Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview
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Ordinary Time: February 21st

Tuesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time; Optional Memorial of St. Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor

Other Titles: Plentone; Carnival; Fastelaven; Carnevale; Shrove Tuesday; Fat Tuesday

MASS READINGS

February 21, 2023 (Readings on USCCB website)

PROPERS [Show]

COLLECT PRAYER

Seventh Week in Ordinary Time: Grant, we pray, almighty God, that, always pondering spiritual things, we may carry out in both word and deed that which is 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.


Optional Memorial of St. Peter Damian: Grant, we pray, almighty God, that we may so follow the teaching and example of the Bishop Saint Peter Damian, that, putting nothing before Christ and always ardent in the service of your Church, we may be led to the joys of eternal light. 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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St. Peter Damian (1007-1072), a man of vehemence in all his actions who was brought up in the hard school of poverty, found that he had the vocation of a reformer. He exercised it in the first place against himself as one of the hermits of Fontavellana in about 1035, but he did not remain for long hidden in his cell: his colleagues soon made him their abbot (1043). In 1057, Stephen IX made him Cardinal Bishop of Ostia. By his preaching and writings he was one of the valuable collaborators of the eleventh century popes in their great work of reform. Pope Leo XII declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1823.

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. The feast is no longer on the universal calendar, but can still be a private devotion. The Holy Face Devotion 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 Tuesday

The 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 is 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 Missal

Highlights and Things 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). See also Catholic Cuisine for other food ideas.
  • 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.


St. Peter Damian
St. Peter Damian must be numbered among the greatest of the Church's reformers in the Middle Ages, yes, even among the truly extraordinary persons of all times. In Damian the scholar, men admire wealth of wisdom: in Damian the preacher of God's word, apostolic zeal; in Damian the monk, austerity and self-denial; in Damian the priest, piety and zeal for souls; in Damian the cardinal, loyalty and submission to the Holy See together with generous enthusiasm and devotion for the good of Mother Church. He was a personal friend of Pope Gregory VII. He died in 1072 at the age of 65.

On one occasion he wrote to a young nephew, "If I may speak figuratively, drive out the roaring beasts from your domain; do not cease from protecting yourself daily by receiving the Flesh and Blood of the Lord. Let your secret foe see your lips reddened with the Blood of Christ. He will shudder, cower back, and flee to his dark, dank retreat."

In his poem, the Divine Comedy, Dante places Damian in the "seventh heaven." That was his place for holy people who loved to think about or contemplate God.
—Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Symbols and Representation: Cardinal bearing a discipline in his hand; pilgrim holding a papal Bull, to signify his many legations.

Highlights and Things to Do: