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QUESTIONING MY FAITH ON KOL NIDRE AND YOM KIPPUR

9 October 2017 No Comment

QUESTIONING MY FAITH ON KOL NIDRE AND YOM KIPPUR
FATHER JOHN WALSH

Qol Nidre is one service I attend every year. Yom Kippur is my High Holiday. For more years than I can remember, I look forward to hear my friend, the Cantor, Gideon Zellermyer. Gideon’s voice is heard on Leonard Cohen’s last album, You Want It Darker. His voice is a delight to my ears but it enters my heart to question my faith as a Christian. Qol nidre, meaning all vows, is a prayer to release all vows. There was nothing darker than the Holocaust. Yom Kippur is centered on atonement and forgiveness. Again this year I questioned whether the Catholic Church has atoned for and been truly forgiven for scapegoating all Jews, of all times, for the death of Jesus and the accusation of deicide. Guilty is defined as, chargeable with or responsible for a usually grave breach of conduct or a crime. The Church pleads guilty. Can all sins be forgiven? How much forgiveness can we expect from G-d?
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in the Wall Street Journal writes of The Challenge of Jewish Repentance. He says, from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, “At no other time do I feel close to G-d and I suspect the same is true for all Jews.” He continues, “These days constitute a courtroom drama like no other. The judge is G-d himself, and we are on trial for our lives. We have admitted the worst about ourselves and survived. Jews see the world in a totally different way. What humans have in common with G-d is freedom and moral responsibility. The real battles are not “out there.” The real religious mystery for Judaism is not our faith in G-d but G-d’s faith in us. Judaism is G-d’s call to human responsibility, to create a world that is a worthy home for His presence. We can discover that, even in a secular age, G-d is still there, open to us whenever we are willing to open ourselves to him.

James Carroll in Constantine’s Sword – The Church And the Jews poses the question: Thinking of the Holocaust and all that led to it, what kind of God presides over such a history?

Theism saw G-d as apart from the world, a G-d over and against us, a G-d who intervenes from time to time in history. Today theism is rejected and replaced by panentheism: God is in the world and the world is in God. After the Holocaust Catholic theologians reinterpreted who G-d is.
On the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the encyclical Pacem in Terris –Peace on Earth by Pope John XXIIIrd, a group of Catholic thinkers wrote a small book which was a rereading of the encyclical from the perspective of being engaged and committed in Quebec. Here is an overall reflection of the faith of Catholics:
Today committed and engaged Catholics are very sensitive to the sinful structures that marginalize people and cause them to suffer. They believe at the same time that the Spirit of G-d is at work in the real world: It is G-d who allows them to dream of a just and human society, G-d who leads them to be in solidarity with the poor and the oppressed, G-d who causes them to resist the dominant culture, and G-d who calls them to action. The faith of Christians in the Incarnation convinces them that a divine living impulse in history is pushing forth humanity to look for freedom and liberation, and, by their militancy, they participate in the transcendent plan of God.

On Yom Kippur my faith was renewed and my commitment was to work with Jews and all people of faith, or of no faith, to bring us closer to G-d in a fractured world and to create a world that is worthy of his presence.

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