Sunday, March 23, 2008

Good Friday

Earlier today I sent the following message to on of my email groups:
By the time I was sixteen or seventeen (in the mid-fifties) I had been pursuing the elusive, slippery specter of cultural antisemitism for years, trying to figure out how ordinary people could possibly have collaborated with the "Final Solution." I remember attending a Good Friday service at a small Franciscan (I think) church in my hometown of Innsbruck and for the first time ever really paying close attention to the words I was supposed to affirm: "Oremus et pro perfidis Judæis: ut Deus et Dominus noster auferat velamen de cordibus eorum; ut et ipsi agnoscant Jesum Christum, Dominum nostrum." The "treulosen Juden" (faithless, perfidious) Jews), the "jüdische Untreue" (Jewish faithlessness/perfidy). There I was supposed to pray that the veil be removed from *their* hearts and I felt that the veil had been ripped off *MY* heart/mind/eyes! How could centuries of demonizing Jews as part of officially sanctioned Christian teaching and liturgy not have poisoned the well and prepared the soil to cradle and nurture the seeds of hatred and grow a harvest of unspeakable EVIL masquerading as civic and religious duty and good? Two millennia ago ONE Jew had given his life for us, a Jew we remember as LOVE INCARNATE. A few years ago *MY* people had crucified millions of HIS people in, supposedly, his name!

I felt sick. I got up and stumbled out of the church, the gloom, the darkness, out into the light of day. I simply could not participate in what at the time seemed an utter travesty. I felt so guilty. Guilty for being alive. Guilty for having been born a non-Jew. Guilty for being part of a generation whose parents didn't rebel against Evil in part because they wanted to protect their children. An yet I knew that my deepest intuition was still right: AT THE COSMIC CORE IS LOVE!
I did not add that this is the reason I am so deeply troubled by the pope's recently rewritten Good Friday prayer which potentially undoes the post-Vatican II 1970 version:
Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant. Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Listen to your church as we pray that the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption.
Once again, if Benedict prevails, it is permissible to call for the conversion of the Jews:
Oremus et pro Iudaeis ut Deus et Dominus noster illuminet corda eorum, ut agnoscant Iesum Christum salvatorem omnium hominum.
I shudder.


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