Sacraments in the Old Testament

Were there sacraments in the Old Testament? Did God use visible signs to dispense His grace. In the New Testament, baptism is the sacrament of faith and the divine instrument by which Christ washes away sin and incorporates us into His mystical body.


Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you– not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 3:21).

But what about in the Old Testament? Tim writes:

What does the Church teach about last Sunday’s leper being saved without being baptized? I have searched much and am left wanting?”

Sacraments in the Old Testament for Salvation

Prior to the death of Christ, salvation worked through the economy of grace in the Old Covenant. The leper’s circumcision availed for baptism in the case of the leper.


Also, he may have been baptized by the Apostles. I imagine that a healed leper would seek out the Apostles and want to learn more about Jesus Christ, but we do not know for sure.

Whether he was eventually baptized or not, we should take a moment and learn about the “sacraments of the Old Law.”

Saint Augustine teaches that the sacraments of the Old Testament were more numerous (and less effective) than the sacraments of the New Testament (Reply to Faustus XIX.13).

Saint Thomas Aquinas says that the ceremonial precepts of the Old Testament were divided into “sacrifices, sacred things, sacraments, and observances? (See STh I-II q. 101, a. 4) These sacraments of the Old Law did not confer grace ex opere operato (“done by being done”) but ex fide significata (“done by the faith being signified”). This means that the sacraments of the Old Law invoked personal faith in the coming Messiah.

For example, when parents circumcised their son, they were implicitly placing faith in the Messiah who was the redemptive Seed of Genesis 3:15.

Observation of Old Law Sacraments in the New Testament

Thomas Aquinas, therefore, teaches that observation of any of the Old Testament sacraments (for example, ceremonial circumcision or Passover Seder meals) consist of grave matter and constitute mortal sin when done with full knowledge and consent. Following Saint Paul, both Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas (and Duns Scotus) believe that Christian observation of Old Testament sacraments (circumcision, kosher laws, Seder meals, etc.) is a sign of sin against the New Testament with its efficient sacraments (baptism, Eucharist, etc.). This is not a popular teaching today, but I think we need to rethink Seder meals since they are contrary to the explicit teaching of many Doctors of the Catholic Church.

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  • Jennifer D.

    Is there a difference between circumcising a boy at the hospital without a ceremony for only cosmetic reasons and a ceremonial circumcision? We’ve had two boys and had not done much research at the time and I left that decision up to my husband. It is a cultural thing here that all boys are circumcised. If it would have been up to me I would have left them as is, as that was the way I was raised. Since I am not out of my child bearing years, I am sincerely interested in whether, now that I know better, it would be sinful to have any future baby boys circumcised.

    • Andrea

      I’d like to know, too.

      • Dan

        In my understanding, circumcision for cosmetic or health reasons is not the same thing as the Jewish ritual of circumcision, which has a religious significance. But I will let Dr. Marshall give his answer.

        • Ken Wilsker

          The ritual circumcision for a Jewish (Hebrew Catholic) when done in the light of Christ is the same as the Seder when done in the light of Christ. Cardinal Burke is very clear on this one too. He said that he does not know of anything in the Church which says that this is prohibitive or this is wrong for Hebrew Catholics to have these special devotions particular to their own heritage. I would add that circumcision does NOT replace baptism. Ritual circumcision according to the Law of Moses only identifies that person with the people of Israel. Baptism confers real grace and life as well as identifying that person with the Church of God, Eternal Israel.

          • Dan

            Interesting perspective, Ken.

      • There is a difference between circumcising at the hospital and ritual circumcision. The former is allowed in certain situations. The latter is condemned.

    • ES

      I believe that a Church council discouraged circumcision, but Pope Pius XII said that it could be done for health reasons, provided that it did not have any religious significance. A Catholic is forbidden from putting any faith in the efficacy of circumcision, though, and for doing it for any religious reasons whatsoever.

  • Dan

    I know two non-Catholics who are Messianic Jews. One is actually Jewish ethnically; the other is a gentile. The gentile has a whole theory about how the Church got off track in the 2nd century because of Hellenism. He thinks we need to pay greater attention to the “Jewish things” in the New Testament.

    • Ken Wilsker

      Dan, keep in mind that Messianic Judaism is a form of Evangelical Protestant Christianity in their theology. Most messianic congregations are made up of mostly gentiles…is that shocking to you? After all, even there Jews are a small minority. We in the Catholic Church are rediscovering the Jewishness of the Gospel. It has always been there and there have always been Jews in the Catholic Church. But not until recently have Hebrew Catholics had the freedom and courage to maintain their Jewish identity. It is possible to be fully Jewish culturally and fully Catholic religiously. The two are compatible. The first few decades of the Church were made up mostly of Jews. They continued in their Jewish customs and Temple worship alongside their faith in Jesus the Messiah. It was probably impossible in St. Thomas’ days to express this so lets not try and take words meant for his day and apply them to this day and age. This is part of the genius of Second Vatican Council. See Nostra Aetate.

  • Bruce Bedford

    Could you expound upon the idea that Seder meals are serious sin? I have attended a few in the past 20 years and found them to be enlightening of the Jewish people, the Exodus, and their deliverance… and increased compassion for the chosen people. Also, they filled my heart with thanks to God for sending our Lord Jesus Christ to us in the new and everlasting covenant. Why do the Church Doctors condemn them?

    • Jason

      I am very curious to hear more on this topic as well.

      • Paul

        Last year, my family did a Christian Sedar Meal where we incorporated the Jewish Sedar traditions of the past with the Last Supper and Crucifixion. It was really great because, as Bruce mentioned, it brought a better appreciation and understanding of the OT and our Jewish roots, along with their connections and fulfillment in the NT by Jesus dying on the cross.

        • Ken Wilsker

          Good for you. The celebration of the Seder in light of Christ brings us closer to our Jewish Messiah, Jewish Mother, and Church. Roy Schoeman speaks of the Church as post Messianic Judaism. It is the fulfillment of Judaism. Lets embrace our Jewish roots!

  • Marie Curry

    How can we talk about grace in the OT? It was lost by Adam and Eve. Grace came through Jesus Christ. None of the OT rituals, including circumcision, conferred grace. Please explain.

