until, while working at a super market during the night, an African American man came in to shop. He was dressed like any other guy in his early 20s…there was nothing to make him stand out except for the color of his skin. As he checked out I was bagging his groceries for the cashier and he asked me, “Why were you watching me?” I hadn’t even realized I was watching him. But, despite my conscious experiences, my unconscious filters took over and I acted in a way that surprised me. The point is, it’s very difficult to overcome our filters. It takes a lot of hard work. And even then, they might not be gone.

    I think, with few exceptions, any Jew who hears the Good Friday prayer will hear it as offensive. Even if they know the reason for it and understand exactly what we mean. I think different Catholics will hear it differently. Some have found it to be a prayer rooted in love that these children of God would be converted to the Church and saved. Others have heard in it a directive for anti-Semitism, a reason to justify hate and discrimination.

    Given this, I don’t think the prayer needs to be changed or modified even from it’s earliest versions. Unfortunately people will hear what they hear and this will take ages to change. But, Deo gratias, it isn’t my call. The Holy Father is a man of great integrity, spirituality, and learning. I have no doubt his decision will be made under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and after much consideration. Let us all pray for him.

  68. Peter Kwasniewski says:

    This may not be relevant anymore, but since there is discussion of the omission of kneeling at the prayer prior to John XXIII, here is what I found in my Saint Andrew Daily Missal by Dom Gaspar Lefebvre, O.S.B., of the Abbey of S. Andre, published by the E. M. Lohmann Co. in Saint Paul, MN, with a (c) of 1949/1953, and an imprimatur from Cardinal Stritch, 1953.

    On p. 304 the Solemn Prayers for Good Friday begin, and they all have the “Oremus. Flectamus genua,” etc. — except when we get to p. 306: “Let us pray also for the faithless Jews…” beneath which is said, in small print: “Here Oremus, etc. is not said, but the celebrant proceeds as follows.”

    This Missal also has a Supplement that begins on p. 1121, entitled: “The Restored Paschal Vigil.” That gives you a sense of the juncture at which it appeared.

  69. Simon Platt says:

    Dear Father,

    I at least remember how the post started – although I suppose that once a popular blogger releases a post into the wild he has to expect it to develop a life of its own.

    For my own part I care not a jot what the Jews might say about me when they pray – except of course that for their sake and for Christ’s I devoutly pray for their conversion. Apropos of which, I think that the outrage at the Good Friday prayers is synthetic. Someone wrote this above:

    Somehow I do not think that it is observant Jews who would be putting pressure on Rome to change the Prayer for the Conversion of the Jews.

    and I heartily concur. I think the 1962 changes in this regard were imprudent, and I pray that the Holy Father does not alter any prayers to meet the supposed objections of non-catholics. I’m sure that he will not – at least, if there is a change, I pray that his motives will be sound.

  70. Francis Brennan says:

    Fr. Z.,

    If the Holy Father does intend to change the 1962 prayer for Jews, he is likely reflecting the urgent need of all Judeo-Christians to close ranks in order to repel the deadly threats posed by militant Islam and militant secularism.

    Thank goodness Pope Benedict has a proper perspective on the crucial issues of our time.

  71. Bibliothecarius says:

    Fr. Z closed his initial commentary on the article by pointing out the affective dimension of the issue: that the prayer for the Jews cannot be seen by observing Jews in the same way as we do as Christians. This is due to the emotional history of the Jewish people in the context of walking through history not only in pre-Christian times but especially since Christ established His Church. I have found this myself in my relations with some of my Jewish friends. They carry such a heavy emotional baggage of what it means to be a Jew, and a suspicion of those who would suggest that their Jewish experience could be fulfilled by Christ and the Church he left with us. Hearing that there is a passage in the Gospels that “disparages” the Jews, they can only see the Gospel in that context. If encouraged to read the entire context of that same Gospel passage, they refused, staying safe and unchallenged within the confines of their own interpretation. And this is the sadness of the situation, where we as Christians hear the Good News of salvation, the Jewish people are emotionally conditioned to distrust it. Evangelization then becomes even more difficult. Once one “puts the potato on the fork” as a close relative described it when she offered Christ as Savior to her Jewish friend, one runs up against over 4,000 years of emotional conditioning. And so, therefore, we do indeed pray for the Jews, and ask that the veil be lifted, for what else can we do?

  72. (Sorry, I meant to write \”almost half a century ago\”. But my point remains: Mr. Sudlow thinks it\’s about time to stop tinkering with the liturgy, when in fact, judging by history, it\’s about time that we started, since 1962 to 2008 is the longest non-tinkering period in Catholic history.)

  73. Alexander says:

    Sorry Bibliothecarius, but it is not so much “4,000 years of emotional traumas” as it is Talmudic racist-superiorist Judaic attitudes who believe the Jews themselves are the Messiah. There are even theological tendencies among them declared the Jewish People as a whole divine. The Church was not around 2000 B.C. at all. Despite having Jewish ancestry, I am aware that modern (Enlightenment – read Voltaire) racial antisemitism was preceded by religious antijudaism. Again, those initial anti-judaic tendencies were caused by the Talmudic superiority teachings, by the denegrating treatment of goyim by Jews (I only mention leading Jews’ roles in slaves’ trading), and by the money lendering (with huge usurious interest rate) of the Medieval Jews (I know Christians are to blame for that too, as the Jews were prevented from other guilds and professions), who again were unfaithful to the Law of Moses by usury and demanding interest. Those factors also contributed – along with extremist azkhenasi Jewish sects in northern Italy and certain murders – to the popular sentiment against the Jews. Not this Roman Rite Good Friday prayer. The most intense antisemitic pogroms happened in Eastern European Byzantine countries, where no Good Friday bidding prayers are even present. Again, in Rome and the Papal States many, many Jews lived in peace. (Until the treason records under the government of Pius V and some of his successors, as certain Jewish tradesmen bargained with the Osman Turkish enemies.) And not in vain most Jews wanted to live in Roman Rite Catholic Poland and not Protestant Prussia (under Enlightenment and Masonic rule, even then, Jews were despised officially there), and certainly not in Byzantine Russia or Ukraine.

