Ed. This talk was given at the first historic Hebrew Catholic conference, Jews in the Church, on December 11, 2004. It was included in The Hebrew Catholic #81. All rights reserved.
Jewish Identity Within the Church
“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week … Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, Shalom Aleichem – Peace be with you (John 20:19).
I am sure you will also recognize these words:
· Baruch haba b’shem Adonai
Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.
These are the words that Jesus said would have to be spoken by his People Israel before they would see him again (Mt 23). These words, also repeated at every Mass, are the motto of our Association. Perhaps when the Jews who have entered the Church are able to say these words as a People, Jesus will respond by coming in grace to the Jewish people outside the Church, in preparation for their conversion en masse.
It is said that “where there are two Jews, there are three opinions. Mark gave another version: four Jews, five opinions. And in the new state of Israel, there is yet another version: where there are 5 Jews, there are nine political parties.
As spiritual semites, I trust that you will uphold this grand tradition. All that I have to say represents my own understanding and interpretation of Fr. Friedman’s thinking – feel free to add your own opinion.
My talk will consist of a brief introduction of myself, to Fr. Friedman, to Father’s thoughts on Jewish identity, to the signs of the times, and to the work of the AHC.
The talk will be given
B’shem ha’Av v’haBen v’ Ruach haKodesh, Elohim Echad
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God.
My Spiritual Journey
I was Bar Mitzvah’d when I was 13, as most Jewish males were. Within two years, I lost my faith. The reasons I lost my faith at that age: youthful idealism, looking at the difference between what your parents and elders tell you and how they live, in my case – how they prayed and then how they lived. Also, I lived in an Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn and I was beaten up by nine Catholic boys because I was a “Christ killer.” I had never met this “Christ,” I didn’t know who He was, but I had killed Him.
This experience with both my own people, as a Jew, and these people who talked about the love of God, and, again, my own youthful idealism, helped me to lose whatever faith I had, which wasn’t much at that age.
But if you lose your faith, you also lose the matrix of values, of choices, of beliefs that gave your life meaning and purpose. I knew that I now had to discover the meaning and purpose of life if my life was going to be coherent and make any sense. So my search for the meaning of life began. Over the following years, I worked for IBM, got married and had four children. I spent many years in college, taking courses in the various liberal art disciplines, finally ending up in philosophy.
After 23 years, although I had answered a lot of questions in a provisional way, I hadn’t found the meaning of life. I had, however, written three questions on my blackboard at IBM. I didn’t know why, but I thought that if I could answer those questions, I would somehow have discovered the meaning of life. And the questions were:
1. How do you explain the very fact of existence, that anything exists, that existence exists?
2. How do you explain sacrificial love? By sacrificial love I wasn’t thinking about Jesus. I knew nothing about Him. I was thinking of the soldier who throws himself on a grenade to save nine of his fellow soldiers. That went against every instinct of self-preservation. Where does the ability to do that come from? I also thought of the Italian and Jewish mothers that I knew growing up in Brooklyn. They would take care of their family all day long and feed their husband when he came home from work. Then they would go out and scrub floors. There was no self-fulfillment there, no self-actualization. They gave their lives in sacrifice for their family. The money that they made from scrubbing floors was put in the cookie jar to send their kids to college. Where does that self-donation, that self-giving come from?
3. How do you explain the sense of ought, the sense that I ought to do something? This isn’t the breaking or the keeping of a commandment or the development of a virtue. Those you can teach. But you can’t teach this sense of ought, I ought to do it. For example: I am a business man and I have an appointment. I see an old man walking down the street who drops his wallet. If I go to pick up the wallet, follow him around the corner he has just turned, to give it to him, I am going to miss my appointment and a one million dollar business contract. Yet, deep inside there is this voice: You ought to do it, you ought to return the wallet to him. And I did. Where does that come from?
I thought that, perhaps, if I knew the answer to these questions, I would also know the meaning of life.
In my office at IBM one day, I had reached the point of despair. After 23 years, I didn’t know where to turn. I didn’t believe in anything religious, but I knew that there was supposed to be a God. And at that point, I just cried out: God if you really exist, I need to know now. I had four children, a wife, a home and responsibilities. Yet I was ready to cash it in. Through that broken heart, through that moment of submission, of resignation, God came into the office and … I can’t explain what happened … I wasn’t in the office. I only saw clouds. I don’t know how long I was in that state, but when I returned, I knew there was a God as well as I knew I was standing there. There were no questions in my mind. I knew the answers to the three questions on the blackboard. And I knew an answer to a question that I hadn’t even asked. I knew that Jesus was His Son.
