Ordinary Time: March 4th
Optional Memorial of St. Casimir of Poland
Other Titles: Mardi Gras; Plentone; Carnival; Fastelaven; Collup Monday; Carnevale; Shrove Tuesday; Fat Tuesday
Today is the feast of St. Casimir who was born in 1458 and was the son of the King of Poland. At an early age he saw through the superficiality and corruption of court life. Throughout his short life—he died of consumption at the age of 26—he dedicated himself wholly to the service of God and of his fellow-men. His love for the poor was immense. He was also renowned for his devotion to the Eucharist and to the Blessed Virgin. It is also the feast of St. Lucius I, pope in the 3rd century reputed to be a martyr.It is also 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.
St. Casimir, to whom the Poles gave the title of "The Peace-maker," was the third of the thirteen children of Casimir IV, King of Poland, and of Elizabeth of Austria, daughter of the Emperor Albert II. ...Devout from his infancy, the boy gave himself up to devotion and penance, and had a horror of anything approaching softness or self-indulgence. His bed was often the ground, and he was wont to spend a great part of the night in prayer and meditation, chiefly on the passion of our Saviour. His clothes were plain, and under them he wore a hairshirt. Living always in the presence of God, he was invariably serene and cheerful, and pleasant to all. The saint's love of God showed itself in his love of the poor who are Christ's members, and for the relief of these the young prince gave all he possessed, using in their behalf the influence he had with his father and with his brother Ladislaus when he became king of Bohemia. In honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Casimir frequently recited the long Latin hymn "Omni die dic Mariae," a copy of which was by his desire buried with him. This hymn, part of which is familiar to us through Bittleston's version, "Daily, daily sing to Mary," is not uncommonly called the Hymn of St Casimir, but it was certainly not composed by him; it is three centuries older than his time.
- St. Casimir died at age 26 due to tuberculosis. Teach the young people in your family about this saint who was so ready to die at such a young age, that they may realize that sanctity is fully attainable regardless of their state in life.
- The story of Esther interceding on behalf of her people in today's reading is a real example of how morally influential a woman can be by virtue of her femininity. Not through leaving her femininity behind and seeking power did Esther impact her world for the good, but it was directly through her beautiful, pure womanhood that Esther swayed the King, her husband, to save her people. Tell this story to your daughters, if you have been blessed with any — they will love hearing it! Read Pope John Paul II's encyclical On the Dignity of Woman, and his message Women: Teachers of Peace to learn more about the mission of women in society today.
- Don't be a Catholic who doesn't know Scripture! In the Gospel today there is a good Scripture verse to memorize that will deepen your trust in your Heavenly Father: "If you, with all your sins, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to anyone who asks him!" — Matt 7:11
It is also 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.Please see Recipes, Activities, Prayers and Documents for Tuesday Before Ash Wednesday
Today is a traditional honoring of the Holy Face of Jesus. On April 17th, 1958, His Holiness Pope Pius XII confirmed the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus as a movable feast on Shrove Tuesday (Tuesday before Ash Wednesday) for all the dioceses and religious orders who would ask for the Indult from Rome. Devotion to the Holy Face was revealed by Jesus to Sr. Marie of St. Peter (1816-1848) a Carmelite nun of Tours in France. The primary purpose of the devotion is to make reparation for sins against the first three commandments. Learn more about this devotion at Holy Face Devotion, the Holy Face Association and this article for more information.
Shrove TuesdayThe day before Ash Wednesday is a celebration marking the start of the penitential season of Lent. Before Lent — a time of prayer, fasting and penance through a period of 40 days until Easter — Catholics and others celebrate with festivities known by several names.In the United States, it’s most commonly known as Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday. The tradition includes consuming foods containing animal fat before the beginning of Lent. Catholics enjoy a day of festivities, sometimes hosting their own carnivals or parties. The largest Mardi Gras celebration in the United States takes place in New Orleans. The celebration is known as Carnival in other parts of the world.Catholics also prepare for Lent by spiritually removing themselves of sin through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. That is why this day is also referred to as Shrove Tuesday, from the old English word shrive, meaning to confess all sins.Some countries, including England and Ireland, celebrate Pancake Day by consuming what else — pancakes. For centuries, it’s been a tradition to eat pancakes or other foods made with butter, eggs and fat, which would be given up during Lent.No matter what it’s called, the day before Lent is a reminder of the sacrifice that is to come in the next 40 days. We also are reminded of the sacrifices Jesus made as he fasted and prayed for 40 days after his Baptism and before the beginning of his ministry.Catholics are called to fast, pray and confess sins during this penitential season. For more ideas on making a good Lent, see Recipes and Activities for Mardi Gras. --Excepted from the Archdiocese of St. Louis
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."Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation." The Church puts Lent before us in the very same terms that formerly she put it before the catechumens and public penitents who were preparing for the Easter graces of baptism and sacramental reconciliation. For us, as it was for them, Lent should be a long retreat, one in which under the guidance of the Church we are led to the practice of a more perfect Christian life. She shows us the example of Christ and by fasting and penance associates us with his sufferings that we may have a share in His redemption.We should remember that Lent is not an isolated personal affair of our own. The Church avails herself of the whole of the mystery of redemption. We belong to an immense concourse, a great body in which we are united to the whole of humanity which has been redeemed by Christ. The liturgy of this season does not fail to remind us of it. This, then, is the meaning of Lent for us: a season of deepening spirituality in union with the whole Church which thus prepares to celebrate the Paschal mystery. Each year, following Christ its Head, the whole Christian people takes up with renewed effort its struggle against evil, against Satan and the sinful man that each one of us bears within himself, in order at Easter to draw new life from the very springs of divine life and to continue its progress towards heaven.--Excerpted from The Saint Andrew Daily MissalThings to Do
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 autobiography, Story of a Soul. ICS Publications with John Clark, OCD's critical edition is considered the best.
- Read Fr. William Saunder's article, Shrove Tuesday and Shrovetide, from the Catholic Culture Library.
- Read Jennifer Gregory Miller's two part explanation on Carnival: Carnival Part One: A Season of Contrasts and Carnival: Part Two, the Final Countdown