pancake Tuesday

Today, the day before Ash Wednesday, is commonly known as  ‘shrove‘ or ‘pancake’ Tuesday.

This day is more widely known in many parts of the world as Mardi Gras (ie fat Tuesday), or ‘Carnival‘ (literally ‘goodbye meat’). These celebrations began years ago when the fasting really was tough: 40 days without meat or dairy products hence the bingeing on pancakes to empty the larder.

I recall at this time last year a friend who lives above the equator Facebooked: “Spring is in the air and it is GOOD!”  That may be true for the northern hemisphere, but here in the south the leaves are beginning to turn and fall: it’s almost Autumn for us. ‘Lent’ as ‘spring’? That doesn’t sound right.

But the word Lent is actually derived from the Old English word meaning spring – as in ‘lengthening of the days’.

This made sense for the people who first celebrated the Christian feasts a couple of thousand years ago. Lent coincided with the season of spring so that Easter would come right at the time when the world of nature was springing into new life.

When we see Lent as an opportunity to spring-clean the life of the soul, wonderful possibilities of new life open up for us.

We realise that in the busy-ness and demands of daily life, we accumulate many thoughts, routines and practices that may not deliver the happiness that they promise.

To the extent that these accretions become habitual, our freedom is limited. To the extent that our freedom is limited, happiness eludes us.

And this is the kind of ‘spring-cleaning’ that is the purpose and heart of Lent: a letting go of all that limits us, restricts us, and therefore prevents us finding the happiness we seek.

No longer are we satisfied with the masks and disguises of Mardi Gras, but the reality of our sin being transformed by the risen Jesus who is God-in-love-with-us.

An Invitation

  • Take a moment today to find out where Mass is being celebrated tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, with the distribution of ashes. 
  • Invite the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a daily commitment or discipline for Lent which will help you to grow in maturity of relationship with Jesus.
  • Share this link with others inviting them to sign up to receive these daily email reflections:   Or if you are chatting with a friend today just invite them to search Food For Faith and sign up, or you can sign them up by following the link and adding their email address.

10 Responses to "pancake Tuesday"
  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights with us. While far away, we all share the same faith and challenges. May this Lenten season bring us ever closer to our Lord.

  2. Thank you for the fascinating entymology (is that the right word?) of Mardi Gras and of Carnival, and also for the idea of shedding accretions which get in the way of our leading a more holy life.
    I look forward to this year’s lenten journey with renewed hope.

  3. Well said. Yes, Lent is a time of letting go of accumulated clutter. When we do that we see more clearly past everything that exists in time to that part of us outside of time and we find we are one with the resurrected Christ Jesus.

  4. Love this ! Lent is a time for a springclean in my spiritual life to clear out the clutter that holds me from the freedom and happiness Jesus wants for me. Excited to be on this Lenten journey so the Holy Spirit can change me to shine and share with others that are suffering. Thank you .

  5. I do love the idea that Lent is a time to “spring clean the life of the soul”. I don’t know about anyone else, but I find that I seem to collect more and more great writings, and quotes to ponder, and photos to reflect on. While social media is helpful in many ways, in others it fills my mind and soul with so much. Lent will be a time to sort through the clutter. Thank you Fr John.

  6. Thank you Father John for some more knowledge about Lent and reminding us of “getting rid of the clutter in our lives” . What a great way to start our Lenten journey.

  7. What more can I add except to say what a loving vibrant community we will be if we all spring clean thoroughly and not miss any spots that are badly in need. Roll on Lent with the ashes reminding us who we are.

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