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Seder meal foreshadows the Messiah

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While the Passover Seder meal is celebrated traditionally by Jewish families during the first night of Passover, more than 100 Catholics of all ages gathered in Creedon Hall at Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria to learn about the tradition and how it relates to the Mass. 


“The more we can bring the Mass alive for (the children), I think the better engaged they will be as Catholics in general.” Renee Fornshill

Organizers Renee Fornshill and Lixandra Rosario were motivated to host the parish-wide Seder March 7 after learning about the meal’s deeper meaning in their homeschool group’s Bible study. They hoped the experience would give children a greater appreciation for the Mass.


“I think the number one thing we face as families is trying to engage our children in Mass,” said Fornshill. “The more we can bring the Mass alive for them, I think the better engaged they will be as Catholics in general.”


Roy Schoeman, a renowned international author and Catholic convert, led participants through the Seder meal as it was celebrated in his Jewish family. He explained that the word Seder means “order” in Hebrew, and the meal represents the order by which the Jews escaped Egyptian slavery, as well as the hope of the coming of the Messiah who was expected at Passover. Christians who participate in the Seder remember the history of the Old Testament but also see the fulfillment of the Seder in the New Testament with Jesus’ death on Calvary.


 “You have this whole first half of salvation history meeting the second half of salvation history at a very specific time and place, which was the Last Supper, and there is a reason why the Last Supper was also a Passover Seder,” said Schoeman. “It was the last supper as a Passover Seder and the first one as a Catholic Mass. That is why we are doing the Passover Seder.” 


At Good Shepherd Church, more than 100 people sat at tables with the traditional Passover food, which included parsley; saltwater; matzah; a mixture of fruit, wine and nuts called charoset; and fresh horseradish. The head table featured a plate with a lamb shank and an egg. During the dinner portion of the Seder, a buffet was served with items that resembled a traditional Seder with a few exceptions. The matzah stuffing, coconut macaroons and matzah ball soup all were unleavened. Chicken was served in place of lamb.


Schoeman walked those gathered through the four parts of the meal, which has a number of different roles designed for children such as the reading of the four questions, washing of hands and search for the hidden Matzah.


Each of the four parts concluded with a cup of wine or grape juice. The four cups are the cup of blessing, cup of judgment, cup of redemption and cup of consummation. During the Last Supper, Jesus intentionally leaves out drinking the fourth cup of consummation saying, “Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God”
Mk 14:25.


While the majority of those in attendance were from Good Shepherd, some families came from as far away as Stafford and Fredericksburg. Although there are no plans to make this an annual event, organizers hope that with this year’s great turnout, they can bring the Seder back next year.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018