Shrove Tuesday, or as it sometimes called, Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, is the day before Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent for Catholics around the world and also for some Protestants. Shrove Tuesday helps us to remember that we are entering what has traditionally been a solemn season of penance and almsgiving. This was the day to party well and to eat as much fat and sweets as you could before giving it all up for 40 some days.
I learned today that the festival of Carnivale meant in Latin “farewell to meat”. Shrove Tuesday is often referred to as Pancake Tuesday because Christians would use up their eggs, butter and milk in making items such as pancakes before the fasting began.
Shrove is the past tense of shrive which what is the process of a priest hearing a confession, giving penance and forgiving sins. Catholics are still required to make a confession prior to Easter.
This leads to the great discussion about what people give up during Lent. Over the years, more and more committed Catholics and Christians desire a deeper experience for Lent. Rather than give up something like chocolate and then return to eating it after Easter, many are looking more for a life changing experience. What is it that needs to be cleared from their life? What addictions or obsessions keep us bound instead of free? What is it that I really need to change so that I may follow Christ with all of my heart?
Yes, we can give up eating meat or sweets, but is that really the root of the addiction or sin that we need to deal with? Sometimes people add a practice instead of removing a bad habit. Someone might add 15 minutes a day in prayer or commit to doing the daily Examen. Instead of playing games on the computer, a person might decide to do some spiritual reading. You might seek out ways to do random acts of kindness over these 40 days. I have not yet decided exactly what it is I will be doing. I know that I want it to be fruitful and holy. I do not want to just give something up – I want to give something lasting, something meaningful back to the world.
I look forward to eating well today and to partying with loved ones. I hope that as we enter Lent you are blessed beyond your imagination.
How will you celebrate today?
What will you give up for Lent this year?
Creator God, help us to look deep within us and see where we need healing and change. Guide us in our Lenten preparation. Let us enter the desert with hope and peace, knowing that you desire the very best in us to blossom. Amen.