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The Rift Between Jews and Samaritans

Jews and SamaritansWhy the Hatred Between the Jews and Samaritans?

I have been perplexed by the rift between the Samaritans and the Jews and their hatred mentioned in the New Testament. One incident is at Jacob’s well.

Yet in one of the parables it is a Samaritan who takes care of the victim who was beaten. Is there anywhere in the Old Testament that records the breaking down of Abraham’s and/or Jacob’s progeny?

Imagine the hatred between Serbs and Muslims in modern Bosnia, the enmity between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland or the feuding between street gangs in Los Angeles or New York, and you have some idea of the feeling and its causes between Jews and Samaritans in the time of Jesus. Both politics and religion were involved.

According to the Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible (McGraw Hill) by Louis F. Hartman, C.SS.R., feelings of ill will probably went back before the separation of the northern and southern Jewish kingdoms. Even then there was a lack of unity between the tribes of Jacob.

After the separation of Judah and Israel in the ninth century, King Omri of the Northern Kingdom bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer (1 Kings 16:24). He built there the city of Samaria which became his capital.

It was strong defensively and controlled the valley through which the main road ran between Jerusalem and Galilee. In 722 B.C. the city fell to the Assyrians and became the headquarters of the Assyrian province of Samarina. While many of the inhabitants of the city and the surrounding area of Samaria were led off into captivity, some farmers and others were left behind. They intermarried with new settlers from Mesopotamia and Syria.

Though the Samaritans were condemned by the Jews, Hartman says they probably had as much pure Jewish blood as the Jews who later returned from the Babylonian exile.

The story of both Israel’s and Samaria’s failures in keeping to the way of Yahweh is partly told in Chapter 17 of the Second Book of Kings. There, too, the sacred author tells how the king of As-syria sent a priest from among the exiles to teach the Samaritans how to worship God after an attack by lions was attributed to their failure to worship the God of the land. Second Kings recounts how worship of Yahweh was mixed with the worship of strange gods.

When Cyrus permitted the Jews to return from the Babylonian exile, the Samaritans were ready to welcome them back. The exiles, however, despised the Samaritans as renegades. When the Samaritans wanted to join in rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem, their assistance was rejected. You will find this in the Book of Ezra, Chapter Four.

With the rejection came political hostility and opposition. The Samaritans tried to undermine the Jews with their Persian rulers and slowed the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its temple. Nehemiah tells us (Nehemiah 13:28-29) that a grandson of the high priest, Eliashib, had married a daughter of Sanballat, the governor of the province of Samaria.

For defiling the priesthood by marrying a non-Jewish woman, Nehemiah drove Eliashib from Jerusalem–though Sanballat was a worshiper of Yahweh. According to the historian Josephus, Sanballat then had a temple built on Mount Garizim in which his son-in-law Eliashib could function. Apparently this is when the full break between Jews and Samaritans took place.

According to John McKenzie in his Dictionary of the Bible, the Samaritans later allied themselves with the Seleucids in the Maccabean wars and in 108 B.C. the Jews destroyed the Samaritan temple and ravaged the territory. Around the time of Jesus’ birth, a band of Samaritans profaned the Temple in Jerusalem by scattering the bones of dead people in the sanctuary. In our own era which has witnessed the vandalism of synagogues and the burning of black churches, we should be able to understand the anger and hate such acts would incite.

The fact that there was such dislike and hostility between Jews and Samaritans is what gives the use of the Samaritan in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) such force! The Samaritan is the one who is able to rise above the bigotry and prejudices of centuries and show mercy and compassion for the injured Jew after the Jew’s own countrymen pass him by!

It is with those centuries of opposition and incidents behind their peoples that we can understand the surprise of the Samaritan woman (John 4:9) when Jesus rises above the social and religious restrictions not just of a man talking to a woman, but also of a Jew talking to a Samaritan.

You can find more about the story of the rift between Jews and Samaritans in the various biblical dictionaries and commentaries, and scattered through the historical and prophetical books of the Old Testament.

Whose Idea Was It to Move the Tabernacle?

They moved the tabernacle in our church from the main altar to a side altar. Whose idea was this? The pope’s? Our pastor’s?

The Second Vatican Council ended on December 8, 1965. As part of implementing the Council’s decisions, the Sacred Congregation of Rites issued on May 25, 1967, Instruction on the Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery (Eucharisticum Mysterium). In that instruction the Congregation spoke of the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament and the place of the tabernacle. It said: “The place in a church or oratory where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the tabernacle should be truly prominent. It ought to be suitable for private prayer so that the faithful may easily and fruitfully, by private devotion also, continue to honor our Lord in this sacrament.

