Mardi Gras

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The last day of carnival ends today with Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, the last hurrah before Ash Wednesday and the Lent season. The celebrations oddly have become more popular, extravagant  ribald  and riotous  even though the Lenten fasts and abstinences have become far less demanding.What once was a nearly 40-day devotion of fasting and abstinence,lent has become less strict than most moderate diets. What  purpose then do traditions of the celebration of Mardi Gras serve? Though they have become commercialized parties, Fat Tuesday is not an isolated celebration. It both is the culmination of the Carnival season that began at the feast of the Epiphany and also the  day before the start of Lent. Put in that context Fat Tuesday becomes important; it allows us to celebrate Christ and also to focus on that passion of Christ. Both the celebration and the penance have meaning; the celebration perhaps to rejoice in Gods creation, and the penance as a reminder that sometimes we get overly occupied with the earthly, and forget the heavenly. To celebrate just the carnival and Fat Tuesday simply leaves us fat and in a stupor. Fasting and abstinence without meaning just leads to hunger and discomfort.The two in the proper relationship to each other though lead towards  a perspective that at least gives a glimpse of the glorious. In the cycle of the rosary there were three cycles of prayer: the joyful, the sorrowful, and the glorious. The joyful meditate on the events clustered around carnival. The sorrowful cluster around the events of Lent. It takes both these to reach that glorious events of Easter.

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