Daily Devotion for February 21, 2012
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Hosanna, by the great Soweto Gospel Choir, may be one the most moving pieces of music I have ever heard.
Prayer for the Morning
Blessed are you, O Lord my God, King of the universe, who removes sleep from my eyes and slumber from my eyelids. I thank you for all that you have done while I was asleep, watching over me and all your children while we slept unaware, and I pray that my thoughts and acts this day may show forth my love and thanks for you and all you have done for me.
Help me through your Holy Spirit, that I may remember what you have taught me in the Bible and it may show forth in my every deed. Let me not wander into the hands of sin, nor into the hands of pride or perversity, not into the hands of temptation, nor into the hands of shame, but steer my inclinations towards goodness and charity this morning and all the day. In the name of Christ I pray.
Prayer for Shrove Tuesday
Lord, my earthly being lies before me as an acre of dust on which has grown both fruit of your word and the weeds of sin. I feast on the bounty of your earthly blessings today, remembering all that is good in this life you have given me, and knowing that I will begin my fast tomorrow, in remembrance of Christ's suffering in His final days on this earth, just as my life on earth will someday feel the pain of death.
O sweet Jesus Christ, remind me today that your humanity is the fruitful rain which has blessed the dust of my garden and given it to flourish, and your Holy Spirit like the gentle dew of morning, that I may plead my heart's sorrow in the days to come. Your kingdom lies open before my eyes like a wedding feast, inviting me to your everlasting banquet, and I celebrate the day when I will enjoy an eternal feast at your side, in joy beyond my earthly comprehension. I pray to enjoy this final day all the gifts I have ever received from you, with joy and thanks.
Dedication to Service
Now, oh heavenly Father, I ask to be called as a witness to your love by the love I extend to others; a precursor of your justice by my unfailing commitment to what is right and good; a lamp set on a hill, reflecting the light of Christ in my forgiveness, mercy and compassion; and a harvester of souls through my humble and dedicated servanthood. In Jesus' name, I pray,
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
But idle chatter leads only to poverty.
The Wedding at Cana
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim.
And he said to them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast." So they took it.
When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now."
Notes on the Scripture
Today is Shrove Tuesday, also known as "Mardi Gras" or "Fat Tuesday". Its orginal observance was as a day of preparation for Lent, that is, the day before Ash Wednesday. The name shrove is derived from the archaic word "shrive", meaning to forgive someone who has confessed. It is therefore the day when the faithful confess their sins in preparation for the holy fast of Lent.
The housewives of Europe, however, would always use up all of the eggs and fat they had in their stores, because these articles were not consumed during the fast of Lent and they did not want them to go to waste. And thus, for practical reasons, Shrove Tuesday transformed from its ancient somber character into a day of feasting and then, by human nature, a great party.
In England particularly it was also known as Pancake Day, a good food to use up the eggs and fat prohibited during Lent. Although the observance of Shrovetide in England never ran to the wild excesses which often marked this period of licence in southern European countries that celebrated Carnival, it was customary to celebrate the evening of Shrove Tuesday by the performance of plays and masques. Shrovetide is thus the English equivalent of what is known in the greater part of Southern Europe as Carnival, a word, which, in spite of wild suggestions to the contrary, is undoubtedly to be derived from the "taking away of flesh" (camera levare) which marked the beginning of Lent.
Like Christmas, in some places Mardis Gras has been largely co-opted by a secular society into an excuse for commercialism, self-indulgence and wild excess. In New Orleans, young women celebrate the coming of Lent by exposing themselves in order to get cheap glass beads and coins.
But we should not worry about the splinter in the eye of our neighbor; secular hedonism is no reason for us not to have our pancakes. Really, Shrove Tuesday is also the last day of the feast of the Ephiphany and it is perfectly proper to celebrate it, and very human to want to indulge a bit before Lent, especially if we intend to fast.
By the way — have you decided what you're giving up for Lent this year?