Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Not All Pancakes and Parties

Today is Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday which signals the beginning of Lent.

Especially in North America, Shrove Tuesday is more commonly thought of as "Pancake Day" or "Mardi Gras" -- aka "Fat Tuesday" (the literal translation from the French).

Certainly, 'all-you-can-eat' pancake suppers has the potential not only for Fat Tuesday, but also Fat Wednesday, Thursday, Friday....but I digress!

I seem to have been more reflective than usual this year about ST, AW, and indeed, the entire Lenten Season.  What does 'shrove' mean, anyway?  Turns out it's from the verb 'to shrive'; that is, to make confession and obtain absolution of one's sins in this, 'Shrovetide' or the first week or so from ST and AW into Lent.  Lent itself is a period of penance, reflection and almsgiving for Christians -- sacrifice made for the sake of Jesus, commemorating his own desert time prior to the beginning of his years of active earthly ministry, and remembering his ultimate sacrifice, once-for-all, for the sins of the world -- yesterday, today and forever.

'Fat' Tuesday became the practice of cleaning one's larder of that which is considered indulgent -- like butter, cream, chocolate, sweets and pastry.  Pancakes became an efficient way of doing some of this.  Typically, we've expanded this concept -- created great festivals like Carnival celebrated each year at this time in New Orleans, and its northern equivalent, Carnaval in Quebec City.  "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow --  you fast!"


Though I too will be making pancakes for my dinner tonight, I won't be out dancing in the streets or tying one on at the local bar.

Today and tomorrow I want to take time to pause, reflect, undertake an examen, and enter the season of Lent with at least some of my spiritual fat cleaned out of the larder of my heart.

May those of us who choose to observe Lent this year find blessing in the weeks ahead.  Amen!

No comments: