I blinked and Lent appeared! One minute I was taking down the nativity scene, slight confession, and the next thing I knew Lent was upon me. This year I was very intentional about engaging in "Pre-Lent" which is a time prepare yourself so as to not go from the usual day to day routine of Ordinary Time to the depths of sacrifice and penance for Lent. I should have been doing this all along, but more than anything I wanted to be mentally and spiritually prepared for Easter. I want us all to be ready as Easter people, after all, Jesus died and conquered sin and death for everyone. We can't experience the joy of that without going through our own sacrifices, our own Lent. So have a moderate amount of fun on Fat Tuesday, go get your ashes on Wednesday, and decide what your little road to Calvary will be for the next six weeks.
On Mardi Gra/Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday we go to adoration and then our parish hosts a pancake breakfast dinner, burning of last year's palms, a children's parade with decorated wagons, and this year we will be burying the Alleluia! By the way, I like to call it Shrove Tuesday because I think it more accurately describes the liturgical nature of the day. Shrove comes from the word shrive which means to confess so on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, everyone would go to confession before Lent began. It is also a time for community, eating, and festivities but it in no way began and was intended to be the day that it has become for the secular world, it is so important to remember this! In fact, I have heard it called a "half-holiday" which essentially communicates that even though we are having fun and letting the good times roll, we are to also pray and prepare.
*Feel free to share the graphic by right clicking to save it.
Eating pancakes is an old Catholic tradition that came from the simple fact that in the Middle Ages during Lent, eggs, sugar, and butter were not allowed. What else is one to do than make pancakes? In addition to this, most people were already clearing out their pantry of perishable dairy foods and meats so it just makes sense to cook a big ol' breakfast for dinner, keeps things interesting.
Burying the Alleluia
The other Catholic tradition that we are doing this year is burying the Alleluia. This is the last day that we sing the praise of Alleluia to God so it is like we are fasting from this word throughout Lent. The practice begins by putting writing or printing the word Alleluia on a small piece of paper and enclosing it in a little coffin. It is then solemnly processed around the church, incensed, sprinkled, and buried until Easter! We are doing this with our parish but you could certainly do this at home too.
*Check out this link for more of an explanation if you are interested.
Mardi Gras Masks
If you have littles I have these simple but cute Mardi Gras masks that you can print, color, glitter, sequin, feather, you name it, slap a string on it and have a good time!
Forget the King Cake, Make Beignets!
I know that everyone is all about the King Cake but I could do without if there were Mardi Gras beignets! Not to mention that anything I can fry makes me very happy, these were absolutely delicious. I'm not trying to be a superhero, I got these out of a box but they will not disappoint.
Go buy this box right here!
Lenten Prayer Companion Download
I also have this Lenten Prayer Companion that will take you through Ash Wednesday, major feast days, and the six weeks of Lent. It has lots of beautiful prayers, an examination of conscience, and space to reflect. A gift from me to you, all you have to do is download and print in booklet format.
With all that I just want to say that even if you don't get to bury the Alleluia, make the pancakes, craft the masks, decorate a wagon, do the most important thing, prepare your family for Lent! These are just ideas, what should be done is that you go to confession at some point in the very near future, take time to pray, and think about how you are going to get another step closer to Christ... and make the beignets ok? Do yourself a favor. Wishing you a Lent filled with grace, mercy, and love of Christ.