  • RDG Stout

    If you haven’t read it yet, Roy Shoeman’s “Salvation is From the Jews” has some interesting discussion about the role of Jewish people who have converted to Catholicism (such as himself) maintaining Jewish identity and traditions not because of the sin of Judaizing — that is, clinging to the Old Covenant in denial of the effectiveness of the New Covenant, insisting that only observant Jews may be Christian — but for reasons drawn from the Pauline epistles. Given your work on “The Crucified Rabbi” and the Jewish roots of Catholicism, I thought Shoeman might be right up your alley.

    • Ken Wilsker

      This is a good read for all Catholics. The sin of Judaizing is the sin that in order “to be saved” you must maintain the Jewish customs of the Old Covenant. This was settled in Jerusalem at the time of Sts. Peter and Paul. No Hebrew Catholic keeps any Jewish customs for their salvation or makes it necessary for anyone else’s salvation. We celebrate as our beautiful Catholic faith as Jews because we are Jews. This is how God made us. We embrace the Catholic faith through our Jewish lens. Just as Italians or Polish or whatever culture celebrates their Catholic faith through their own cultural lens. In the first century it was decided that Gentiles could become part of the faith without becoming Jews and today we are coming to terms with Jews becoming part of the faith without becoming Gentiles. Think about that?

      • Yachov Ben yachov

        Pope Benedict XIV (not to be confused with XVI our past German Shepard.) said this & I think you are going to like it.

        “If a man should perform acts for a different end and purpose (even with the intention of worship and as religious ceremonies), not in the spirit of that Law nor on the basis of it, but either from personal decision, from human custom, or on the instruction of the Church, he would not sin, nor could he be said to judaize. So when a man does something in the Church which resembles the ceremonies of the old Law, he must not always be said to judaize. [Ex Quo, 67]

        Quote” But others remarked wisely that some, surely, of the ceremonial rites of the old Law could be observed under the new Law if only they were not done as obligations of the old Law, which was abrogated, but as a custom, or lawful tradition, or as a new precept issued by one enjoying the recognized and competent authority to make laws and to enforce them, as Vasquez observes (vol. 3, in the 3rd part of the Summa, disp. 210, quest. 80, art. 7). [Ex Quo, 74]”END QUOTE

  • David Bates

    Wouldn’t “sacramental” be a better word to describe the things of the Old Covenant?

  • What a sad, retrograde conclusion to this article. “Rethink Seder meals” because they are sinful? With all respect to Saint Augustine or Saint Thomas, are they God? What better way to continue to keep Jews out of the Church than to dismiss their timeless (and God-given) heritage by appealing to obsolete, medieval opinions. By the same logic, we may as well appeal to the Council of Florence: Should we advocate that Jews be compelled to listen to Christian sermons under pain of severe penalties? Should we forbid Jews to employ Christians and prohibit Christians from eating with Jews or even having extended conversation with them? Should we insist that Jews not be given any public offices or admitted to any academic degrees? Should we underline that they are to be “compelled, under severe penalties, to wear some garment whereby they can be clearly distinguished from Christians”? Should we insist that Jews be “made to dwell in areas, in the cities and towns, which are apart from the dwellings of Christians and as far distant as possible from churches.”

    The Council of Florence, an ecumenical council, advocated these horrors, yet no one today appeals to these embarrassing, disciplinary decrees that were conditioned by their time. In the same way, it is ludicrous to resort to medieval, negative opinions on the Passover Seder, which were very much conditioned by their time. Jewish-Christians are well aware that the Seder is not a sacrament and does not have any efficacious, salvific power. This doesn’t mean that we should dismiss their right to continue to commemorate the Exodus as God commanded it.

    • Ken Wilsker

      Thank YOU! Well said…

    • James Finn

      This is an intelligent post that I think strikes at the root of this debate. Allow me to put in my two shekels:

      The current climate in the Church trending towards these fundamentally Protestant and Zionist ideas about the Church and her relation to the Jews is, I believe, a sort of affirmative action. We, as Catholics, have been made to feel guilty about our alleged treatment of Jews in the past. (Most of these charges can not stand up to historical scrutiny, by the way, but that conversation is not for now. Suffice it to say, the “revisionists” have struck again).

      By my estimation, it is in an attempt at reparation for these perceived misdeeds that the Church has permitted these false notions to creep into her ideology. To speak of the Jews (present tense), for example, as the “chosen people” is not Catholic theology, and it muddles the truth. The Catholic Church is the chosen people!

      Of course the Jews should be loved and welcomed into the church with as much excitement as any other member of the human race who converts. It is no slight against a certain race to call their religion false. It follows, then, that calling Islam a false religion would be a slur against all Arabs. Or that requiring a converted astrologer to put away her Tarot Cards would be “insensitive”. It’s ridiculous. Judaism is just as much a false religion as these.

      In the end, this rhetoric is dangerous because it blurs the lines between the Jews (the race), and the Jews (the religion).

      • Of course the Jews should be loved and welcomed into the church with as much excitement as any other member of the human race who converts.

        And yet you don’t seem to realize that the smug triumphalistic attitude and supersessionism of people like you is one of the greatest stumbling blocks that keep Jews OUT of the Church. Charges of Christian/Catholic anti-Semitism don’t stand up to historical scrutiny? What world do you live in? Read “The Anguish of the Jews” by Fr. Edward Flannery, or for that matter the Vatican’s “Memory and Reconciliation”, or John Paul II’s prayer asking for forgiveness to the Jews which he placed at the Wailing Wall, or even just Nostra Aetate.

        To equate Judaism (incomplete, yet grounded in Sacred Scripture and divine revelation) with Islam is delusional and betrays a staggering ignorance (or denial) of Scripture.

        Perhaps it’s time you move on from the Council of Trent and begin reading what the Church has published about the Jewish people since the 1960s? Or perhaps St. Paul’s analogy of the olive tree in Romans 11, where he warns gentiles Christians to not become arrogant towards their roots lest they too might be cut off, might be fitting as well?

