Sunday, December 18, 2005

A chanted Penitential Rite for 4th Sunday of Advent

You heavens, open from above,
to rain down the Just One: Lord, have mercy.

Do not remember, O Lord, our sins,
for desolate is your holy city, Jerusalem: Christ, have mercy.

Console us, console us, your Israel,
and send the Redeemer
to free your captive people: Lord, have mercy.


Fr Martin Fox said...


I adapted this from the traditional prayer, Rorate Coeli, and the opening antiphon for Mass for the 4th Sunday of Advent.

Since that prayer so freely uses Zion, Jerusalem and Israel, I didn't see a problem . . .

Anonymous said...

I disagree that this is a problem at all. Catholic theology and liturgy have always understood that the ingrafting of the Gentiles did not create a new thing called the Church. Rather, the Church is the continuation of God's Israel, made inclusive by the joining of the circumcision and uncircumcision into a single People, heir to all the promises. This isn't "replacement theology," but the recognition that God's Israel is not identical with what Paul calls "Israel according to the flesh."

Fr Martin Fox said...


You raise interesting questions, which I wanted to think about before I offered a response.

I share a concern about suggesting the Jewish People are simply tossed aside and "replaced"; however, that's not to say -- as some have suggested -- that the Mosaic Covenant per se is sufficient for salvation.

(I disagree with those who seem to say that Christians needn't proclaim Christ to their elder brothers and sisters in Abraham -- not to suggest you have said as much.)

As you say, Gentile believers are "grafted in."

What of the natural branches that disbelieve? We hope and pray for their re-grafting back in, as Paul suggests in Romans.

My preference is to refer to both the Church in the NT and present setting, and Israel in the Old Testament, as "God's People," especially so that OT passages not be about "them" when they're critical, but about "us" when praiseworthy. They're all about both "them" and "us."

I would be disinclined to attempt an "explanation" of a Penitential Rite, per se; I'd prefer to deal with the matter over time, in teaching and preaching. (Now, one might "ding" me for composing a text for the Penitential Rite at all, as opposed simply to using existing texts. However, I think composing a text, especially one based on the antiphon, is a reasonable interpretation of the GIRM.)

Anonymous said...

Israel according to the spirit needn't exclude Israel according to the flesh. As St Paul put it, he had a claim to both. But as he also put it, his hope in the promises did not come from the fact that he belonged to Israel according to the flesh (by his Hebrew lineage and circumcision), but rather because he belonged to God's Israel according to the spirit, in Christ Jesus.

Augustine, picking up this New Testament teaching, could speak of an "ecclesia ab Abel" -- the Church existing from the time of Abel, the first just man, and extending throughout the Old Testament up to the present day -- God's faithful People "called out" from the world. This corresponds, as well, to the Old Testament concept of the "faithful remnant of Israel," which Paul sees as being that which receives the Gentile ingrafting. The Israel of God is one single entity, existing in continuity first under the various old covenants, and now under the New and Eternal One. The one true God, and His (one) spotless Bride.

Israel "according to the flesh" is of historical interest, and those of its members who were also Israel "according to the spirit" were the first to accept the Gospel and those who received the ingrafting. There's honor in that. And there's a hopeful expectation that the merely fleshly Israel will itself be grafted back into the spiritual Israel, together with the Jews and Gentiles who are already part of her now, as the Scriptures seem to anticipate toward the End. But you won't find any liturgical, dogmatic, or patristic text claiming a special spiritual status simply for having Abrahamic bloodlines. For that, one has to turn to modern Evangelical Protestants.

Fr Martin Fox said...


OK -- regarding "Israel" . . . you make a fair point. Actually, I was rather free with the Latin on that point in any case. I'll keep it in mind.

Fr Martin Fox said...

no problem. If your comments ever disappear...then you'll know.

By the way, I remember how I came to put "Israel" in there; I didn't want to use "people" twice. Ah well.