Shrove Tuesday 2012

Shrove Tuesday: a day for being shriven (sacramental confession of our sins), for carnival (eating meat) and pancakes (clearing out the last of the butter, eggs and milk in the larder) before the Lenten fast begins β€” and for making merry, in the old-fashioned sense of rejoicing and having fun. It may be my warped sense of humour, but there has always seemed to me a marvellous inversion of the usual order of things on Shrove Tuesday. The Church traditionally kept the Vigils of great feasts with a fast; the Vigil of the great fast of Lent is kept with feasting. In both cases the purpose is the same: to impress upon us the solemnity of the occasion, its spiritual importance marked out by what we eat and drink and do.

Today we eat in honour of the Lord; tomorrow, and for forty days, we shall fast in honour of the Lord. Prayer, fasting, almsgiving: these are the foundation of our Lent, but probably the most obvious to ourselves and others will be the fasting. It is worth thinking what our fast should be.


5 thoughts on “Shrove Tuesday 2012”

  1. I well remember living in Belgium and Germany, the Carnival taking place in the week running up to Lent. I know that it is also a great tradition in Latin Countries.

    Somehow, it doesn’t seem to be a tradition in the UK! I wonder why? It seems to be a great release of energy before the more calmer, reflective, penitential lent period.

    But Shrove Tuesday seems to be a very pale imitation. Although I remember in my youth, Pancake Races and such celebrations. Something else lost in the past.

    Somewhere, we seem to have lost of sense of innocent fun for such things. Mired in the mesh of Health and Safety and Political Correctness. Wouldn’t it be great if we could regain it and bring community back into lives in exchange for the current culture of excess drinking and rowdy partying.

  2. I live near Milan, in Italy, in the Diocese of Saint Ambrose, the greatest diocese in the world.
    We follow the Ambrosian Rite in this diocese while in the rest of the world (?) the Catholic Church follows the Roman Rite.
    Saint Ambrose, Doctor of the Church and patron of Milan, established the Rite.
    We start our Lent next Sunday and we have carnival during the whole week and a great feast next Saturday, our shrove Saturday.
    We have also other different norms, for example the Eucharist, we do not take the Host, the Bread ( I do not know how you call it) during the Mass on Fridays in Lent.
    It is very very, very hard to hand down this experiences to younger generations. It seems that only few people follow the Lent or maybe it is just an impression.

    Should we all show more openly our Lent or it is not appropriate to show off?


  3. I am fascinated by Cinzia’s story . I once had the honour of hearing the Ambrosian rite in San Marco in Venice it was outstanding.
    I think all Christians should share their individual Lenten customs.

  4. I wonder if we are losing the rhythms and seasons of our year. Even my own daughters who were cathedral choristers and have been active members of our own chuch all their lives are not completly familiar with all the liturgical seasons. As the colours of the vestments change they don’t connect that with the change in the season. Perhaps it started with the loss of the period of Christmas, even amongst practicing Christians there is a merging of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. It always makes me smile that the Cathedral Choirmaster calls the January term Epiphany whilst the school calls it Lent!


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