Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marilyn Lanford

3/26/2007 (7 years ago)

Arkansas Catholic (www.arkansas-catholic.org)

ROGERS, Ark. (Arkansas Catholic) - In the past two decades, there has been a growing interest for Catholics in the significance and symbolism found in the Jewish celebration of Passover, Judaism's oldest festival.

WOMAN PARTICIPATES IN SEDER MEAL – Sandra Steele lifts a cup of grape juice, symbolizing wine, during a Seder meal at St. Thomas More Church in Munster, Ind., March 24. The Seder is a special ritual during the Jewish festival of Passover, a holiday commemorating Jewish deliverance from Egyptian bondage and the time of the barley season. Many Catholics participate in a Seder during the season of Lent. (CNS/Northwest Indiana Catholic)

WOMAN PARTICIPATES IN SEDER MEAL – Sandra Steele lifts a cup of grape juice, symbolizing wine, during a Seder meal at St. Thomas More Church in Munster, Ind., March 24. The Seder is a special ritual during the Jewish festival of Passover, a holiday commemorating Jewish deliverance from Egyptian bondage and the time of the barley season. Many Catholics participate in a Seder during the season of Lent. (CNS/Northwest Indiana Catholic)

Highlights

By Marilyn Lanford

Arkansas Catholic (www.arkansas-catholic.org)

3/26/2007 (7 years ago)

