Father Barron comments on the three practices of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. He offers practical advice to enact these three pillars in your own life. In addition, he comments on the traditional practice of receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday.
GENERAL AUDIENCE Paul VI Audience Hall Wednesday, 22 February 2012
"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today the Church celebrates Ash Wednesday, the beginning of her Lenten journey towards Easter. The entire Christian community is invited to live this period of forty days as a pilgrimage of repentance, conversion and renewal. In the Bible, the number forty is rich in symbolism. It recalls Israel’s journey in the desert, a time of expectation, purification and closeness to the Lord, but also a time of temptation and testing. It also evokes Jesus’ own sojourn in the desert at the beginning of his public ministry, a time of profound closeness to the Father in prayer, but also of confrontation with the mystery of evil. The Church’s Lenten discipline is meant to help deepen our life of faith and our imitation of Christ in his paschal mystery. In these forty days may we draw nearer to the Lord by meditating on his word and example, and conquer the desert of our spiritual aridity, selfishness and materialism. For the whole Church may this Lent be a time of grace in which God leads us, in union with the crucified and risen Lord, through the experience of the desert to the joy and hope brought by Easter."
Christmas seems like it is hardly over and yet Lent is upon us. Next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. There are many traditions associated with Lent not least of which is the making of pancakes on Shrove or Pancake Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Although the Second Vatican Council put an end to many of obligatory penances and fasts associated with Lent those of us who are over 55 years old shall remember the closing of dance halls, the abstaining from drink and everything else that went along with Lent.
When we were younger we went off sweets; then as we got older we quit the cinema and finally we all would decide to go off drink. For a man like me this latter was never a serious option, the main feature being would I get over the first weekend. But God is good and he would overlook our sneaking the odd “penny chew” or the illicit half-un. After all, we are human and we all have our little foibles.
So, back to Shrove Tuesday. Shrove, derived from the old English word “shrive," refers to the confession of sins which was the sort of formal way of beginning Lent. I suppose the attitude was that there was no sense in carrying out a whole lot of penances on top of a soul full of sin, so a good scraping of the pot was required to put the house in order. Since eggs, flour, fat butter and milk were forbidden during the “Black Fast” of Lent (nothing white could be eaten) these were used up in one last celebration before the fast began. More so in England than in Ireland, Shrove Tuesday became a festival or carnival. I have a sneaky feeling this is because we Irish knew how to have a party in Lent even without these ingredients!
Here is a recipe I found in my wife’s cook book. I must remind her where it is! Don’t skimp on the treacle; this is the last treat for six weeks!
Simple Pancake Recipe
Sugar, Lemon, Orange etc to add flavor.
Making the Pancake Batter
Making the Pancakes
Article published in Mid-Ulster Observer, February 14th 2012
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