Saturday, October 08, 2011

Yom Kippur Confiteor

Isidore Kaufmann, c. 1900
Today is the Jewish Day of Atonement, total fasting and day-long prayer to ask forgiveness of the past year's sins.

Recreation of the rite by the Temple Institute in Jerusalem

When the Jerusalem Temple existed, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies only on this day, with sacrificial blood, and spoke the four-letter Divine Name out loud, which was forbidden everywhere else and to everyone else.

It's a rich and strange word, atonement. We hear it first now in English as "reparation", as making up for some wrong. The English word itself does appear to mean "at-one" ment, unification. Making up for some wrong in order to create communion.

In Christianity, The Atonement --Christ's death on the cross as a sacrifice to God for mankind's sins--is the most humanly resonant archetype in the library but for Enlightened Westerners, the most scandalous and embarrassing. The Epistle to the Hebrews connects the High Priest's ritual with Jesus' crucifixion.
 This Slovak crucifixion ikon shows Christ's blood descending on the skull of Adam,
whom legend says was buried beneath Golgotha, the Place of the Skull.

Like most of our basic emotions and moods, guilt eludes our attempts to domesticate it. I have found it very ironic that the liberal culture which mocks the primitivity of "Original Sin" triumphantly grants me liberation from guilt about my sexual life then wants me to feel eternally guilty for societal wrongs done to strangers long before I was born.

A deceased Unitarian friend once told me the difference between the different kinds of Western guilt:
Catholics feel guilty for what they do, Jews feel guilty for what they don't do, and Protestants feel guilty just for not being nice enough.

The Confiteor ("I confess") is a part of the preparatory prayers of the Mass. I remember having to learn the Roman version in Latin as a boy; very complex because the case endings on the twice-spoken saints' name list there --blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul-- changed from first to second recitiation, from dative to accusative. Quite a mouthful of nuance. And the threefold striking of the breast with the words, "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa".

Here's the Dominican Order's version. Fewer saints and culpa's but more detail in the sins: thought, speech, deed and omission.

As you would expect from an introverted thinking type, most of the sins of which I feel are in thought and omission. Omission especially. As the recent English translation of "opere et omissione" makes clear: "...what I have done and what I have failed to do."

To my Jewish friends today, "an easy fast".


Anonymous said...

Ex Cathedra has only himself to blame for this: »I have found it very ironic that the liberal culture which mocks the primitivity of "Original Sin" triumphantly grants me liberation from guilt about my sexual life then wants me to feel eternally guilty for societal wrongs done to strangers long before I was born.«

For Ex Cathedra was once a liberal, and liberals don't feel guilty because they are 'part of the solution': their enjoyment of superior wealth and prestige is valid because by calling for social change, by voting Democrat, by condemning fundamentalist Christians, Hitler, and Republicans, and by performing additional heroic deeds of merit of that sort.

Tenured white males at elite universities, who by their own account were advantage by oppressing and negatively discriminating against women and subaltern minorities, more than easily gain absolution and more for this injustice by apparently discriminating against incoming younger white males in favour of women and subaltern minorities.

All American violence and oppression was blamed on conservatives, Republicans, fundamentalist Christians etc, as though the institutions of higher learning had no complicity whatever in decision-making or shaping decision-makers in America. As 'easy fast' indeed.

But Ex Cathedra blew all this away by becoming a conservative. He thereby incur'd karmic responsibility for the entirety of the American system. There is no absolution for that, except by repenting of America as a whole, and committing to destroy America as a whole. For even "the" Church is for open borders, single-payer healthcare, multiculturalism, and even feminism outside the Church. An RC priest does not give absolution without a promise to stop committing the sin which is confess'd.

Ex Cathedra even a conservative Jungian! He thereby gave up the right to richly creative shadow material. His shadow could have been merely "dark" psychical depth and artistic creativity that shallow naive or shallow hypocritical Christian idealist bourgeois moralists repress in order to preserve the whitewash'd sepulchres of white middle class suburbia.

That is, Ex Cathedra's shadow could have been something to preen himself on by comparison with Bush-Cheney, Pat Robertson, nightmare Creationists, Opus Dei, suburbia, et al. But as conservative Jungian American he agreed to own, rather than bravely split off and condemn, all that stuff, as liberal Jungians do everywhere they go and are warmly congratulated for it.

Have a great Yom Kippur, MORON !

Anonymous said...

P.S. »thought, speech, deed and omission« sc Japheth, Ham, Canaan, Shem?

USMaleSF said...

Once again, er, I could not have said it better myself!

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