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Can a Catholic Christian Pray Like a Jew? – Conclusion
Vivificat! - News, Opinion, Commentary & Reflections from a personal Catholic perspective ^ | 26 December 2009 | TDJ

Posted on 12/26/2009 3:23:12 PM PST by Teófilo

Folks, I’ve really taken a long time to write this conclusion to the posts Can a Catholic Christian Pray Like a Jew parts I and II. The delay was due to various reasons, but the most important were that I wanted to reflect longer on the meaning of each post, as well as the review of an ever increasing stack of material that I’ve either discovered or that some of my correspondents have kindly referred me to. Therefore, please know that mine is not the last word on this subject. Nevertheless, what I’ve found fascinates me.

There seems to be a mysterious convergence of people of faith, Catholic and non-Catholic, drawn to the rediscovery of Christianity’s Jewish roots and a renewed attempt to reconcile ourselves with our brothers and sisters of postbiblical Judaism after 1,600 years of openly hostile enmity. This effort includes a scholarly attempt to resituate Jesus firmly within his First Century Jewish milieu, as well as a “recalibration” of Christian dogmatics that takes full advantage of this resetting. A respectful apologetics of Christianity – and Catholicism – has also been taking shape, one that is respectful of the Jewish post-Christian experience and mindful of the responsibility that our ancestors bear in the promotion of hostile, destructive, and persecutory actions aimed against Judaism as a religion and Jews, both as a people and as believers. While acknowledging this tragic past, the apologetic and evangelistic presentation of Jesus as both Messiah and Savior of the Jewish people – and principally for the Jewish people – continues relentlessly, albeit with delicacy and a full consciousness of how much Anti-Semitism has damaged the visible reunion between the historical Israel and the New Israel founded by the Blood of the Lamb.

Tragically, the Jewish-Catholic dialogue and rapprochement has also resulted in a resistance which as vocal as it is vile and vitriolic in its anti-Jewish hate. We can see examples of these regrettable attitudes here and here. It is a shame that people who consider themselves “Catholic” are still able to fall so short from the standard of Love the Lord left to us. But I will address the causes of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Judaism – the devil, the flesh, and the world – in a future post. For now, let me briefly review with you Can a Catholic Christian Pray Like a Jew parts I and II:

On part I we briefly discussed the Jewish characters of a number of hymns and prayers found in the Gospels that point to a definite convergence between Christianity and First Century Judaism. In fact, for these prayers and hymns to be fully intelligible, they must be read against the context of Judaism or not at all. We also talked about the Psalms and how these were Jesus’ own prayer book, and how Jesus went by himself many times to commune with the Father. I concluded with the observation that a Christian in general, and a Catholic in particular, can pray like a Jew, albeit a first century Jew, inasmuch as we pray like and in Jesus. Yet Jesus’ presence in the praying Catholic Christian is not a mere memory of someone who existed once in the past but who is only available to us through holy writings, but a living, breathing presence indwelling in us, who both prays in us and moulds us to pray like Him. In this sense, a Catholic prays like a Jew “all the time”. The reality of “praying like a Jew” is present in each one of us through Jesus Christ Our Lord.

On part II we spoke mostly of divergences. The first divergence was that Jewish prayer was mostly liturgical in character, in both its public and private manifestations, and that these prayers include a fervent element designed to strengthen the Jewish identity of the praying community or individual. We also saw than within this context, intimacy with God was assumed or conceived differently from the way we usually understand it from the writings of our greatest mystics. I said that if I were to encapsulate Jewish theology in one catchphrase, I would say that Jewish theology is “a theology of boundaries” between man and his Lord that cannot be crossed. These boundaries have dropped for Catholic Christians, and our communal experience of contemplative prayer has developed a vocabulary of “quest,” ascent, and union with God in the order of grace and that we found this “grammar of ascent” in the New Testament itself.