“It is therefore recommended that, as far as possible, the tabernacle be placed in a chapel distinct from the middle or central part of the church, above all in those churches where marriages and funerals take place frequently, and in places which are much visited for their artistic or historical treasures.”

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Fourth Edition (March 27, 1975), picks up on what the Congregation said, stating, “Every encouragement should be given to the practice of eucharistic reservation in a chapel suited to the faithful’s private adoration and prayer.

“If this is impossible because of the structure of the church, the sacrament should be reserved at an altar or elsewhere in keeping with local custom, and in a part of the church that is worthy and properly adorned.”

In 1978 the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy (part of the U.S. National Conference of Catholic Bishops) published the statement Environment and Art in Catholic Worship. In that statement the committee gives some of the theology involved in locating the place of reservation of the Blessed Sacrament: “The celebration of the Eucharist is the focus of the normal Sunday assembly. As such, the major space of a church is designed for this action. Beyond the celebration of the Eucharist the Church has had a most ancient tradition of reserving the eucharistic bread. The purpose of this reservation is to bring Communion to the sick and to be the object of private devotion.

“Most appropriately, this reservation should be designated in a space designed for individual devotion. A room or chapel specifically designed and separate from the major space is important so that no confusion can take place between the celebration of the Eucharist and reservation. Active and static aspects of the same reality cannot claim the same human attention at the same time.

“Having the Eucharist reserved in a place apart does not mean it has been relegated to a secondary place of no importance. Rather, a space carefully designed and appointed can give proper attention to the reserved sacrament.”

Many of us who predate Vatican II can remember that the Church was aware of the confusion of which the bishops’ committee speaks when Mass was celebrated on the altar of exposition of the Blessed Sacrament during Forty Hours Devotion, for instance. To focus attention on the sacrifice of the Mass being celebrated, a standard or veil was placed in front of the monstrance.

Your pastor isn’t just making up things on his own in locating the place of reservation of the Blessed Sacrament apart from the main altar. He is following the direction of the pope and Holy See.

If you want to see what the U.S. bishops’ committee had to say about everything from images and vestments to church design, you can obtain a copy of Environment and Art in Catholic Worship from the United States Catholic Conference Publishing Services, 3211 Fourth Street, N.E., Washington DC 20017, for $7.95 plus $2.25 postage.

The answer to who said or did what can often be found in the two paperback volumes, Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents ($15.95 each). Both volumes are published by The Liturgical Press, St. John’s Abbey, P.O. Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321-7500.

What Is the Society of Saint Pius X?

Your June issue mentioned that one of the groups that one should not belong to is the Society of Saint Pius X. What is this group and why is it named that?

The story and identity of the Saint Pius X Society is very much involved with that of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Lefebvre was the French archbishop who rejected much of the Second Vatican Council. He rejected the new order of the Mass, insisting on retaining the liturgy of the Eucharist as it came from the Council of Trent and the Missal approved by Pope Pius V in 1570.

Lefebvre founded a group of followers called the Society of Pius X. He was eventually suspended by Pope Paul VI for ordaining priests when forbidden to do so. Later he was excommunicated by Pope John Paul II for ordaining bishops from the Society of Pius X without papal approval.

Many of the Society of Pius X followed Lefebvre into schism. Its members remain outside the authority of the Holy See well after the death of Lefebvre in 1991, still rejecting the changes of Vatican II and celebrating the Mass in Latin and according to the Missal of Pius V.

I presume the society was named for Saint Pius X because Pius X, at the turn of this century, opposed what was known as modernism in the Church. Lefebvre saw himself and his followers as opponents of a new kind of modernism.

Why Say ‘John Cardinal Smith’ instead of ‘Cardinal John Smith’?

Why are cardinals’ names written with cardinal in the middle of the name?

According to Jerrold M. Packard, author of Peter’s Kingdom Inside the Papal City, cardinals insert “Cardinal” in the middle of their name because Pope Urban VIII (1644) felt the honor of being appointed cardinal was so great that the title should become part of the person’s name itself rather than merely a prefix.

Packard says that this form is becoming unfashionable but is still used on official papal documents. It was the same Urban VIII who gave cardinals the unique style Eminence. Packard states that “Cardinal” is a title and “Eminence” a style. Webster’s dictionary calls “Eminence” a title.

St. Anthony Messenger