In preparing the Lectionary for Mass, the Church realized that the time immediately before Lent does not lend itself to the notion of continuous readings since the book would be interrupted by Ash Wednesday and the subsequent Lenten readings. So during this short week and a half, we will listen to excerpts from the first ten chapters of Genesis (Cycle 1 of the Lectionary for Weekday Mass). These chapters detail the beginning of salvation history, specifically the beginnings of the history of sin in our world. These chapters deal with the fall of Adam and Eve, the murder of Abel by his brother Cain, the story of the Tower of Babel and the history of Noah. These stories are familiar to us all and speak of disobedience, murder, pride and sexual perversion. At the same time, we will continue to read from the Gospel of St. Mark.
As we approach the Lenten Season, many cultures around the world are celebrating “Carnival.” The word comes from the Latin “Carne Vale,” which is rendered in English as “Farewell to Meat.” In the pre-Vatican II Lenten discipline, Catholics were forbidden to eat meat more than once a day during Lent and never on Friday.
In our own country, Mardi Gras celebrations have begun in New Orleans. The French words “Mardi Gras” are rendered as “Fat Tuesday” in English. Like Carnival, this celebration seems to celebrate the coming of Lent by overeating, over indulging, over compensating for the Lenten discipline that is to come. The Church, on the other hand, offers us a meditation on our history of salvation, reminding us of our need for redemption. Lent will lead us into our annual celebration of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, the celebration of our redemption.
Which road of preparation will you take?
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator