Thursday after Sexagesima-Carnival
Genesis, Chapter 21, Verse 14-18
14 Early the next morning Abraham got some bread and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. Then, placing the child on her back, he sent her away. As she roamed aimlessly in the wilderness of Beer-sheba, 15 the water in the skin was used up. So she put the child down under one of the bushes, 16 and then went and sat down opposite him, about a bowshot away; for she said to herself, “I cannot watch the child die.” As she sat opposite him, she wept aloud. 17 God heard the boy’s voice, and God’s angel called to Hagar from heaven: “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not fear; God has heard the boy’s voice in this plight of his. 18 Get up, lift up the boy and hold him by the hand; for I will make of him a great nation.”
Hagar was the servant of Sarah. Hagar was also the mother of Abraham’s firstborn illegitimate son Ishmael. The situation here was horrendous, due to Sarah’s practical nature; she gave her slave to Abraham to raise as a son to give his inheritance, too. According to Islamic sources it was Ishmael that Abraham tried to offer as a sacrifice to God at the Dome of the rock in Jerusalem. A war ensued between the mother of Ishmael and the mother of Isaac. Now that Sarah had her own son--Hagar and her son was a threat to Sarah and Sarah wanted her and her son dead. Fear is the root of the evil between Sarah and Hagar. Sarah and Hagar feared the loss of life and property for their son’s; and unfortunately this in-house squabble continues today with the descendants of Abraham (The Jews and the Arabs). Here we see God sends his angel to pronounce to Hagar, dying of thirst and having to watch her son die of thirst, to not be afraid. Legend has it that the angel produced life giving water for Hagar and Ishmael and the courage to continue. Blood feuds are the worst and are usually caused by fear which leads to puffed up pride and envy. Pride and envy are a slow poison to avoid. Today would be a good day to reflect if we have given in to this type of poison.
Thursday after Sexagesima-Carnival
It might sound odd that during the period of "Carnival" there occurs some of the most decadent feasting of the liturgical year. There is, however, a pious (if not somewhat convoluted) logic behind this consumption. Because not only meat but lacticinia (dairy products) were originally prohibited during Lent, Christians knew that they had to eat these foods before Ash Wednesday, or they would spoil. The last days before Lent were thus spent in eating copious amounts of fat dishes. From this necessity comes England's famous Shrove Tuesday Pancakes and northern England's Collop Monday (a collop is made of sliced meat and eggs fried in butter). This also gave rise to the most famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) Christian party of all: Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras, or "Fat Tuesday," is the French celebration of the final day before Lent. In this country it is associated mostly with the Cajun and Creole cuisine of New Orleans, two culinary traditions that provide a myriad of spicy, delicious dishes. One of the more interesting customs of the New Orleans Mardi Gras is the baking of a King's Cake, in which is placed a small doll of the Infant Jesus. The person whose piece of cake has the doll must provide the cake for next year's party.
How to Party like a Catholic
Postmodern man—and postmodern woman—don’t know how to give a good party. It’s up to us Catholics to reclaim this lost art and share it with the world.
Why? Because good parties are intrinsic to our Catholic faith. The liturgical year is punctuated with a wide array of feast days and celebrations, many of which are Christianized versions of holidays that once closely tracked the agricultural calendar of planting and harvesting. The two largest and best-known feasts are, of course, Christmas and Easter, but there are also the two Christmas and Easter spin-offs, Epiphany and Pentecost. In addition, there’s the feast of Mary, Mother of God (New Year’s Day); Ascension Thursday; Corpus Christi; the feast of the Immaculate Conception; All Saints Day (with Halloween and the Day of the Dead); and, the most famous party of all, Mardi Gras, which has strayed far from its Catholic origin as the last celebration before the Lenten fast but still embodies a certain Catholic sensibility. Above all, every Sunday for Catholics is a feast day on which we celebrate Christ’s resurrection. Only in Lent and the mini-Lent of Advent is it not party time, but even in these two seasons, there are exceptions for St. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, St. Nicholas’s Day, and other feasts.