        • Nathan718

          Catholics can NEVER “move on” from Trent, Florence, Nicea or ANY of our 21 Councils, all of which express the highest level of teaching authority in the Church (along with ex cathedra papal statements). The idea that it is “smug” to recognize that Christ and His Catholic Church has fulfilled the nation of Israel and the Old Covenant (which hasn’t been operative since the destruction of the Temple anyhow, & is official Catholic teaching), is absurd. No one, including the sons of Israel, is saved apart from Christ and His Holy Catholic Church (extra ecclesiam nulla salus). You’d do well to reflect upon the words of St Paul in Romans, unless it is time to “move on” from his words as well.

          • You have misunderstood me, and you are beating a dead horse – a couple of them actually. First, no one suggested to abandon the doctrinal decrees of any of the ecumenical councils. The problem is, rather, when people rigidly cling to medieval, disciplinary decrees that were conditioned by their time and were never intended to be articles of faith, much less infallible truths. Second, I did not say that Jews are saved apart from Christ (though of course this is possible, as stated in CCC 847). I am actually very familiar with St. Paul. Have you ever read and meditated on the analogy of the olive tree in Rom 11?

          • Nathan718

            No one is saved apart from Christ, that is NOT possible nor is it stated in CCC 847. You are misreading both the CCC and St. Paul. CCC 847 does NOT allow for salvation apart from Christ. It is simply pointing out that people are not damned for not professing Christ IF (and only if) they are in a state of invincible ignorance regarding him. These people might very well still be damned for other reasons, but they are not damned for not knowing Christ if they couldn’t possibly have known Him. If they are saved, IF, they are still saved by Christ through the Church. Paragraph 847 references Lumen Gentium 16 which ends with a call to evangelize those who don’t explicitly recognize Christ because “often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth for a lie…for the salvation of all these… the Church fosters the missions”. CCC 846 clearly states “all salvation comes from Christ the head through the Church his Body.”

          • Yes all that is well known. I should have formulated the sentence better: “though of course it is possible for them to be saved without an explicit, conscious faith in Christ.”

          • Perhaps you need a third try at that. I’ll help. “though of course it is possible for them to be saved without an explicit, conscious faith in Christ” (if they could not possibly have had an explicit, conscious faith in Christ). One needs to be in a state of INVINCIBLE ignorance, not just ignorance, to not be damned for being outside the Church. To put it another way, not being in the Church, is grave matter. If full-knowledge and deliberate consent are present, it is mortally sinful to be outside the Church. To die in a state of mortal sin is, ipso facto, to be damned. It’s hard to imagine a situation where deliberate consent isn’t present. Ergo, to be saved “without an explicit, conscious faith in Christ” one must lack full-knowledge (i.e. be in a state of invincible ignorance).

          • Thanks for the clarification. Don’t forget to also keep in mind the stumbling blocks that many arrogant, triumphalistic Catholics put in the way of Jewish salvation, for instance by rejecting and dismissing their God-given traditions and heritage, quite contrary to all of the Church’s principles of evangelization and inculturation. See 1 Cor 9:19-23.

            And by the way, what do you make of Acts 21:18-26, where St. Paul makes a vow to prove wrong his detractors who accused him of teaching “all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs.” James urged him to take this vow so that “all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you but that you yourself live in observance of the law.” (Act 21:24)

        • James Finn

          OK. It is caustic vitriol like this that prompts one to bow out gracefully. You have violated the rules of charitable Christian debate which are, apparently, less important to you than the advancement of your agenda. Pax.

          • Apologies for the rather aggressive tone of my reply. But one may easily argue that you are the one who has violated the rules of Christian charity in the first place. A Holocaust denier may make his case in a very polite, articulate and civil way, but that doesn’t make his message any less contemptible. By denying the atrocious and undeniable history of Christian anti-Semitism, you have not set the right tone for a respectful debate. Perhaps it is inculpable ignorance on your part, but my first impression was that it isn’t. You may want to reflect on the fact that your post above comes across as incredibly arrogant and offensive to Jews who love the Church but also love their Jewish heritage, and who are pained by the history of Christian anti-Semitism and the lingering haughty supersessionist attitudes on the part of not a few Gentile Christians who, for the most part, have never experienced how Jewish traditions and customs can beautifully enrich our own Catholic faith.

        • Ronk

          Pre-Christian Judaism was incomplete.

          Modern Judaism is not merely incomplete. Insofar as it denies the truth that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the Son of God Who created a New Covenant between God and Man and founded His Church the New Israel, it is FALSE. (And also because over the last 2000 years it has adopted many novel doctrines and practices which were not even authorised under the Old Covenant. Beginning with the fact that since the mid 2nd century all Jews have been followers of the tradition of the Pharisees, after all other Jewish factions were exterminated by the pagans.

          • Ken Wilsker

            Ronk, let also remember that we have more Jewish Christians today than possibly at any other point in history. In spite of so much negativity, misunderstanding, and replacement theology the Holy Spirit is drawing his chosen people back home. It the most Jewish thing a Jewish person can do is to be believe in their Messiah and become Catholic! Let us rejoice and keep in mind the words of CCC 674. “The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by “all Israel” and following. We who are Jews in the Church are a unique witness in the New Evangelization that Jews remain Jews in the Church and do not become Gentiles in spite of claims of some in the Church and some in Judaism that they cease to be Jews. Keep in mind some of the great converts to our faith like St. Edith Stein who were 100% Catholic and 100% Jewish even to point of death in the concentration camp for being a Jew! So those of us who are Jewish and Catholic are the first fruits of the ingathering of the Jewish people back to their Messiah and the Church that God established. You all better get used to us because we are here to stay. The salvation of “all Israel” is God’s promise and it will mean life from the dead, Romans 11:15

          • Ken, Sr. Stein is a great role-model for Jewish Catholics, but she didn’t keep the OT Seder. Most of what you have written (unlike Catholics for Israel) is true and beautiful, but remember “being 100% Jewish” doesn’t include eating the Seder as if the Last Supper didn’t happen. May God bless you in your journey.

    • Catholics for Israel,

      I don’t know if I’d say that the teaching of Thomas Aquinas is an “obsolete, medieval opinion.”

