The Value of the Mass

The Value of the Mass
Up to our own times, it has been the constant concern of supreme pontiffs to ensure that the Church of Christ offers a worthy ritual to the Divine Majesty, 'to the praise and glory of His name,' and 'to the benefit of all His Holy Church - Pope Benedict XVI, Summorum Pontificum

Monday, July 23, 2007

We have lost faith in our faith.


Lately I've been reading a lot about people complaining about the Good Friday liturgy of the Extraordinary form of the Mass. You've heard the complaints too. "It's anti-Semitic", "How dare we pray for the conversion of the Jews?!" My question is, when did we loose faith in our faith? At what point in time did we actually begin to think that converting to the Church was a useless endeavor and that we shouldn't pray for peoples conversion? I would like to think that my conversion wasn't a waste.


This reminds me of a situation in my own life. I came from a Protestant background and from time to time I visit the side of my family that is protestant. They happen to also be anti catholic. One thing I can count on, though, when I go to visit is they always try to convert me back to their church. Am I offended? No. I know that they believe, and believe firmly, that their church is the true church of God and that my soul is in danger. Does this mean that they're anti-Zach? No, of course not. It means that they're pro-Zach. They actually believe what they say and don't give their faith only lip service. They actually care about me enough to want me to attain salvation and thus pray and strive for my conversion. I happen to think that they're wrong, but it doesn't upset me that they actually care about my soul. We just happen to disagree. This action in particular wouldn't be anti-catholic either. It is other actions they do that justify that title, and I don't wish to go into them now. That's not what this post is about.


So when did the Catholic Church loose faith in herself to lose that commitment? I personally think its false ecumenism that's to blame. When the Church teaching is skewed for 40+ years to the point of relativism then of course Catholics are going to think that other people don't need to convert. So if the Church prays for the conversion of Jews is it anti-Semitic? Of course not. The Church is no more anti-Semitic than my grandmother is anti-Zach. If anything, it's pro-Semitic. The Church needs to realise once again that "no one can come to the Father except by [Jesus]." That's it. End of story. Christ is not just simply a useless guru. The Church is not just an organization that exists to make people feel better about themselves. Christ is the only was to salvation and the Church is the only instrument through which that is accomplished.

11 comments:

Kristen said...

I don't think the problem is praying for conversion, per se, but singling out Jews, as if they are especially damned above all other non-Christians.

Praying for the conversion of all non-Christians removes the inherent opposition against Jews in particular. The Church indeed has a history of anti-Jewish rhetoric (as do most Protestants, as well, and they often more so). Such things must be understood within their historical context, and the context remains that Jews are often singled out, and not for benevolent reasons.

Singling them out would actually have an opposite effect: most would retreat from the Church. I believe the best solution here is to include all non-Christians.

Zach said...

Perhaps. Or, perhaps it shows that we have a peticular interest in the salvation of the Jews, being that Christ was one. If I understand your statement correctly, singling out somebody for salvation is an act of prejudice or hatred? Is it an act of hatred if I pray for your conversion?

You said we should take these things in context. Ok. The prayer in question occurs only during the Good Friday liturgy. It is prayed at this time because on Good Friday Christ was crucified by the Jews. (Yes, we can get into a theological debate that yes we all crucified Christ but what is being spoken of here is those who committed that actual act.) The Church, then, is just repeating the prayer of Christ at this liturgy when He prayed "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

St. Stephen repeated the prayer when he was being stoned by the Jews. Was he being anti-semetic too?

Kristen said...

"Perhaps. Or, perhaps it shows that we have a peticular interest in the salvation of the Jews, being that Christ was one."

But for one, should we? Should there not be an interest in the conversion of all non-Catholics? That is what I am wondering. This prayer developed in a dichotomy: it was Christians versus Jews.

"St. Stephen repeated the prayer when he was being stoned by the Jews. Was he being anti-semetic too?"

St. Stephen WAS a Jew, though. He was a Christian Jew and he was set up in opposition against his fellow Jews. It was an intimate prayer, as was Christ's.

I am not saying that this isn't the intention when a lot of people say this -- that it is an act of compassion. But the fact remains that it would not be a prayer for conversion said in an intimate context of connectivity, but pronounces their role as "the other". Singling them out as "the other" does set them in opposition, no matter what our intentions are. And the fact remains, many Catholics today ARE anti-semitic, and I fear that this may fuel that fire, is all. It seems to me that including all "unfaithful", or some other inclusive term, may be better.

But maybe you are correct. Scripture is sacred, and changing Christ's words might be bending God to human desires, so to speak. While I believe accomodations must be made when the alternative may be dangerous or pastorally improper, I am unsure of where the line is drawn.

Zach said...

"But for one, should we? Should there not be an interest in the conversion of all non-Catholics? That is what I am wondering. This prayer developed in a dichotomy: it was Christians versus Jews."