Of course, as the Church wisely realizes, feasts are more fun if preceded by fasts. The stricter the fast, the merrier the feast. Truly the Catholic tradition has mastered the art of well-timed, heavily scheduled, carefully orchestrated good times.
The occasion of a sacrament—baptism, confirmation, or matrimony—is the best possible opportunity for a good party. In fact, many Catholics take it for granted that a wedding should be marked by a grand feast. The bigger and more elaborate the feast, the more it conforms to the biblical model in John 2:1-11 of the wedding feast at Cana. Mary, Jesus, and His disciples all attend. In the middle of the party, the wine runs out. Mary explains this difficult situation to her son; after all, the gospel implies, it won’t be much of a party without wine. After an exchange with His mother, Jesus asks those in charge to fill six stone pots with water. "And they filled them to the brim," John says. When the host tastes the water, he is startled to discover that Jesus has changed it to wine, and not just any wine but the best they will have all night. Hence, Jesus’ first miracle was not a solemn occasion, as one might expect, but a celebration.
You might expect that such a remarkable story as this, one that recounts Jesus’ first public display of divine power, would be standard fare in evangelical Protestant pulpits, where the words of the Bible take precedence over any liturgical design. Not so. If you have ever attended a Southern Baptist wedding, for example, you know why: There is no feast. The ceremony lasts perhaps 20 minutes at most, and then the entire crowd descends to the social hall under the church to eat pastel butter mints and cake and sip a tiny cup of fizzy, pink, nonalcoholic punch. Wine is forbidden by tradition, so no one is looking for any. The whole affair is over in less than an hour. Baptists may be people of the Book, but they certainly are not people of the party. So much for living the words of Scripture.
How did the wedding feast, so joyously celebrated at Cana, come to be the dreary occasion that it is in the Baptist tradition? Like members of other non-liturgical faiths, Southern Baptists tend to reject regularly scheduled intervals of joy, sadness, celebration, and suffering, less for explicit doctrinal reasons than because it all just seems too, well, Catholic.
Protestants have traditionally found the Catholicity of Christian holidays deeply problematic. During the colonial period, Massachusetts actually outlawed Christmas, and the controversy about whether to put up a lighted tree in church still erupts in evangelical congregations. If Protestant Americans had been left to their own devices, we would celebrate only Thanksgiving (which is actually a version of St. Martin’s Day, November 11) and the Fourth of July.
This aspect of the Catholic faith is as conspicuous to outsiders as it is taken for granted by us: One day we are eating pancakes and throwing parties for Fat Tuesday, and the next day, Ash Wednesday, we are walking around with ashes on our foreheads repenting for our sins. What is it about us Romanists and our ways?
The Bible, it turns out, is filled with fabulous parties. Think of the parable of the prodigal son. When he returns to his father’s home with a contrite heart after living the high life, he is not given broth and sent to bed. No, his father says, "bring hither the fatted calf, kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son," as if to show that home is where the high life actually is. St. Clement of Alexandria wrote: "The repentant son came to the pitying father, never hoping for these things—the best robe, and the ring, and the shoes—or to taste the fatted calf, or to share in gladness, or enjoy music and dances; he would have been contented with obtaining what in his own estimation he deemed himself worthy." Instead, he got it all. Given this spirit of liberality in one of Jesus’ own parables, a good Catholic should be prepared to throw a great party whenever the opportunity arises. Now, it’s true that merrymaking cannot be the sum total of the way we live. The ever-stern St. Francis de Sales, in his Introduction to the Devout Life, warns against excessive frivolity. But he does affirm that balls and festivities are not evil in themselves and can even be used for good. "It is lawful to amuse yourself, to dance, dress, feast, and see seemly plays," he affirms. The proviso is that the good times must not hinder, but help, devotion.
· What is striking about modern life is how dull our attempts at frivolity often turn out to be, not only because they are not interrupted by fasting and prayer, as they should be, but also because we have lost the art of how to throw a good party.
· We’ve all had the experience of walking into a party where we know only a few people, and all the rest are talking among themselves. We find someone we know and hope he doesn’t mind if we talk exclusively to him for, oh, the entire length of the party.
