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SIDIC Periodical - 1967/3
Liturgy (Pages 17)

Other articles from this issue | Version in English | Version in French

Liturgical Reform in Israel
Marie Legrain


In general, liturgical reform has been well received in the Hebrew speaking Christian community in Israel. But that does not mean to say that the situation is not without problems.

The Hebrew speaking community is a small minority which, through force of circumstances, belongs to the Latin rite, while at the same time belonging to the same hierarchy as the Arab Catholic community.

Hebrew has been adopted as the common language to serve the immigrants who come to Israel from a hundred different countries. Consequently, it is only natural that this language should have become the common liturgical language. In 1957, well before the Council, the Mass was said, at least in part, in Hebrew. It was Pope Pius XII who personally gave permission for this, Hebrew being considered one of the three sacred languages of the Church. The Council having confirmed the use of the vernacular, the use of Hebrew seems to be of great value for the Church:

a) as a more genuine source of renewal,
b) as a unifying factor.

a) Thanks to the original text, the biblical tradition is found in Hebrew, and from this a better understanding "of the interior", the liturgical language being at the same time, the original language and a living one. In the measure in which the exegetes return to the original text, the liturgists will be helped in many ways, for example in the choice of texts, in drawing up the lectionary and the breviary. It is by returning to the Hebrew that the exact meaning, the strength and riches of the terms will be found, which are difficult to translate with exactitude into modern languages.

b) Hebrew can become a unifying factor between all the Christian communities who live in the Land of Israel, and who belong to a variety of different Churches, rites and languages. While respecting each rite, could it not be that the adoption of the language of the country will be an original factor, and as such, a most excellent link of Christian unity?

The Hebrew speaking Christian community of the Latin rite already possesses in Hebrew: the common of the Mass, the Temporal, the Sanctoral Calmost completed), a section of the Ritual, St. John's Gospel, a number of liturgical chants which are being constantly increased. However, these Hebrew speaking Christians are very dispersed, and do not constitute a parish. This holds back the diffusion of the liturgy in Hebrew, and liturgical reform in particular.


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