I didn’t know what to do with all this information. I went through the woods outside of IBM to a little church and I told the priest. I did this because I wanted to make this experience concrete. I didn’t want tomorrow to come and believe I had just hallucinated or dreamed something. I could go and check with someone. And I did. He said to me: Do you want to be Catholic? I said, Heavens no! I just needed to tell somebody who I knew would believe and understand what I was saying. That’s how I came to faith. It was truly a St. Paul experience. I did nothing to come to those answers.
I previously had two other conversions: one from a very liberal, left, radical point of view to a fairly conservative point of view politically and economically; the other from a very pro-abortion stance to a pro-life stance. That was all before Jesus came and revealed Himself to me.
It would take almost another six months and working through three dissident or rebellious priests before I could take instruction and enter the Church. The only other thing I’ll mention during this transition: After I decided to become Catholic and enter the Church, I went through three terrible weeks, literally a hell on earth. I had hundreds of voices, a multitude of voices in my head calling me every foul name, every derogatory term, attacking my personality, attacking the Church, attacking everything. After about a week and a half, the fellow who would eventually be my God-father, or sponsor as they call him today, took me to a priest. The priest said, “Look, if you want to change your mind and not be Catholic, make that decision once you return to a normal emotional state. Don’t make any decisions while you are in this state.” This state lasted about another week and a half, and when it ended, I experienced a peace and a joy such as I had never experienced before and have never experienced since. There were no further questions. I entered the Church in February, 1979.
Let me tell you another story now, the story of our founder, Elias Friedman, OCD. This will help you understand the work that he launched. Unlike Roy or Ronda or Mark, the substance of my talk does not reflect my thoughts but those of Fr. Friedman. What I contribute is my understanding and the winnowing experiences of trying to find ways to talk to people in the Church about Fr. Friedman’s ideas and to help this work develop. Fr. Friedman believed, as I do, that this is a work for our time.
Elias Friedman, OCD
Ed. The following is largely drawn from Fr. Friedman’s autobiographical article, A Branch, Re-Ingrafted into the Olive Tree of Israel, The Ingrafting, edited by Ronda Chervin. (Remnant of Israel, 1987)
• Born March 11, 1916, Capetown, South Africa. Died June 11, 1999, Stella Maris, Haifa, Israel
• After Bar Mitzvah, assumed an agnostic state until he could prove the truth of the tradition into which he had been born. He initially got interested in Zionism, with the hope that this would address the “Jewish problem.” Internally, that was seen as the threat of assimilation and decline of religious faith; externally, that was seen as anti-semitism.
• In 1940, having entered the South African Medical Corps, he was touched by grace, became acutely aware of the darkness he had been living in, and began again to pray, read the Old Testament, search for God and, with some violence, began to correct his faults.
• Now, touched by grace, the following question arose:
“Given the existence of God, whose goodness I had never questioned and in whose Providence I had every reason to believe, how could the Jewish problem be explained?
“The answer came in a shaft of light: Jesus Christ.”
“I immediately accepted the response as the best explanation, because it embraced the entire destiny of the Jews, without neglecting a single aspect, which was not the case with other explanations.”
“The historical reality of the fate of Israel appeared to me so strong an argument for the divinity of Jesus Christ that all difficulties which my agnostic past and scientific formation could have raised against the possibility of miracles and prophecy, fell away. Therefore, Jesus was all he claimed to be: the Messiah, the Son of God.”
• Once he understood that Christ had given universal proportions to the Mosaic Revelation, he proceeded to be instructed in the Catholic faith and was baptized on Aug. 5, 1943.
• He immersed himself in Catholic literature and, from a request by Fr. Owen McCann, soon to become Archbishop of Cape Town, he wrote the book Redemption of Israel (Sheed & Ward, 1947).
Before the establishment of the State of Israel, Father wrote with prophetic intuition:
“Reading the signs of the times in the light of prophecy, I reached the conclusion that Jewish history from the time of the French Revolution to the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine announced the entry of Israel into the phase of salvation. God was preparing the homecoming of the people. The Christian era in the history of Israel was imminent.
