Tag Archives: Holy Week

Christians should NOT do a Seder

Lazar Berman’s essay published today on The Times of Israel, “‘Trying to undo history”: A Catholic scholar reflects on Christian Seders“.

Berman and Fr. Murray Watson discuss the reality of the Seder and illustrate why it is inappropriate for Christians to do something so out of context from the their religious experience.

I have long been opposed to Christians performing the Jewish Passover Seder. In fact, I have used the words “outrageous” to express my dismay. Christians who do so, in my considered opinion, are very presumptuous and not too educated in the theology undergirding the Seder and the difference Baptism and belief in Jesus makes for the Christian. Recall that Jesus is the NEW Passover, something rejected by Jews.

In faith, we share some important beliefs with Jews; we should respect their developed theology as they should respect ours. Theological and cultural barbarisms avoided.

If a Christian wants to experience a Seder then that person ought to do the study required to understand AND swing an invitation from a Jewish household to participate in a Passover Seder. Set time aside to sit back and thoughtfully consider educative value of the experience and see know your theology! I appreciate what Berman and Watson are saying. We ought to attend.

The week we call great and holy

We call the week great, not because it has a greater number of hours – other weeks having many more hours, after all – not because it has more days, there being the same number of days in this and the other weeks, of course. So why do we call this week great? Because in it many ineffable good things come our way: in it protracted war is concluded, death is eliminated, curses are lifted, the devil’s tyranny is relaxed, his pomps are despoiled, the reconciliation of God and man is achieved, heaven is made accessible, human beings are brought to resemble angels, those things which were at odds are united, the wall is laid low, the bar is removed, the God of peace having brought peace to things on high and things on earth. This, then, is the reason we call the week great, because in it the Lord lavished on us such a plethora of gifts. This is the reason many people intensify their fasting as well as their sacred watching and vigils, and practice almsgiving, thus showing by their behavior the regard they have for the week. After all, since the Lord in this week has regaled us with such great goods, how are we not obliged to demonstrate our reverence and regard as far as we can?”

St. John Chrysostome

Maundy Thursday

MandatumIn John 13:34-35 we read: I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

“Jesus represents the whole of his saving ministry in one symbolic act” ….It “signifies the whole of Jesus’ saving ministry”…”this humble gesture expressing the entire ministry of Jesus’ life and death…”

(J. Ratzinger, Jesus of Nazareth, p. 57, 72, 74; see “The Washing of the Feet” pp 53-75)

Spy Wednesday

Judas kisses JesusWe call today Spy Wednesday (the Wednesday of Holy Week) because it is the day on which the gospel reading for Mass (Matthew 26:14-25) is the one which speaks of Judas Iscariot acts as a spy for the Sanhedrin. The act of spying earned Judas 30 pieces of silver and thus he betrayed Jesus.

Pope Benedict once said, “Judas is neither a master of evil nor the figure of a demoniacal power of darkness but rather a sycophant who bows down before the anonymous power of changing moods and current fashion. But it is precisely this  anonymous power that crucified Jesus, for it was anonymous voices that cried, “Away with him! Crucify him!”

In another place the emeritus Pope wrote:

“His second tragedy — after the betrayal — is that he can no longer believes in forgiveness. His remorse turns into despair. Now he sees only himself and his darkness; he no longer sees the light of Jesus, which can illumine and overcome the darkness. He shows us the wrong type of remorse: the type that is unable to hope, that sees only its own darkness, the type that is destructive and in no way authentic. Genuine remorse is marked by the certainty of hope born of faith in the superior power of the light that was made flesh in Jesus.” (Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, 69)

Let us pray as Saint Paul said: “At the name of Jesus every knee should bend…to the glory of God the Father.”

 

Holy Saturday from an Orthodox perspective

Holy Saturday is one of the mis-understood days the sacred Triduum. As a church body, we just don’t have a firm  grasp of what Mother Church has to say and experience. Several theologians, for example, Popes John Paul and Benedict, Hans Urs von Balthasar and Richard John Neuhaus have all tried to focus our attention on what God has done for us on Holy Saturday. Father Alexander Schmemann, an orthodox liturgical theologian and priest, is one of my favorite liturgical authors. Sadly, he died of cancer many years ago, but his work continues to bear much fruit, as I hope you will appreciate by reading the following entry. Since today is Holy Saturday for the Orthodox Church, I am offering for our meditation (a review?) the events of our salvation.


Great and Holy Saturday is the day on which Christ reposed in the tomb. The Church calls this day the Blessed Sabbath.

“The great Moses mystically foreshadowed this day when he said:

God blessed the seventh day.

This is the blessed Sabbath

This is the day of rest,

on which the only-begotten Son of God rested from all His works….” (Vesperal Liturgy of Holy Saturday)

Holy Saturday icon.jpg

By using this title the Church links Holy Saturday with the creative act of God. In the initial account of creation as found in the Book of Genesis, God made man in His own image and likeness. To be truly himself, man was to live in constant communion with the source and dynamic power of that image: God. Man fell from God. Now Christ, the Son of God through whom all things were created, has come to restore man to communion with God. He thereby completes creation. All things are again as they should be. His mission is consummated. On the Blessed Sabbath He rests from all His works.

THE TRANSITION

Holy Saturday is a neglected day in parish life. Few people attend the Services. Popular piety usually reduces Holy Week to one day–Holy Friday. This day is quickly replaced by another–Easter Sunday. Christ is dead and then suddenly alive. Great sorrow is suddenly replaced by great joy. In such a scheme Holy Saturday is lost.

In the understanding of the Church, sorrow is not replaced by joy; it is transformed into joy. This distinction indicates that it is precisely within death that Christ continues to effect triumph.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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