“Come as you are, leave different.” ~ New Orlean’s ad campaign
Today is “the day,” “Fat Tuesday,” Mardi Gras! On this day, people from all over celebrate in anticipation of the beginning of the season of Lent the next day. Feast or famine? That is the thing many people say about life. It’s either feast or famine. There often does not seem to be a balance of things. It is either too much of one or the other.
Tomorrow is “famine”. We begin Lent with fast and abstinence. Therefore, before we enter that penitential season, we “feast” one last time.
Mardi Gras has been pictured with lots of parties, balloons, beads, and treats. Drinking, often in excess, eating in excess, and general living in excess is practiced this day.
Why? Why do we do this?
Perhaps the ad campaign of New Orlean’s said it best: Come as you are, leave different. We bring ourselves to Mardi Gras and get in touch with some of our baser instincts. We party and live to excess as the world so often tempts us to do. But we do it with the next day in mind. We know that we are going to keep those elements of our lives in check — at least for forty days — and we give them a final, fond, and raucous farewell.
Feast today. That’s all right. Celebrate today. That’s permissible. Indulge yourself, just not too much or too far. Feast today for tomorrow, the famine begins. Get it out of your system. Prepare to enter a very holy season. Be prepared to come out of it different.
FAITH ACTION: In the midst of your celebrations today, make some plans about how you will use the season of Lent to draw closer to God.
Do not forget: Ash Wednesday is a day of fast and abstinence. All Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence. Good Friday is a Day of Fast & Abstinence.
Fasting allows for only one full meal to be taken during the day. Two smaller meals are permitted, if necessary, to maintain strength according to one’s needs. Eating solid foods between meals is not permitted. Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday by all Catholics who have celebrated their 18th birthday and who have not yet celebrated their 59th birthday.
Abstinence is the practice of refraining from meat and meat products. Abstinence is to be practiced by all who are 14 years of age and older.