Sunday, November 29, 2015

Prayers for the Jews in the Liturgy of the Hours

Jesus and the SyroPhoneician Woman. Jesus insisted that He was sent only 
to the Jews, but allowed Himself to be won over by her faith. Mark 7:24-30
This, from a letter to The Remnant by the distinguished theologian Fr Brian Harrison, deserves a wider audience. The letter was written in the context of Pope Benedict's Prayer for the Jews, which that paper strongly supported. Fr Harrison is talking about the reformed Office, or Liturgy of the Hours, the Novus Ordo one, not the 1962 or any earlier edition.

His observations places the ambiguity of the 1970 Good Friday Prayer for the Jews into some liturgical context.

[O]n 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 the Christ she is hoping for (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.

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  1. What translation is being used here? It differs from the (authorised) 1974 translation.

    1. The 1974 English translation is at Morning Prayer (31 December)

      Christ, Son of David, fulfilment of the prophecies,
      may the Jewish people accept you as their awaited Deliverer.


      Christe, Deus et homo, qui Dóminus es David et fílius eius, prophetías adímplens, te rogámus, ut Israel te Messíam agnóscat.

    2. Easter Sunday (again from the 1974 English Translation at Evening Prayer)

      Let Israel recognize in you the Messiah it has longed for;
      fill all men with the knowledge of your glory. – Victorious king, hear us.

      Israel in te Christum spei suæ agnóscat
      — et omnis terra cognitióne tuæ glóriæ repleátur. - Victor Rex, exáudi nos.

  2. The above translations are those authorised by the Episcopal Conferences of Australia, England and Wales, Ireland and Scotland. Also approved for use in a host other other countries but may vary slightly to the USCCB translation.

    1. Thanks very much.

      Fr Harrison lives in the USA (though he is Australian by birth). But he may well have done these translations himself.

  3. Note' to 'Catholic Mission': I am so bored by your irrelevant comments on my posts that I am going to delete them systematically from now on.

  4. Indeed. And, as I once demonstrated at some length on my blog, the Liturgy of the Hours also includes patristic readings which clearly teach or imply 'supersessionism' ... passages which were NOT in the Old Breviary and so can't just be written off as mistaken hangovers from the past. It seems that supersessionism was still the assumption of those who put together the new Office ... which means that the Two Covenants heresy didn't raise its ugly head until the Seventies. Some keen young person ought to do a study of the rise of this error.

    1. I hope Fr. Bede Rowe's dissertation on covenental relationships in Catholic-Jewish relations since Nostra Aetate will be finished.