Adding to the Richness of Holy Week
Review of Come to the Table: A Catholic Passover Seder for Holy Week by Meredith Gould
By Lisa M. Hendey
During this Year of the Eucharist, Catholics looking to more fully appreciate the sacrament while enriching their family or parish celebration of Holy Week should look to the wonderful new book Come to the Table: A Catholic Passover Seder for Holy Week (Plowshares Publishing, January 2005, paperback, 96 pages). Author Meredith Gould, Ph.D., writes from an educated perspective – describing herself as a “Jew by identity, a Christian by faith, and a Catholic in practice”. Gould’s additional books include The Catholic Home: Celebrations and Traditions for Holidays, Feast Days and Everyday (Doubleday), which carries the imprimatur of the Catholic Church. As an adult convert to Catholicism, she writes in a manner which will encourage Catholics to examine and embrace the richness of traditional Jewish rituals and symbolism surrounding the feast of Passover.
Having been raised in a Jewish home, Gould opens her book with reminiscences of family Passover celebrations. With many Jewish friends of my own, I have discussed the wonderful family gatherings of this holiday and the memories created through the act of coming together in faith and celebration. I am looking forward to sharing Meredith Gould’s Catholic Passover Seder with my own family and friends this year as a part of our Holy Week celebration.
As background information, Gould supplies a history of the rituals and symbols of the traditional Passover feast. An informative and touching section of the book entitled “Reconciliation and Teshuva” comments on the evolving relationship between Jews and Catholics, up to an including recent Papal acts and writings and current events such as reaction to Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ. Given this background, Gould recommends an emphasis on what we as Catholics share in common with our Jewish brethren. The Catholic Passover Seder does not draw entirely on the traditional Jewish Seder, but rather provides an alternative inspired by and structured upon the original format but based in Christianity.
The bulk of Come to the Table contains practical, step by step instructions for planning, preparing and conducting your own Catholic Passover Seder. Gould’s Seder may be used in either home, small group or parish settings. A complete appendix section provides additional prescriptions for carrying out a successful Seder in your parish.
I walked away from my experience of reading Come to the Table: A Catholic Passover Seder for Holy Week both educated and inspired: educated on the history, symbols and rituals which underpin this antecedent to our Holy Thursday Eucharistic traditions, and inspired to celebrate this new tradition in my own home and faith community.
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Lisa M. Hendey is a mother of two sons, webmaster of http://www.catholicmom.com and http://www.christiancoloring.com, and an avid reader of Catholic literature. Visit her at http://www.lisahendey.com