Greetings. Tuesday is Mardi Gras and the season of Lent begins on Wednesday. Mass on Ash Wednesday morning will be celebrated at 8:30 at Our Lady of Peace Church. A Liturgy of the Word with distribution of Ashes will be celebrated at Our Lady of Peace at 6:30 p.m., also at the Notre Dame worship site on Fairview Road at 10:00 a.m.
Mardi Gras has a sense of New Year’s Eve to it. Mardi Gras is the last day before an intense spiritual reawakening dawns before us. It is indeed a day of feasting and enjoyment with an anticipation of the newness that begins as midnight strikes. This is clearly visible in New Orleans. At the stroke of midnight – the earliest dawning of Lent – mounted officers gently usher crowds off of the streets so they can be well rested for morning Mass. Today we feast, tomorrow we fast.
The following is a Mardi Gras prayer from the Online Ministry of Creighton University.
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 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 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. Amen.
So as we are close to Lenten’s dawn let’s review some Lenten practices.
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the two days of fasting on the Church’s calendar. A fast means that you have one complete meal and two smaller meals. A smaller meal means that you would do without something that you would normally include as part of a meal, or you would reduce the portion size. Perhaps you would eat half of a sandwich instead of a whole, or a bowl of soup without a sandwich, or a sandwich without chips or fries. Fasting is expected for anyone who has reached the age of eighteen and has not yet reached the age of sixty. So that would be anyone born from 1964 through 2004.
Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all of the Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence. Abstinence is to refrain from eating meat. Meat includes red meats such as hamburgers, and also poultry products such as turkey or chicken, and pork products such as ham or bacon. You are required to abstain from meat once you have reached the age of fourteen, and this remains in effect the remainder of your life. So anyone born in the year 2008 or earlier is expected to abstain from meat.
The Rice Bowl is an initiative of Catholic Relief Service (CSR). The money saved from the preparation of simpler meals is placed into the Rice Bowl container, then, at the conclusion of Lent, the money is donated to CRS for their global relief programs.
Blessings as we prepare for our Lenten journey.