Published in Living Faith


Passover refers to Gods deliverance of the Jews from slavery in Egypt as described in the Old Testament Book of Exodus (12:13). On the eve of the first day of Passover, Jewish families gather in their homes to celebrate a meal and prayer service called the Passover Seder. This year, Passover falls on Tuesday of the Christian Holy Week. The connection to Christianitys defining event is evident. When Catholics gather to commemorate the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, the celebration begins by recalling Christ and his Apostles at the Last Supper, which was a Passover Seder meal. In the Diocese of Little Rock some parishes have incorporated observance of the Seder meal into their Lenten practices. From the small parish of St. Mary in Mountain View to the larger parishes of Our Lady of the Holy Souls in Little Rock and St. Bernard Church in Bella Vista, preparations were under way for this years Seder meal celebration, a meal that not only commemorates the Jews deliverance but also hope for the coming kingdom of God. Cackie Upchurch, director of the Little Rock Scripture Study, said there are certain spiritual benefits for Catholics who celebrate the Passover Seder. I think first of all it really connects us with our Jewish brothers and sisters and to the roots of our faith, she said. It brings to life the fundamental pattern of all of scripture which is captivity, freedom and covenant. Msgr. David LeSieur, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Rogers, summarized the importance of the Passover Seder to the Catholic faith in this way: It is a spring celebration of the freedom of Israel from slavery in Egypt. It is not difficult for Christians to make the connection with the sacrifice of the Lamb of God and our freedom from the slavery to sin and death. Lent is a preparation for the Easter mysteries and the Seder helps us to see just how far back the idea of freedom goes in the Judeo-Christian spirit. According to The Passover Celebration: A Haggadah for the Seder, the Seder ritual begins by telling the story in Exodus and the history of the enslavement of the Jews. The leader then explains the symbolism of the foods prepared for the meal: zeroah (shank bone of a lamb); beytza (roasted egg); maror (bitter herbs); haroset (mixture of chopped apples, cinnamon, nuts and wine); karpas (green vegetable); and salt water. Upchurch said there are many physical elements to the Seder meal. You share bread, you share wine, you tell the story, you sing you participate with all of your senses. It shows the connection of how significant it is that we reenact what our faith teaches and what we believe. It confirms that it is important to have physical symbols what we would call sacramentals. It draws that clearly even though we are celebrating a Jewish festival, she said. The Passover is the key liberating experience in the Old Testament and is the framework for all of the New Testament. It is what we do we celebrate in a very particular way freedom, freedom from sin, and the turning toward God, entering into a covenant with God in a very particular way in the person of Jesus Christ, Upchurch said. In welcoming participants, the Passover Seder continues with the lighting of the candles. Using the prayer book for the ritual, the leader starts the meal with the blessing of the wine followed by the washing of hands. Then karpas is dipped in salt water to remind participants of the misery caused by slavery in Egypt. At that point, the middle piece of three matzas (unleavened bread) on the table is broken and hidden by the leader for children to find later. The leader then tells the Passover story beginning with the bread of affliction. It is a reminder of the Jewish peoples pain in slavery and is also symbolic of the suffering in the world today. Here the leader asks the children to open the door as a gesture of hospitality. The youngest person attending the Seder asks four questions. The first one is: Why is this night different from all other nights? After the explanations, a second cup of wine the cup of memory is poured followed by another washing of hands and a prayer. Then the dinner is served. Following dinner, young participants search for the hidden matza and songs or hymns are performed while the festivities continue. There is a prayer after the meal followed by the third cup the cup of redemption. It is at this time the cup of Eljiah is filled and placed in the middle of the table. A recitation of the psalms and the conclusion of the Passover Seder are observed with the fourth cup the cup of hope along with the final benediction. Ann Thomisee, director of religious education at Our Lady of the Holy Souls, has been coordinating the Seder meal for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults candidates, their sponsors and families at her parish for the past eight years. This Seder observance is formal, complete with invitations and booklets for the participants, but is not for the whole parish. The meal is celebrated the week before Holy Week, which Thomisee said, is in itself a preparation for Holy Week. We see what Jesus celebrated and we are connected with the Jewish people. To immerse people in this experience, it cannot help but move them to get more out of Lent, she said. We find our candidates and catechumens are more immersed in the Church; they become more immersed in our traditions. And our sponsors longtime Catholics also experience conversion and renewal in their own faith. At St. Mary Church in Mountain View, Loreena Hegenbart, a catechetical leader, and her husband, Pat have been organizing and preparing the Passover Seder for the past five years. The entire parish of 65 families participates in the event. A convert herself, Hegenbart uses a Christian Seder format which includes the anticipation of the second coming of Christ. It is a time of fellowship and a subtle way of teaching. I decorate the table; I use a table cloth in the Israeli colors of blue and white; nice candlesticks, dishes and wine glasses. I really try to make it special, she said. At St. Bernard Church in Bella Vista, two separate groups planned their own Seder meals. Kay Smith, an adult education leader, organized the Seder for the Womens Club March 9. I was a director of education in Hawaii for 15 years where I had done the Seder meal many times. I did it for the whole parish over there, Smith said. The event can be elaborate or simple, she said. And music plays an important role. She uses certain songs from Jewish tradition. Smith said adult faith formation is a benefit in Catholic participation. As adults we continue to grow. What happens to a lot of people is that they continue to go to church but they dont really grow. It is important that they open themselves up to new experiences ways to get closer to God. And to me that is what we are here for, she said. Smiths counterpart at the parish, Mary Goerke, and her husband, Fred, have celebrated the Passover Seder in the homes of different families through their Shepherd group, which is one of the many small parish groups at St. Bernard. We moved here from Indiana and started celebrating the Seder meal 12 years ago, she said. This year the observance will be on Tuesday of Holy Week in the parish hall, she said. In addition to their group, Goerke also invites RCIA candidates, sponsors and family members for a total of about 50 people. Passover Seder Symbols - Zeroah: Shank bone of a lamb used as a symbol for the lambs blood placed over the doorways of Israelite homes to protect them when the Lord punished Egypt.
- Matza: Unleavened bread symbolizing the urgency of the Jews in leaving Egypt and gaining their freedom.
- Beytza: A reminder of the roasted egg sacrifice at the Temple of Jerusalem at the Passover meal.
- Maror: Bitter herb, such as horseradish, that symbolizes the misery of the Hebrews in their captivity.
Haroset: A salad of chopped apples, nuts, cinnamon and wine to represent the mortar the Hebrews used in their labor when enslaved in Egypt.
- Karpas: Parsley or celery used to represent the coming of spring and the bounty of the Lord.
- Salt Water: Karpas is dipped in this to signify the misery of the Hebrews as slaves.

---

Republished with permission by Catholic Online from the Arkansas Catholic (www.arkansas-catholic.org), official publication of the Diocese of Little Rock (Ark.).