“It was and remains my conviction that the Apostolate of Zion could only be established on a national basis – that of an interpretation of Jewish history. The destiny of Israel was of significance to the world in general; would not their ingrafting be as a resurrection of the dead for the Gentile nations whose charity had grown cold? The drama of the Jews offered the key to a Catholic interpretation of the events of our time until the end of the world and the Second Coming of Christ.”
• He then writes of an experience, while walking on a lonely road, which directed him towards the priesthood.
“Suddenly, I was brought to a standstill by an overwhelming impression. It was as if an invisible but clearly comprehended being was present before me, who ordered me with supreme authority to embrace the priesthood. Words cannot convey the force with which the command was issued to me. I heard no words spoken but the communication touched the deepest region of my soul. I confess that it was a painful, yes, unpleasant experience. What was there for me to do? One thing only: I had to bend and obey. The presence disappeared, as if it had been waiting for my consent.”
• While in England studying for the priesthood, he came across an anthology of excerpts of St. John of the Cross. Having had no prior interest in the Carmelites, he read this book at one sitting. He writes:
“When I had finished I knew with unalterable certainty that God willed me to be a Carmelite, that he was leaving only one direction open to me along which I was to journey.”
• Ordination to the priesthood took place on June 29, 1953 and Father arrived at Mt Carmel on Sept 7, 1954.
Association of Hebrew Catholics
• In 1979, Fr. Friedman wrote to Msgr. William Carew, then Apostolic Delegate of Jerusalem, objecting to an opinion he had encountered in a Jesuit publication, which read as follows:
“The conversion of Israel would be the definitive solution (to the Jewish problem) on condition that once they have become Christians, Jews lose their nationality.”
Msgr. Carew responded
“I personally believe that we should enable them (the Jews) to accept Christ and His Church without assimilation.”
• From this response, and following upon 40 years of study, prayer and discussion, Fr. Friedman along with Andrew Sholl, launched the Association of Hebrew Catholics in 1979.
• The first AHC newsletter was published in Australia in May 1980 by Andrew, a Nazi concentration camp survivor.
• In 1982, the South African Bishop’s Conference, in Plenary Session, unanimously recommended to the Holy See Fr. Friedman’s idea for a Community of Israelites in the Church.
• In the mid 1980’s, the AHC came to the United States through the efforts of Msgr. Eugene Kevane.
• The Miriam Press was established and in 1987 published its first book, Jewish Identity, by Fr. Friedman, which provides the theological and historical background for our work.
• I assumed responsibility for the AHC publication, The Hebrew Catholic, in 1990 and in 1994 was asked by Fr. Friedman to lead the AHC as President.
• In Sept. 2001, at the invitation of Nick Healy, then President of Ave Maria College, we relocated to Ypsilanti, Michigan to associate with Ave Maria College.
• In March 2002, we received the approbation and blessing of Bishop Carl Mengeling, Diocese of Lansing, Michigan.
The Central Issue: What is Jewish Identity?
• The title of our conference is “More Jewish Than Ever”. The question, of course, is what do we mean by “Jewish,” especially when attributed to those of us who are also called “Catholic”? Jews who are baptized and enter the Catholic Church are not obligated to follow the mitzvot (commandments) of Rabbinical Judaism; rather they follow the Law of Christ as given to us by the Church. Jews who have become Catholic are no longer under the authority of the Rabbis; instead, they are under the authority of the Magisterium. So, what is the significance of qualifying the noun “Catholic” with the term “Jewish”?
• And even amongst the Jewish people, what is it that is “Jewish” in one of their own who does not observe the Jewish religion, who is an atheist, but who is still recognized as a “Jew”?
• There are many ways to address this question, and Jews themselves will argue about how to define the term “Jew”. Fr. Friedman, however, believed the inherent ambiguity of the term “Jew” hid something very profound about the identity of the person identified as a “Jew” and about its meaning in salvation history.
• In Jewish Identity, Fr. Friedman analyzes the question of who or what is a Jew? Let me briefly summarize the conclusions to Father’s analysis.
He identifies two factors in the makeup of the Jew: (1) election, and (2) law.
First Factor – Election
• In Genesis, we read about the election, a choice of Almighty God, first to Abraham, then Isaac and then Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel and from whence come the twelve tribes. Let us note two things about this choice.
First, it is a call to be a people or a nation, not because of language, customs or geographical proximity, but simply because God willed it so. Second, it is a call to be a blessing to the nations.
• This calling is to service, not privilege. And it is collective. Israelites who serve the true God and those who serve other gods are both members of this people.
