Monday, March 7, 2011

Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, and Lent

The carnival season is coming to an end. It has been a lengthy season that began nine weeks ago at the conclusion on the Christmas season. Carnival stands for "carne" (meat) and "vale" (goodbye) when the faithful ones say goodbye to meat. They put it away for the season as they ready for the fasting, prayer, and almsgiving of Lent.

Mardi Gras has developed into a great day of frivolity and revelry and is largely seen by the general public as independent of Ash Wednesday and Lent. For us Christians, the partying carries a measured, respectful tone because of the deeper meaning of the penitential season that begins the following day. It becomes, not a last gasp day of partying, but a day to bid farewell to those ordinary blessings in our lives that we take for granted.