Pesakh, pronounced pay-sakh, is the Hebrew word for Passover. Pasch is the Christian spelling of pay-sakh. Pesakh is the Jewish feast celebrated annually at God’s command to commemorate the Israelite exodus from Egypt to the promised land of Canaan. God’s deliverance was only for those who sacrificed an unblemished lamb or kid, bones unbroken Ex 12:3.
The Old and New Testaments
“The whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs in the evening. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat them. They shall eat the flesh that night” Ex 12:6.
I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, upon the houses where I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you” Ex 12:12.
The Israelite pasch foreshadowed the Christian pasch, when the sacrifice of the Lamb of God redeemed us for the second exodus, from slavery to sin on earth to the promised kingdom of heaven, by way of the Cross.
When John the Baptist saw Jesus in the crowd he replied to Isaac, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” Jn 1:29. “On the first day of unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the passover lamb, his disciples said to him, ’Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the passover?’” Mk 14:12. “I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” Rev 5:6. “The Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings” Rev 17:14.
§ 571 The Paschal mystery of Christ’s cross and Resurrection stands at the centre of the Good News that the apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim to the world. God’s saving plan was accomplished “once for all” by the redemptive death of his Son Jesus Christ.
§ 572 The Church remains faithful to the interpretation of all the Scriptures that Jesus gave both before and after his Passover: “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Jesus’ sufferings took their historical, concrete form from the fact that he was rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, who handed him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified.
§ 573 Faith can therefore try to examine the circumstances of Jesus’ death, faithfully handed on by the Gospels and illuminated by other historical sources, the better to understand the meaning of the Redemption.
Cardinal Burke on the Catholic Seder Meal
MEMO FROM CARDINAL BURKE
Cardinal Burke, International Director of the Marian Catechist Apostolate, and my very good friend and mentor, recently wrote a memo to all Marian Catechists, which is also of interest to all Hebrew Catholics as well as all Catholics.
TO: All Members
FROM: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, International Director
SUBJECT: Attending a “Catholic” Seder Meal
DATE: March 19, 2018 – Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary
Praised be Jesus Christ!
In answer to a request for clarification from a Marian Catechist who had been invited to a “Catholic” Seder Meal in a parish, I do not recommend participation in this type of meal for the following reasons:
First of all, the sense of the Seder Meal is the anticipation of the Messiah Who has not yet come. But the Messiah has come and lives in us through His Holy Church. Therefore, it does not make any sense for a Catholic to take part in a meal whose entire sense is the expectation of the Coming of the Messiah.
Second, the Holy Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, has replaced the Seder Meal for ever. It is the Sacrament of Our Lord’s Real Presence with us. Taking part in a Seder Meal could reflect a weakness of Eucharistic faith or induce such a weakness.
Third, if the Seder Meal is thought to be a form of interreligious dialogue or fraternity, such thought is erroneous. A “Catholic” Seder Meal is offensive to the Jewish religion because a good Jew knows that we, as Christians, believe that the Messiah has come with the Redemptive Incarnation of God the Son. It would seem to be playing with what, for the Jewish person, is very sacred. At the same time, as mentioned above, a good Christian knows that taking part in a Seder Meal would be a “make believe” act, that is, an act which in its very essence no longer makes sense. What does it say about the Eucharistic faith of the participants?
Finally, the Association of Hebrew Catholics, which is an excellent Catholic association of converts to Catholicism from Judaism, advertises a “Seder in the Light of Christ,” to be conducted by the well-known convert Roy Schoeman. It is not, in itself a proper Seder Meal but a kind of catechetical meal following the structure of the Seder Meal, by which it is shown:
1) how the Passover Seder on Holy Thursday was transformed into the First Holy Mass;
2) why God chose to have the Passion, Crucifixion and Death of His Incarnate Son on the eve of the Jewish Passover; and
3) how the sacramental aspects of Judaism prefigure the Sacraments of the holy Catholic Church.
If the so-called “Catholic” Seder Meal is conducted in this way, that is, as an instruction on the definitive transformation of the Seder Meal by Christ, it can be acceptable; but it requires a leader of the preparation like Roy Schoeman. That is, it requires a devout and literate Catholic who also has a profound knowledge of Judaism.
I hope that the above is of assistance to you.
May God bless you, your family and all your labors, and may Our Lady of Guadalupe and Saint Juan Diego, Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Joseph, and Saints Peter and Paul intercede for your intentions.
Yours in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and in the Purest Heart of Saint Joseph,
Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke.