From the Pastor's Desk
Fr. Dan White, S.J.
March 2, 2014
This is, of course, Mardi Gras weekend. It seems there are only two ways to view this unofficial Church feast. One is puritanical. This perspective sees any notion that being Catholic could involve joy and celebration as suspect. The other option, far more popular these days, is to embrace the bacchanal whole-heartedly. It is the perfect excuse to eat, drink and act stupid.
As usual, a middle-way is best. Mardi Gras makes no sense without Lent. It grew out of the last days of preparation for the strict observance of the Lenten season. The celebration is the recognition of the weeks of prayer, fasting and alms-giving right around the corner. The Mardi Gras, or Carnival, season was the preparation for the great season of preparation before the Holy Triduum.
The notion of balance is key to understanding the Catholic world-view. The origins of this time of revelry in the dreary days of winter remind us to live with joy even as we prepare for the somber period of Lent. Feasting and fasting are intimately related, and both are necessary for a healthy spiritual life.
A story is told of St. Teresa of Avila that on a certain feast day in the convent a delicious meal featuring pheasant was served. St. Teresa torn into the bird with great relish shocking some of the sisters. Looking up she simply stated, “Sisters, when we fast, we fast; when we pheasant, we pheasant.” Happy Mardi Gras.