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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Observing the Seder

Some Catholics like to practice a Seder meal at some point prior to or during Holy Week. The Seder meal is only a pale shadow of the richness of the Catholic Mass. While it is understandable that the study of the Seder meal can bring a greater appreciation of the Mass, it is kind of silly.

First, how do you decide which traditional Jewish seder you want to look at? They aren't the same. For instance, the Ashkenazi have lamb at their Seders, the Sephardic and Mizrhaic Jews do not. Why the difference? Because the Ashkenazi say the lack of the Temple does not limit their ability to sacrifice the Passover lamb, while the other sects insist that no Passover lamb can be properly sacrificed anywhere but at the non-existent Temple.

Even if you decide on the tradition you want, what Seder ritual should you use? This is no small argument. I once had a discussion with a parish employee who insisted that the parish only use a Seder ritual which was acceptable to a(n Ashkenazi) rabbi. When I pointed out the absurdity of having a Jew tell a Catholic what kind of ritual could be carried out on parish property, she replied, "Well, how would you like it if someone did a parody of the Catholic Mass?"

I replied, "That happens every day. It's called Anglicanism."

The question of the Temple is important in another respect. Most parish Seder aficionados insist on having the Ashkenazi lamb at their Seder. Yet, even though they want the Seder and the lamb, the same people almost never also insist on ritually killing the lamb by slitting its throat in front of an observant audience. Why not? If you're going to do the Seder, why not do the whole thing? 

Bring the kids in, especially the young ones! We like teaching them about the Eucharist by handing out Hawaiian bread and grape juice, why not help them gain an appreciation for Christ's sacrifice by slitting a lamb's throat and skinning it right in front of them as well? I promise they would never forget the lesson.

And if we're going to sacrifice lambs for the Seder, why stop there? Why not perform ritual animal holocausts on a regular basis at the parish church to commemorate the major Jewish feast days? So many Catholic feast days are built on the foundation of Jewish feasts that we should not overlook the opportunities the liturgical calendar affords.

Bring cows, sheep, lamb, doves! Wring doves' necks, slice throats, let the blood flow freely! Let them see what Temple Judaism really looked like! Then everyone will have a greater appreciation for the crucifixion.

Performing a Seder meal in order to appreciate the Mass is a lot like buying and playing with a Matchbox Hotwheels car so that you can better drive and appreciate a 2014 Toyota Camry. It just makes sense, right?

So, while you're sharpening your knives for the parish Seder, think on these things.


Mike said...

Steve you're wrong (of course) ... again.

The Old Testament Israelites of the covenant of Abraham ... were *not* jews.

The jewish apostasy *out of* the covenant of Abraham started about 200 B.C. - when a portion of the Israelites left the covenant and started to "follow" the Babylonian talmud.

- - - - -

Here's the tricky part that you're not figuring out.

The Israelites of Abraham covenant believed the covenant writings like the couple below.

The group that calls themselves jews reject the covenant writings in favor of the pagan talmud, and have since 200 B.C.

This, of course, also means that the group that calls themselves jews did not write a single word of the Old Testament ... it was the Israelites who wrote the O/T.

Catholic Faith (pre-fulfillment) writing of Sophonius 3:8 >
"Expect Me, saith the Lord, in the day of My resurrection that is to come ... to assemble the Gentiles, and to gather the kingdoms."

Catholic Faith (pre-fulfillment) writing of Proverbs 30:4 >
"Who hath ascended up into Heaven, and descended? What is the name of His Son, if thou knowest?"

More on Section 2.3 of

docknoils said...

The seder itself does not originate with the Talmud, albeit it may have been embellished by it. The seder was a ceremony of the Old Law, a sort of sacrament, ordained by God for the Israelites before the Christ. That said, St. Thomas Aquinas cites St. Paul and St. Augustine and explains that Christians are forbidden to take part in the seder. "[J]ust 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." S.T. I-II. q. 103 a 4 r.
The seder points to Christ our Passover. To take part in it is to say He is yet to come.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

I suspect Aquinas wouldn't have a problem with a "teaching" seder. That is, there is a difference between (A)a seder which is performed as a ritual intended to look for the coming of the Christ and (B) a seder performed as way of helping Christians see how Christ fulfilled the prophecies contained within the ritual.

The first would clearly be mortal sin as per Aquinas. The second is almost certainly not a spiritual problem at all.

I know some FSSP priests don't make this distinction, and that's a pity. Pray for them to be converted to understand basic Catholic nuance.

Steve Dalton said...

Why do we even need a Jewish seder meal at all? We have a 'seder' called the Holy Mass that takes place every Lord's Day.
I don't even think we need a so-called 'teaching seder'. Most of these 'teaching seders' rely on a lot of input from Jewish rabbical authorities. We don't need any input from those who hold to the 'traditions of the elders' whom Christ himself rejected nearly 2000 years ago as blind guides. What we need it orthodox Catholic teaching from our priests and bishops, not Jewish traditions.

Steve Kellmeyer said...


I deleted both of your links because they go to talks given by FSSP priest Father Wolfe of Mater Dei parish, Dallas, TX.

He is completely unreliable in matters of Faith.