‘The Conversion Insult’

James Carroll, the Boston Globe’s opinion writer, has entered the fray concerning the Good Friday prayer.

He tells us that after Vatican II…

The Eucharist was no longer understood only as a “sacrifice,” enacted on an altar by the priest, with the laity present as mere spectators. It was a meal, like the Last Supper, to be shared in by all. The altar was refashioned as a banquet table and moved away from the far wall of the church, into the center of the community – “facing the people.”

“Present merely as spectators.” That’s what every pre-Vatican II non-ordained Catholic was when assisting at Mass — a mere spectator. Saint Louis King of France, Saint Maria Goretti, Blessed Emperor Karl, Saint Thérèse, Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Benedict, etc. — these were all merely spectators when they entered into the most sacred act of the Mystical Body.

When you’ve got that one digested, go on to the next insult to our forebears:

It was as if Jesus were remembered by conservatives as speaking Latin, when, of course, he spoke Aramaic.

Yes, and we know all those books on the Mass — there were hundreds of them to help the laity gain a deeper appreciation of the Holy Sacrifice — told the people that Our Lord spoke Latin, not Aramaic.

But onto the point of the editorial:

Vatican II’s high point was the declaration “Nostra Aetate,” which condemned the idea that Jews could be blamed for the murder of Jesus, and affirmed the permanence of God’s Covenant with Israel. The “replacement” theology by which the church was understood as “superseding” Judaism was no more. Corollary to this was a rejection of the traditional Christian goal of converting Jews to Jesus. The new liturgy of Vatican II dropped all such prayers.

“Affirmed the permanence of God’s Covenant with Israel.” Where exactly did Nostra Aetate say that? Look for a passage. You will not find it. All of the subsequent comments about “replacement theology” and “superseding Judaism” are based on this error of the perpetually abiding covenant. Yes, certain progressivists wanted those notions to be gone, but they cannot be made to go, because they are of the Faith. And who, pray tell, authored that official “rejection of the traditional Christian goal of converting Jews to Jesus.” My memory is a bit fuzzy.

But the Latin Mass published by the Vatican last year resuscitated the conversion insult… . In last week’s formal promulgation of the Latin Mass, the Vatican stepped back from that extreme language, but Catholics are still to pray that God “enlighten” the hearts of Jews “so that they recognize Jesus Christ, Savior of all mankind.” This is a drastic retreat from the most important theological development of the modern era. Something is wrong with that development, now say Vatican reactionaries.

Those “Vatican reactionaries” seem to be upholding the same “insult” that Jesus Christ offered to his people, and to all men:

Now this is eternal life: That they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)

In light of the “insult” offered to the Jewish people, I should let a famous Israelite conclude these comments. Mr. Carroll: “Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness: that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.” (Isaias 5:20)