26 March 2017


So people are busy fishing out rose vestments for 'Mothering Sunday'; although I'm unclear why today is so observed by those who do not follow either the Tridentine Rite or the 1662 Prayer Book. The theme of the old Roman Mass is (Galatians 4) of our Mother the heavenly Jerusalem; but in the modern rite, the Roman Pontiff is not instructed to have a statio at the basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem (the church which the Empress Helena, my Colcestrian concivis, devised to be 'Jerusalem in Rome' and to which she imported cartloads of soil from Jerusalem together with significant relics of the Crucifixion). Sadly, moreover, choirs are rarely required to sing all those lovely Siony texts which embellish the old propers. Common Worship, of course slavishly follows the modern Roman Rite in abandoning the theme of the Heavenly Jerusalem, our Mother; the City whose politeuma we enjoy.

Of course, those old propers and S Paul's teaching in Galatians 4 raise in an acute form the very problem involved in the Good Friday prayers for the Jews. Has God's Covenant with the Jews been superseded? Do they need to take Christ on board to be saved, or are they, alone of all races and peoples, given a Christless way to salvation? It seems to me clear that S Paul teaches throughout Romans that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile either in the problem - sin - or in the solution - faith in Christ. The 'Jews-are-to-remain-Christless' line rests upon an interpretation of Romans 11 which doesn't hold water; I recall that the founder of the late twentieth century New Line on S Paul, Ed Sanders, concluded that, qua exegete of Paul, he was obliged to admit that in Paul's view Jews as well as Gentiles needed Christ (although qua liberal he did not think that Paul's view was now plausible).

So: 'cast out the bondwoman and her son'; Jews both need and are entitled to Christ. The Old Covenant was the type, the shadow, of the reality which is Christ. Not, of couse, that it would be particularly seemly somehow to to seem to single out Jews for mission in a Western society which largely consists of lapsed Christians: it would seem as if we were saying 'We've made a hash of hanging onto our own people so now we're going to try to get our hands on yours'. But the principle needs maintaining; all have sinned and all need Christ.

I have sometimes wondered if Pope Benedict had in his mind, when revising the EF Good Friday Prayer for the Jews, that his own ordaining bishop, Cardinal von Faulhaber, was a member of the group Amici Israel, which proposed revision in the 1920s. (I seem to recall that Merry del Val may have been among those who scuppered the proposal.) But I am not convinced that, in its essence, the original Good Friday Bidding (Let us pray for the unbelieving Jews) was anti-semitic - on the contrary. There have always been Christian Jews and they are as fully privileged as any other Christians ... if not more so. In the Good Friday prayer we were not disdainfully and in a racist way praying against the Jews as a race but for those members of that race who do not believe. The reason why we prayed for them specifically (and not, e.g., by name for the Fijians) was simply their special place in God's dealings with Man and the steady New Testament witness, echoed in Pope Benedict's revised prayer, that the Eschaton will mean the combined redemption of Jew as well as Gentile. There is also, as S Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 10, a sharp reminder for all of us in the fact that the great majority of Jewry, for whom first the Euangelium was intended, failed to hear God's call.

I draw to your attention the book Index Lectionum A Comparative Table of Readings for the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite published in 2016 by Matthew P Hazell (and his wife Lucy; I reviewed it when it first came out. ISBN 978-1-5302-3072-3); if you want to take a serious interest in what the Bugnini junkies did after Vatican II, you really do need to have this book. At the flick of a wrist it reveals that the Novus Ordo Sunday Lectionary entirely dumped this old reading from Galatians (a pitifully bowdlerised version of it was allowed to survive on a Monday morning in Ordinary Time in alternate years).

I can just imagine Screwtape's glee: "The bad news, my dear Wormwood, is that the Christian leaders have decided to encourage their people to become more familiar with the pestilential Enemy propaganda known as The Bible. But all is not lost ... far from it! Our policy is now to work through the soi disant 'liturgical experts', whom we already have securely under our control. They will be easily persuaded to increase the amount of time reading the Bible in Church, while eviscerating the text of passages and ideas which we will convince them are 'difficult'. Thus any teaching which is not currently popular among a certain narrow portion of the intelligentsia in the 1960s will be carefully concealed. The next stage, which we have scheduled for the beginning of the Third Millennium, will be to use the dominant ideologues to promote the notion that the portions of Scripture which have been censored out of public use contain ideas which it is actually forbidden for Christians accept. We will then stir up particular, easily duped, constituencies (our planning department has the German and English episcopates particularly in mind) to demand peremptorily the elimination of these ideas from any public prayers".


Nicolas Bellord said...

I think the problem was with the word 'perfidious' which could be said just to mean lacking in the true faith but in modern parlance is very much more pejorative suggesting deliberate dishonesty which might have been true of some at the time of Christ but certainly not all Jews.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

That can hardly be the whole of "the problem" since, nearly half a century after 'good' S John XXIII removed 'perfidious', the Devil keeps on about the Good Friday prayer.

I suspect, in fact, that when the English Bishops were tricked into their ill-judged statement, some of them might have been rather vague about the whole subject and may have been under the impression that such or similar offensive language was indeed still in the EF. I am not sure that they all understood (a) that S John XXIII had cut out the offensive language and that (b) in any case Benedict XVI replaced the entire old prayer by a completely new composition of his own based on the language of S Paul in Romans 11.

