Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Tridentine Mass and Judaism

Many have associated traditional Catholics with anti-Semitism. It is however interesting to note that Catholics who have a certain affinity for the particularly Judaic character of their faith are more likely to be drawn to the Tridentine Mass than those for whom Judaism is a category on the other side of a boundary they would consider it bad manners to try to cross.

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Symbols of Judaism
Of the criticisms that early Protestants made against Catholicism, the one that arguably cut deepest was that the Roman Catholic Church presumed to revive the Levitical priesthood, which the spilling of Christ's blood on Calvary now rendered obsolete. They attacked passionately the Holy Mass, which they saw as overtly Judaic in its tone, structure, and purpose.

The Protestants were indeed right that Mass, in its aspect as a sacrifice, could not be fully understood outside the framework of pre-rabbinic Judaism.

The post-Vatican II liturgical reform, that led to the Novus Ordo Missae, reformed the Mass to such an extent that the visible and audible distinctions between Mass and the worship services of the mainline Protestant churches were now greatly softened. For an in-depth analysis of the liturgical reform, one of the best authors is the late Michael Davies, former FIUV President, whose books can be found here.

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The Circumcision of Jesus by Rubens

Many Catholics and Protestants saw it as an appropriate ecumenical gesture. However it was a step away from 'Jerusalem', from the Temple and the daily sacrifice priests used to perform there. Another casualty was the most Jewish of feasts in the Catholic calendar, the Feast of the Circumcision, celebrated originally on 1 January (as is still the case in the Eastern Orthodox Church and according to the Tridentine Calendar) but nowadays amalgamated with and celebrated as the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus on 3 January.

The Circumcision of Jesus is the event that, according to the Halakhah (Jewish law), males should be circumcised eight days after birth during a ceremony. During this ceremony they are also given their name.