Feast of St. Peter Damian
Historically this day was called Fat, Shrove or pancake Tuesday. The word Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday and is most frequently used to refer to this day in the United States. In some countries pancakes were served as a main meal. When I was a child, as did many Catholics, throughout the world, we abstained from meat throughout lent. Obviously, meat would not last the entire lent so a few days before Ash Wednesday we would start eating all the remaining unused meat. Of course, our dinner conversation, the night before Ash Wednesday, would be about what we were giving up for Lent. My father would joke that he was giving up watermelon and cantaloupe. In those days we could not access fruits and vegetable year-round as we can today so that would be an easy thing for my father to do.
Lent is a 40-day season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. By fasting one saves money so as to give that money to poor persons. This lent is an opportunity for a fresh spiritual rejuvenation. Today’s reading from the book of Sirach provides us with a daily Lenten examination of conscience to be used on our spiritual journey. Am I a just person? How sincere and steadfast am I? To what degree do I trust in God? How patient am I in times of trial and tribulation? How well do I accept whatever befalls me and trust God to get me through? The response to these questions will provide me ample opportunity to grow in my faith throughout the Lenten period. Take a few moments today to think about where you might need to grow spiritually this Lent. Plan to improve your spiritual development during this year’s Lenten journey. As I begin Lent, Lord, assist me to focus and center my life on you more fully.
Carl Middleton is a theologian/ethicist and a member of the Passionist Family.