Friday, 8 February 2008

The prayers of Good Friday for the Jews

Pope Benedict XVI has rewritten the intercessory prayer for the conversion of the Jews in the Mass of the Presanctified of the 1962 missal. Here are the old and new versions (acknowledgements to Fr. Z):

The 1962 missal:

Oremus et pro Iudaeis: ut Deus et Dominus noster auferat velamen de cordibus eorum; ut et ipsi agnoscant Iesum Christum Dominum nostrum. ...

Let us also pray for the Jews: that our Lord and God take away the veil from their hearts; that they too may acknowledge Jesus Christ to be our Lord.

Omnipotens sempiternae Deus, qui Iudaeos etiam a tua misericordia non repellis: exaudi preces nostras, quas pro illius populi obcaecatione deferimus; ut agnita veritatis tuae luce, quae Christus est, a suis tenebris eruantur. Per eundem Dominum.

Almighty eternal God, who also does not repel the Jews from Your mercy: graciously hear the prayers which we are conveying on behalf of the blindness of that people; so that once the light of Your Truth has been recognized, which is Christ, they may be rescued from their darkness.

New version 2008:

Oremus et pro Iudaeis: ut Deus et Dominus noster illuminet corda eorum, ut agnoscant Iesum Christum salvatorem omnium hominum.

Let us also pray for the Jews: that our God and Lord may illuminate their hearts, that they acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui vis ut omnes homines salvi fiant et ad agnitionem veritatis veniant, concede propitius, ut plenitudine gentium in Ecclesiam Tuam intrante omnis Israel salvus fiat. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Almighty and eternal God, who want that all men be saved and come to the recognition of the truth, propitiously grant that even as the fullness of the peoples enters Your Church, all Israel may be saved. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

The change does not in any way alter the substance of the prayers, and removes the apparently polemical connotations of the original. In doing so he has sent out the message that the church still wants and prays for the conversion of the Jews, along with all the gentiles. Also he has set a precedent for any future reform of the 1962 missal, that it be in continuity with what has happened before.

Nevertheless one does not feel entirely happy about this. The original prayers when seen in their original context are not and were never intended to be a polemic against the Jews. They do no more than express what has been taught by St. Paul. If the change was motivated primarily by Vatican diplomacy, it has satisfied nobody on either side, and I doubt very much if the SSPX people will adopt it in their Good Friday celebrations. And one cannot help feeling this is premature, and updating the liturgical calendar is a more important priority.

However as has been said, Roma locuta est: causa finita est. Let us hope that any future alterations be done with the greatest sensitivity and care, because there is still the possibility that the liberal liturgical establishment will seek to destroy the ancient Roman rite from within.

STOP PRESS: I have just been informed that the Transalpine Redemptorists on Papa Stronsay, who are affiliated with the SSPX and whose photo above of their Good Friday liturgy it is, have announced that they will adopt the new prayers.

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