      Be careful with that kind of argument. I’ve heard Nancy Pelosi use the same kind of wording when discussing those “obsolete, medieval opinions” about contraception and abortion.

      Would the Apostles have attended a Seder that didn’t include the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world?

      • Ken Wilsker

        The Apostles and Jewish Christians continued to attend the Temple worship and take part in the celebrations of their people after Christ including Seders. Being a Jew who occasionally has to attend Jewish rituals, like funerals and Seders with my unbelieving family I would say that it is quite possible that the Jewish Apostles had the same situation. Just sayin…this is out of love and respect for my family.

      • Dr. Marshall, with all respect, your analogy is really inappropriate and disappointing. I did not sweepingly criticize the entire teaching of St. Thomas as “obsolete, medieval opinion.”

        Nancy Pelosi brazenly and stubbornly opposes the Church’s magisterial teachings in some very central matters of faith and morals. You concluded your article by referring to no more than a theological opinion of Aquinas on a matter of discipline that may have been relevant to the 13th century, but which carries zero magisterial authority today. If I am wrong, then I welcome you to support your dubious view on the “sinfulness” of observing Passover by providing a magisterial statement pronounced sometime in the last century in this regard.

        Quite to the contrary, as Ken Wilsker has noted, Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, stated just a couple of years ago at the AHC conference in St. Louis that it is perfectly legitimate and even commendable for Christians to participate in Passover Seders. In fact, he has done so himself on many occasions. The irony is that you were there at that same conference. Did you not see the video? (If not, you can easily find it on YouTube)

        Which should have more weight then, a personal, theological opinion dating back to the 13th century on a matter of discipline, or the actual, present position of the head of the highest tribunal of the Church?

        As to whether the Apostles attended a Jewish Seder, yes, absolutely they could have. Why not? As you well know, Jewish-Christians continued to frequent the Temple and Synagogue for generations after the resurrection. Why should the coming of the Messiah snuff out their desire to continue commemorating and celebrating the Exodus and to identify with their people, heritage, and divinely given commandments? Though they are closely related, the Mass is not the Passover, and the Passover is not the Mass. Why should we pit one against the other as if they were competitors?

  • Ken Wilsker

    Cardinal Raymond Burke on the occasion of the 2010 AHC Conference at which Marshall Taylor spoke affirms that celebrating these Jewish devotions is a wonderful when done in the light of Christ. When the Passover Seder is celebrated in full Christian faith in which they take on their fullest meaning, this is a wonderful thing, not only for Hebrew Catholics but for all Catholics. It is not a mortal sin. It is too easy for us many centuries later to take words out of context. Let’s get some clarification.

  • RachaelM

    I grew up in Judaism, and was received into the Catholic Church on September 15, 2013, thank you, G-d! My faith has been completed. So, you’re telling me that when I sit down to a Seder meal or Shabbos (Sabbath) meal with my family, knowing full well that I also participate at the banquet table every Sunday at Mass, in full Communion with the Catholic Church, that I am committing a mortal sin by enjoying a celebration of Passover Seder or Sabbath with my family?

    • Ken Wilsker

      Welcome Home!! Mazel Tov…you are doing nothing sinful. Honoring your Mother and Father and honoring Shabbos is always in God’s will!

  • James Finn

    “This is not a popular teaching today. . .”

    True talk.

    • Ken Wilsker

      Nor should it be. I would like Taylor Marshall to clarify his statement.

      • James Finn

        I am not a theologian or philosopher by any stretch, so take my comment in that light:

        I believe to the contrary that Dr. Marshall’s post was quite clear. He correctly cited church Tradition as pertains to these ideas.

        What “ideas” was he talking about? There is this *new* EWTN style fascination with ancient Jewish traditions that is beyond a merely healthy interest in the Jewish roots of our liturgy, sacraments, priestly vestments, etc. Indeed, all of these elements of our faith find their origin in the religious life of the Hebrews. This new fascination, however, is theologically malignant because it is, in essence, an unhealthy romanticization of what is, truth be told, a false religion.

        The ancient Jewish religion properly understood IS Christianity. The Jews who believed were absorbed by the church and became Catholic. Those who denied Christ adhered to their traditions. The term “Judeo-Christian” is a misnomer – language adopted by the Fundamentalist Evangelical Christians.

  • Victor

    I definitely know nothing about this subject but I do believe that GOD (Good Old Dad) would want U>S (usual sinners) to discus these problems with all the love that we can muster UP.
    God Bless The Peacemakers

  • Nathan718

    All Catholics should always attend a Seder Meal. However, we must attend the Seder in light of Christ. To attend as if Christ had not come, to attend as if we were still awaiting an unknown Messiah, is mortally sinful because it is ipso facto a rejection of Christ. So we should attend a Seder, but only in light of Christ and NEVER as if He hadn’t come. The question then becomes, how do we “attend in light of Christ?” How do we eat the Paschal Lamb in light of Christ? Luckily it is Jesus Himself who answered this question. We must eat, not just any lamb, but the Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi (the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world – something the lamb in the OT couldn’t do). How can we do this? How do we eat Christ (who is the lamb)? At the new covenant Seder Meal – at the Mass (remember the Mass IS the Seder Meal). So yes all Catholics should attend a Seder, but the way we do this as Catholics (regardless of our ethnicity) is to attend Mass! This is as true of Catholics of a Jewish background as to is for gentile Catholics. To attend the New Covenant Seder is to attend the Seder in light of Christ. To attend an OT style Seder is to reject Christ and His Seder. Remember, the OT Seder was merely a prefigurement, a type, of the Mass all along. God bless.

    • Oh my. Have you ever attended an authentic Jewish Seder? Have you ever considered that the Seder was divinely and perpetually ordained to Israel to commemorate the Exodus, not to await (or “reject”) the Messiah? Is it inconceivable to you that Jewish Christians could joyfully celebrate the Seder as God commanded them, with the full awareness that the Messiah has come, and with the full knowledge and understanding that it is fulfilled in the Eucharist? Your narrowness of mind, deciding that observing God’s commandments is “mortally sinful”, is hard to fathom. Do you not see that it is precisely people like you who keep Jews out of the Church?

