Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
Today is “Mardi Gras,” the day before Ash Wednesday. The simple translation is “Fat Tuesday.” In this day and age of political correctness, perhaps “fat” is not exactly the best expression; “gravitationally challenged” or “calorically extravagant” might be more appropriate. I have had more than my share of “fat” references to my body structure. I prefer the expression “big-boned.” I am not fat, just big-boned. Of course, my body of big bones would equal a hippopotamus. But, the term “fat” on this Tuesday expresses the excessiveness that comes with the day, when one indulges in food and drink as if there were no tomorrow. Tomorrow is the beginning of the penitential season where the expectation is to deny and mortify.
So, “fat” might just be the result of having no limits. One of the seven deadly sins is gluttony. A friend of mine, when he was totally full, would force himself to take that last bite of cake with the rationale that waste is a greater sin than gluttony. He might be right, but no one forced him to indulge in the first bite.
As we celebrate today, we prepare for tomorrow. Lent allows us to shed the excesses of life in order to concentrate more on the relationship we have with Christ. In her wisdom, the Church instructs us to use prayer, fasting and almsgiving to grow in our spiritual formation and prepare ourselves for Holy Week. On Fat Tuesday, there are no limits, and excess is celebrated. But on Wednesday, we are confronted with reality and the practice of discipline that brings us spiritual growth.
Tomorrow, we establish our routines as we adjust our lives to accommodate the change of the liturgical season. In the next 40 days, may we be challenged to journey with Christ to Calvary. May every day during Lent begin with our focus on the person of Jesus. We cannot forget that it was His sacrifice that brought us salvation, and it is His love for us that gives us life.
Today, I will eat my paczki with great joy, wipe the powdered sugar from my face and add to my calories. But tomorrow, I will put aside my Twizzlers and Cheetos, and prepare to walk with Jesus and His disciples for 40 days, remembering always to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the March 05, 2019 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.