Some of the statements I said above regarding Jewish contemplative understandings are liable to further review, I am afraid. What I’ve written has been mostly based on very preliminary readings from a couple of authoritative primers. However, I must also say that the reasons why a number of Jesus’ own Jewish contemporaries picked up stones from the ground to throw at Him was because they understood very clearly the consequences of Jesus’ claims to be God’s ultimate, personal, Incarnate manifestation to them: that meant that the boundaries had fallen. Jesus was now the Temple and anyone could approach God in Him at any time without consideration of status or class. His claims must have been deeply unsettling and threatening to the Jewish identity of his hearers and to Israel’s claim of being God’s unique people, as well as deeply subversive to established political interests.

Modern Judaism exists because of the adhesion of most of Jesus’ Jewish contemporaries to “the eternal Israel”. We can see that in the quotes from Rabbi Neusner that Pope Benedict XVI included in his book Jesus of Nazareth. Hence the theology of dropped boundaries and direct, personal, and unmediated experience with God in incarnated human form didn’t make it into Judaism. Of course, post-biblical, post-second Temple Judaism was not impervious to Christian reflection on this issue and one may see here and there a “shifting of the boundaries” now closer to God, that allow the individual Jew a closeness and intimacy they never had before, when their sacrificial priesthood was in full functioning. But the barriers, and the boundaries, those closer to God than ever before, still remain.

We Christians must understand that why our Jewish brethren still set up and maintain these barriers and the motivations behind them. But we can’t make their barriers our own. The only limit we face in knowing God is Jesus’ own instrumental humanity which is, paradoxically, as finite as ours and yet bottomless and boundless in the expression of the eternal, infinite divinity of God. God in human form has become intelligible to our minds and senses while the mystery remains inexhaustible and unfathomable.

It’s a lot like looking at the Sun: we can tell it’s bright, hot, pretty large, and very active. But we can only guess at what’s going on in its core even though we dispose of a set of mathematical symbols that gives us an idea, but not the actual experience of what’s going on at the heart of the Sun.

Similarly, when we look at the Heart of the Son, we can use a set of symbols – words, phrases, and sentences – that may describe analogically and in fragments what’s going on in there, at the core of Jesus’ humanity; however, although we might never experience what is like in the core of our nearest star, we are called, even impelled, to “experience” the Trinitarian perichoresis –the “dancing together –going on in the Heart of the Son of God.

Therein lays the difference between the objects of Jewish and Christian prayers: Jewish prayer looks at God the way we would look at the Sun, but Christian prayers looks at God by looking at the Son, beyond symbol and expression and by full participation in the Son’s divine life.

This is not to say that Jewish prayer can never take us to the Heart of Christ. Remember that we said that all those very Jewish canticles and prayers we find in the Gospels and elsewhere in the New Testament and first and foremost Jewish in essence. The mystery is completely intelligible in Jewish-Hebraic terms to those who heard it and in the Gospel we are privy to their reactions: acceptance by some and rejection by others. In this the Jews of Jesus’ times were no different than the Jews and Gentiles of today, including Catholics who think they know Him and that hating the Jews is doing God’s service. But they do not. The message of God’s ultimate entry into contingent human history continues actual and fresh and challenging to this day.

We can pray the Our Father and those other prayers and hymns in the New Testament as Jews and only in this way we can experience them primarily as Christians. There’s simply no way around it. In this manner, all Catholics could and should pray like Jews. May the blessing of the Almighty God, Father, Son, and + Holy Spirit be with all of us.


TOPICS: Catholic; Judaism; Prayer; Theology
KEYWORDS:
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To: MarkBsnr; Kolokotronis
I don't believe that God has withdrawn His covenant from the Jewish Nation

It's conditional. Besides, using in part Jeremiah, the author of Hebrews 8:6, 13, Heb 9 suggests otherwise.

God makes many covenants (with Noah, Abraham, with Moses, with David, with Job, Ps 50:5 says God makes covenant with individuals who offer him sacrifice, with the house of Judah and the house of Israel, and then a separate one with the house of Israel, a new government at the Last Supper, etc.) and in Hebrew 8 it declared that Old Covenant was not eternal (although, of course, the Bible contradicts itself on that too).

