It’s Mardis Gras, that’s French for fat Tuesday. Back home, in the old country, they were in the streets calling “helau!” today. Mom even sent me an electronic Fastenacht’s card. I’ve never cared much for Fastenacht, the “night before the fast” begins – several days of people going absolutely crazy on sex, drugs and alcohol. I used to retreat in disgust.
Tonight is Fastenacht, Lent Eve. Around these parts, we blessed our home, removing clutter, dust bunnies and setting reminders for the next 40+ days ahead.
We removed the palms from our crosses and burned them to ashes, adding holy water to make a paste. It was an opportunity to review the Palm Sunday story and I explained to the kids that the priest would do this tonight so that we can get the ashen crosses put on our foreheads tomorrow…we do a lot of show-and-tell around here.
Growing up, Lent was always about giving something up, something that would challenge our willpower, like giving up candy or watching TV. Yes, it was hard, but I ended up whining a lot, or mentioning it far too often in a suffering voice, “No, I can’t have pork, it’s Lent.” It became about me and my willpower and letting everyone around me know how I was suffering in the name of religion. I was missing the whole point of Lent entirely:
Lent is not an event that goes on and we do, but rather an experience we get to live through. It happens from the inside out through prayer, penance and sacrifice.
For the past two years I have looked for hands-on ways to teach my children about our faith and its traditions. This year, I created a Lenten Calendar and its goal is to live through Lent with intention to precisely put into practice prayer, seeking and giving forgiveness and making sacrifices in order to bless others.
We invite you to join our family on the journey that leads to the joy and celebration of our risen Lord.
You can download your own copy of the Lenten Calendar 2011 right here! Be blessed.