Fat Tuesday

     I like to get into Fat Tuesday....I mean, really, what's not to love about a day dedicated to eating, drinking, and being merry?!?  In our home, we have a tradition of procuring fresh Pazcki's from our local bakery (ooh so yummy!) and eating the 400 calorie wonders with our breakfast.  Since there are 7 of us, Mom gets 1, the boys each get 2 and Dad eats his one while puppy-dog-eyeing each boy, hoping they feel generous enough to share some scraps with daddy....like a large Oliver Twist "please son, can you spare some more".

     Today also brings with it some thoughts as Ash Wednesday is right on its' heels.  Like a snowstorm prediction that will definitely come true, you know it's coming, you know you must prepare, but you are enjoying the day prior.  Or (more along my knowledge stream) grocery shopping.  You make lists, you shop, (end up purchasing a special treat or two) and enjoy the fruits of your labor for a week or so, only to realize that it's going fast. Like really fast, and you must begin to ration.  The enjoyment is there until you have to start thinking of reality.

     Which brings me to what my reality is as a Catholic Christian: I love my God so very much that I am willing to search my soul, get honest about what my faults are, pray over them, and work of fixing them for my Savior.  He demands my gifts be shared and I must not allow my weaknesses to overtake and delude me into thinking that I'm A-OK just the way I am.  There are many things I want, desire, and if truth be told, lust after, on this earth.  A large paycheck. A salty, sultry vacation.  A summer in Tuscany.  An inheritance from a long-lost Auntie which allows me to live on an island for the rest of my days. Well-behaved, loving sons who never argue.  (you know, simple stuff).  And even though one of those might be achievable, my true lust should be serving my Lord; my true goal should be eternal life, not a temporary joy.

     See, even when I do experience an earthly joy, it's still empty.  Ever know a wealthy person who is still unhappy?  Longing for that "something" that will make their life?  See a Celebrity who just keeps going off the deep end?   Contrarily, the true joys in my life are unexpected moments:  seeing my son distribute Eucharist at Mass, a sparkle in another's eye as he gives me a hug; the awe and wonder of a spiritual experience during a group prayer session; the euphoric feeling after the sacrament of Confession.  These truths point to me the Eternal and not temporal - they aid my focus to be on God rather than me.  Which is what Lent is meant to be:  40 days of prayer, fasting, and sacrifice to help us recall that we are, truly, "dust" and that our bodies will indeed be returned to dust.

     The good news, though, is that isn't the end!  That I possess an eternal Soul, created by God and this helps me enter joyfully into Lent.  I am excited about Fat Tuesday.  I'm even more excited by Ash Wednesday.  I'll share with you a prayer for Mardi Gras (from Edward Hayes Prayers for the Domestic Church).  Enjoy!

Lord our God,
On this eve of Ash Wednesday,
we ask that You bless our celebration
on the feast of Mardi Gras.

Bless our table, our food and wine,
as well as all of us
who sit about this feast day table.

Come, Gracious Lord,
and join us at this feast
as we prepare to join Your Son, Jesus,
by prayerfully entering into
these forty days of Lent.

As the food and wine of this feast
give nourishment and strength
to our bodies and spirits,
so may we, during this coming season of Lent,
give strength and support to each other
and to all who accompany us
on this pilgrimage of prayer
from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.

As this Lenten roadway causes us to reflect
upon the death of our Lord,
may we also remember His victory
in His resurrection from the dead.

May this dinner
on the eve of the day of ashes
be a joyful foretaste
of the rebirth and new life that is the promise
of the feast of the Resurrection.

Together, for the final time before these forty days,
let us sing the ancient song of joyful victory:

(all sing or toast:) Alleluia!


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