61 posted on 12/27/2009 1:19:53 PM PST by kosta50 (Don't look up -- the truth is all around you.)
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To: UriĀ’el-2012
There is only one YHvH

But where does it say that Jesus is that same God? Jesus says he is lesser than the Father? [Jn 14:28]; Paul says there is but one God, the Father, and one Lord Jesus Christ [1 Co 8:6] and that the head of Christ is God [1 Co 11:3].

As a Jew you can't believe in more than one God. God in Judaism doesn't have a divine Son and his spirit is just his power, not his equal.

62 posted on 12/27/2009 1:32:58 PM PST by kosta50 (Don't look up -- the truth is all around you.)
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To: Kolokotronis; TeĆ³filo; MarkBsnr
The underlying reality of the liturgy and the temple ceremonies was the worship of God. That’s the same and the manner in which it is done, even the way the priests dress to some extent, bear similarities so far as we know

I don't know if you have seen a Jewish liturgy in a synagogue; it's nothing even close to the Orthodox divine liturgy. As for the Temple, there is no similarity either, Kolo. That would really be stretching it! Jewish Temple worship was pagan in every way.

I really don't know where that Jewish colleague of yours was worshiping but I would be curious to know.

I agree. And no Orthodox Christian would say that Judaism is just a different perception of the same underlying reality as Christianity. I did not understand Theo to be saying that.

I am open to an explanation, but what Teófilo said sounded pretty clear to me – a different perception of the same underlying reality, Kolo.

Indeed they do. Maybe Christ doesn’t leave them out.

I don't know, Kolo, the Gospels are pretty clear that those who don't are the goats. That's what the Church taught for 2,000 years until the age of political correctness. You think the Church could have been wrong all these millennia?

In fact, Christ calls the unbelieving Jews the sons of the devil! Do you think he really didn't mean it? It seems to me the age of all-nclusiveness and ecumenism has changed what the Church thought was clear as a bell for 2,000 years.

Why, didn't the Church even proclaim by an Ecumenical Council (I believe maybe the VI) that Christians were not allowed to choose Jewish doctors? Do you think the Church didn't understand her won scripture? Or that perhaps the the Holy Spirit guiding the Council didn't really mean it?

John 3:8. Like I said, above my pay grade.

Kolo, it is sad but John 3 is as phony as a $3 bill. Read the verses before and after John 3:8 and tell they are in some kind of a sequence. John's Gospel is full of unrelated out of context interpolations that characterize the whole Gospl (i.e. verse 11 starts off in the singular and continues in the plural, and verse 13 is post-ascentional before ascention!). And John 3 stands out as the phoniest, especially vis a vis that anothen pun in verse 3 that could have never happened in Aramaic, never mind that Nicodemus' reaction is strange even in Greek.

63 posted on 12/27/2009 2:05:16 PM PST by kosta50 (Don't look up -- the truth is all around you.)
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To: caww
Thank you once again for your comments in this thread. Beautiful in their simplicity, yet deep enough that one can glean volumes of understanding. Thank you.

On another note, I've read various opinions of Christianity being the “New Israel” but I am not at all convinced nor comfortable with the idea. I see some here relate to this...for me it brings confusion and a host of complicated issues, and distracts from the centrality of Christ.

All credit goes to the Spirit of G-d.

"New Israel" smacks of supersessionism

shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
64 posted on 12/27/2009 2:39:43 PM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your law is my delight.)
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To: kosta50
As a Jew you can't believe in more than one God. God in Judaism doesn't have a divine Son and his spirit is just his power, not his equal.

Who are you to judge what anyone else believes ?
shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
65 posted on 12/27/2009 2:43:31 PM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your law is my delight.)
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To: kosta50
" I don't know if you have seen a Jewish liturgy in a synagogue;...."