Who says there is not an interest in converting all non-catholics? My point is the context in which the prayer is said. Throughout the rest of the year the conversion of Christians in general and Catholics themselves is prayed for. The thing is that everybody is not mentioned by name every day.

"But the fact remains that it would not be a prayer for conversion said in an intimate context of connectivity, but pronounces their role as "the other". Singling them out as "the other" does set them in opposition, no matter what our intentions are."

I think you're assuming something that isn't there. That's like the radical feminist who doesn't like the word history because it has "his" in it. I suppose if somebody looks hard enough they can find a complaint for just about anything under the sun. Should 1000+ years of history be eraised because somebody reads something into a text that isn't there?

"many Catholics today ARE anti-semitic, and I fear that this may fuel that fire, is all"

What's your evidence that many Catholics today are anti-semetic?

" or some other inclusive term"

ummm, ok. I have to dissagree with you here. Political correctness and "inclusive speech" is what has made the world this great egg shell to where anybody is afraid to say anthing for the sake of hurting somebody's feelings. Sometimes people just need to suck it up. I'm not saying that people should blatently take insults and prejudice, but at the same time people are way over sensitive these days and PC inclusive speech is one of the main culprates.

Kristen said...

I don't see a comparison between radical feminists and the average Jewish person.

I agree that PC inclusive speech CAN go a bit too far, but this doesn't mean that a happy medium cannot be reached to respect both the power of language within hegemonic infrastructures, as well as the beauty and power of the primary modes of speech outside of the hermeneutic of suspicion, which are valid in their own right.

And I have no statistical data to back up my statement. Just gleaning it from personal experience, and just the fact that there is still a lot of anti-Semitism in general in the world (and Catholics are the largest group of Christians in the world). Not a causation, mind you, just overlapping of data.

Like I said, perhaps you are correct. This really is all theory for me. (The accusation against The Passion as anti-Semitic was completely lost on me, as well as the outrage from the Muslim community over the Pope's speech, so I know where you are coming from.)

I am glad I found you on here! It was great getting to dialog with a Catholic seminarian.

I may be looking into Holy Family as a parish. I am kind of hopping about, unsure of where to land at this point in my life. Perhaps I will see you there.

Take Care,
Kristen

Zach said...

Well, just as a short comment as I don't have a lot of time today, I would recommend the 9:00 Mass at Holy Family. I think you'll be delighted by the large familys with many many little ones.

Steve said...

Jumping in late here but the plain fact is that Jews, while listed, are not singled out in the 1962 Good Friday prayers.

Prayer 1 is for "heretics and schismatics":

- For the unity of the Church. Let us pray also for heretics and schismatics, that our Lord and God may save them from their errors and be pleased to recall them to our holy Mother the Catholic and Apostolic Church.

- Let us pray: Almighty and everlasting God, You save all men and will that none should be lost; look down on those who are deceived by the wiles of the devil, that with the evil of heresy removed from their hearts, the erring may repent and return to the unity of Your truth. Through our Lord....

Prayer 2 is for the Jews:

- For the conversion of the Jews. Let us pray also for the Jews that the Lord our God may take the veil from their hearts and that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ.

- Let us pray: Almighty and everlasting God, You do not refuse Your mercy even to the Jews; hear the prayers which we offer for the blindness of that people so that they may acknowledge the light of Your truth, which is Christ, and be delivered from their darkness. Through the same our Lord...

And Prayer 3 is for the conversion of pagans, etc (infidelium)

For the conversion of pagans [Infidelium]:

- Let us pray also for the pagans, that almighty God may take away iniquity from their hearts, so that they may forsake their idols and be converted to the living and true God and His only Son, Jesus Christ, our God and Lord.

- Let us pray: Almighty and everlasting God, You always demand not the death but the life of sinners; in Your goodness hear our prayer; free them from the worship of idols and unite them to Your holy Church for the praise and glory of Your name. Through our Lord...

So it's not a matter of singling out Jews.

Kristen said...

Thanks so much for the clarification. So my point was moot anyway.

Ans thanks for the info, Zach. When I get back from vacation, I will definitely go to the 9am mass.

Best of Luck,

Kristen

Zach said...

Thanks for the comment Steve, it was very helpful. I guess that whole aspect just kind of flew past me. Hold on while I remove the foot from my mouth :-D

Steve said...

Not at all, Zach. No need for your foot to be in your mouth - you have an excellent and informed blog.

And had you posted the '62 Good Friday prayers, we'd have been deprived of the exchange that followed between you and Kristen.

I hope that Rome is extraordinarily (pardon the pun) sensitive when it comes to changes in the '62 Missal.

If they rashly change the conversion prayers or impose the new Lectionary, not only will they fail to attract the SSPX, they might actually push people over to the SSPX.

I'm certainly not in favor of an "ossified" rite - but at the same time tampering with the integrity of the Missal at this early stage could be disastrous.

Anonymous said...

What about a prayer for the Church to be kept from errors and iniquity?