Tuesday, February 21, 2012

From Mardi Gras to Ash Wednesday

It's Fat Tuesday -- Mardi Gras -- pull out all the stops (not the mortally sinful ones, please) and have a last hoorah indulging in sweets and treats, right? It's great to join the fun and have another reason to party!

But, will you follow through and observe Ash Wednesday tomorrow?

Today, you enjoy, and tomorrow you fast and abstain -- remember Ash Wednesday is one of the two days (Good Friday being the other) the Church requires us to both fast and abstain.
CCC 2043 The fourth precept ("You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church") ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.
There are 40 days of Lent -- 40 days to prepare our hearts and minds to grow in virtue; to work toward freeing ourselves of worldly attachments and to bring ourselves to a deeper relationship with Christ through prayer and sacrifice. Why do we do this?
CCC 540 Jesus' temptation reveals the way in which the Son of God is Messiah, contrary to the way Satan proposes to him and the way men wish to attribute to him. This is why Christ vanquished the Tempter for us: "For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sinning." By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert. (Mt 4: 1-11)
The Church celebrates -- yes, I said celebrates -- this penitential season of Lent for two very important reasons: Self-mastery & Freedom.

Self-mastery: man governs his passions and finds peace (CCC 2339)

Freedom: Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one's own responsibility. (CCC 1731)
A few things to think about tonight as you toss back some Alkaseltzer:

After you have reveled in Fat Tuesday, will you remember to present yourself for ashes tomorrow?

Will you work on self-mastery and freedom from sin and worldly attachments over the next forty days?

Will you experience the joy of the Resurrection on Easter morning with a heart ready to see Christ risen from the dead?

Have a blessed Mardi Gras and a fruitful journey through the 40 days of Lent.

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