Comments


More Living Faith

Friendly overtures to Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) met with mixed response Watch

Image of LCWR presidents welcome the approximately 750 members to the assembly.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, or LCWR is comprised of Catholic women religious who are leaders of their orders in the United States. The group represents about 80 percent of the 51,600 women religious in the U.S. However, relations between the ... continue reading


POPE: 'It is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor' Watch

Image of Pope Francis said that

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Answering a wide array of questions, which included the proper response to the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities by fundamentalists of the Islamic State in Iraq, Pope Francis said that "it is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor." ... continue reading


POPE IN SOUTH KOREA: 'Peace is not simply the absence of war, but the work of justice' Watch

Image of Pope Francis told 200 South Korean government officials that the two Koreas, halved between North and South since the end of the Korean War in 1953,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis, in his first trip to Asia, addressed South Korean political and civic leaders and encouraged them to stay on a steady course towards social justice and democracy. "Peace is not simply the absence of war, but the work of justice," the Pope said in ... continue reading


Will Suffering, Struggle, Failure and Pain Make us Bitter or Better? Watch

Image of Because of his close communion with Jesus Christ, the Risen One who had called him in the desert, Paul cultivated an interior strength which made it possible for him to walk through the pain, to even embrace the pain, and to experience failure itself as a path to the Cross where he found comfort in the wounded side of Jesus the Savior.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

St. Paul was an extraordinary man and an extraordinary Christian. An Apostle, raised up out of the ordinary course, he accomplished great things for the Lord as he eagerly responded to His calling to build the Church and, through her, to help change the world. A ... continue reading


The Assumption: The Virgin Mary goes before us in the Order of Grace Watch

Image of

By Deacon F. K. Bartels

What God has promised on the last day for those he loves, he has already accomplished in the Virgin Mary. Let us turn to Mary and love her as our spiritual Mother in the order of grace; let us open our hearts to her Immaculate Heart, that she may illuminate her ... continue reading


The Assumption or Dormition of the Mother of the Lord: What Does It Mean? Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

This event is a part of the naturally supernatural  progression in the life of the Blessed Virgin of Nazareth. Her Yes, her Fiat of surrendered love, brought heaven to earth. This exercise of her human freedom, responding to the invitation of God, as sent through ... continue reading


Making bad situations worse in the Middle East

Image of Only by following the non-violent Christ can our world that seems so steeped in violence be converted.

By Tony Magliano

The heart wrenching tragedies throughout the Middle East are not the United States' fault, that is, at least not entirely. The fact that many Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims distrust each other, that the Allies established artificial national boundaries to suite their ... continue reading


Pope Francis sends greeting to Chinese president en route to South Korean trip Watch

Image of The Pope's South Korean visit marked the first ever papal flight across China.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

On his way to South Korea, Pope Francis bid China a friendly greeting. "Upon entering Chinese air space, I extend best wishes to your Excellency and your fellow citizens, and I invoke the divine blessings of peace and well-being upon the nation," the Pope said in ... continue reading


Pope Francis Calls for Prayers and Action Watch

Image of

By Joseph J. Klock

In a series of tweets over recent days, Pope Francis has raised an alarm to the international community pleading for us to protect and pray for "all those suffering violence in Iraq," and to live in solidarity with them. VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - In a series of ... continue reading


In a New Rome, Let us Imitate the Deacon Named Lawrence through Whom All of Rome Became Christian Watch

Image of I love to tell the story of this Deacon/Martyr named Lawrence who helped to bring the entire pagan Roman Empire to Jesus Christ. It is particularly relevant because we are living in what could be called a modern Rome - the evidence of moral decline in the western culture in which we live and serve grows daily.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

On August 10 in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar we usually commemorate the Deacon named Lawrence. Because of the secular calendar, the day fell on a Sunday and, as has been the case since the first centuries of the Christian Church, every Sunday is a ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ezekiel 34:1-11
1 The word of Yahweh was addressed to me as ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6
1 [Psalm Of David] Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 20:1-16
1 'Now the kingdom of Heaven is like a landowner ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 20th, 2014 Image

St. Bernard of Clairvaux
August 20: St. Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church St. Bernard was born ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter