Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Some Comparisons from Good Friday

The rites of Holy Week are the object of much controversy. Even among traditional Catholics, there are certain serious disagreements over the 1955 Holy Week of Pope Pius XII, which appears in the 1962 missal. I have not written much on that subject on this blog, and probably won't until a little later - thus far I have learned but little of the subject. However, I thought I'd give a brief comparison of some of the Good Friday intercessions from the traditional and new rites, using the traditional prayers as they are found in the pre-55 Holy Week. The main examples are the prayers for the unity of Christians, for the Jews, and for non-believers.

First Example.

Traditional prayer for the unity of Christians:
Let us pray also for heretics and schismatics: that our Lord God would be pleased to rescue them from all their errors; and recall them to our holy mother the Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Almighty and everlasting God, who savest all, and wouldst that no one should perish: look on the souls that are led astray by the deceit of the devil: that having set aside all heretical evil, the hearts of those that err may repent, and return to the unity of Thy truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
R. Amen
Novus Ordo prayer for the unity of Christians:
Let us pray also for all our brothers and sisters who believe in Christ, that our God and Lord may be pleased, as they live the truth, to gather them together and keep them in his one Church. 
Almighty ever-living God, who gather what is scattered and keep together what you have gathered, look kindly on the flock of your Son, that those whom one Baptism has consecrated may be joined together by integrity of faith and united in the bond of charity. Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.
Note the significant changes. Those who are outside the Catholic Church are no longer referred to as heretics and schismatics, but as our brothers and sisters. They are no longer said to be in error and hence in need of rescuing, but are recognized as believing in Christ and living the truth.  They are no longer recognized as in danger of perishing, nor that they have been deceived by the devil; nor is it prayed that they set aside all heretical evil, or that they may repent of their errors, and return to unity in truth. Rather, now it is merely recognized that they are Baptized, like us, and should all be joined to us in the integrity of faith and the bond of charity. Notice the pattern here: all reference to the bad things about being non-Catholic have been suppressed, and only the good things about non-Catholics are mentioned.

Second example.

The notorious traditional prayer for the Jews:
Let us pray also for the perfidious Jews: that our God and Lord would remove the veil from their hearts: that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Almighty and everlasting God, who drivest not away from Thy mercy even the perfidious Jews: hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people: that, acknowledging the light of Thy truth, which is Christ, they may be rescued from their darkness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
R. Amen.
The Novus Ordo prayer for the Jews:
Let us pray also for the Jewish people, to whom the Lord our God spoke first, that he may grant them to advance in love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant. 
Almighty ever-living God, who bestowed your promises on Abraham and his descendants, graciously hear the prayers of your Church, that the people you first made your own may attain the fullness of redemption. Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.
Similar patterns appear in this example. First of all, I should note that Pope John XXIII changed the traditional prayer to omit the word "perfidious," which is horw it appeared in the 1962 missal. Pope Benedict  XVI later made another change to the 1962 version, to no longer mention the "veil over their hearts," and their "blindness," etc., but still prays for their conversion.  I regard the above form as the traditional and optimal form, and would probably rather that John XXIII and Benedict XVI had not made the said changes. The Latin word word perfidis ought not to be interpreted in any sort of anti-semitic sense, nor any of the other "negative" references to the Jews. Perfidis originally just meant "faithless," which is true of the Jews and of all non-Christians - hardly anti-semitic. Probably because these references were viewed as anti-semitic, or simply because they were just downright negative anyway, the prayer of the Novus Ordo omits all such references, as well as any explicit mention of conversion (similarly to the previous example), but only prays that the Jews advance in love and faithfulness to the covenant, and that they may attain the fullness of redemption. As I see it, and as is so often the case in the new missal, this prayer does not say anything false, but is problematic by reason of its omissions and its ambiguities. 

Third example.

Traditional prayer for Pagans:
Let us pray also for the pagans: that almighty God would remove iniquity from their hearts: that, putting aside their idols, they may be converted to the true and living God, and His only Son, Jesus Christ our God and Lord. 
Almighty and everlasting God, who ever seekest not the death, but the life of sinners: mercifully hear our prayer, and deliver them from the worship of idols: and join them to Thy holy Church for the praise and glory of Thy Name. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
R. Amen.
The Novus Ordo has two prayers that appear to me to replace this one. The first is the prayer for those who do not believe in Christ:
Let us pray also for those who do not believe in Christ, that, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, they, too, may enter on the way of salvation. 
Almighty ever-living God, grant to those who do not confess Christ that, by walking before you with a sincere heart, they may find the truth and that we ourselves, being constant in mutual love and striving to understand more fully the mystery of your life, may be made more perfect witnesses to your love in the world. Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.
And the prayer for those who do not acknowledge God:
Let us pray also for those who do not acknowledge God, that, following what is right in sincerity of heart, they may find the way to God himself. 
Almighty ever-living God, who created all people to seek you always by desiring you and, by finding you, come to rest, grant, we pray, that, despite every harmful obstacle, all may recognize the signs of your fatherly love and the witness of the good works done by those who believe in you, and so in gladness confess you, the one true God and Father of our human race. Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.
Again, the pattern is similar. Nothing in the new prayers is false or even especially problematic in itself - these do not have so great a problem of ambiguity as the other two prayers. Nonetheless, those phrases in the traditional prayer which are easily thought of as too pessimistic are suppressed - "inquity," "idols," "sinners," etc.  

This pattern of suppressing "negative" themes is very common in the new missal. The collects of the Sundays  during the seasons throughout the temporal cycle exhibit this pattern to a large degree, as is evident from Dr. Lauren Pristas' book The Collects of the Roman Missals. This is part of the very modernistic tendency to update the liturgy to fit the tastes and the subjective "consciousness" of modern man, who so dislikes to hear the pessimistic spirituality of traditional Catholicism.


  1. Some time ago I came to the opinion that the "veil" upon the hearts of the "faithless Jews" was one that they created. When Christ died, on Good Friday no less, the Temple veil was rent from top to bottom, meaning Christ died for all and that God was no longer hidden in the world of a small Mediterranean religion. The Jewish people, the prayer implies, created a new veil which rather than keeping God in the Temple removes Him from their sights and prevents them from obtaining the fulfillment of the old covenant. Then again I could be wrong.

  2. This was very, very interesting. I'd describe the modern intentions as "weak" at best, trying to promote moral relativism. Thank you.

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