A Mardi Gras Prayer
Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) and Carnival (“Farewell to Meat”) precede Ash Wednesday and Lent around the world, even where Lent has ceased to have much religious meaning. Click here for an article on the Catholic Roots of Mardi Gras.
It may be that we are going to a Mardi Gras party and there will be much feasting. Our country may celebrate Carnival with gusto. Perhaps we will have a special family dinner together, with meat.
What’s important is that we let our feasting anticipate our fasting. One way to do that is to begin to focus on the meaning of the day, when we first get up. It can create a sense of anticipation all day, that something very new is about to begin tomorrow.
Traditionally people would rid their homes of temptations before Lent began the following day. Actually, Mardi Gras begins on the 12th night after Christmas — Epiphany — culminating on Shrove Tuesday, another name for Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. On that day, people often celebrated and would often eat rich or fatty foods before the ritual fasting and religious obligations of the Lenten season.
Some call the day Pancake Day with the custom of making pancakes coming from the need to use up fat, eggs and dairy before fasting begins. Today, the Catholic fast is no meat on Fridays during the 40 days of Lent.
Shrove Tuesday comes from the word “shrive” — to hear confessions. Being penitent is often associated with the importance of preparing for the Lenten season and Easter. People were shriven or absolved of their sins on this day so they could begin Lent with a completely clean slate. It is a reminder we need to live in penitence and receive forgiveness of our sins so we can go to Heaven.
In the Catholic faith, along with other religions, members choose to give something up for Lent to represent the sacrifices Jesus made. So many see Shrove Tuesday as a day of celebration, along with penitence; a last day to indulge yourself before the abstinence of Lent.
Perhaps we should hold a Mardi Gras party this year where talk about some of the traditions of the holiday, burn palms in preparation for the Ash Wednesday and enjoy colored pancakes (the colors of Mardi Gras — purple for justice, green for faith and gold for power), traditional King Cake and other food. Knowing why we go to a party on Mardi Gras will add much meaning to this day.
CRAFT IDEAS and More from Catholic Icing can be found here and more ideas from Shower of Roses can be found here. Here is a neat way to note the omission of the Alleluia during Lent. View these ideas now and perhaps you will start a new Mardi Gras tradition for your family this year.
In these or similar words, we can pray in the spirit of this day.
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation,
for it is from your goodness that we have this day
to celebrate on the threshold of the Season of Lent.
Tomorrow we will fast and abstain from meat.
Today we feast.
We thank you for the abundance of gifts you shower upon us.
We thank you especially for one another.
As we give you thanks,
we are mindful of those who have so much less than we do.
As we share these wonderful gifts together,
we commit ourselves to greater generosity toward those
who need our support.
Prepare us for tomorrow.
Tasting the fullness of what we have today,
let us experience some hunger tomorrow.
May our fasting make us more alert
and may it heighten our consciousness
so that we might be ready to hear your Word
and respond to your call.
As our feasting fills us with gratitude
so may our fasting and abstinence hollow out in us
a place for deeper desires
and an attentiveness to hear the cry of the poor.
May our self-denial turn our hearts to you
and give us a new freedom for
generous service to others.
We ask you these graces
with our hearts full of delight
and stirring with readiness for the journey ahead.
We ask them with confidence
in the name of Jesus the Lord.
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