Other articles from this issue | Version in English | Version in French
The work of the Liturgical Council
C. A. Rijk
The "Liturgical Couneil" set to work according to the directives of Vatican II for the reform of the Liturgy. Results of this work are already visible in the life of the Church, as the reform movement rapidly develops.
Recently a tentative plan - more or less complete - for a new Ordo Lectionum (Order of the readings for Sundays, ferias and feast days) was drawn up. This plan was sent to a good number of biblical, catechetical and pastoral experts for criticism. Their suggestions are to be sent in by the end of this year, as the Council is anxious to have the widest and most complete cooperation.
Even a superficial and hasty study of the proposed plan reveals marked progress over the traditional liturgical readings. Furthermore, the new Ordo is a return to .ancient practices which placed more importance on biblical readings. Sundays and all the greater feasts, for example, have 'three readings, taken from the Old Testament, the Epistles, and the Gospels, so that "the unity of the two Testaments and the history of Salvation" become clearer. Over a three year cycle, a large portion of the Old Testament is read. This is essential if Christians are to become more conscious of their common patrimony with Jews, and therefore, to see more clearly the broad lines of the full revelation of God.
Obviously, many criticisms could and will, be made - the choice, the order and the combination of readings being always subject to opinions more or less personal. But, in general, it must be said we consider that the plan shows a most welcome progress.
From the point of view of relations between the Church and Judaism, I limit myself here to noting, for the time being, the following essential points.
1) The choice of readings in any given liturgical ceremony brings out a particular exegesis. The juxtaposition of texts and passages may tend to suggest a slanted interpretation. In several instances the Ordo Lectionum eeems to give a forced explanation, an interpretation of Old Testament texts coloured exclusively by a neo-testamentary and "Christian" mentality. For example, only one reading is taken from the book of Judith (13:22 -4- 23b - 25 15:10), read on a feast of Our Lady. Many instances of this kind could be cited concerning protocanonical books. However, the Old Testament is not only a preparation for the New (see the Conciliar Constitution: Dei Verbum IV).Its value per se must also be recognised.
2) The addition of a reading which mentions the main feasts of the Jewish liturgical year is much to be desired (e.g. Ex. 23:14-17, or Lev. 23:3-38).
3) The reading of Rom. 11:1-2a + 11-16, is introduced by the words : "mysterium futurae conversionis Israel"; (the mystery of the future conversion of Israel), whereas St. Paul does not use the word conversion, and the Conciliar Declaration, in consequence, deliberately avoids the term. It is a pity that the reading of Rom. 11: 25-29 has been omitted.
4) The texts concerning "the Jews" in the Gospel of Saint John have been treated for the moot part with delicacy. However, some difficult points still remain. The reading of 1 Thes. 2:13-16 will ever remain a touchy subject unless accompanied by a good introduction and precise commentaries, requisites also for the great majority of texts dealing with the relations between the Church and Judaism in one way or another.