April 18, Holy Saturday.
I spent most of the day Thursday cooking a (sort of?) traditional Sedar meal for our little family. I've celebrated a Sedar meal before but never hosted one myself, but living intentionally and liturgically this past year has given me the courage to attempt bigger and bigger projects. Also, I couldn't have done it without the Academy: my husband, John, who went out twice to different grocery stores to fetch me ingredients and the normally functioning oven, a great improvement to the Florida stove that burnt everything if I didn't shave off a fifth of the baking time in every recipe and the fire alarm that sounded at the slightest provocation and slight rise in temperature, not to mention normal steam and the occasional sparse smoking.
I got all the recipes from CatholicCulture.org, which has become a staple resource in my intention to live liturgically.
The matzah bread was so easy and came out beautifully, if not as flat as what you can buy in the store. I don't think north Wales has a
The matzah is the unleavened bread. And, no, it is absolutely not a coincidence that this setup looks like the host and paten at a Catholic Mass. The parallel is utterly intentional.
Chopped apples and nuts soaked in wine with sugar and cinnamon make charoses, meant to symbolize the mortar that the Hebrews made when they were slaves in Egypt.
The egg is for new life, and the "bitter" herbs dipped in salt water reminiscent of the bitterness of our Hebrew ancestors in slavery. (We also couldn't find horseradish.)
Before preparing this time-consuming though uncomplicated meal, I printed out coloring pages for Afon from Catholic Icing, a great resource that I'm sure everyone's already heard of. Maybe in a few years' time, we'll cut out the figures and make the small-scale of DaVinci's Last Supper.
He thought all the apostles were "Jesus." You know, the beards and all.
I'd never made lamb before, so I opted for well done with only the slightest bit of pink around the bones. The recipe calls for sweet marjoram and cloves, but neither were available, so I substituted oregano and some cinnamon. We did have brown sugar. Lots and lots of brown sugar.
That evening, John, as the patriarch of the household, enacted the role of the leader. There comes a point in the ceremony when he breaks the bread and puts the larger part under a napkin where it is hidden, to represent the Messiah who has not yet come. But as Catholics, we break from tradition, and eat of the hidden bread before the ceremony ends, reciting the words of Jesus at the last supper: "Do this in memory of me."
You see, our Jewish brethren come to the table of Passover with expectation and remembrance. They are mindful of their suffering and how God liberated them when they cried out for help. But we remember not only the exile in Egypt but the exile of Original Sin; how God offered us His Own Son as the spotless lamb to be sacrificed, to be eaten of, to spread His Blood on the wood of the cross rather than a lentil, in order to loose the chains of our spiritual slavery. And He invites us to eat Him, each time a Mass is said, for "my Flesh is food indeed and my Blood is drink indeed."
"You see, Afon," I said, "this is what the priest does at church on Sunday, up on the altar. It doesn't look quite like this, but this is what it is. Only what we eat now is just a meal. But what we eat at the Mass is not just a meal; it is true magic. The kind of magic that makes flesh look and taste and smell and feel just like bread and blood look and taste and smell and feel just like wine. So that Jesus can come into our mouths and go down into our tummy and be with us for the rest of the day, closer than our own heart, and nourish us there. Because He loves us very much."
And throughout this pretty speech, Afon banged his fork and knife on the table and relocated to the couch. But I figure after a few years of this, understanding--or, at least, the best kind of understanding a mere mortal can hope to have of the mysteries of the universe--will sink in by osmosis.
A blessed Easter Triduum to you and yours.