Growing up I loved Holy week! During Lent, we would attend Stations of the Cross as a family, then during Holy week my family would partake in the full Triduum services including Holy Thursday Mass, the Way of the Cross outside and Veneration of the Cross on Friday, and the very long and beautiful Easter Vigil (this one was a little rough growing up, but also super cool with the darkness and candles). Easter always made sense to me as a kid because these liturgical and Eucharistic celebrations guided us through Easter. This put everything into perspective when it came time to feast on Easter.
For the last 5 years, one of my favorite Holy Week traditions has been making the Passover feast after Holy Thursday Mass (also known as the Seder meal.). This comprises of foods Jesus would have eaten when He celebrated the Passover meal the night of His betrayal, the same night He instituted the Eucharist and the priesthood.
It’s very fun with a rich meaning! I explain the meaning of some of the foods in one of my latest episodes.
This is a great way to feast before the famine of fasting from Good Friday through Holy Saturday until Easter. We’ve lost the tradition of fasting on Holy Saturday. It’s a very special way to anticipate and wait for Easter, especially with all the exciting preparations for Easter. It’s hard but worth it.
We always pray the hallel psalms (Psalms 113-118) during the meal, talk about the meaning of all the foods, and how Jesus fulfills the Passover. These Psalms were traditionally sung at the ending of the Seder meal. According to the Gospel of Matthew and Mark, we know that Jesus and the apostles sang a hymn before departing for the garden of Gethsemane. According to tradition, Psalms 113-118 would’ve been the same Psalms they sang.
To mention some of the foods on the Seder plate:
- Charoset symbolizes the mortar used by slaves in Egypt
- Karpas is usually parsley for the backbreaking work of the Jews as slaves
- Salt water for the crossing of the Red Sea
- Maror is a horseradish dish for the bitter herbs representing the harshness of enslavement in Egypt before the liberation of God’s chosen people. This is super fun to try and feel the steam coming out of your ears from the bite! (Tip make it ahead and let it sit. It’s edible then. Fresh is rough, but fun)
- Matzah for the unleavened bread (it’s super easy and tasty to make, even my GF version). Awesome prefigurement of the Eucharist, story of the manna, and Jesus is the leaven in the NT.
- Lamb (for fun: you have to eat all you make that night in honor of Passover). Jesus is the Pascal Lamb and fulfills the Passover meal which is why we don’t have to celebrate Passover anymore.
- 4 glasses of wine (small…). Another prefigurement of the Eucharist and you can read about Jesus drinking the 4th pascal cup on the cross when He is offered vinegar. This completes His Passover meal and He is the pascal lamb sacrificed for us all.
Here is my crockpot lamb recipe that is super easy and delicious:
Lamb shanks (enough for everyone)
Throw everything else around and on top:
Quartered onion (2 if cooking a lot)
3 garlic cloves
2 celery stalks
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook for 6 hours on low