Posted by: matt25 | September 17, 2010

Why should I bother with a Jewish Holy day? After all, I am not a Jew.

John Mack is a friend of mine.  No he is not a Jew, in fact he is a Latin Rite priest.  When he tagged me in a note that he posted on facebook and it gave me a great deal to meditate on so I thought I would share it with you here.  I hope you are blessed by it as I was.

On “The Day of Atonement”

Men expect from the various religions answers to the unsolved riddles of the human condition, which today, even as in former times, deeply stir the hearts of men: What is man? What is the meaning, the aim of our life? What is moral good, what sin? Whence suffering and what purpose does it serve? Which is the road to true happiness? What are death, judgment and retribution after death? What, finally, is that ultimate inexpressible mystery which encompasses our existence: whence do we come, and where are we going? — Nostra Aetate #1, Declaration on The Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, Proclaimed by Paul VI, October 28, 1965, from the Second Vatican Council

The Jewish “Days of Awe” (Rosh Hashanah)  lead to “The Day of Atonement”  (Yom Kippur), a 25 hour time of fasting and repentance which begins this evening.  This intense ritual expression of repentance in worship has much to say to us of a different, yet shared monotheistic, religious expression.  Just as the Chief Rabbi of London, Lord Jonathan Sacks, shared in his welcoming remarks to Pope Benedict XVI today at Walpole House, ours is an age with “information saturation and wisdom starvation.”  I believe all of these words can lead us to a deeper, more meaningful relationship to our religious traditions.

The PBS “Religion and Ethics” weekly program website shared this today:

Mahzor Lev Shalem, the new High Holy Day prayer book of Conservative Judaism, includes for the first time a rich assortment of contemporary readings and meditations, poetry and prayers. These selections are among the readings meant for use on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

One day a year we make a journey in the company of the whole community of Israel—all of us together, each of us alone. That day is “The Day,” the Day of Atonement, the day that is deathlike. It is the day we wear the kittel, the white gown that will one day be our shroud. It is the day when eating and drinking cease. It is a day when the world recedes and we are set free to uncover the true meaning of our lives.

—Jonathan Magonet, British rabbi and theologian

Faith is not something that we acquire once and for all. Faith is an insight that must be acquired at every single moment. Those who honestly search, those who yearn and fail, we did not presume to judge. Let them pray to be able to pray, and if they do not succeed, if they have no tears to shed, let them yearn for tears, let them try to discover their heart, and let them take strength from the certainty that this too is prayer.

—Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), rabbi and theologian

I am grateful for this, / a moment of truth, / grateful to stand before You / in judgment. / You know me as a liar / and I am flooded with relief / to have my darkest self / exposed at last. / Every day I break my vows— / to be the dutiful child, / selfless parent, caring friend, / responsible citizen of the world. / No one sees, no one knows / how often I take the easy way, / I let myself off the hook, / give myself the benefit of / the doubt— / every day, every day. / On this day, this one day, / I stand before You naked, / without disguise, without / embellishment, naked, /shivering, ridiculous. / I implore You— / let me try again.

—Merle Feld, poet, playwright, activist, and educator

The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. -Nostra Aetate, #2


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