New Old Latin Prayer


Pope Benedict has revised a prayer from the Latin Tridentine Rite that he recently reinstated for the Roman Catholic Church. The Tridentine Rite dates from the Catholic Reformation (16th century).  The Rite is known among other things for the priest facing his back to the people as in the photo.  In a Reformed (post 60s) liturgy, returning to the Patristic (pre-medieval) Rite, the priest faces the congregation.

The Good Friday service of the Tridentine Rite infamously contained a prayer recalling the “perfidy” of the Jews and seeking their conversion. When Benedict recently allowed this rite (upon request) to be reinstated, this prayer was a major sticking point. So Benedict has re-wrote but according to this article, both Jewish groups and ultra-traditionalist Catholic groups are unhappy with the change.

On the positive side the edited version of the prayer has removed a clause calling God to remove the veil from the Jews hearts (i.e. the veil that causes them to not see Christ as the Messiah–not endorsing this view btw).

However it still calls for the conversion of the Jews (which the post Vatican II Reformed Liturgy does not).  The new version reads:

An unofficial translation of the new prayer reads: “Let us pray for the Jews. May the Lord Our God enlighten their hearts so that they may acknowledge Jesus Christ, the savior of all men. “Almighty and everlasting God,” it continues, “you who want all men to be saved and to reach the awareness of the truth, graciously grant that, with the fullness of peoples entering into your church, all Israel may be saved.”

All Israel may be saved is the key phrase as it undercuts the rationale of all Jewish-Christian dialogue since Vatican II which has worked under the assumption–which Benedict himself was a major proponent of–that the Jewish covenant with God has not been superseded by the Christian one.  The Jews are saved by the Covenant with God not by accepting Jesus Christ–arguably this was the view of St. Paul himself.

But “only” praying for the conversion of all Jews to Christianity just won’t do for some uber-nutjobs.  This is classic:

On the other side of the debate, Kenneth J. Wolfe, a columnist for the traditionalist Catholic newspaper The Remnant, said traditionalists would have preferred no change at all. Mr. Wolfe said that the change “rattles the cage of traditionalists” and that it would probably make more difficult any rapprochement with traditionalist groups like the Society of St. Pius X, which rejects the Second Vatican Council and has appointed its own bishops.

The Remnant newspaper online is here.  Be warned.  Interestingly there is a  somewhat positive review on the page of the new prayer.

The Society of Saint Pius X did not accept the Second Vatican Council and believes the Chair of St. Peter remains vacant.  The re-introduction of the Latin Mass has been in part a lure to pull some of these fringe groups back in (think Mel Gibson, his father I believe is affiliated with the SSPX).  I had the interesting fortune to meet some in my days as a Jesuit.  Spooky.  But I have to say fringe religious sects have always been very intriguing to me.  Though as the Wiki on SSPX addresses, the status vis a vis Rome with this group (and certain movements within it) is ambiguous.

Published in: on February 6, 2008 at 7:29 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “SSPX” sounds like some kind of Christian metal band or something…

    Seriously though, is this prayer being reinstated to try to draw back some fringe groups? Does everyone have to use it? Is the Church really in a place where it needs the fringey folks to return? (since I have my own church fringe group issues to deal with I am always fascinated to learn about how others deal with their fringe folks)

  2. Metal band–nice.

    It’s not being forced. Dioceses (basically read bishops) request from the Vatican (as I understand it) permission. Or maybe now that it has been promulgated, permission as it were is blanket accepted across the broad.

    But it’s not common. There’s only one church in Cincinnati that I know of that has a Latin Mass and even that was in the reformed style.

    but yeah it is in part a measure to try to draw back in people who felt marginalized after the liturgical reforms. God did speak Latin of course.

    Some of it I think is that unfortunately the reformed rite too often in the mind of conservatives is equatable with hippies, bad folk guitar music in church, and happy clappy-ism.

    But in the Catholic Church fringe esp. in Europe is like wanting to bring back the Papal States. Killer I know. I had a guy once send me this article on a 10 point plan to reclaim the Papal States and its necessity in order to help speed up the timetable to the Apocalypse.


  3. my church is more like the catholics than it will ever admit. thanks for the extra info and amusement.

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