• God has dealt with this people in stages. Eventually they are given the Torah through Moses, return to take possession of the Land of Israel under Joshua, are given a monarchy from whence will come the Messiah, are given a central place of sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem, and so forth. All of these are wonderful gifts to Israel; they shaped and prepared Israel for the Messiah, but none of them defined Israel.
• For Jacob preceded Moses, and the People preceeded the Mosaic covenant.
• Therefore, the law of Moses did not define Israel and one remains an Israelite even if one does not follow this covenant.
Genesis 12: (1) Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. (2) And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. (3) I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.”
Genesis 15: (7) And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.
Genesis 22: (15) And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, (16) and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, (17) I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies, (18) and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”
Second Factor – Law
• The giving of the Torah at Sinai is a formative moment for the People Israel.
• From the Torah, both written and oral, Mosaic Judaism, the religion of the People, emerges. Note that the Scripture does not provides us with much details about Israel’s religious faith prior to Sinai. With the Torah, God teaches the People about Himself, about themselves, and about His designs. Through God’s revelation as recorded in the Old Testament, and also delivered through Israel’s prophets and sages, Israel, and some in the nations, learn to anticipate Israel’s Messiah.
• The whole history of salvation stretching back to Adam and Eve unfolded in a succession of transitional stages. Each covenant represented some advance, some new revelation, some change in life and faith, over the prior covenants.
• But the common thread was the covenants God gratuitously made with Israel. From the election in Abraham and through the Abrahamic, Mosaic and Davidic covenants, the covenants provided the immediate, practical, and spiritual preparation for the Messiah.
• When the Messiah came, the prior covenants were transformed into the new, just as the prior stages of a child are transformed into the adult, or a caterpillar into a butterfly. The prior covenants were neither rejected nor repudiated. Rather, their truth endured, and they were transfigured, transformed, perfected, fulfilled.
• Fr. Elias provides a lengthy explanation of the evolution and significance of the term “Jew.” But let me simply state his conclusions, considered from the viewpoint of the People descending from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob:
• Before Messiah came, the Israelite who was bound to the prior covenant and to the law of Moses was a Jew, a follower of the religion known as Mosaic Judaism. He could have properly been called a Jewish Israelite. Note that the noun Israelite is qualified by the Israelite’s faith, the Mosaic Jewish faith.
• After Messiah came, the Israelite who was bound to the new covenant in Christ was a Christian, a follower of Judaism fulfilled, now known as Catholicism.
• An equivalent term to “Jewish Israelite” then would be a “Christian” or “Catholic Israelite.”
• The election of the People was not revoked, as St. Paul, Vatican II, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church all teach. It is an eternal calling of the People Israel to be a blessing to the nations, through Jesus and His Church, to the end of time.
Following the Apostolic Period
The Times of the Gentiles
• While thousands of Jews became followers of the Messiah, we know that the bulk of the people did not believe. And in the mystery of God’s providence, St. Paul tells us that through their transgression – their failure to believe, salvation had come to the Gentiles.
• Within approximately three centuries, the Church became almost entirely Gentile. By approximately the fourth century, the last remaining Hebrew Catholic communities had disappeared.
• The Gospel bore great fruit amongst the Gentiles. Souls were saved, great saints and doctors of the Church arose. The faith and sacraments of the Universal Assembly of Yeshua (the Catholic Church) inspired a civilization. The pervasive influence of the Gospel can be seen in architecture, art, music, literature, etc.
• Amid sin and heresy, there was a real acceptance and spreading of the faith, which became the very center of the lives of multitudes of people and the governing influence on the social order and public life of what was called Christendom.
• The fruitfulness of the Gospel amongst the Gentiles was a great gift of God.
• This was the times of the Gentiles. They had assumed the responsibility of Israel for giving witness to Yeshua and were very successful amongst the nations in the Church’s mission of evangelization and sanctification.
The time of Israel’s visitation
• For the bulk of Israel, blind to the Messiah, the time of grace and glory for the Gentiles was a time of exile and persecution. Jesus prophesied this in Luke (21:23-24), which was in keeping with the tradition of Deut. 28 and Lev. 26.
• In 70 AD, the Temple was destroyed and the first Jewish revolt against the Romans was crushed. So too was the second revolt, and the people were exiled. Because of the corporate nature of the election, the People are blessed and disciplined corporately.
