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The Seder Experience

By Kaelanne Jordan,

Love, peace, joy was some of the expressions used by staff at Catholic Media Services Limited (CAMSEL), the Liturgical Commission and other participants to describe the simple and interactive adaptation of The Jewish Passover meal last Monday (April 15).

Vicar for Communications and Penal parish priest Fr Robert Christo led the commemoration of the traditional Passover through the lens of the Jews of Egypt in order to understand better and appreciate the significance of that meal and our own Christian meal, the Eucharist, which originates from it.

The Catholic Centre hall was dimly lit and decorated with red and purple tablecloths, red candles and a gold- plated menorah (candle stand) as centerpiece at the head table.

Six tables were beautifully set with the symbolic foods required for the Passover seder meal —a small dish of salt water, symbolic of the bitterness which Israel endured in the experience of slavery; a plate containing matzo (unleavened bread), which usually does not sit on the seder plate itself; moror (bitter herb) to recall that the Egyptians embittered the lives of our fathers; haroseth, a reminder of the mortar used by the forced Hebrew labour in Egypt.

The celebration commenced in song ‘Glory and Praise to Our God’ with Part One the lighting of the festival candles, by Sr Juliet Rajah CHF in keeping with the ancient Jewish custom of the “mother” lighting the festival lights in every service which takes place in the Jewish home.

The feast was then blessed as every food used in the Jewish Passover meal was blessed before it was eaten. The first cup of wine was poured—the cup of thanksgiving followed by washing of hands and the eating of the herbs.

To symbolise the story of deliverance from Egypt, the second cup of wine, the cup of Hagadah was poured. Then the story of the first Passover was retold, as commanded by God in the Book of Exodus with the youngest person present- at the Last Supper was probably St John- but in this case CAMSEL’s Communication Officer Renee Smith asking four traditional questions.

A reading from the Book of Exodus chapter 12 was done by Barbara Lake of the Liturgical Commission. The Paschal lamb was then brought in and placed before Fr Christo at the head table. A prayer of thanksgiving for deliverance from slavery was recited, then the blessing of the food.

Fr Christo then invited each person to place a piece of the bitter herb and some haroseth between two pieces of matzo. The Paschal Supper nurtured a communal atmosphere with a simple meal of lamb, patchoi, fresh salad, potato croquettes and water.