Pope Praises God’s Holy Days?

Pope Benedict

                                                              Pope Benedict XVI 

Zenit.org (a Roman Catholic supporting news service) reported:

Benedict XVI Wishes Chief Rabbi a Happy New Year

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 19, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI sent the Chief Rabbi of Rome a message for the Jewish festivities celebrated this month.

The Pope expressed in a message his “most cordial and sincere best wishes” to Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni and the entire Jewish community in Italy’s capital.

The Jewish calendar marks Rosh Hashana (New Year) Sept. 12-14; Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) Sept. 21-22; and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) Sept. 27-Oct. 3.

“These festivities,” the Holy Father wrote, “can be occasions for many blessings from the Eternal and a source of immense joy, so that the will to promote the peace that the world so greatly needs will grow within each one of us. May God in his goodness protect your community and grant that the friendship between us deepen, in this city of Rome and everywhere.”

Comments by COGwriter:

While I am pleased with public statements of support for the biblical Holy Days, the above statements from Pope Benedict seem to strongly disagree with the position of the Roman Church as taught earlier by one of its saints John Chrysostom.

John Chrysostom preached the following in 387 A.D.:

The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles, the fasts. There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do. Yet some of these are going to watch the festivals and others will join the Jews in keeping their feastsand observing their fasts. I wish to drive this perverse custom from the Church right now…If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, ours are lies…Does God hate their festivals and do you share in them? He did not say this or that festival, but all of them together. (John Chrysostom. Homily I Against the Jews I:5;VI:5;VII:2. Preached at Antioch, Syria in the Fall of 387 AD. Medieval Sourcebook: Saint John Chrysostom (c.347-407) : Eight Homilies Against the Jews. Fordham University. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/chrysostom-jews6.html viewed 12/10/05).

The wicked and unclean fast of the Jews is now at our doors. Thought it is a fast, do not wonder that I have called it unclean…But now that the devil summons your wives to the feast of the Trumpets and they turn a ready ear to this call, you do not restrain them. You let them entangle themselves in accusations of ungodliness, you let them be dragged off into licentious ways. (John Chrysostom. Homily II Against the Jews I:1; III:4. Preached at Antioch, Syria on Sunday, September 5, 387 A.D.).

So also the Law fixed the feast of Tabernacles (John Chrysostom. Homily IV Against the Jews IV:3. Catholic Christians of Antioch Turning to Sabbath and The New Moon Day and Other Holy Days. 387 A.D.).

Today is the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and it is not a wicked nor unclean fast–at least not according to the Bible.

John Chrysostom preached against the Fall Holy Days in the 4th century, because some who professed Christ were observing them.

It is interesting to note that he must have realized that the second century church kept Passover the same time as the Jews did (this was even true in the early second century in Rome). And that the Catholic Church still kept Pentecost. Thus by preaching what he did, John Chrysostom is preaching against his own church as the Catholics claim to keep both Passover (though on a different date, and with a different name) and Pentecost–as both of those festivals would be part of “all of them together”.

It should be noted that the basic reason that John Chrysostom preached against the holy days was due to antisemitism. In demonstrates this in his Homily Against the Jews (of which there are at least eight of) as he calls the Jews by a variety of names. Here are a few of his statements:

But do not be surprised that I called the Jews pitiable. They really are pitiable and miserable (I:II:1).

So the godlessness of the Jews and the pagans is on a par. But the Jews practice a deceit which is more dangerous (I:VI:4).

Do you see that demons dwell in their souls and that these demons are more dangerous than the ones of old? (I:VI:7).

Since it is against the Jews that I wish to draw up my battle line, let me extend my instruction further. Let me show that, by fasting now, the Jews dishonor the law and trample underfoot God’s commands because they are always doing everything contrary to his decrees. When God wished them to fast, they got fat and flabby (VI:IV:2).

Indeed, the fasting of the Jews, which is more disgraceful than any drunkenness, is over and gone (VIII:I:5).

But contrary to the implications of John Chrysostom, the facts are that the Holy Days were kept by Jesus, the New Testament Church, and those faithful to their teachings. And the other fact is that no where in the Bible do we see hatred against the Jews. Jesus taught we were to love our neighbor (and most the of “neighbors” He was then talking to were Jewish).

Here is some of the approved Roman Catholic teachings on John Chrysostom:

Chrysostom has deserved a place in ecclesiastical history, not simply as Bishop of Constantinople, but chiefly as a Doctor of the Church. Of none of the other Greek Fathers do we possess so many writings. We may divide them into three portions, the “opuscula”, the “homilies”, and the “letters”…eight “Against the Jews”…

As an exegete Chrysostom is of the highest importance…it would be a mistake to underrate the great theological treasures hidden in his writings. From the very first he was considered by the Greeks and Latins as a most important witness to the Faith. (St. John Chrysostom. The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910).

There are very few “Doctors of the Church” from a Roman Catholic perspective, but this hater of Jews and God’s Holy Days–John Chrysostom–was one of them!

So why did I bring up John Chrystostom’s and the Pope’s comments together?

Because the Pope himself brought up both subjects (Chrysostom and the biblical Holy Days) essentially on the same day!

According to a 9/20/07 article by Zenit, on Wednesday (September 19, 2007) the Pope’s “reflection at the general audience focused on St. John Chrysostom”.  In other words he publicly reflected on the contributions he believed that Chrysostom made to his church, the same day it was reported that he sent a letter to the Roman Rabbi praising God’s Holy Days. 

Here is some of what the Pontiff statedbout John Chrysostom:

This year marks the 16th centenary of the death of St. John Chrysostom (407-2007). John of Antioch was called Chrysostom, “golden-mouthed,” for his eloquence. It could be said he is still alive today through his written works…He was not a speculative theologian…

His pastoral project was inserted into the life of the Church…

As you can see, dear brothers and sisters, this lesson of Chrysostom on the authentically Christian presence of the lay faithful in the family and in society, is important today more than ever. Let us pray that the Lord render us docile to the lessons of this great teacher of the faith. 

So on the same day, it seems that the Pontiff praised one who hated Jews and God’s Holy Days, then claimed that the Holy Days as observed by Jews can be a source of blessings from God. 

Should we pray related to John Chrysostom, as the Pope stated, to be “docile to the lessons of this great teacher of the faith“–a hater of Jews and God’s Holy Days?

Or pray for the Kingdom of God to come and to point out the absurdity of what is happening in Rome?

Several articles of possibly related interest include:

Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.

Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days? Did they? Did Jesus? Should you?

The Book of Life and the Feast of Trumpets? Are they related? Is so how? If not, where not?

The Day of Atonement–Its Christian Significance The Jews call it Yom Kippur, Christians “The Day of Atonement”. Does it have any relevance for Christians today?

The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians? Is this pilgrimage holy day still valid? Does it teach anything relevant for today’s Christians?

LCG 2007 Feast of Tabernacles’ Information Here is information on many Feast of Tabernacles locations for this year.

Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2012, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur 🙂

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