Yom Kippur 2018 begins at sunset on Tuesday, September 18 and ends at nightfall on Wednesday, September 19. For the long explanation of this Day of Atonement the Jewish Encyclopedia has a pretty exhaustive article.
English language translation and centuries of derivative pronunciation produced what we pronounce today: a-tóne-ment. , as if a piano is being tuned. Let’s change the pronunciation to something more original for the translation and you’ll get the idea: at-óne-ment.
It’s a day that sets everything in proper perspective. We are sinners before God and man, and should we have a humble, contrite heart (honest integrity in this sorrow before God and man), begging forgiveness and a new beginning with a firm purpose of amendment, then conditions are right for being at one with God and neighbor. This is a day which, appropriately, follow in the wake of the Jewish New Year.
For this Catholic priest (with Jewish lineage), my Yom Kippur takes place every time I go to Confession. Indeed, every time I offer Holy Mass, it being that Jesus is, in Himself, both God and man, making at-one-ment ever so available in Himself.
Unfortunately, in 1973, another aspect of this day was added to living memory. On Yom Kippur a bunch of Islamicist countries attacked Israel when all of Israel was busy with fasting and praying and going to synagogue. Early on, those multiple unprovoked attacks claimed some “victories”, but Israel ended up with even much more. Israel, in a long process with the Camp David Accords, exchanged land for peace. But that, mind you, is an accord, a contract. No peace, the land goes back. It’s more like paying rent. Egypt dumped Russia altogether. Don’t mess with someone in the moment they are trying to make at-one-ment with God and neighbor!
And, by the way, whatever our non-Catholic Christians have to say about it, those who condemn Jewish interpretation of Yom Kippur (a collective noun), this day is not only about institutional atonement on so many levels and in so many ways (note the plural), not only about atonement for the people as a whole as it were, but also and in all of these other ways it is about personal atonement before both God and neighbor. It is honest, with integrity.
I have an idea: How about brainstorming about starting a project whereby Catholics, meaning ALL Catholics, laity, priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, the pope, all go to sacramental Confession on Yom Kippur regardless of Easter duty and regardless of any other Confession practice. This would not only be a statement about the gravity of the necessity of Atonement but also a huge move in demonstrating the oneness of the faith between Catholics and Jews, regardless of any veil mentioned by Saint Paul.
If everyone is going to Confession regularly do you think we would have the crisis we have today which went hand in hand with NOT going to Confession for decades. No, we wouldn’t.
For some reason, ultra-tradition-al-ism-ists on the Catholic side freak out about friendship with the Jews, but I should like to remind them of what I believe to be the greatest exclamation regarding atonement made by anyone anywhere, seriously:
I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. (Romans 9:1-5)
Try to top that for anguish for atonement. This is stunning. And this is the Apostle to the Gentiles. Awesome, that.