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Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Mardi Gras

"And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights..." (Matthew 4:2)

I'll make my position clear - I don't like the concept of Fat Tuesday or Marti Gras. It's a celebration that, in this day and age, downplays the penance of the coming season of Lent. Lent is my favorite season in the year leading up to my favorite week - Holy Week.

Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday were creations in the time of the vigorous penance in the pre-Vatican II era. People during that epoch would fast for the entire 40 days not just Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Nowadays we don't need a special feasting beforehand, fasting is already too light! Saying that we should eat extra for the day we do fast is not in accord with living devoutly.

Any celebrations today must not amount to the gluttonous festival in New Orleans.

Fat Tuesday Prayer:

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.


Image Source: Believed to be in the Public Domain


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