Ordinary Time: February 12th
Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time
Other Titles: Mardi Gras; Plentone; Carnival; Fastelaven; Collup Monday; Carnevale; Shrove Tuesday; Fat Tuesday
Today is the day before Ash Wednesday, called Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. Traditionally, it is the last day for Christians to indulge before the sober weeks of fasting that come with Lent. Formally known as Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras has long been a time of extravagant fun for European Christians. In many southern states of the USA Mardi Gras is a traditional holiday. The most famous celebration takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana. It has been celebrated there on a grand scale, with masked balls and colorful parades, since French settlers arrived in the early 1700s.On April 17th, 1958, His Holiness Pope Pius XII confirmed the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus on Shrove Tuesday (Tuesday before Ash Wednesday) for all the dioceses and religious orders who would ask for the Indult from Rome in order to celebrate it. You can learn more about this devotion at Holy Face Devotion and at the Holy Face Association.According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of Seven Founders of the Servite Order. Their feast in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is celebrated on February 17th. Historically today is the feast of St. Eulalia the most celebrated virgin martyr of Spain. She was a native of Merida, thirteen years of age, and was burnt at the stake in her native city under Diocletian.
Prudentius has celebrated the triumph of this holy virgin who was a native of Merida, then the capital city of Lusitania in Spain now a declining town in Estremadura, the archiepiscopal dignity having been translated to Compostella. Eulalia, descended from one of the best families in Spain, was educated in the Christian religion, and in sentiments of perfect piety, from her infancy distinguished herself by an admirable sweetness of temper, modesty, and devotion, showed a great love of the holy state of virginity, and by her seriousness and her contempt of dress, ornaments diversions, and worldly company, gave early proofs of her sincere desire to lead on earth a heavenly life. Her heart was raised above the world before she was thought capable of knowing it, so that its amusements, which usually fill the minds of young persons, had no charms for her, and every day of her life made an addition to her virtues.
Preparing for Lent
No Lent is worthy of the name without a personal effort of self-reformation, of leading a life more in accordance with God's commands and an attempt by some kind of voluntary self-denial to make reparation for past negligence. But the Church, together with the personal effort which she requires of all of us, her children, sets up in the sight of God the cross of Christ, the Lamb of God who took upon Himself the sins of man and who is the price of our redemption. As Holy Week approaches the thought of the passion becomes increasingly predominant until it occupies our whole attention, but from the very beginning of Lent it is present, for it is in union with the sufferings of Christ that the whole army of Christians begins on the holy "forty days", setting out for Easter with the glad certitude of sharing in His resurrection.
Here are a few suggestions to help you celebrate the final day before Lent.
- Today is Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras! Try some of the traditional recipes linked here. When eggs were among the foods that were forbidden by the Church during Lent, people would use them up on Fat Tuesday by mixing up large quantities of pancakes or doughnuts (also known as fastnachts).
- Read Maria von Trapp's explanation of the traditions associated with Carnival, or Fat Tuesday here.
- Sing this American favorite, Turkey in the Straw, with your children as part of your Mardi Gras celebrations.
- Discuss Jesus' Gospel teaching for today, He who would be first must be last, with your children and ask them how they can put others in the family before themselves. Keep it simple and practical — setting the table, washing the dishes, folding laundry, watching the littler ones, doing homework right away.
- What does it mean to become a child spiritually, that we may enter Heaven and be received by Christ Himself? We can learn much from St. Therese of the Child Jesus about spiritual childhood. Begin reading her Story of a Soul.
- Read Fr. William Saunder's article, Shrove Tuesday and Shrovetide, from the Catholic Culture Library.
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