Praying for the Conversion of Jews

Since the release of Summorum Pontificum, various talking heads have been apoplectic because the Tridentine mass includes a Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews. Much ado is being made of nothing, though.

First of all, the offending prayer is found in missals prior to 1962 (the version now referred to as the extraordinary use of the Roman rite).

Let us pray also for the faithless Jews: that our God and Lord may remove the veil from their hearts; that they also may acknowledge Our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us pray. (‘Amen’ is not responded, nor is said ‘Let us pray’, or ‘Let us kneel’, or ‘Arise’, but immediately is said:) Almighty and Eternal God, Who dost not exclude from Thy mercy even the faithless 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 delivered from their darkness. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, through all endless ages. Amen.

According to Wikipedia (link above), the word “faithless” was removed prior to the publication of the 1962 missal.

In 1960, Pope John XXIII removed the word “faithless” (Latin “perfidis”) from the prayer for the conversion of the Jews. This word had caused much trouble in recent times because of misconceptions of the Latin “perfidis” as “perfidious”, giving birth to the view that the prayer accused the Jews of treachery, which was a complete misunderstanding of the prayer since it was not a litany of accusation, but a petition for conversion. In handmissals from the 1950’s and more recent ones, used by the laity to follow the Latin Mass, the word was always correctly translated as “faithless” or “unbelieving”.

The 1962 version reads as follows.

Let us pray also for the Jews that the Lord our God may take the veil from their hearts and that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us pray. Let us kneel. Arise. Almighty and everlasting God, you who do not turn away the Jews also from your mercy: hear the prayers which we offer for the blindness of that people so that, the light of your truth which is Christ being known, they might come out of their darkness. Through our Lord the same Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

Secondly, the prayer is quite different in the current missal, first published in 1970.

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. (Silent prayer) 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. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

So, we’re still praying for the conversion of the Jews, but we refer to that conversion as arrival “at the fullness of redemption”. Faith in Christ is necessary for that fullness.

Lastly, what the heck is so wrong about praying for the conversion of Jews – or anyone for that matter?! Shouldn’t all Christians be spreading the good news of Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers? Shouldn’t we want everyone to experience Christ’s love? In particular, shouldn’t we desire for Jews to complete their Judaism, to see the fulfillment all of the old covenants and enter into the new and everlasting covenant instituted by Christ?

Antisemitism is bigotry, pure and simple; it is a sin. Praying for Jews to convert to Christianity is not de facto antisemitism. No Christian should ever have to apologize for praying for the conversion of anyone, so long as their prayers are offered in love.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6 (NAB)

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , on by .

About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

10 thoughts on “Praying for the Conversion of Jews

  1. Advogado de Diabo

    This is a very interesting and touchy issue. I remember back to when I was 15 seeing a prayer in church with words to the effect of the eventual conversion of everyone to Catholicism. It actually was one of the first things I remember that ultimatly made me stop being religious.

    Now, to be honest, I mostly don’t like the idea of people praying for me but I figure it can’t hurt and if it makes someone else feel better I can tolerate it.

    I can’t decide if there has been an over reaction to this issue or not. Does it bug you to think there are people out there praying for your conversion away from Catholicism to something else?

  2. Funky Dung Post author

    Does it bug you to think there are people out there praying for your conversion away from Catholicism to something else?

    Nope. In fact, if they didn’t pray for my conversion, I’d doubt their faith. Besides, either they’re wrong about the deity hearing their prayers, in which case their prayers for conversion will be answered in the negative, or they’re right, in which case I’m living a lie (or at least a mistake) and should be thankful for divine assistance in finding the truth.

  3. Chad


    Your best column yet. In order for two dissenting sides to see eye to eye on something, its best if they both state honestly and truthfully how they feel about each other. This is a far better strategy than the 2 sides saying nice things about the other just to please people even though its not what they really believe. For far too long, the Catholic Church has been saying nice things about the protestant and jewish traditions for the sake of “ecumenism”. Hence, this is why the document about the Centrality of the Catholic Church released two weeks ago and this Jewish prayer are so important – its a straight forward and honest realization of what the Catholic Church believes.

    I have heard a-lot of protestants blast the Catholic Church for bigotry due to the statement, but the more sophisticated ones have actually praised it more than anything else, because they now know clearly where the Catholic church stands. The same is true with this prayer and Judaism.

    Personally, if Evangelists or Jews had prayers about the conversion of Catholicism, I would not take any offense to it at all because of your statement: “Besides, either they’re wrong about the deity hearing their prayers, in which case their prayers for conversion will be answered in the negative, or they’re right, in which case I’m living a lie (or at least a mistake) and should be thankful for divine assistance in finding the truth.” That wraps up all of ecumenism right there…

  4. Pingback: just another day of Catholic pondering: Catholic Carnival 130: Fair Daze

  5. Gretchen

    Looking at it from a Jewish point of view…which naturally includes gobs of anti-semitism from the historic Church, not to mention most everyone else in the world…one may understand that Jews would be upset. Also, the Jewish religion is not an evangelical faith, so the idea of praying for another’s conversion can seem strange and even invasive to them. And, most Jews probably haven’t read the latest version (which is sweet, kind, loving, and all that any Christian could hope for), but have the previous ones in mind.

  6. Funky Dung Post author

    I’ve always thought it odd that Judaism is not evangelical. IIRC, God instructed Israel to be a light to the nations. One would presume that He wanted everyone to be among His chosen people. Indeed, it seems to me that a lot of Jesus’ beef with the Jewish authorities had to do with their xenophobia and insistence that Judaism be insular.

  7. Pistos

    Hi, Funky Dung. I’m trying to get in touch with you in private, but your Contact page doesn’t offer much help, and I see no other way to contact you (no e-mail, no feedback form, etc.) How can I send you a private message? 🙂

  8. efi

    You can pray for my conversion all you want if it makes you happy. But just realize that the bible you believe in has God telling us that the laws of the Torah are eternal and that we should never abandon them under any circumstances. So if you pray for our conversion, you are in effect asking God to go against His stated will. How do you figure that?

  9. Micky

    About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 2004, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages . God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *