WHAT WOULD YOU THINK IF I TOLD YOU THAT JEWISH ARCHEOLOGISTS HAD FOUND ABRAHAM’S ARM?

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anselmusjmj commented on SOLOMON IS SPINNING IN HIS SHROUD

I met with an erudite Rabbi, who belongs to the movement of the Reform Jews (“reform” is different than “reformed.” Reform Jews are open to changing beliefs, reformed are “stagnant” and not open to organic growth- I’m only repeating what the Rabbi told me today).

I was born and raised a Catholic. From high school and onward I took an interest in learning Catholic Apologetics… I’ve learned how to defend Mother Church against Protestant and Atheistic attacks, but I never really had the opportunity to know how we Catholics are viewed by those in the Jewish Movement (I was taught that “movement” is the word of choice).

From the get go I came to realize that this particular Rabbi had disdain for the beliefs of my Protestant brethren in the room, and then I came to realize that his disdain for Catholic beliefs was even greater. Starting with Genesis chapter 1 verse 1, the Rabbi I spent time with today explained how we Christians, Protestant and Catholic, have a very ignorant point of departure. The first line of Genesis proved to be a 15 minute description of how only the Jews can read it right, and how we Christians have it all wrong. Too much to explain in the confines of this post, but suffice it to say that I could only stand about 3 minutes before Saint Augustine’s theory of Rationes Seminales fell off of my lips. And so the tango began….

The Rabbi then went on to tell me that Catholics try to “sell” people on holy water by making them think it is magic and has magical properties. I went on to explain that my 3rd grade teacher told us 3rd graders that blessed objects keep the same physical properties… even the consecrated host and precious blood still keep the same PHYSICAL properties of bread and wine, it is SPIRITUAL realities we are talking about when blessings and consecrations take place. Things got nuclear.

The Rabbi went on to say that Jews to not worship PLACES the way we Christians do…. I went on to explain what most Catholics in 1st grade know, namely: We only worship God. We offer Latria to God and Dulia to the saints… I then explained Dulia and Latria. I explained to the Rabbi that we treat holy places with reverence, just as he would probably reverence the cemetery where his grandparents are buried. The Rabbi again said that we Christians worship Places and Buildings or Churches, I went on to explain in a polite way that this would be as absurd for us Catholics as it would be idolotrous and sacrilegeous. He basically thought I was lying and held to his belief that we worship places and buildings or churches. Doesn’t the Torah talk about “take off your sandals, this is holy ground….” ? Why are we Catholics accused of worshiping a place just because we consider it holy? Why this over and against attitude? Whatever.

In today’s meeting with the Jewish Rabbi, I learned that they are as iconoclast as are the Moslems are. I brought this observation up to the Rabbi, and he basically agreed and told our group that Jews have more in common with Moslems than they do with Catholics and Protestant Christians. The Rabbi explained to me that Jews and Moslems are monotheists who believe in one God only, while we Catholics are polytheists who basically believe in three gods. At this point, I started to really realize that my Catholic/Christian heritage has a lot of HISTORICAL connections to Judaism, but today, we Catholics have VERY LITTLE in common with Reform Jews. I naively believed that we Catholics and Jews agreed on certain interpretations of the Torah, but no, that is a very false assumption.

I asked about end of life issues and beliefs about the afterlife. The Rabbi told me that in 20 years, he has yet to encounter a dying Jew who expressed anxiety about death and what happens after death. There is a general belief that the body decomposes and souls go back to God, but speculation on more than that is to be scorned. “Thou protesteth too much” is what I was thinking… If the afterlife isn’t such a big deal, as the Rabbi kept telling us, then why was he so defensive whenever I asked him to give me theories?

The Rabbi brought up in today’s discussion the theft of the (850 year old relic) heart of Saint Laurence O’Toole, and he brought this up to illustrate how we Catholics practice idolatry. I tried to explain our healthy and holy appreciation, respect and reverence for relics, like the heart of St. Laurence. I posed this question: “Rabbi, if the arm of Father Abraham were preserved in a Synagogue somewhere, it would not be a matter of worshipping an idol, it would simply be a matter of respecting something which belonged to a person you love, respect and revere. It would be just like cherishing as special the wallet which your deceased dad carried with him on a daily basis….” The Rabbi shut me down and said that a Synagogue would NEVER even think of preserving a human heart to begin with, even Father Abraham’s, since that would be idolatry….

In sum, your post about Israeli law recognizing biological motherhood of two lesbians for a child does not shock me. The Rabbi I visited with for three hours today seemed very learned and happy about his Jewish identity. It would be wrong of me to believe that the Rabbi I spent time with is reflective of most Jews or Rabbis, but, I am finally able to connect dots which I was never able to connect before. I am reminded of how wonderful and common sensical it is to be a Catholic.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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