      • Ronk

        I don’t think that attending a Seder (especially one which is adapted to explain its true meaning) is a sin, if done in the right frame of mind for the right reasons (basically to deepen our understanding of what God has done for us in Christ and His Blessed Sacrament).

        However I also don’t see how it would be possible to celebrate the Seder exactly as modern Jews do, “with the full awareness that the Messiah has come, and with the full knowledge and understanding that it is fulfilled in the Eucharist” since these truths directkly contradict statements made in the Seder that the Messiah has not yet come.

        I’m not narrow-minded, I just can’t hold two contradictory ideas in my mind at the same time.

        • Ken Wilsker

          Its a good thing that the Jewish Apostles did not have the same attitude toward Gentiles that some of you have toward the Jews. Thank God for these Jewish Apostles and all the Jewish Christians that took the Gospel to all the world. In the first century it was decided that Gentiles did not have to become Jews to be saved. Likewise today it has been decided in the Second Vatican Council that Jews do not have to become Gentiles. History has come full circle. Let us rejoice in what God is doing in salvation history because it is not just for the Jews but for the whole world. Mother Miriam and St. Edith Stein please pray for all of us.

      • Nathan718

        Have I ever attended an “authentic Jewish Seder?” I already answered this above. YES, every week in fact at Mass. That is the only authentic Jewish Seder. Of course Jewish Christians can joyfully celebrate the Seder as God commanded them – that is they can joyfully attend the Mass (“do this in remembrance of me” was said to a room full of Jews after all.) We cannot pick and choose what parts of God’s revelation we feel like following. If we were both Jews living in the time of Moses, we couldn’t decide to live by the pre-Abrahamic covenant and not get circumcised (God seeks to kill Moses himself for delaying to circumcise his son). If we were Jews living in the time of Solomon, we couldn’t build a tabernacle and wander in the desert for 40 years – worshiping God wherever we happened to be that day as the Israelites did after the Exodus – we had to worship in the Temple. Likewise, post-Christ, we cannot try to live with the old sacraments, but only with them as fulfilled by Christ.

        • It is quite certain that the 12 Apostles never ever attended a Jewish Seder that did not include the the transubstantiated Eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ.

          Since Good Friday, AD 33, there is no such thing as an “authentic” Passover that does not have the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ present on the Eucharistic mensa.

          The introduction of a “Christian” Seder meal comes from Protestantism and implies that the New Testament Passover (the Holy Eucharist) has not been rightfully established as the pre-eminent liturgy of the Church.

          Too often the “Christian Seder” replaces the importance of the Maundy Thursday liturgy which in fact perfectly re-presents the one true Seder of Christ.

          • James Finn

            Ahhh, the refreshing clarity of truth. Game. Set. Match.

          • Ken Wilsker

            The 12 Apostles grew up in Jewish homes and would have attended the Seder all their lives without the full knowledge of the Messiah and the Eucharist until the Seder that changed the history of the world on Holy Thursday. Lets be clear about the term “authentic”. Jews have been celebrating the Passover Seder of the Exodus for a thousands of years before and after Christ. When Hebrew Catholics and Jewish Christians celebrate the Seder we celebrate BOTH the Exodus and the Second Exodus in the style that we are accustomed to in the Liturgy of the Seder. This is not to replace the Eucharist and Holy Mass in anyway and NEVER takes away from Holy Thursday.
            The Christian Seder does not come from Protestantism. It comes from Jews who have come to faith and realized that Christianity is merely the fulfillment of Judaism and that we can still keep the Feasts and our Jewish way of life in the light of Christ. We do not have to give us being Jewish to be Catholic/Christian.
            Here are the words of Cardinal Raymond Burke, “There should not be anything in Jewish practice which is in itself a denial of the Catholic faith because everything that our Lord revealed to His chosen people was in the view of the coming of the Messiah. So all of those rituals and practices understood properly are going to be able to be carried out and practiced by Hebrew Catholics, once again with a fully Catholic faith.”

          • ES

            There is no way the apostles could have attended a Seder that you or might, because that rite was rewritten after the Fall of Jerusalem,. Passover in the Old Testament is only possible with ritual sacrifice and the Temple. After the Temple was destroyed, Judaism had to re-write many of their ceremonies and change their theology. I learned this from a Jewish ritual book that explains the origins of the current seder meal. The seder meal is not the Passover meal that Jesus and the Apostles practiced–that is an historical impossibility.

            The only analogy I can think of for the changes brought about by the fall of Jerusalem is to consider what would happen to Catholicism if every single one of our bishops and priests were killed at once, so we could no longer ordain ministers.

            Once I realized that the modern seder was not what Jesus and the apostles attended, but was entirely a man-made ceremony, it made sense that it should be avoided by Catholics.

          • If you dislike the Passover then it’s your choice and your loss, but it would be nice if you could at least have the humility to respect the view of Jewish-Catholics who love the Passover because it tremendously enhances their understanding and appreciation of the Eucharist.

          • Ken Wilsker

            ES, there is no question that Judaism adapted after the destruction of the Temple, but that does not change reality that that all Jews were commanded to remember the Exodus forever. I suggest you read Dr. Brant Pitee’s book, Jesus and the Jewish roots of the Eucharist. The basic elements of the Seder are still apparent even in today’s Seder in all Jewish homes. Let’s all remember that God has kept there is still a role for Jews in salvation history otherwise we would have been wiped out long ago. Let us rejoice in Gods faithfulness to his covenant. See. Romans 9-11.

          • It is quite certain that the 12 Apostles never ever attended a Jewish Seder that did not include the the transubstantiated Eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ.

            That’s a fine expression of your very personal opinion Dr. Marshall, but could you please substantiate it with some real fact? How do you know this for sure, apart from retrojecting your own personal dislike of the Jewish Passover back into the first century? If you can’t prove your statement, then perhaps it would be more prudent and truthful to say, “in my opinion, the 12 Apostles did not attend a Jewish Seder” rather than speaking in absolute terms about something that you, in fact, have no way of proving (and a point on which many good, faithful theologians strongly disagree with you).

            The introduction of a “Christian” Seder meal comes from Protestantism and implies that the New Testament Passover (the Holy Eucharist) has not been rightfully established as the pre-eminent liturgy of the Church.

