The SSAP community celebrated the Seder Meal on April 10, 2014 as a celebration of the exodus from Egypt and God’s redemptive liberation of Israel from slavery and spiritual misery. This Meal, while generally a Jewish tradition, has played an integral role in Franciscan Lenten celebration. Representatives from the different parish ministries were present to join in fellowship and to reenact the Passover meal.
In welcoming participants, the Seder Meal continues with the lighting of the candles. Using the prayer book for the ritual, the leader starts the meal with the blessing of the wine followed by the washing of hands. Then karpas (green vegetable) is dipped in salt water to remind participants of the misery caused by slavery in Egypt. At that point, the middle piece of three matzas (unleavened bread) on the table is broken and hidden by the leader for children to find later.
The leader then tells the Passover story beginning with the bread of affliction. It is a reminder of the Jewish people’s pain in slavery and is also symbolic of the suffering in the world today. Here the leader asks the children to open the door as a gesture of hospitality. The youngest person attending the Seder asks four questions. The first one being “Why is this night different from all other nights?” After the explanations, a second cup of wine — the cup of memory — is poured followed by another washing of hands and a prayer. Then the dinner is served.
Following dinner, young participants search for the hidden matza and songs or hymns are performed while the festivities continue. There is a prayer after the meal followed by the third cup — the cup of redemption. It is at this time the cup of Eljiah is filled and placed in the middle of the table. A recitation of the psalms and the conclusion of the Passover Seder are observed with the fourth cup — the cup of hope — along with the final benediction.
The festivities concluded with parishioners joyously dancing hand in hand forming a ring of unity amongst the community.