Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
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Ordinary Time: February 16th

Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

MASS READINGS

February 16, 2021 (Readings on USCCB website)

COLLECT PRAYER

O God, who teach us that you abide in hearts that are just and true, grant that we may be so fashioned by your grace as to become a dwelling pleasing to you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.

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» Enjoy our Liturgical Seasons series of e-books!

Previous Calendar: St. Juliana (RM); St. Onesimus (RM); Holy Face of Jesus

Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is a celebration marking the time until the start of the penitential season of Lent, a time of prayer, fasting and penance through a period of 40 days until Easter. The time after Epiphany until Lent begins is often referred to as "Carnival" when Catholics and others celebrate with festivities before the time of penance.

But the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday has several traditional names. In the United States, it is most commonly known as Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday, tying in the tradition of consuming foods containing animal fat before the beginning the traditional harsh Lenten fast. The season of "Mardi Gras" or Carnival begins after Epiphany and ends midnight of Fat Tuesday, with many hosting their own carnivals or parties. The largest Mardi Gras celebration in the United States takes place in New Orleans.

Tying in with theme of "Fat Tuesday" and consuming the animal fats, some countries, including England and Ireland, celebrate Pancake Day by consuming pancakes. For centuries, it has been a tradition to eat pancakes or other foods made with butter, eggs and fat, which would be given up during Lent.

Another traditional name is Shrove Tuesday, from the old English word shrive, meaning to confess all sins. Catholics usually prepare for Lent by spiritually removing themselves of sin through the Sacrament of Reconciliation before Ash Wednesday.

No matter the name, the day before Ash Wednesday 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 encouraged to fast, pray and confess sins during this penitential season.

--Adapted from the Archdiocese of St. Louis

Please see Recipes, Activities, Prayers and Documents for Tuesday Before Ash Wednesday


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 Missal


Shrove Tuesday
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 without reminders, etc.

  • 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.

In 1958, Pope Pius XII declared the Holy Face of Jesus a movable feast on Shrove Tuesday. Devotion to the Holy Face was revealed by Jesus to Sister 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. See this article for more information.


St. Juliana
St. Juliana suffered martyrdom during the Diocletian persecution. Both the Latin and Greek Churches mention a holy martyr Juliana in their lists of saints. The oldest historical notice of her is found in the "Martryologium Hieronymianum" for 16 February, the place of birth being given as Cumae in Campania (In Campania Cumbas, natale Julianae). It is true that the notice is contained only in the one chief manuscript of the above-named martyrology (the Codex Epternacensis), but that this notice is certainly authentic is clear from a letter of St. Gregory the Great, which testifies to the special veneration of St. Juliana in the neighbourhood of Naples. A pious matron named Januaria built a church on one of her estates, for the consecration of which she desired relics (sanctuaria, that is to say, objects which had been brought into contact with the graves) of Sts. Severinus and Juliana. Gregory wrote to Fortunatus, Bishop of Naples, telling him to accede to the wishes of Januaria ("Gregorii Magni epist.", lib. IX, ep. xxxv, in Migne P.L., LXXXVII, 1015).

The Acts of St. Juliana used by Bede in his "Martyrologium" are purely legendary. According to the account given in this legend, St. Juliana lived in Nicomedia and was betrothed to the Senator Eleusius. Her father Africanus was a pagan and hostile to the Christians. In the persecution of Maximianus, Juliana was beheaded after suffering frightful torturers. Soon after a noble lady, named Sephonia, came through Nicomedia and took the saint's body with her to Italy, and had it buried in Campania. Evidently it was this alleged translation that caused the martyred Juliana, honoured in Nicomedia, to be identified with St. Juliana of Cumae, although they are quite distinct persons. The veneration of St. Juliana of Cumae became very widespread, especially in the Netherlands. At the beginning of the thirteenth century her remains were transferred to Naples. The description of this translation by a contemporary writer is still extant. The feast of the saint is celebrated in the Latin Church on 16 February, in the Greek on 21 December. Her Acts describe the conflicts which she is said to have with the devil; she is represented in pictures with a winged devil whom she leads by a chain.

—Excerpted from The Catholic Encyclopedia


St. Onesimus
St. Onesimus was a slave to Philemon, an influential man who had been converted by St. Paul. Onesimus offended Philemon and fled in order to escape any sort of retribution. He then met St. Paul while Paul was in a Roman prison. Shortly after, Onesimus was baptized.

Paul then sent a letter to Philemon asking for Onesimus' freedom, so Onesimus could become one of his own assistants. This letter is the Epistle to Philemon and entreats Philemon to accept Onesimus “no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me.”

Philemon pardoned Onesimus and he returned to faithfully serve St. Paul. We know that St. Paul made him, with Tychicus, the bearer of his Epistle to the Colossians. (Col. 4:7-9)

Later, as St. Jerome and other fathers testify, he became an ardent preacher of the Gospel and succeeded St. Timothy as bishop of Ephesus.

He was cruelly tortured in Rome, for 18 days, by a governor who was infuriated by his preaching on the merit of celibacy. Onesimus' legs and thighs were broken with bludgeons before he was stoned to death.

His martyrdom occurred under Domitian in the year 90.

--Excerpted from Catholic News Agency