Shrove Tuesday: Cutting Away All the Fat

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Mmmmmmm…..pancakes /drool

Today is one of my favourite feasts in the Church Year. Reason a) We get to have breakfast food for dinner…..always a plus! and b) It is a chance to reflect on where we have been, where we are, and where we are going as we head in to Lent.

The verb to shrive means to cleave, or to cut off. Traditionally, Fat Tuesday was the last opportunity to enjoy meat, eggs, and dairy products before the period of fasting 40 days before Easter.

The idea of getting rid of all decadence from one’s food, also came–in time– to apply to the soul as well.

Sin–that is, the times when we “miss the mark” and seperate ourselves from God– has been understood (especially by medieval theologians) as adding weight to one’s immortal self.

Any time we indulge in pleasure, like gluttony, lust, and pride…it was thought to shield the heart from God’s presence…covering it instead with a weight of guilt and shame, dragging it slowly to Hell……

Actually, if you think back to a certain Christmas story we see this idea still prevalent in English literature and theology:

Jacob Marley’s ghost, weighed down by his greed confronts Scrooge

So….if we fast to clean out our bodies, what can we do for our souls???? The answer lies in the ancient practice of Confession.

In Anglican services, the Sacrament of letting all our past sins go is usually a general affair, and is an integral part of almost every liturgy we celebrate. Sometimes though, something a little more personal is needed.

1:1 Confession is not a grocery list of sins, and saying a multitude of prayers to make up for our mistakes. At it’s best, the Sacrament of Reconciliation not only allows us to drop the chains which keep us tied down to worry, anxiety, and hopeless consumption, but to receive Spiritual Direction and healing.

In offering counsel to the penitent, the priest aims not to instill piety, but to guide each individual in such a way that helps avoid future chains. It also offers hope that even though we have fallen, we ALWAYS get another chance.

If there is anything which has you down, I would encourage you to try out Confession with a priest you are comfortable with, and would ask that as we walk with Christ together, you might pray for me, a sinner. +

Evening Prayer: Shrove Tuesday (March 8th)

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Psalms: 36, 39
Gospel: John 1:18-29
Patristic Reading: N/A

For I am but a sojourner with you;
a wayfarer just as my forbears were (Psalm 39:12b)

Since the early days of the Church, the season of Lent has been paralleled with the Israelites 40 years in the desert. As a result of the sin of idolatry with the Golden Calf (along with some other major offences) God declares that the 12 tribes must take the long way around, and wait for the entire corrupt generation to die off.

In this 40 year period, the emerging Jewish people are beset by temptations, infighting, jealousy, abuses of power…every trial under the sun.

Likewise in Lent, we read about how Jesus was tempted by the devil before starting his public ministry….of his internal struggle and frustration of trying to explain to the disciples that yes….he must actually die in order for God’s plan to of salvation is carried out. He even faces outright rebellion from his own disciples…..so intense that he must declare “Get behind me Satan!”

In these 40 days and 40 nights…..we too will be stretched. We will read difficult passages, and contemplate difficult teachings. We too will be tempted to cave on our fast. To go back to our old ways because it is comfortable and convenient. We may even be tempted to walk away from God completely :(.

Whatever the case may be…..we are called to make the journey….to see where the road leads…….and what awaits us at the end. May we have the courage not to look backwards; walk forward with confidence, curiosity, and hope.

I will set my eyes on your hill
Jerusalem, my destiny!
Though I cannot see the end for me
I cannot turn away.
We have set our hearts for the way,
this journey is my destiny!
Let no one walk alone,
the journey makes us one.+

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