• Rabbinical Judaism developed after the destruction of the Temple, and there is no doubt that it took over and taught many of the truths of Mosaic Judaism. It preserved the Jewish People under God’s providence for century upon century
Apostasy and Secularization
• Luke and II Timothy speak of an apostasy, an apostasy of the Gentiles who populated the Church. When the tide began to turn against the Gospel in Christendom is a matter for debate. But we can mention a few elements in that tide.
• Fr. Elias considered the beginning of the apostasy to occur with the Protestant Reformation. The Church was torn asunder by a religious rebellion, destroying the unity of the faith and establishing a multitude of competing interpretations of the Gospels (denominations).
• A few centuries later, the French revolution further wounded the Church through a secular rebellion in the name of a rationalistic deism. It was the fruit of the Enlightenment, a secularistic turning away from the Messiah. Wherever it spread, however, with its ideas of citizenship, Jews were liberated from the ghettoes and exposed to a civilization which, though turning its back upon God, could not be understood apart from its Catholic past. Many Jews entered the Church, while many more became secularized.
Alphonse Ratisbonne, converted by the Blessed Virgin and infused with the Faith on Jan 20, 1842, noted that this movement of the Jews marked the beginning of a period of transition which would end in their acceptance of the Gospel.
• Spurred on by great secular movements (e.g., nationalism, socialism, capitalism, communism, democratism), by great scientific and technological achievements, including the influence of evolutionism, psychologism and the rapid development of the means of communication, the apostasy continued to grow and spread, even into the Church.
• Secularism for Catholics meant turning away from the Church and the Messiah. For Jews, it meant turning away from the Rabbis.
• For Gentiles, secularization and the apostasy continued apace, culminating in the holocaust and other 20th century horrors such as abortion. The Church had become marginalized and Christendom had ceased to exist.
Return of the Jews to the Holy Land
• For the secularized and assimilated Jews, the Zionist dream took hold. Taking the 19th century nationalism to which the de-ghettoized Jews were now exposed, they spearheaded a return to the land.
• Three years following the holocaust, a Jewish state was established in the Land of Israel. (Was this in part due perhaps to the sufferings of the Jews under the Nazis, formally linked with that of the Messiah by St. Edith Stein and 1000 Hebrew Catholics who offered their sufferings and lives, in union with Jesus, for the Jewish People?)
• Following the establishment of the state, the ingathering began, first from devastated war-torn Europe, later from Ethiopia and the Soviet Union. The key event, we believe fulfilling the prophecy of Luke 21:24, was the reconquest and unification of Jerusalem in the Six-day war of 1967.
More Signs of the Times
• A year later, Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical Humanae Vitae which reaffirmed Catholic teaching on the immorality of artificial methods of birth control. Wave upon wave of dissent arose within the Church. Most of us are aware of the sad story of the post-conciliar crisis: dissent from all sorts of moral and dogmatic teachings by those within the Church, and growing challenges to the Church from without. Protestantism has been making great gains in Latin America, as has Mormonism. In Africa, a growing Church has faced the growing and militant force of Islam.
• However, in the midst of a growing apostasy among the Gentiles and in the midst of growing secularism, the hand of God could be seen, working, we believe, towards the ingrafting of Israel.
• In Israel and elsewhere, Jewish scholars are studying the life and times of Jesus.
• Israeli citizens are learning about the Faith as they host Christians on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
• In the Church, Vatican Council II gave us Lumen Gentium, Nostra Aetate and other documents, affirming the enduring election of the People Israel, correcting erroneous understandings about the Jewish people, and inaugurating a new period of respect and dialogue.
• And, since World War II, we are aware of the large numbers of Jews who have come to faith in Christ.
Interpreting the Signs
• Elias Friedman, OCD, looked at the remains of Christendom and meditated upon the apostasy. He saw the return of the Jews to the Holy Land and meditated upon the perseverance of the People Israel and the significance of the election. He searched the Scriptures to understand what these signs could mean. A little of what he found, I relate below.
• The election had not been revoked:
“God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew” (Rom 11:2) … “for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.” (Rom 11:29)
• The people of Israel will enter the Catholic Church, as St. Paul assures us:
“… a hardening has come upon part of Israel until the full number of the Gentiles comes in, and so all Israel shall be saved” (Rom 11:25-26)
• When they do enter, a great blessing shall result.
“Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!” (Rom 11:12)
Testimony of some Saints
• St. Thomas Aquinas (13th century), in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans writes:
“What, I say, will such an admission effectuate, if not that it bring the Gentiles back to life? The Gentiles would be the believers whose faith has grown cold; or even that the totality, deceived by the Antichrist, fall and are restored to their pristine fervor by the admission of the Jews.”
