Ed. The following appeared in The Hebrew Catholics #36 and again in #64, pp. 16-16. All Rights Reserved.
Msgr. Eugene Kevane.
That profound book Jewish Identity by Father Elias Friedman, O.C.D., contains more than meets the eye. At first glance it may seem merely another discussion of Zionism. It is far more than just that. More than one Hebrew Catholic has told me that a careful and deep reading of it, especially a re-reading, is the greatest personal and spiritual blessing for anyone who has come to the Catholic Faith out of a Jewish family background.
Basic to this book, Jewish Identity, is the insight that the Apostasy of the Gentiles is a fact standing in contemporary history and witnessed by the Holocaust. How could such a thing have taken place if the once-Christian nations had not fallen away from their earlier relationship to God?
This Apostasy of the Gentiles is not unknown among the Gentiles, but it is rarely discussed under this heading. A different nomenclature is used. For this time I draw your attention to the routine phrases, Nominal Catholics, Cultural Catholics, Liberal Catholics, Non-practicing Catholics, Fallen-away Catholics, and the like. The Holy See has been adverting to this phenomenon for a long time. Pope Leo XIII discussed it at length as the present century opened. Pope St. Pius X was deeply concerned with it. For him, it is the result of religious ignorance, not something vague but the specific ignorance of the very elements of Christian Doctrine. Hence his stress upon the absolute necessity of teaching the Official Catechism, the Church’s own handbook of those elements. Pope John Paul II is saying some pointed things about the phenomenon of Nominal Catholics, now grown to a major problem and suffering of the Holy Church of God. Yes indeed: what Father Elias discusses as The Apostasy of the Gentiles is a concrete reality. It concerns every Hebrew Catholic. Let us touch briefly on the doctrine of the Two Ways, one of the fundamental reasons.
Moses and the Prophets constantly explain the call of Abraham to their people. God called Abraham to come out of the corrupted paganism of his time. He was called to found a new, pure and holy People of God with the purpose of preparing for the coming of the Messiah.
This is the basis of all moral teaching. Each human person must choose between the Two Ways. Human freedom is nothing but this. Are we free regarding the law of gravity? The law of aging? But we are free to choose between the Two Ways.
“Behold”, Moses is speaking as God’s Prophet, “I set before you this day a blessing and a curse: a blessing, if you shall hearken unto the Commandments of the Lord; a curse, if you shall not hearken” (Deut. 11:26-28).
All the Prophets confirm this teaching, for one example the Prophet Jeremiah:
“To this people you shall say: ‘Thus says the Lord: Behold, I set before you the Way of Life and the Way of Death’” (Jer. 21:8).
What is the Way of Death? Read Chapter 2 of the book of the Rose Song of the Egyptians. It is the ideology of all secular humanism, of all picking and choosing among the Commandments of God.
What is the Way of Life? It is the Way which leads to paradise regained, to eternal life in heaven, to each one’s sharing in God’s own life.
Jesus confirmed and fulfilled this teaching of the Two Ways.
“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”
“If you love me, keep my Commandments.”
Hebrew Catholics and their children are at home in the real Catholic Church. The time has come for Hebrew Catholics to realize their identity on a family basis and then for such families to find each other.