Many, many, many times, Kosta. The Greeks and the Jews here experienced a very similar immigrant experience and we kids, Greek and Jewish, had to go to Greek and Hebrew school after American school got out. All the other kids got to play. We attended their festivals and dances, they ours. Our parents grew up together. They came to our devotions, funerals, weddings, etc and we to theirs. We played basketball at the Jewish Community Center. There were three great "powers" in my town. Nothing happened without their OK... the rabbi, the senior Irish Catholic monsignor and the Greek Priest. The rabbi was just about my grandfather's best friend. I, like all the Greek and even Irish kids, almost grew up at the temple. I'll tell you, Kosta, any of us, to this day, are very comfortable at the temple. When you hear a cantor chant the psalms, don't you think immediately of Great Vespers and Great Week?

I don't know, Kolo, the Gospels are pretty clear that those who don't are the goats. That's what the Church taught for 2,000 years until the age of political correctness. You think the Church could have been wrong all these millennia?

Blessed Augustine taught, who knows:

"How many sheep there are without, how many wolves within! [The Church]?", Kosta. +Peter says:

"Truly I perceive God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him" at Acts 10:34-35. Above our pay grade, Kosta.

"In fact, Christ calls the unbelieving Jews the sons of the devil!"

No doubt the unbelieving Jews were.

"Why, didn't the Church even proclaim by an Ecumenical Council (I believe maybe the VI) that Christians were not allowed to choose Jewish doctors?"

Indeed a council did, the Quinisext not the 6th. We call it Ecumenical. The West doesn't. The purpose of such a restriction, and others, was to prevent conversion to Judaism, which was a real or imagined problem at the time."

"Kolo, it is sad but John 3 is as phony as a $3 bill."

Kosta, +Ignatius of Antioch, John's disciple, apparently didn't think so:

"For though some would have deceived me according to the flesh, yet the Spirit, as being from God, is not deceived. For it knows both whence it comes and whither it goes."

66 posted on 12/27/2009 3:39:02 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: UriĀ’el-2012
Who are you to judge what anyone else believes ?

That's what Judaism says, not I.

67 posted on 12/27/2009 3:49:21 PM PST by kosta50 (Don't look up -- the truth is all around you.)
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To: kosta50
U-2012>Who are you to judge what anyone else believes ?

That's what Judaism says, not I.

You are referring to Rabbinism,
the tradition of men,
since the days of the Pharisees.
shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
68 posted on 12/27/2009 3:55:09 PM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your law is my delight.)
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To: Kolokotronis
I'll tell you, Kosta, any of us, to this day, are very comfortable at the temple

Kolo, I hate to disagree with you, believe me, but the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. The Jews gather in synagogues where no offering is made. There is no Jewish temple anywhere.

Blessed Augustine taught, who knows: How many sheep there are without, how many wolves within!

Matthew 25 says otherwise. Not all are included. John doesn't think so either. You have to eat his body and drink his blood in order to have life everlasting, Kolo. And there is much more...

Truly I perceive God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him"

He shows no partiality except for those who fear him, Kolo? That seems pretty partial to me, don't you think?

The purpose of such a restriction, and others, was to prevent conversion to Judaism, which was a real or imagined problem at the time."

Why? Was there any real tendency, even "danger" (in 692 AD!) for Christians to convert to a hated religion en masse? Somehow that seems a little hyperbolic, Kolo. Sorry.

Kosta, +Ignatius of Antioch, John's disciple, apparently didn't think so: "For though some would have deceived me according to the flesh, yet the Spirit, as being from God, is not deceived. For it [sic] knows both whence it comes and whither it goes."

Ignatius doesn't even quote form John. By all accounts he wasn't even aware John wrote anything. In fact he quotes only from Gospel according to Matthew, Luke, Acts, Romans, I Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, and I Thessalonians.

Anyway, the quote you use has nothing to do with John 3. But it does say something about Ignatius' concept of the triune God. He calls the Spirit an "it." Faith once delivered and believed everywhere and always?