• St. Jerome (4th century), in his commentary to the Song of Songs writes:
“Their sins occasioned the salvation of the Gentiles and again the incredulity of the Gentiles will occasion the conversion of Israel.”
• St. John Chrysostum (4th century), in his homily on the Epistle to the Romans writes:
“Seeing the Gentiles abusing little by little their grace, God will recall a second time the Jews.”
New stage in the drama of Salvation History
• And how would we know when that time had come, when the full number of Gentiles had come in, when the time of Israel’s ingrafting was approaching? Luke 21:24 tells us:
“… Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
But that has happened, as we saw, in 1967. For the first time since 70 AD, Jerusalem was reunified under the sovereignty of the People Israel.
• The Divine hand of God is moving through history: both Israel and the Church are being prepared for the ingrafting.
• The Jewish People, on the one hand, are being ingathered into their homeland: a material means to the spiritual end of their ingrafting. The Church, on the other hand, suffering the loss of Christendom and its greatest apostasy while, at the same time, inaugurating a new relationship with the Jewish people, is also being prepared.
• Fr. Friedman believed that God will not allow Israel to be ingrafted until the Church is prepared to welcome it.
• The greatest fear of the Jewish people has been their own annihilation. This could come through physical destruction, such as we saw attempted in the holocaust. It could come equally through assimilation.
Till now, the Jews who have entered the Church have been unable to preserve their identity (especially in their offspring), assimilating to the various Gentile cultures of the Church. Should all Jews enter the Church in this way, the People Israel would cease to exist. Consciously or sub-consciously, Jewish political and religious leaders have recognized this, increasing their opposition to the Christian mission.
• Fr. Elias believed that, since the Israelite has been irrevocably chosen by God as a member of the People Israel, it is important that this action of God, this call of God to the People be respected and accommodated. Then the Israelite within the Church can serve the Messiah as God wishes, as a member of the People Israel.
• At present, there is no guidance, no pastoral support, no provision to help Israelites live out their election within the Church. Since the nature and destiny of the People Israel is a collective one, the election can only be lived out collectively. Therefore, Fr. Friedman called for the Church and the Jews who have entered the Church to find ways to enable their collective vocation.
• That is where the work of the Association of Hebrew Catholics comes in. We believe God has led Fr. Friedman to raise this apostolate because the time of preparation is now.
• Within the divine plan of salvation history, we believe we are in a transitional period, identified by the signs of the times. It is a wonderful and exciting time. Not easy times; not times bereft of their own unique terrors. It is not pleasant to live through an apostasy. But we are also in a time when we can see how God is preparing for a revival of faith, a revival that the world has never known. I thank God that He has brought us all to this day to behold the marvelous deeds He is performing in the sight of all nations.
Work of the Association of Hebrew Catholics
• To spread our message and develop the support to preserve the identity and heritage of Jews who have entered the Church.
• To gather the People Israel within the Church, to serve the Church and the Jewish people through a collective and unified witness to Jesus and His Church
To help enable the People Israel to fulfill their vocation within the Church in a corporate witness to Jesus by:
• developing our Hebrew Catholic identity and spirituality
• providing pastoral support for those who have entered the Church, especially for mixed marriages and for Hispanic Catholics of Jewish origin
• providing support for Jews who are searching and inquiring about Jesus and the Catholic faith
• being an integral part of the Holy Father’s new evangelization, contributing a vibrant and rich Jewish perspective
• serving as an eschatological sign of the ingrafting, which may have already begun
• helping all Catholics understand the Jewish roots of their faith
• serving as a witness to the Jewish people that the cross is not a sign of persecution, but rather of sacrificial love, and that the Catholic faith is the Judaism of the Redemption
• serving as a sign of 4000 years of God’s merciful providence and fidelity, first to the People of Israel, next to the peoples of the world, and finally, to this world of the 21st century that is in a flight from God.
The Church is now engaged in a dialogue with the Jews. This dialogue relates to the People Israel outside the Church. Fr. Friedman established the AHC to raise and help address the question of the People Israel inside the Church.
Speaking to the Gentile Romans, St. Paul says:
“Just as you once disobeyed God but have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now disobeyed in order that, by the virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may receive mercy. For God delivered all to disobedience that he might have mercy upon all.
“O, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Rom 11:25-33)