Passover begins at sunset.

Related issue here.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    It does seem right when Passover and Easter have similar dates, unlike some years. Passover beginning today seems particularly fortuitous because, liturgically (can we use this for Jewish practice?), isn’t tonight actually tomorrow, and hence Passover begins on Holy Thursday?

  2. TomR says:

    What are your thoughts on Catholics observing this?

  3. irishgirl says:

    Hey, the movie ‘The Ten Commandments’ is on TV this Saturday!

    Whenever I think of Passover, this always come to my mind! [what can I say…I’m weird]

  4. Lirioroja says:

    I don’t know what Fr. Z thinks about it, however when I was in college I attended a seder hosted by the Jewish student group on campus. (I went to school in way upstate NY where the Jewish population was made up of the students and professors at the school and the tiny synagogue had no rabbi.) They graciously invited the Newman Club and we even offered to help make some of the food for which they supplied us with the recipes. (Again, with such a small Jewish population there weren’t enough cooks to make all the food necessary. Fortunately for us they were reformed Jews so we didn’t have to go out of our way to find kosher kitchens, which probably didn’t exist up there anyways. We did use kosher ingredients though.)

    It was a wonderful and educational experience for me. It’s a very liturgical meal and we were all provided with haggadah booklets (the Maxwell House ones) to follow along. I saw many echos of the Mass and many “hints” God gave His chosen people about the great mysteries we will begin to celebrate tomorrow night. I could see where the Mass developed from the seder and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the agape meals of the apostolic church were modeled on it. That said, it believe it should never replace participation in the great Triduum on those years when it coincides with Passover. For Catholics the seder is a foreshadowing, a preparation of sorts. The Mass is the real deal.

  5. Banjo pickin' girl says:

    I would think that participation in at least one Passover celebration would form an essential part of the education of a serious Christian. It opens lots of insight into the life of our Savior as well as scripture.

    I have only been to a “fake” seder celebrated by a Methodist pastor using a book in English but he had studied Hebrew and so could do the chanting properly. Still, it’s better in a “for-real” setting.

    I know some will disagree. That is okay. I love it that we are the branches grafted onto the Jewish root.

  6. DMWallace says:

    St. Thomas has a bit to say about Catholics observing Old Law practices. If we hold them as having grace-giving properties, then we sin mortally. I would say, however, that attending a Seder for educational purposes might help us understand the Passover and the sacramentalization of the Passover through the Sacrifice of the Mass.

    See Summa theologiae I-II. Q. 103. a. 4.

    From the respondeo: “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. Such is the teaching Augustine (Contra Faust. xix, 16), who says: ‘It is no longer promised that He shall be born, shall suffer and rise again, truths of which their sacraments were a kind of image: but it is declared that He is already born, has suffered and risen again; of which our sacraments, in which Christians share, are the actual representation.'”

  7. Patrick says:

    We always had a passover-like meal on Holy Thursday when I was young. We didn’t do any Jewish prayers or anything, but we did talk about the passover and the Last Supper. It’s a nice way to connect Catholicism to the Old Testament and the passover to the death of Our Lord.

  8. TomR: What are your thoughts on Catholics observing this?

    I think Catholics do observe Passover. We observe what Passover foreshadowed in God’s plan.

  9. wjd says:

    Fr. Z, (or anyone), I had a question. My understanding is that in many languages, English obviously excluded, the words for Passover and Easter are identical or highly related. So, is there a sense in which Easter is Passover? Or is that over-stating it? As in, when you say, “I think Catholics do observe Passover,” the point is that Catholics observe the Passover of the new covenant (which, for whatever historical reason, in English we call Easter) and Jews observe the Passover of the old covenant, but both are part of a continuous tradition going back to the Exodus. Or, again, am I over-stating it?

  10. Banjo pickin' girl says:

    wjd, You are not overstating it at all. The words of the Mass say, “this is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world…”

  11. Chris says:

    Here’s audio of a talk by a priest who suggests Catholics participating in a seder violates the first commandment:

  12. Jordanes says:

    The Exsultet at the Easter/Paschal Vigil even declares “This is the Passover of the Lord.”

    As for whether or not a “Seder meal” reenactment held by a Catholic parish is a violation of the First Commandment, per the Council of Florence, it would depend on whether or not it is intended as a salvific or even obligatory act of worship, or merely as an edifying and educational occasion of Christian fellowship. It’s doubtful if any Catholic “Seder meals” are the former – they all seem to be the latter. If Catholics may “baptise” some of the customs and practices of pagans, there can be no objection to their “baptising” some of the customs and practices that God gave to those who were once His chosen people.

  13. Ricky Vines says:

    Fr. Z wrote: “We observe what Passover foreshadowed in God’s plan.”
    Isn’t that what the Eucharistic celebration is –
    the Passover meal and sacrifice of the new covenant.

  14. Supertradmom says:

    I have been teaching for many years and have had a Seder Meal for educational purposes for students over 21 off and on for many years. Some of the students who have come have been seminarians who have never attended a reenactment, but who always learn the historical significance of it as the connection with the Holy Mass, the Sacrifice of the New Covenant. No one has confused the Seder Meal with the idea that it is a sacramental, or any type of grace-giving time. The Reading of the Scriptures, (which is always a beautiful action), and the recalling of the Exodus only make young people love the Catholic Faith more, and see the richness of the Judeo-Christian tradition from a different viewpoint. Obviously, Catholics are not participating in the Old Covenant, as they are not Jewish, but honoring the New Covenant through understanding of what Christ and His apostles actually did on the night before He died. Referring to the Institution of the Eucharist at the fifth cup can be part of the “teaching moment”. Those seminarians who love the Traditional Latin Mass have been participants as well. It is only a shadow of the great light of the Holy Mass, but a good way to share history, and the Old Testament with our youth, who know so little of these things. When they attend the Triduum and here some of the same words, I believe the connection between the Patriarchs and the New Covenant comes alive. Those of us with Jewish background can feel like the scribe to whom Jesus said, “You are not far from the Kingdom” when the scribe answered the question of the Law correctly in Matthew 12:34. The Holy Mass is the greatest gift, and the true reenactment of Calvary. How luck we Catholics are….

  15. Supertradmom says:

    hear, not here..sorry

  16. MargaretMN says:

    I have attended Seders (real ones, held by Jewish friends as an invited guest) a few times over the years. The purpose of the seder seems to me to be to reenact the events of exodus and to transmit the story far and wide, (even to non-Jews) but especially to the next generation. It isn’t “salvific” (no one is redeemed through the reenactment). It is our story too and I wouldn’t put it in the same category as receiving communion from at a protestant church. It’s more like a dramatic reading of an old testament passage which has a place in our Mass. Then again, there is no standard Haggadah and I suppose there might be some that emphasize more strongly the idea that we are still awaiting the Messiah. I wonder what version Jesus used.

  17. Skip Clarkson says:

    Sin against the 1st Commandment? Please!

    This “priest” should visit before sticking his
    foot in his mouth

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