Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Shrove Tuesday

Happy Shrove Tuesday Everybody!

Today is Shrove Tuesday also known as Pancake Tuesday or Pancake Day better known as Fat Tuesday which means Mardi Gras!  That is a lot of names!  What on earth does all that mean?

Oh hypothetical Matthew, I am so glad you asked!  Well, “Shrove Tuesday” comes from the latin scr bere  for to write, which changed to the Old English scrifan through the Middle English schriven which means to make or go to confession.  Hmm…

Shrove is the past tense for the verb shrive, which means to obtain absolution for one’s sin by way of Confession and doing penance.  Oh… starting to make sense…

Mardi Gras comes from the French for “Fat Tuesday” referring to the practice of the last night of eating rich fatty foods before the fasting of lent starts on Ash Wednesday.  Oh ok…why pancakes?

Pancakes were traditionally made because it was a way of using up all the rich fatty foods like eggs, milk, and sugar that were traditionally given up.

 In Newfoundland, tokens were actually made into the pancakes that were symbols of divinatory.  So like a coin meant they would be wealthy.  One of them was that you would marry a carpenter if you found a nail in your pancake! 

So we generally get to Lent and give something up.  Candy, soft drinks, sweets…just because it is what is our tradition and it is what we are told to do.  But what are we actually doing this for?

Tomorrow we will gather at altar and have ashes smooshed on our foreheads while the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

We are called to repent.  To confess our sins and return to the Lord.  A chance to love the Lord with all our hearts, with all our soul, and with all our might.

This is the time that Jesus went of in the desert to pray and fasted for 40 days.  He was tempted by the devil.  All this leading up to his crucifixion, where he takes on all our sins.

So what do we do, we “fast”.  We give something up.  We pick something that we like and say we will give it up.  That is how we honor this.  That is our penance.  

In the book of Joel we are called to “Even then,” declares the LORD, “return to me with your whole heart”.

Calvary hosts a Lenten Preaching Series each year.  Last year, the Rev. John M. Pitzer, O.P. started off the series last year and I wanted to share some of his lessons with you.

He starts off talking about the fact that we give stuff up for Lent and that’s great!  That is what we are asked to do.  But is it really that simple? 

“With your whole heart!” declares the Lord! 

Rev. Pitzer challenges us.  If you are fasting from something…chips, candy, soda…If you are fasting from these things.  What are you feasting on?

He leaves us with these examples and challenges for Lent.  I leave you with the same.  Giving up something is fine.  But what do you fast on?  How are you using your whole heart, to return to the Lord?

If you fast from being critical of people…feast on building people up.

Fast from gossip…feast on holding your tongue

Fast from holding a grudge…feast on forgiveness

Fast from telling those white lies we all tell…feast on the truth

Fast from disrespecting others…feast on respecting all of God’s Children

Fast from making excuses…feast on getting involved and being willing to help

Fast from a bad attitude…feast on being positive

Fast from violence…feast on peace

Fast on being passive aggressive…feast on sharing your feelings honestly

Fast from being mean or rude…feast on being nice and polite

Fast from fear…feast on hope

Fast from hate…feast on love

“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with your whole heart.” 

A lot of time we struggle with this for whatever reason.  We consider ourselves too much of a failure.  We have sinned too much.  We are not worthy, not good enough.  We can’t forgive ourselves for whatever we did…

“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with your whole heart.” 

It’s never too late…remember the Prodigal Son?

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