May Catholics Participate in Jewish Rituals?

The Fatima Center recently received the following question:

Our Catholic prayer group gathers from time to time for Shebot (or Shabbat). Our parish priests (they offer the Novus Ordo Mass) often join us. Is this acceptable as Catholics?

It is not acceptable. Catholics should NEVER participate in any non-Catholic rituals or prayer services. This is, in fact, a violation of the First Commandment. When done with knowledge and consent it is a mortal sin, and one of the worst (that of idolatry). Unfortunately, Catholics are not being taught this anymore. So one can see why many don’t think it is sinful – especially if their priests do it – and so it may not be mortally sinful for them. The guilt on their soul is for the judgment of God (and His priest in the confessional), but objectively, it is gravely wrong.

Any faithful and sound Catechism (e.g. those published pre-1950) should explain this – you don’t need The Fatima Center or a ‘traditional’ priest to say it. Catholics simply do not participate in any form of false worship, which includes the rites of false religions. All religions are false but the Catholic religion. (For more on this subject, we recommend Mortalium Animos by Pius XI, 1928)

People should also know that the Judaism practiced today is NOT the Judaism practiced by the first disciples of Christ. The Jewish religion of today has been completely overhauled and changed from what was practiced by Our Blessed Mother and Our Lord. In addition, the Old Covenant was abrogated by Our Lord. It no longer has any validity. This is why God removed from their worship the Temple and its associated sacrifices. (Note: According to prophecy, if the temple in Jerusalem is rebuilt, that is a clear sign that we are in the time of the antichrist.)

One should also know that Jewish rituals express a faith in a Redeemer to come. To use those rites now in the Christian era would be to deny that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. It is an implicit rejection that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became incarnate: that He was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried, and that He resurrected and ascended into Heaven. Therefore, Catholics must have no part in any such practices, as is explicitly taught in the passages below.

The Council of Florence:

“The most holy Roman Church … firmly believes, professes, and teaches that the … ceremonies, sacred rites, sacrifices, and sacraments … pertaining to the law of the Old Testament…, although they were suited to the divine worship at that time after our Lord’s coming … ceased, and the sacraments of the New Testament began; … All, therefore, who after [the promulgation of the Gospel] observe circumcision and the Sabbath and the other requirements of the law, [the Roman Church] declares alien to the Christian faith and not in the least fit to participate in eternal salvation, unless someday they recover from these errors.” (Denzinger 712)

St. Thomas Aquinas:

Q: “Whether Since Christ’s Passion the Legal Ceremonies Can Be Observed without Committing Mortal Sin?

“All ceremonies are professions of faith, in which the interior worship of God consists. Now man can make a profession of his inward faith, by deeds as well as by words: and in either profession, if he makes a false declaration, he sins mortally. Now, though our faith in Christ is the same as that of the fathers of old; yet, since they came before Christ, whereas we come after Him, the same faith is expressed in different words, by us and by them. For by them was it said: ‘Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son,’ where the verbs are in the future tense: whereas we express the same through verbs in the past tense and say that she “conceived and bore.’

“In like manner, the ceremonies of the Old Law betokened Christ as having yet to be born and to suffer: Whereas our Sacraments signify Him as already born and having suffered. Consequently, just as it would be a mortal sin now for anyone, in making a profession of faith, to say that Christ is yet to be born, which the fathers of old said devoutly and truthfully; so too it would be a mortal sin now to observe those ceremonies which the fathers of old fulfilled with devotion and fidelity.” (Summa Theologica, I-II, q.103, a.4)


The question specifically addresses the Jewish observance of the Shabbat.[1] Adherence to this observance includes several hours of attending Shabbat services as well as time for the family to study the Torah.[2] One can easily see in any traditional Examination of Conscience – e.g., The Fatima Center’s Examination of Conscience for Adults booklet – that these activities are sins against the First Commandment.

To assist readers, traditional Examination of Conscience lists often include self-assessment questions. In this case, the following three questions apply:

  • “Have I taken part in any non-Catholic worship?”
  • “Have I knowingly read any heretical, blasphemous, or anti-Catholic literature?”
  • “Have I been indifferent with regard to my Catholic Faith – believing one can be saved in any religion, that all religions are equal?”

Thus, as previously stated, it is absolutely NOT acceptable for Catholics to participate in observance of the Shebot (or Shabbat), or any Jewish rituals or prayer services.


[1] Another practice which has become common in recent decades is for Catholics to participate in Jewish Passover rituals, or even reenact their own – including a Seder Meal. The justification provided is that it lends insight into the practice of Our Lord and His Apostles. Yet such a rationalization could never justify violating the First Commandment. A faithful Catholic does not need to participate in Jewish rituals to gain grace or virtue. It is also deceptive, because the practice of Our Lord is simply no longer possible: it required the sacrificial lamb offered in the Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus Christ did away with these rituals. He is the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God). Holy Mass is His eternal and perfect Sacrifice. Why would anyone seek the shadow of what has passed in favor of the true gift from God?

[2] Frequently, the “study of Torah” today also includes Talmud and Midrash sources. These are NOT the inspired and inerrant word of God. In fact, these two refer to the writings of Jewish rabbis written centuries after the Birth, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord (around 400-1200 A.D.). Therefore, these authors explicitly denied Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God, rejected the Christian religion, and failed to understand the Old Testament cannot be properly understood without the light of the New Testament. (As St. Augustine famously taught: “The New Testament is in the Old concealed; the Old is by the New revealed.”) A so-called “study of the Torah” may also include Kabbalah, a diabolic mysticism rooted in gnostic and occult ideas. Studying these sources can be an “open doorway” to the demonic. We should steer clear of these false writings.