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The Liturgy and Catholic - Jewish relations
The present revision of both readings for the liturgy of the Word and for the breviary seems to offer a singular opportunity to implement the conciliar concern for a proper attitude towards Jews among Catholics. Certain scriptural texts are enigmatic, or highly contextual, and can easily be made to yield an anti-Jewish interpretation. The manner in which such passages strike the ears of the faithful (who have probably been exposed to some degree of our historical pseudo-exegesis in any case) should be kept in mind when readings for lectionary and breviary are being decided upon.
It is probably accurate to say, however, that being a rather specialised concern, such a selective criterion is unlikely to come to the mind of most liturgical experts. In view of all this, steps have been taken in the Canadian Bishops' Commission on Ecumenism to bring this matter to the attention of those parties effectively concerned in the preparation of the liturgical texts:
1) The proposed lectionary and breviary were sent from Rome to all Episcopal Commissions on Liturgy throughout the world for review and suggested modification. The director of the Canadian Commission on Liturgy has expressed his willingness to work with the Commission on Ecumenism in order to render the dimension of Jewish-Catholic relations present and active.
2) It was suggested that some systematised approach to the new lectionary whereby theological and scriptural expertise could be brought to bear on the new texts, be made part of existing seminary programmes. A judicious selection of texts, supported by such systematised formation of preachers, would go very far indeed towards the implementation of the Declaraion on non-Christian Religions.
3) The preparation of missals following adoption of a new lection
ary will also afford a valuable opportunity to reach the dispositions of the Catholic worshiper. The explanatory notes surrounding the propers for Sunday Mass have affected the attitudes of Catholics very deeply, in many instances almost defining the way in which the Scripture readings are heard. Contact has been made with a major publishing company to explore possibilities here.
It was in part due to the proposition of the topic "liturgy" for the third edition of SIDIC, that another interesting endeavour evolved. Questionnaires on the above topic were sent to experienced persons in key regions across Canada. The questionnaires attempted, above all, to ascertain what a representative sampling of Catholics were hearing in the liturgy. A reply from the West Coast, from the Executive Director of a Catholic Information Centre, expressed a very commendable diffidence about commenting on the "attitudes of Catholics" in this context, without adequate study and discussion among groups of, and individual Catholics. She went on to suggest a survey, prepared well in advance, on Catholic attitudes and the Council directives here concerned. She specified Catholic discussion groups and/or Catholic-Jewish dialogue groups as a means. Plans are underway in the Commission on Ecumenism to meet this suggestion in various cities across the country.
Sharon MacIsaac September, 1967