            This statement is also false. Many Catholics celebrate Seder meals without implying in the least that the Eucharist “has not been rightfully established as the pre-eminent liturgy of the Church.” On the contrary, participation in the Seder greatly enhances our understanding and love for the Eucharist.

          • ES

            “That’s a fine expression of your very personal opinion Dr. Marshall, but could you please substantiate it with some real fact? How do you know this for sure, apart from retrojecting your own personal dislike of the Jewish Passover back into the first century? If you can’t prove your statement, then perhaps it would be more prudent and truthful to say, “in my opinion, the 12 Apostles did not attend a Jewish Seder” rather than speaking in absolute terms about something that you, in fact, have no way of proving (and a point on which many good, faithful theologians strongly disagree with you).”

            It is not an expression of personal opinion; it is an historical impossibility. Since the Seder was created after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, we know for a fact that Christ and the apostles never could have attended one. The Seder just wasn’t in existence yet. During the time of Christ, Passover was celebrated with ritual sacrifice and necessitated the Temple. The current seder meal is not what Christ attended while He was on earth, but was a man-made ritual created after almost all of the apostles were dead, and after the death of Christ and the founding of the Catholic Church.

            This information is readily available from Jewish sources.

          • What you’re saying is besides the point. Whether we call the celebration of Passover in the first century a “Seder” or not, there is no doubt that Jews celebrated the Passover and commemorated the Exodus by means of a ritual meal in their homes. The precise form of this ritual meal and how it evolved over time is irrelevant to the question at hand, namely whether it is conceivable that the apostles still celebrated the Passover. For most Catholic Jews the question is a no brainer – of course they did, but somehow traditionalist American gentile Catholics know better, even though most have never themselves experienced a Jewish Passover? That comes across not only as very odd, but also as rather arrogant.

          • “Christ our Passover has been sacrifice for us, therefore let us keep the feast.” 1 Cor 5:7

            That’s Saint Paul writing, an Apostle.

            To celebrate Passover without the Eucharistic Christ is inconceivable.
            Moses required lamb at the Seder. When you celebrate the your Seder, what do you use for the lamb?

          • Dr. Marshall, I am trying to understand how you think. You seem to view the Passover and the Eucharist through a supersessionist lens as being essentially the same feast – the former in its pre-Christic form, and the latter in its post-Christic form. So before Christ came the Jews celebrated the Passover, but after He came the Passover was essentially superseded/ transformed into the Eucharist. Therefore the Jewish Passover meal is now obsolete because its purpose was to anticipate the Messiah, and since he came this purpose came to an end, being now replaced by the Eucharist. Is this the way you see it?

            If so, I am wondering why you must see the issue in such a narrow, two-dimensional way rather than through a broader, three-dimensional perspective.

            To celebrate Passover without the Eucharistic Christ is inconceivable.

            This may be inconceivable to you, but how do you explain that it is perfectly conceivable to countless Catholics, including Cardinal Burke (who has attended several Seders with the AHC when he was still in St. Louis), to celebrate the Passover? Do you place your personal opinions above the views of the highest legal authority in the Church after the pope?

            Moreover, in this statement you seem to conflate both feasts into one. But as I’ve mentioned earlier, this is incorrect. The role of the Passover is not primarily to anticipate the coming of the Messiah. It is to commemorate the Exodus. Why should the celebration of the Messiah in the Eucharist abrogate the celebration of the Exodus in the Passover? (whether or not there is lamb at the table is irrelevant to the question).

            I fail to understand the supersessionist logic: why should Christ’s institution of the Eucharist on the model of the Passover imply the abrogation of the previous feast (for Catholic Jews) which God instituted as an everlasting ordinance for the people of Israel?

            No one denies that the meaning of the Passover has been transformed with the institution of the New Covenant and the destruction of the Temple, but to go from this transformation of meaning to a claim of total abrogation, quite contrary to the spirit of the the New Testament and apostles (cf. Mt 5:17; Acts 21), is a big leap.

        • *rolling eyes*. The Mass is not a Seder. The Seder commemorates Israel’s Exodus from Egypt. The Mass was born out of a Passover Seder, but its purpose is not to celebrate the Exodus. Its purpose is to commemorate and actualize Christ’s Paschal Mystery. The Mass is certainly superior to the Passover, but why should the celebration of the Paschal mystery abrogate the celebration of the Exodus for Jewish-Christians, which God commanded to be done perpetually? The small-mindedness and arrogance of ultra-traditionalist American Catholics is sometimes hard to fathom. Attitudes such as yours are very sad; they really obscure the beauty of Catholicism and paint it in an ugly light. Have you heard such negative, small-minded talk come out of any papal and magisterial teaching recently?

          • You resort to a passive-aggressive rant, complete with “rolling eyes!” Magisterial teaching doesn’t come with an expiration date. Shall we disregard the words of Christ b/c they are not “recent”? Truth is truth, my friend. The Catholic Church IS the New Israel. The Old Covenant, as a matter of history not theology, hasn’t been operative since the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. With the destruction of the Temple and the Levitical priesthood no “authentic” Passover was possible. Thankfully, no Earthly (or demonic) power can destroy God’s love for His children – He had already provided a new Temple, the Body of Christ – the Catholic Church (cf. John 2:19 & Eph 1:22) and a new Passover (the Eucharist). The Church is nothing less than the expansion of the biologically limited OT Israel with the new and eternal Israel – the Catholic Church. We all need to welcome, with arms wide open, our Jewish bros and sisters into the Church – not through a false irenicism, but by showing them how their beloved OT traditions are continued and fulfilled in their NT counterpoints.

          • James Finn

            This answer demonstrates a good grasp of the topic. Well done. “irenicism” – I had to google that one! Great word. Spell check doesn’t even recognize it.

          • You may dismiss my reaction as a “passive-aggressive rant,” but believe me, rolling eyes is only a very mild and perfectly appropriate reaction to the offensive and insulting nonsense you have written above. Yes, and may the Lord forgive me, I do tend to lose patience when confronted with these kinds of narrow views that are so contrary and damaging to the work of the Church.