I think there are strong grounds for suspecting that they were not told that the issue now was the elimination of a prayer composed in his own hand by Pope Benedict only a few years ago, so that what they were being asked join was a conspiracy to trash both Ratzinger personally and his Magisterium in general.

Not all the English bishops are anti-Ratzinger.

Patrick Sheridan said...

I thought that the Prayer was revised in the wake of the Zionist conquest of Palestine, when any criticism of Jews became popularly repulsive. Pius XII had considered changing the text of the Prayer, and not just the rubric, when Golda Meyerson (or "Meir") dangled the title of "righteous Goy" over him, but declined. There doesn't seem to be anything remotely coherent or desirable about this change to me and I am bitterly opposed to it. and as for Benedict's revised prayer, I'm afraid that is just political correctness.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val - winsome euphony so suffuses his name that to speak it is to sing - especially his entire name.

As for the prayer, Pope Pius XII refused a request by Zolli to change the prayer while another Pope (can't remember which) said that to change the Liturgy in that way would be to admit that we had erred.

However, ABS would be willing to endure one prayer of our Holy Mass blowed-up after a prayer of the Synagogue we find offensive is blowed-up.

We could say they must change a prayer first because, Age before beauty (even though the Catholic Church is older than the Rabbinate).

Feeling guilt over the Liturgy is a cheap form of feeling penitential.

Matthew M said...

Not to be "perfidious" but which does the ANGLICAN ORDINARIATE use? The Ordinary or Extraordinary form? Do they have their own Ordinariate form? This inquiring mind wants to know.

Pulex said...

"Nostra aetate" seems to be a missed opportunity to restore "perfidis/perfidiam", as this document provided a theologial explanation of these expressions. As the document says, the covenant with the Old Testament people was never revoked BY GOD. Which lets us to conclude that those Jews who did not accept Jesus as the Messiah unilaterally opted out of the covenant themselves. Then the allegedly offensive term would mean not so much a lack of belief (incredulitas), but rather a sort of contractual unfaithfulness (covenant is a kind of contract after all). God, on his part is faithful and keeps the door open to them, while the gentiles are still entering (as the pope Benedict's new prayer says), so they may come back.

Maureen Lash said...

The Ordinariate, I should hope, still prays for "Jews, Turks, Infidels and Hereticks".

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

No, Jerusalem by rights is Palestinian.

Prayerful said...

I have ordered the book Fr H mentioned. I'm close to finishing Dr Lauren Pistras' Collects of the Roman Missal (strongly suggests the New Mass is the poorer work in a scholarly, unpolemical way), so something in that comparative area will give me a little bit of knowledge. Not on Kindle like Dr Pistras' book, but inexpensive paperbacks are always good.

Related to the other comments. Criticising Judaism or saying things that could be seen as critical (eg the prayer for the conversion of the Jews) isn't really allowed these days. A person could make a surmise on that, if they are minded, or imprudent.

Sadie Vacantist said...

There are some great conspiracy theories about Nostra Aetate especially concerning Irish polyglot Malachi Martin. I subscribe to the view that the "virtual council" to which the Pope emeritus drew our attention was instigated by the US media of which Martin became part following his mysterious departure from the Jesuits. All these attacks on Bugnini, Rahner and pantomime villain Kasper don't really add up. The key is America and its deep state.

John Vasc said...

The Good Friday prayers were, and should be, a brisk, comprehensive run round the globe's heretical communities and an appeal to God's grace for them to convert and accept Christ as the Saviour of the world. They have now been diluted down to a bland, anodyne tick-box list of 'other-believing believers', like an annual round-robin card for neighbours we never meet.
'We pray also for those at No. 43, who are really quite deserving in their way, and of course we hope they successfully carry on doing whatever it is they, erm, do.'

Worded as they are, they are scarecly worth even saying, let alone 'flexing the knees' for.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Albrecht von Brandenburg: I do not know what rights you think the Palestinians have over Jerusalem but can you not imagine a Jerusalem controlled by Muslims whose Koran advocated the killing of Jews and infidels? The Israelis may have many faults but there is reasonable tolerance of Muslims and Christians. It is certainly the less bad solution for the Israelis to be in control. Perhaps some kind of international solution would be better but the international organisations have not distinguished themselves.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Nicholas: I think the Babylonian Talmud is every bit as bad as the Koran, and leads to similar behavioural issues. This was confirmed empirically in a conversation with a friend who recounted one of his friends cutti g his holiday in the Middle East short due to the vile behaviour of Israelis towards him as a gentile - he had to leave or he'd kill someone, he was so angry. Theoretically, it's easy to therefore see why the Palestinians feel as they do. However, Israel and the Muslim ME countries are as bad as each other really, which brings me to the von Brandenburg ME peace plan - transfer the Israelis to Birobidjian and use the former country of Israel as a beach head for a crusade to liberate the Muslims by invading their countries and overthrowing their governments and install "Frankish" or at least local Christian principalities. There will then be nothing stopping the conversion of those Muslims.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"I think the Babylonian Talmud is every bit as bad as the Koran, and leads to similar behavioural issues."

I wonder, is the Talmud Yerushalmi somewhat more innocent?

I have heard that the Targum Yonathas is really Targum Yerushalmi, and think I have seen it at times recommended as OT comment by Fr George Leo Haydock in his compiled commentary?

And could this mean the Palestinian Jewry might be if still object of "oremus et pro perfidies iudaeis" somewhat less "perfidi" than others?