Exploring our Jewish Roots
I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
This week’s continuation of the discussion of the Eucharist we take a look at the beginning. We are taking a break from Symbolon to watch episode two in the Presence series. The Story of the Eucharist God’s deeds throughout history make up one beautiful narrative of salvation, which culminates in the Paschal Mystery. Jesus’s teachings and actions throughout his ministry prepare for the moment He offers Himself for, and to, each of us, fulfilling his promise that “My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (John 6:55) John Chapter 6 is called “The Bread of Life Discourse” which took place during the Passover season and subsequently after the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes. Jesus tells them that HE is the Bread from Heaven sent down from the Father and the people were confused. Jesus then goes on to tell the people over and over again that His Flesh is True Food and His Blood is True Drink. At this teaching, many of the followers of Jesus left. They were convinced He was talking about crazy ideas. The Last Supper was a Passover meal where Jesus made changes to the rituals and prayers.
“Take this and eat of it. This is my body. Take and drink, this is my blood.”
This is the Institution of the Eucharist. To participate in this sacrifice, we MUST eat His Flesh and drink His Blood. We are rescued from sin and brought into a new promised land: Heaven. The Eucharist is the anticipated restoration of the unity between God and man. God finally communes with man in the most Holy Eucharist. All creation declares the glory of God and in reality, the universe was created to be the Tabernacle of the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist is the summit of salvation history.
Watch: Bread of Life Discourse with your family.
Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is an eight-day holiday that celebrates the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. The Israelites in their haste to leave Egypt were unable to wait for their bread to rise, so they ended up with a cracker-like bread called matzah. During Passover consuming (or even having it in the home) of leavened food is forbidden. Its name, Passover, comes from the miracle in which God “passed over” the houses of the Israelites during the tenth plague. This is the plague of the Angel of Death coming to claim the firstborn children. God saved the Jewish people by providing Moses with instructions on how to save God’s people from the Angel of Death. God saved the Jewish people by using a sacrificial lamb. By God’s words Moses instructed the people to kill and use the blood of an unblemished male lamb. Using the lamb’s blood they painted the doorposts. Then to complete the ritual the lamb was roasted and eaten. The Angel of Death would “passover” the marked doors and the people would be spared.
The main ritual of Passover is the seder, a carefully choreographed meal held on the first two evenings of the holiday. For Jews living in Israel and for most Reform Jews the seder is on the first night of Passover. The seder is designed to encourage questions from children. It is in this format that telling the story of how the Israelites were redeemed from slavery and given the gift of the Torah is memorialized. We can read about this escape from slavery in the first 15 chapters of Exodus. The duration of a seder can vary from family to family. Some families opt to do an abbreviated version when there are many young children present. Others choose to make the seder an hours long night of celebrating the readings in the Haggadah. The overarching theme of Passover is redemption with God as the great liberator of humanity.
Watch: The Passover Shaboom! Special. This is a short cartoon about Passover.
Listen: Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist. Or Read: Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper by Dr. Brant Pitre. The first link Dr. Pitre is discussing his book.
Vocabulary words to discuss with your child: Passover, Seder, Melchizedek (The High priest who broke bread and offered wine.)
Prayer of the Week: Apostles Creed
Homework First Year Sacramental Prep: Do the Last Supper craft for Week 13 (no supplies provided as these are things you have around the house). Practice the Grace Before Meals prayer. Practice the Morning Offering Prayer. Your child should now know the following prayers: Sign of the Cross, Angel of God, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and the Our Father.
Homework Second Year Sacramental Prep: Complete Spirit of Truth pages 65-71. These pages will be handed in at the end of the month. By now your child should know The Sign of the Cross, the Angel of God, the Glory Be, the Hail Mary, the Our Father, the 10 Commandments, and an Act of Contrition. Keep practicing these every night. Check your email for the First Communion Mass sign-up. First Communions will be done in small groups during weekly Masses.
Homework Years 3-6th Grades: Read from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism: Lesson 26 pages 162-166, this was the same reading from last week, and Lesson 27 pages 167-176. By now your child should know The Sign of the Cross, the Angel of God, the Glory Be, the Hail Mary, the Our Father, the 10 Commandments, and an Act of Contrition. Keep working on memorizing the Apostles’ Creed.
Applying your faith activity: “The VERY BEST way to teach this lesson is to have a mini-Christian Seder Supper with your family this week. ALL of the teaching for this lesson can be done once and together and it will be memorable. Just follow the steps on the slides 42-44. Disclaimer: A Christian Seder meal is controversial in some circles of thought. This lesson is NOT meant to be a mockery of a sacred Jewish Passover celebration. This is simply a very beautiful way to teach the children about Salvation History as well as help the children see the connection between the Passover meal and the Mass. Since we as Catholic Christians are fulfilled Jews, we look to our elder brothers and sisters in faith for traditions that are now part of our sacred traditions. I have included a Haggadah (script) that has been edited by ME and is in no way an official publication that should be interpreted as such. I have been using this Haggadah with my family and in the classroom for over a decade and I like it. Please feel free to take what you want from it and leave what you don’t like.” – M.L.
Watch grades k-8 Watch How To Prepare Your Christian Seder Supper. Purchase/source the supplies mentioned in the video and listed below:
- Some sort of green leafy vegetable (like fresh parsley)
- Horseradish (sauce or cream style in bottle)
- Apple and cinnamon (can use applesauce in a pinch)
- Matza bread (there are gluten free alternatives)
- Grape juice (purple/red is best) not white
- small dixie cups (not necessary but makes it easier)
- Candle for the table (can be a small votive)
Print out the Haggadah (script) for every family member who can read. Set your table and get your pitcher of water and towel ready. Follow the guidance given on the video to teach your children the connection between the Passover meal and the Last Supper which was the First Mass. Watching The Jewish Passover Seder, The Last Supper, and The Roman Catholic Mass will help teach your family about this important lesson.
Activity Ideas: To go along with the Seder we have a few Seder plate coloring sheets to use with the children. One is a cartoon looking version of the plate and another shows a plate with the food and the descriptions. The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes craft is to color and cut out bread and fish. When we make this in the classroom setting we used lunch bag sized paper bags as the “basket”. To do so we cut the top 2/3 of the bag off. Then roll or crumple down the sides to make a basket shape for the cut out fish and bread to be placed.