The Pope has changed the Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews. Last year, when he re-authorised the Tridentine Mass, he included the 1962 prayer. Jewish organisations like the Anti-Defamation League got all upset. The ADL said it was “a theological setback in the religious life of Catholics and a body blow to Catholic-Jewish relations, after 40 years of progress between the Church and the Jewish people.”
A theological setback? The Jewish ADL is pronouncing upon Catholic theology? Isn’t that just a little presumptuous? Not only is it a “theological setback”, but it apparently has some sort of affect on the religious life of Catholics. Do the ADL think that Catholic religious life takes one bit of notice of one liturgical prayer on one day of the year? It seems to me they are grasping for a reason to get offended.
The Pope has changed the prayer, but it isn’t good enough. The ADL says the changes are only “cosmetic revisions”.
The problem is that both prayers are essentially for God to have mercy upon the Jews and save them. Rabbi David Rosen, chairman of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations sums it up:
It is a disappointment. While I appreciate that the text avoids any derogatory language towards the Jews, it is regrettable that the prayer explicitly aspires for Jews to accept the Christian faith, as opposed to the text in the current universal liturgy that prays for the salvation of the Jews in general terms.
All I can hope for is that, through further dialogue, the full implications of the Second Vatican Council’s affirmation of the eternity of the Divine Covenant with the Jewish people might lead to a deeper understanding of the value of Torah as the vehicle of salvation for the Jewish people.
The only problem is that if the Catholic Church recognises the value of the Torah “as a vehicle of salvation” it denies the Faith. Plain and simple. I’m sorry if that’s a body blow to Catholic-Jewish relations. There is no salvation outside of Christ. “He came to His own and His own did not received Him.” I’d say a prayer for mercy is about the kindess thing the Catholic Church could do.
I’ve put both versions of the prayer below the fold.
It would seem the Jewish lobbying organisations aren’t worried about Orthodox Christian-Jewish relations. Or maybe they can’t be bothered to go through the pages of our Good Friday liturgy. If the ADL and Rabbi Rosen want some theology, perhaps they should look there. I’ve also put some of that below the fold.
The original version (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. Let us pray. Let us kneel. Arise.
Almighty and eternal God, who dost also not exclude from thy mercy the Jews: hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people; that acknowledging the light of thy Truth, which is Christ, they may be delivered from their darkness. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen
The revised version (2008)
We pray for the Jews. That our God and Lord enlighten their hearts so that they recognise Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all mankind. Let us pray. Kneel down. Arise.
Eternal God Almighty, you want all people to be saved and to arrive at the knowledge of the Truth, graciously grant that by the entry of the abundance of all peoples into your Church, Israel will be saved. Through Christ our Lord, Amen
Jews in the Orthodox Holy Friday Services
The Life of all, yet You were condemned to death. The very ones who crossed the Red Sea by the power of Moses’ staff, nailed You to the Cross. Those whom You nourished with honey from the rock, fed You gall. But willingly You endured, to free us from the bondage of the enemy. Christ our God, glory to You.
Thus says the Lord to His countrymen: “My people, what have I done to you or how have I disturbed you? I gave light to your blind; your lepers I cleansed; a bed-ridden man I raised up. My people, what have I done for you, and how have you repaid me? In place of manna you gave me gall; instead of water, vinegar; instead of loving me you nailed me to the Cross. No longer then can I endure. I will summon to me the nations and they will glorify me, together with the Father and the Spirit. And to them will I grant eternal life.”
Pharisees and lawgivers of Israel, the company of the Apostles calls out to you: “Behold the Temple which you have destroyed; behold the lamb whom you have crucified. You consigned Him to the tomb, but by His own power he arose. Do not deceive yourselves. For it is He who saved you from the sea and fed you in the wilderness. He is life and light and the peace of the world.”
When the lawless nailed You to the Cross, the Lord of glory, You spoke thus to them: “How have I grieved you? How have I angered you? Before me who rescued you from afflictions? And now what is given to me in return? Evils for blessings; a Cross for the pillar of fire; an open grave for the sheltering cloud; gall for manna; vinegar for water. So now I call the nations, and they will glorify me, with the Father, and the Holy Spirit.”
Great Vespers of the Deposition (Descent from the Cross)
How could the lawless assembly condemn to death the sovereign of the universe, unabashed as He reminded them of the benefits secured for them: “My people, what have I not done for you? Have I not sated Judea with wonders? Have I not raised the dead with but a word? Have I not cured all manner of sickness and infirmity? Yet how do you repay me? How can you be so unmindful of Me as to lay wounds on Me in return for healing; killing Me in return for life; hanging your benefactor on a cross like a felon, the lawgiver like one outside the law, the King of all like a man condemned?” Long-suffering Lord, glory to you.
Orthros for Holy and Great Saturday (Friday Evening) – Lamentations – Third Stanza
7. They whom the manna nourished lifted their heel against the Benefactor.
8. What madness, what Christicide, of those who slew the prophets!