Father Larry's Letters

"Father Larry's Letters" are a weekly letter/journal about the many events occurring within and around the St. Luke's community.

"What Is Mardi Gras?" From Cindy Clefisch

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

One of my favorite holidays is coming up: MARDI GRAS!! Though our first thought when we hear about the festival is New Orleans, the roots of Mardi Gras date back to the ancient Romans. As the “new” Catholic holidays were infused into pagan traditions in the first centuries, they decided to inter-weave the celebration of a pagan festival into traditions started on the eve before Lent. It was a time to eat up all of the eggs, cheese, butter and other rich foods that were forbidden in the early church during Lent. That’s where the name “Fat Tuesday” comes from.

Mardi Gras actually has ties to another one of my favorite holidays, the Epiphany. This “twelfth night” is when the official Mardi Gras celebration began. You hear it sometimes called “Carnival” which means “farewell to meat,” another forbidden food once forbidden during Lent, in French. At midnight the police blow their horns, letting people know that Mardi Gras is indeed over and Lent has officially begun.

The first official American Mardi Gras took place in 1699. It, like so many other holidays, is now recognized as a secular holiday, but I believe it is important to know that the true roots lay in Catholicism. We will be celebrating Mardi Gras on February 6. Parents of K-5 students are welcome to join us in our closing prayer ceremony @ 6:45.

That means that Lent is right around the corner!! What are you going to do this year to join your suffering with Christ? We think of things in three areas: prayer, fasting, and alms giving. Can you wake up 15 minutes early for reflective prayer or a rosary each morning? Maybe you can abstain from gossip or adding to the drama in a situation at work or with your family. How can you give of not only your treasure, but of yourself, to help others in need? Will you serve a meal at the Catholic Worker house? Go through your home and give any non-necessities to St. Mary’s Shelter?

Here in the parish we are offering Stations of the Cross after each Thursday night mass during Lent. Children’s Stations of the Cross will be offered twice (more information on that to come). For the first time, we are offering adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from 3:30 to 5:30 and after mass/stations until 8:30. Pamphlets on “what to do” during adoration will be available so I challenge everyone to come, especially if you’ve never experienced it. The rosary will be said before each weekend Lenten mass. These two practices, adoration and saying the rosary before weekend mass, are something we are looking at continuing after Lent. What a great opportunity to extend our prayerful spirit into the Easter season! What part can you play?

May all in our parish, especially those who are having a crisis of health or faith, be blessed in this week to come.

Cindy Clefisch