From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Shrive, shrove, shriven: 'Penitent Tuesday'

St. Peter in Penitence (Artist: El Greco) defines "shrive" in the following ways:  "verb (used with object) to impose penance on (a sinner), to grant absolution to (a penitent), to hear the confession of (a person); verb (used without object) Archaic to hear confessions, to go to or make confession; confess one's sins, as to a priest."

Thus "Shrove" (simple past of the verb "shrive") became the name of the Tuesday right before Ash
Wednesday. describes Shrove
Tuesday as "a day of penitence, to clean the soul, and a day of celebration as the last chance to feast before Lent begins" (hence its other name "Mardi Gras" - meaning "Fat Tuesday").

The tradition of receiving absolution is a centuries-old one.  Wikipedia explains that absolution not only "forgives sins" - but also "allows the valid and non-sinful reception of the sacraments," as well as "full
participation in the life of the Church."  In Roman Catholicism it is an integral part of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (aka "Confession") - without which a person could be condemned to Hell.

Even the "Mardi Gras" component of Shrove Tuesday has a spiritual function.  Because wasting food is often
considered sinful, cooking and eating pancakes became a means of using up the "fats, eggs, and milky foods"
that would otherwise spoil during the 40 days of Lent.  And what better way to appreciate these God-given
goodies than with a bit of meat and fish on the side…  

As for the "mob football" and pancake races?  Let's just say that all those calories have had to be dealt with


Copyright February 12, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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