69 posted on 12/27/2009 4:25:43 PM PST by kosta50 (Don't look up -- the truth is all around you.)
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To: kosta50

“There is no Jewish temple anywhere.”

OK; you undoubtedly understand the Greek/American and Jewish experiebce in America in the 1950s better than I do. No real point in continuing this discussion, is there now!


70 posted on 12/27/2009 4:34:24 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: UriĀ’el-2012
You are referring to Rabbinism, the tradition of men, since the days of the Pharisees

That is the only legitimate Judaism recognized everywhere in the world.

It says you can't be a Muslim or a Christian and a Jew.

71 posted on 12/27/2009 4:34:46 PM PST by kosta50 (Don't look up -- the truth is all around you.)
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To: kosta50
You appear to be so ignorant, that i will not comment.

72 posted on 12/27/2009 5:13:32 PM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your law is my delight.)
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To: UriĀ’el-2012; kosta50

So ignorant? Ignorance is lack of knowledge. If you are a worshipper of God, it is up to you to fill in the ignorance of fellow worshippers. Unless they demonstrate willful ignorance, in which case you’re off the hook.


73 posted on 12/27/2009 6:16:29 PM PST by MarkBsnr ( I would not believe in the Gospel if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so.)
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To: kosta50; TeĆ³filo; Kolokotronis
There was never any intimacy with God in Judaism. It would have been considered a blasphemy to even dare suggest that one is his son. Those who are referred to as the sons of the Elohim (angels and kings) are adopted as God's favorites, and God is not their real father. The Jewish messiah was never supposed to be a divine "offspring" of God, and the Gospel of mark makes that perfectly clear.

The idea that we are to become perfect as "your Father in heaven is perfect" is an ontological innovation alien and blasphemous to Judaism.

Again, you are building a house of cards, Teofilo.


There was never any intimacy with God in Judaism.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Do you even bother to read the Old Testament?
74 posted on 12/27/2009 6:21:12 PM PST by aruanan
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To: UriĀ’el-2012
You appear to be so ignorant, that i will not comment

LOL! That's pathetic. Unfortunately for you, ignorance on my part is not really your strongest argument.

I stand by my statements. Messianic Judaims is a fringe sect/cult of Christianity, not Judaism.

75 posted on 12/27/2009 6:22:24 PM PST by kosta50 (Don't look up -- the truth is all around you.)
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To: aruanan
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Do you even bother to read the Old Testament?

Ha, ha,ha, ha. Yes. Care to show some examples of OT intimacy with God?

76 posted on 12/27/2009 6:25:24 PM PST by kosta50 (Don't look up -- the truth is all around you.)
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To: TeĆ³filo

We pray a Psalm every day at daily Mass!


77 posted on 12/27/2009 6:28:58 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: MarkBsnr
So ignorant? Ignorance is lack of knowledge. If you are a worshipper of God, it is up to you to fill in the ignorance of fellow worshippers

It's a copout. I have yet to see something more than banal biblical one-liners in his arsenal, Mark.

78 posted on 12/27/2009 6:36:12 PM PST by kosta50 (Don't look up -- the truth is all around you.)
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To: kosta50
I stand by my statements. Messianic Judaims is a fringe sect/cult of Christianity, not Judaism.

I don't think that it is even that. From what I've seen, they stand alone, isolated. Not Christian and not Jew. A few thousand of them out there kinda floating around.

79 posted on 12/27/2009 6:36:25 PM PST by MarkBsnr ( I would not believe in the Gospel if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so.)
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To: kosta50
It's a copout. I have yet to see something more than banal biblical one-liners in his arsenal, Mark.

If one is really interested in the worship of the One God, then one really ought to go out of one's way to enable others to do the same. Unless one is elitist and doesn't want competition.

80 posted on 12/27/2009 6:39:26 PM PST by MarkBsnr ( I would not believe in the Gospel if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so.)
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