            The dismissal of Passover as “sinful” has nothing to do with Magisterial teaching or truth. At best, it was a time-bound, disciplinary decree that was in effect through parts of the Middle Ages. Today, it is a small-minded, fringe opinion coming mostly from American ultra-traditionalist, supersessionist Catholics. If I am wrong, then you are welcome to prove it with some magisterial statement pronounced in the last century or so.

            Even the term “new Israel” has very much fallen into disuse. It is used a handful of times in the documents of Vatican II, but note that the last 3-4 popes have all but stopped using the term. While it is true that the Church is the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel, this fulfillment is through a “grafting in” the root of Israel (see Romans 11). You will notice that St. Paul warns gentiles in this same analogy of the olive tree to not become arrogant towards their root of Israel, even though they have temporarily rejected Christ, “lest you too may be cut off.”

            It is nice to hear that you are disposed to “welcome our Jewish brothers into the Church,” but after having worked for some 15 years in the field of Jewish evangelization, I can say with confidence that it is people like you, with your triumphalistic dismissal of the riches and beauty of Jewish tradition, who keep Jews OUT of the Church.

          • First, the Church has 2,000 yrs of infallible teaching – your litmus tests of something needing to be said by the last couple popes or in the last century are absurd. Second, supersessionism is NOT anti-Semitic, in fact it is the only respectful attitude to take towards the children of Israel. Let’s briefly consider the alternatives. 1. Demonize. We can follow in he footsteps of Marcion and claim that the OT God is an evil God and the Hebrews are the children of a demon. This is obviously anti-Semetic and was condemned by the Church Fathers, notably Tertullian (sorry I don’t have a quote from the last two popes to show that this is still Church teaching, we’ll have to do with Tertullian). 2. Trivialize. We can say the Passover is not an important RELIGIOUS ritual, one that must be changed in light of the Last Supper, and instead say it is just a part of Jewish culture – their equivalent of the Fourth of July. No one calls for an end of fireworks on the fourth, likewise no one should call for, not the end, but the transformation of the Passover (the Passover celebration is eternal, the question between us is not whether Jews ought to celebrate it, but how). This second path, your path, is even more anti-Semitic than either of the other two paths, demonism & supersessionism, both of which at least respect the Passover by not trivializing it.

          • Your comments make no sense at all. Having a love and appreciation for the Passover is anti-Semitic? Do you really expect anyone to take this seriously?

            And yes, the litimus test of having something stated in the past century is absolutely valid when regarding *DISCIPLINARY* matters. Whether or not it is legitimate to celebrate the Passover is not a matter of doctrine or faith, much less an infallible teaching. Why do you stubbornly cling to this fallacy? In the Middle Ages it was a disciplinary measure that arose out of centuries of Jewish-Christian hostility. Today, it is the private opinion of a small fringe of traditionalist Catholics, most of which are American. If you dislike the Passover, that is your choice and your loss, but I don’t see how you will gain respect for your opinions by rigidly and rather dishonestly pretending that they are equivalent to the teaching of the magisterium.

          • I could repeat how you’re vision of the Pasch as a merely cultural feast is a trivialization of a religious rite. I could reiterate that no one is advocating anything other than “having a love and appreciation for the Passover” – the question merely is how this is expressed in light of Christ (with you claiming ignoring the Last Supper is a-okay and I, along with Catholic Tradition, arguing the Mass IS the Passover). Sadly, you seem unwilling or unable to respond to what I’m saying, preferring to sling names. Thus, I must bid you adieu for I have not all the time in the world to endlessly repeat myself. May God bless you.

          • Sorry if I wasn’t clear, but that is incorrect. I don’t trivialize the Passover as a “merely cultural feast.” As Scripture says, it is a very important feast given by God to the children of Israel, to be kept perpetually: “And you shall observe the feast of unleavened bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt: therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as an ordinance for ever” (Exo 12:17). The Torah was never abolished by the New Covenant, as Jesus said quite clearly (Mt 5:17). The fact that he fulfilled the Passover in the Eucharist as memorial of His Paschal Mystery in no way suggests that this would involve the cessation of the memorial of the Exodus from Egypt for Jews.

            Otherwise, I think I actually have made an effort to respond to what you said. You, on the other hand, have not, most especially regarding the important point that whether or not to celebrate the Passover is a *disciplinary* and not a doctrinal matter, and therefore neither timeless nor infallible. How odd for you to hang on to a medieval disciplinary decree as binding while apparently ignoring everything the Magisterium has said about the Jews in the last 5-6 decades.

            At least you have the honesty to consider yourself a supersessionist, which by your own words puts you out of the camp of orthodox Catholicism, since the Church has formally rejected supersessionism since Nostra Aetate and has continued to do so in every magisterial document since then (e.g. 1974 Guidelines, 1985 Notes, etc…). I also wish you all the best.

          • Ken Wilsker

            Nathan this nothing more than extreme supersecionist theology which the magisterium rejects. I have heard this from many ultra traditionalist Catholics. I suggest you go back and read Nostra Aetate. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you into the truth. But don’t bother if you are not really interested in what the Church teaches.

          • Where, exactly, in Nostra Aetate, or since, does the Church condemn the ancient teaching that the Church is the New Israel? (Hint: it doesn’t).

          • “the Church is the new people of God” – Nostra Aetate 4. Apparently the council fathers were “ultra traditional Catholics” in need of asking the “Holy Spirit to lead (them) into the truth.” Nostra condemns anti-Semitism as well as holding today’s Jews guilty for the death of Christ. It does NOT condemn supersessionism. Perhaps you should reread Nostra unless “you are not really interested in what the Church teaches.”

          • Ken Wilsker

            Nostra Aetate condemns anti-semitism. Extreme Supersessionism is anti Semitic! While it is true that the new covenant superseded the old it is NOT true that God has rejected His people. Romans 11:1-2. When taken to the extreme this false theology has been used as a hammer against the Jewish people for centuries. Admittedly, this is a deep mystery of the faith. Even though you are my brother in faith I will fight this false theology with every fiber of my being. You would do well to remember to reread all of Romans 11 . Rom 11:17-24. So do not become proud but stand in awe. The Jews are still beloved by God and God will bring Israel back when the times of the Gentiles is complete. Here is one of the great both/and mysteries of the Church…yes the Church is the New Israel and God is not yet done with the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, And Jacob…the Jewish people. May I remind you all the promise of God in Gen 12:3… I will bless those who bless you and him who curses you I will curse. This issue is pivotal for all Catholics and Christians to get it right. The Jews are coming to faith in Jesus the Jewish Messiah and will be noticeably Jewish.

