By Amanda Murthy
Much of our Christian Liturgy comes from the Jewish tradition, and we don’t acknowledge that enough, Monsignor Kevin Long has said during his speech at the Council of Christians and Jews Western Australia (CCJWA) event held on Sunday 24 February.
Present at the meeting were members of the clergy including Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB and Perth Hebrew Congregation Chief Rabbi, Daniel Leiberman.
Mgr Long began his speech titled ‘The Christian debt to the Jewish tradition of praying the Psalms,’ by talking about some of the practises of the early Christians and their approach to prayer.
“Christians in the early days, prayed daily, constantly, when they were alone, when they were together, at home, in the temple in Jerusalem and in the synagogues,” he said.
“We can see the importance of prayer in their lives. They prayed by praising God, putting in petitions for a host of needs, and attended confession regularly.
“St Paul often urged the first generation of Christians to pray with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, a tradition which the Catholic Church strongly practises to this day,” Mgr Long added.
The Subiaco Parish priest said the Catholic Church has adopted some of the practises inherited by the Jewish Tradition such as the Liturgy of the Hours.
Echoing St Benedict’s love for the psalms, Mgr Long said that monks and sisters in the monasteries were highly encouraged to chant or sing the psalms in their early morning and midnight prayers.
He cited that St Benedict was very passionate about the psalms for many reasons, but one includes the words of Jesus reflected in the Gospel of Luke when He said; ‘Everything about me in the law of the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.’
The Mgr explained that in the non-Roman Liturgical worship, psalms are also placed on a significant level of importance to the Church, making reference to former Anglican Bishop of Durham, John Cosin, who urged clergy to respect and say the public prayers of the Church of Rome.
“The Bishop stressed on the importance of saying the morning and evening prayers, with the reasoning that the sacrifice of prayer might be continually offered up to God among Christians, as well as it was in the synagogues of the Jews.”
In recent times, Mgr Long said that Pope Benedict XVI reminded devotees that ‘God gives us words to speak to Him, to place our lives before Him, and thus make life itself a path to God, adding that psalms bridge the gap between the Jewish and Christian communities, and it is not just Scripture but is also part of the Liturgy of today’s Church.
Msg Long ended his speech by stating that Pope Francis continues to work on rebuilding the friendship with the Jewish community.
“The Pope said that a few decades of respectful Catholic-Jewish dialogue pale in comparison to nineteen centuries of Christian anti-Judaism.
“He stressed the importance of asking forgiveness from the Jewish community, urging Christians to discover and foster knowledge of the Jewish tradition in order to understand themselves more authentically,” Mgr Long concluded.