Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Shrove Tuesday


It's Shrove Tuesday.

Fr. Blake has given a brief and interesting little reflection on the use of the term in English-speaking lands.

For the devout Catholic English, for the people who are collectively "Mary's Dowry",
The name demonstrates something of the difference Carnivale – Farewell to Meat, Mardi Gras - Fat Tuesday, has very different implications to “Shrove Tuesday”.


Wiktionary gives us a little etymology:
Old English scrīfan, from West Germanic skrīban, from Latin scrībō (“‘write’”). Cognate from Germanic with Dutch schrijven, German schreiben; and from Latin with French écrire, Spanish escribir.


he also talks about Pancake Tuesday:

I am sure the pre-Reformation Pancake was more like a Spanish omelette, full of good things, like fat, eggs and meat that wouldn’t be eaten at all in Lent, rather than a thin French crepe with a slice of lemon. Its present anorexia is indicative of the effect of Protestantism on a Catholic custom.


I was just this morning talking about the English custom of eating (and racing down the street with) pancakes on this day. The tradition of pancake races survives in rural areas. At least it did in the village I lived in last year. It is sad, though, because it is just one more reminder of England's status as a stolen country, denuded of its own past. People race with a pancake, but I'm not sure anyone remembers why.

Another little gem from Fr. Blake explores the Gospel passage in which the crippled man is lowered down to Christ on his bed, reminding his readers the reason it is still, sometimes called "Shrove Tuesday":

...When he is let down through the roof and lands in the presence of the Lord.

Jesus merely says, "Your sins are forgiven, you".

Nothing visible at all happens the paralytic continues to lie on his stretcher. That is it!

God has forgiven this man's sins, and he is just lying there not even a smile on his face, he continues to be paralysed, he feels nothing different. Christ has come and saved the man and everybody can go home now.

Except, there is a second part, the muttering scribes bring this about, "Who can forgive sins but God", they say. Their statement is one of disbelief, if he is forgiven they want a sign, they are not concerned with the deep goings on in the depths of soul. Mark exploits this to show who Jesus is, for it is indeed God himself who has forgiven. God is there amongst mankind forgiving.

Jesus tells the man to get up and walk, and he does, he walks away, proving Jesus is God, proving Jesus has the power to forgive.

We can forget that what takes place in Confession is really about God's relationship with us in the depths of our soul. Feelings or other outward signs might be nice but they are not of the essence of the sacrament nor of essence of forgiveness.


The rain has stopped, and I'm going to St. Pete's to see if the queue for the metal detector is short.

1 comment:

Jeff Culbreath said...

That's a great pic!