            Since Vatican II the Church has made great strides in their understanding of this mystery. For sure there are those who have made some mistakes in putting too much emphasis on conversation and not enough on conversion but after almost 2000 years of programs and persecution it is excusable they would err on this side.

          • First, is your argument really that when N.A. condemns antisemitism it is condemning supersessionism, ie condemning the ancient teaching that the Church is the New Israel? If so, the quote I provided above shows that you are misreading the document. Nowhere does the Church condemn the idea that she is the New Israel, that is standard Catholic teaching and was reiterated at Vatican 2, in Nostra. Second, what is the difference between “extreme supersessionism” and supersessionism? Maybe we are talking about different things. Third, I never said that God had abandoned Israel or that He was indifferent to them. God wills ALL men (Jew and Gentile) to be saved (cf. 1 Tim 2:4), as Nostra Aetate itself points out. Fourth, who is cursing Abraham? Remember, we are all (spiritually) Semities, according to Pius XI. Your basic misunderstanding has to do with what exactly God did when He started the Church. He wasn’t discarding Israel, He was expanding it. When we say the Church is the New Israel, that doesn’t imply that the “old” Israel was traded in for a better version, it means the “old” Israel IS the new Israel. The “old” Israel wasn’t kicked to the side, it was transfigured into the Church. Remember, ALL the apostles, Mary, and Jesus Himself were all Jews. The Church isn’t a replacement of Israel it is the same thing (the chosen people) now expanded to include ALL the nations, Jews and Gentiles. This was always Israel’s destiny. God chose them as the firstborn of the nations (cf. Ex 4:22) to lead all the nations to Him. They were set apart as a priestly nation (cf. Ex 19:6) not for their own sake but for the redemption of all the sons of Adam. Israel was always meant to be opened to the nations, for the salvation of all. This is exactly what Christ did when He transformed Israel into the Church. The Church and Israel exist as two stages of one constant “City of God” stretching back to creation. Sadly, not all the children of Israel entered the Church – but neither have most of the Gentiles. God provides the opportunity to all, but only a few will enter (cf. Matt 22:14).

          • Ken Wilsker

            Nathan, in the spirit of catholic brotherhood I am now bowing out of this conversation. I encourage you to check out the Association of Hebrew Catholics website to get more information on extreme Supersessionism and any other issue you are interested in. I encourage you to attend a Seder in the light of Christ. I pray that God would continue to soften your heart and may He bless you and your family. Shalom HaMashiach!

          • God bless!

        • Ken Wilsker

          Nathan, no Hebrew catholic is advocating that Catholics must celebrate a Hebrew Catholic Seder. Yet when we celebrate the Seder in the light of Christ we as Hebrew Catholics celebrate to maintain our God given Jewish identity. You are all free to partake or not but it is not in any way wrong. I believe it can only enhance your love for Jesus and his Church it sure has mine!

      • Nathan718

        A last point. The truths of the Catholic Faith are not to be judged by pragmatic considerations of how we can bring people into the Church. Jesus Himself shows us this in John 6 when He lets people leave rather than compromise the truth He is teaching. Should we stop teaching the first commandment b/c it is keeping Hindus out of the Church? Wouldn’t they be more likely to convert if they could keep their religious traditions and worship Christ along with Vishnu et al? Should we stop teaching that two men cannot marry one another – how many gays are kept out of the Church by such “narrowness of mind?” In my experience, those who complain of “narrowness of mind” have “opened” their mind so much as to make it completely empty.

        • Ken Wilsker

          Nathan, with all love and respect, I suggest you read very carefully the Parable of the Prodigal Son. God is now welcoming back His chosen people and we who are in the Church are not to put any hindrances and roadblocks in their paths. What will their acceptance be but life from the dead! Rom 11:15

          • Ken, First, God has been welcoming back His chosen people for the last 2,000 yrs, not just “now”. Remember, Christ came for “the lost sheep of Israel” (Matt 15:24). But He is not welcoming them back apart from Christ. Christ IS God. How could God welcome the children of Israel back to God apart from God (Christ)? Second, in Romans 11:15, St. Paul is speaking of the Jews acceptance OF CHRIST, of their entering the Catholic Church (which is the body of Christ according to St. Paul in Eph 1:22-23), which would necessarily include *upgrading* to the sacraments of the new covenant.

  • Ken Wilsker

    I believe it is quite significant that not one on this thread has responded to Cardinal Burke’s words regarding the Jewish rituals. There have always been Jewish Catholics but not since the early Church has it been acceptable for Jews to maintain their Jewish identities. Salvation history is progressing toward our Messiah’s return. Again I point you to CCC 674.

    • Dan

      I am one who is interested in this topic, as it has been coming up on another board I visit. Note, however, that I am not officially Catholic, though I have been through most of RCIA (without converting) and am still interested/learning.

  • Yachov Ben Yachov

    Aquinas should be read threw the lens of Benedict XIV.

    “If a man should perform acts for a different end and purpose (even with the intention of worship and as religious ceremonies), not in the spirit of that Law nor on the basis of it, but either from personal decision, from human custom, or on the instruction of the Church, he would not sin, nor could he be said to judaize. So when a man does something in the Church which resembles the ceremonies of the old Law, he must not always be said to judaize. [Ex Quo, 67]

    Quote” But others remarked wisely that some, surely, of the ceremonial rites of the old Law could be observed under the new Law if only they were not done as obligations of the old Law, which was abrogated, but as a custom, or lawful tradition, or as a new precept issued by one enjoying the recognized and competent authority to make laws and to enforce them, as Vasquez observes (vol. 3, in the 3rd part of the Summa, disp. 210, quest. 80, art. 7). [Ex Quo, 74]”END QUOTE