Today is known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. Some like to think of it as a time of partying before the great fast of Lent; however many people who celebrate Mardi Gras see little religious significance to the day. As for me, I believe our attitude about special seasons and our reflection on the event is really important. I see nothing wrong with having a glass of wine or a special meal on the evening before Ash Wednesday. The gift I long for, though, is moderation. All is to be done with mindfulness and joy. Even the scriptures tell us not to look gloomy when we fast. (Mt 6:16)
Because I live in a monastic community "Fat Tuesday" has also become for me a time to discern my Lenten resolutions. How do I want to make this season a time of growth and renewal. What would I like to add or subtract from my life?
In the Rule of St. Benedict, the chapter on Lent begins as follows, "The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent. Since few, however, have the strength for this, we urge the entire community during these days of Lent to keep its manner of life most pure and to wash away in this holy season the negligence of other times."
Before Lent begins we are asked to choose a spiritual book to use for reflection during this season. Having recently been reminded that my new book, Abide: Keeping Vigil with the Word of God, would actually be a good book to use for the Lenten Season because it consists of 40 scriptural meditations, I almost chose my own book.
However, as I continued my discernment I was drawn to Meg Funk's book, Lectio Matters: Before the Burning Bush. I would like for this season to be a deepening of my love for this ancient monastic prayer that is thankfully being restored in our monasteries and beyond.
In a sense, Lent is a standing before the burning bush of transformation and renewal. I would like to be caught up in the fire. And so tonight at our Mardi Gras Party I will don my mask and in the midst of the fun will also use the moment to ponder who I really am under that mask.
HAPPY MARDI GRAS EVRYONE!