    What ís true, is that Jews are generally very defensive about their ethnic background (even though Jews are not an uniform “race” like Danes or Irish are considered to be) and their religious affiliation. This is due to the Shoah genocide, but not only. Even previously due to their social situation between assimilation and identity (faith) crises etc. They suffer a sad fate, and only the fullness of Israel – the Catholic Church of the one, true Messiah – can releave the poor Jews from their problems. “Without Me, you cannot do anything!”

  74. Jordan Potter says:

    Alexander said: Sorry Bibliothecarius, but it is not so much “4,000 years of emotional traumas” as it is Talmudic racist-superiorist Judaic attitudes who believe the Jews themselves are the Messiah.

    First of all, it is impossible for “attitudes” to believe anything. Secondly, I find a lot of Catholics throwing around the word “Talmud” and “Talmudic” in a pejorative sense, when there’s good reason to believe these Catholics haven’t read a single tractate of the Talmud.

    As for a belief that the Jew themselves are the Messiah, that’s certainly not a teaching of Orthodox Judaism, nor is it taught in the Talmud or in rabbinic tradition, which identifies the Messiah as a specific person, a man descended from Zerubbabel, grandson of King Jehoiachin.

    There are even theological tendencies among them declared the Jewish People as a whole divine.

    I don’t know where you’re getting such notions, Alexander. Any idea that the Jewish People are divine would be rejected as heretical by Orthodox Jews. How could they get upset with Christians for claiming Jesus is both God and Man, and then turn around and say that the Jewish People collectively are God?

    Despite having Jewish ancestry, I am aware that modern (Enlightenment – read Voltaire) racial antisemitism was preceded by religious antijudaism. Again, those initial anti-judaic tendencies were caused by the Talmudic superiority teachings, by the denegrating treatment of goyim by Jews (I only mention leading Jews’ roles in slaves’ trading), and by the money lendering (with huge usurious interest rate) of the Medieval Jews (I know Christians are to blame for that too, as the Jews were prevented from other guilds and professions), who again were unfaithful to the Law of Moses by usury and demanding interest.

    You’re mistaken. Christian anti-Judaism began in the second century A.D., and was not a reaction to any of these medieval phenomena, but grew out of the animosity between Judaism and Christianity engendered by the initial Jewish rejection of the Gospel. Perhaps the first, or one of the first, instantations of Christian anti-Judaism appears in the Epistle of Pseudo-Barnabas in the early second century. Anti-Judaism continued as a theme of Christian belief and apologetics for the next few centuries, until full-blown religious anti-Semitism (not just anti-Judaism) appears in the 300s A.D., perhaps most infamously in the homilies of St. John Chrysostom. The appearance of Christian anti-Judaism long predates the compiling of the Talmuds, and the forced ghettoization of Jews by Christians that led to the later social phenomena you mention. Catholics must recognize that both Jews and Catholics have sinned against each other. It is unhelpful to say the least for Catholics to try to argue that it was the Jews’ own fault or to justify the misbehavior of Catholics by exaggerating the sins of Jews.

  75. Felix says:

    To move to another point.

    My understanding is that Orthodox Jewis men thank the Lord for making them men, because this gives them more time for prayer, compared to woemn who are necessarily preoccupied with home and children).

    (It’s like a monk thanking the Lord for his vocation, which permits him to spend more time in prayer.)

  76. Tomas Lopez says:

    No no, Felix, an Orthodox man does not thank the LORD “for making me a man” but rather “for not making me a woman.” In fact, each of these three brachos are phrased in the negative: “for not making me a gentile”, “for not making me a woman”, and “for not making me a slave”. Google the phrase “shelo asani ishah” if you would like more on what reasons commentators have proposed. I know for sure that Orthodox and Conservadox use the negative phrasing, but I believe that Conservative (which means liberal) and Reform (which means ultra liberal!) Jews may state it the way you do in your post (though I have never seen their siddur).

  77. Marzio says:

    As Catholics, obedience to the Magesterium is not an option. As a Secular Franciscan, the promise of holy obedience is very real and is not part of a buffet of options.

    While the words are important, what is more critical is what is inside each of us. For God knows what is in the hearts of all of us. I am reminded of the words of dear Pope John Paul II, who said on the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising:

    “As Christians and Jews, following the example of the faith of Abraham, we are called to be a blessing for the world [cf. Gen. 12:2]. This is the common task awaiting us. It is therefore necessary for us, Christians and Jews, to be first a blessing to one another. This will effectively occur if we are united in the face of evils which are still threatening: indifference and prejudice, as well as displays of anti-Semitism”.

    So, as John Paul said, let any prayer we speak be a blessing to each other.

    Pax et Bonum