Friday, March 21, 2008

We have always been praying for the Jews!

Dear Friends,

You've probably all heard about the controversy surrounding the Pope's new Good Friday intercession for the conversion of the Jews (as well as reports that the prayer will soon be "explained" to the indignant Jewish community by the Vatican Secretary of State). But that will be recited tomorrow by only a miniscule proportion of the Catholic clergy, namely those who use the Traditional Missal and who have decided to obey the Pope's instruction to use this prayer. (Many SSPX, 'independent' and of course, sedevacantist, priests won't be doing that.)

So why have the media been totally silent about the fact that all the million-plus Latin-rite Catholic clergy and religious who use the new (Novus Ordo) liturgy, from the Pope on down, will pray explicitly for the conversion of the Jews on the afternoon or evening of this coming Easter Sunday?

As they have been doing, in fact, for the last 37 years on this principal feast of the Church's calendar. And on at least half a dozen other days every year.

I am referring to the Divine Office (now also called the "Liturgy of the Hours") which supplements the Mass in the Chuch's official daily worship. Most lay Catholics know little about it, but its daily prayers are obligatory for all clergy, nuns, and religious brothers. For instance, on the last day of every year (December 31 at Lauds or "Morning Prayer"), the Church prays: "O Christ, God and man, you fulfil the prophecies as David's Lord as well as his son: we beseech you that Israel may recognize you as Messiah (te rogamus, ut Israel te Messiam agnoscat)".

Second only to the Mass in importance for Catholic worship is Vespers ("Evening Prayer"), and throughout the whole 7-week Easter season the Novus Ordo has an evening prayer for the conversion of the Jews almost every week. Sometimes this is only implied, as for instance, at Vespers on the vigil of the final (7th) Sunday of the season, wherein the Church addresses the following prayer to Jesus: "May all the peoples praise you as King and God, and may Israel become your possession (et Israel fiat possessio tua)". (That is, may the sons and daughters of Israel come under Christ's dominion as members of his Church.) And for Vespers on Wednesday of the second and fourth weeks of Easter we find this prayer: "[O God], who chose your Son's first disciples from among the Jewish people, reveal to the children of Israel the reciprocal promise (repromissio) made to their fathers." (This is a reference to the promise announced to their fellow-Jews by Peter and the other apostles at Pentecost, that they would receive the Holy Spirit and salvation in return for believing in Christ and accepting baptism.)

Very explicit, on the other hand, is the Vespers prayer for Easter Sunday - the most important of all the annual Catholic feasts. It addresses Jesus in these words: "May Israel recognize in you her longed-for Christ (Israel in te Christum spei suae agnoscat), and may the whole earth be filled with the knowledge of your glory." This prayer is then repeated on the evenings of the third and fifth Sundays of the Easter season.

In short, the Holy Father's recently promulgated Good Friday prayer simply repeats the same perennial doctrine that the Novus Ordo liturgy has already been making explicit for nearly four decades.

Please pass on this piece of "censored" news to those on your e-mail list who could be interested. Especially if they happen to be Jewish. (Those "progressive" Catholic bishops and priests and bishops who have been dialoguing with our Jewish brethren for many years have apparently not let them in on this little "secret" to be found in our official prayer-book. Don't they have a right to know?)

Wishing you all every blessing for Easter,

Fr. Brian Harrison, O.S.

St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.

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