· We know we are supposed to mingle with the others, but no matter how many tips on that we’ve heard or read, mingling never seems to work. Some people resent intrusions into their conversations, and in any case, there usually doesn’t seem to be much to talk about. The most we can hope for is a good opportunity to make an inconspicuous exit.
· Thousands of parties like this come and go without leaving any impression on the guests. The host is left with a huge mess and not much else to show for it. It’s no wonder that many people are disinclined to hold parties, or that they do it only when they have to, or that they invite only the in-crowd when they can get away with it, or that they never attempt much in the way of food and drink beyond chips and beer.
Find a Reason to Party
It doesn’t have to be this way. All parties should have an ostensible reason for being. This is what makes them communal occasions and provides a reason why all these people should be together in one spot at the same time. With a theme, people have a mental hook, so that they can later think: "I loved that St. Cecilia party" Fortunately, our liturgical calendar provides plenty of ideas for themes. Saints’ days are the perfect excuses for celebrations, and it helps that these days rarely step on the more conventional party excuses of everyone else.
Here’s why theme parties are out of fashion: We live in a culture obsessed with the fear of violating someone else’s conscience. We don’t impose our values on others, and we never assert the superiority of our own or point out problems with others’ points of view. If we happen to have values, that’s fine, but we dare not suggest that others should adopt them. That would be bad form. A theme party is typically seen as an imposition on the conscience. For example, say you invite guests to your house to celebrate the feast of St. Blaise on February 3. What if they don’t like this saint, or they think saints are generally weird? What if they aren’t in the mood? Why should your priorities trump theirs? Isn’t it manipulative to tell people how they should feel? These are the kinds of deconstructionist fears that tacitly haunt us and keep us from setting a theme for an evening. The Catholic liturgy, however, assigns themes to practically every day. We are supposed to mourn on Good Friday and then two days later shout, "Alleluia" Is this manipulative? Not at all. Theologian Michael Foley of Boston College points out that the purpose of gathering together is to experience something together. He writes in his online liturgy manual (www.holytrinitygerman.org): "From the exilic pining of Septuagesima to the austerity of Lent, from the grief of Passiontide to the jubilance of the Pasch, the Church, by staggering its feasts and observances in a particular order, enables the faithful to experience a number of holy feelings as one. Indeed, the emotional range of the traditional Roman rite is perhaps the most variegated in all of Christendom."
Liturgical themes for parties are great, especially if they involve a sacrament. But the theme doesn’t have to be solemn and liturgical. It can be a mere excuse: to celebrate the opening of a great bottle of wine, to commemorate the hanging of a new painting, to mark the first day of summer, to eat an unusual food, to blow off steam after final exams. It takes very little creativity to come up with a good idea for a party. Even foolish themes are fun, like the "white elephant" parties of the 1950s, to which guests brought worthless gifts.
The Big Moment
· Even more important than the theme of the party is the central moment of the party: Someone clinks a glass and makes an announcement that unifies the guests as a group. Ninety-nine percent of parties do not include this crucial feature, which is why most are unsatisfying. A group event of some sort underscores the reason for the party and gives people something to remember about it besides a few isolated conversations.
· Toasts are invaluable for this purpose. When making a toast, don’t worry about being eloquent. Something as simple as "To St. Joseph the Worker" is enough.
Lose the Chips and Dips
Whatever happened to dinner parties? They are becoming ever rarer. Today, food at parties mostly consists of snacky things you can pick up with your fingers, the better to stay on the move with. But the whole premise of moving around a party is wrong. It’s important that people be able to sit, so they can listen and share a group moment. Try having a dinner party and see what happens. You don’t have to have a huge dining table. Even if everyone is sitting on folding chairs eating chili, it is far better than yet another round of chips, dips, and existential isolation. And by the way, today’s emphasis on the quality of food at parties is wildly misplaced. You can hire the best catering service in town or knock yourself out cooking for days, but if you have no theme, no central moment, and no place for your guests to sit, the best snacks on the planet are not going to save your party.
Pick Your Poison
It happens all the time. You walk into your friends’ house for a party. They ask you what you want to drink and then run through a list of options: orange juice, diet and regular Coke and Sprite, Miller Lite, Bud Lite, sparkling water, V8, cran-apple juice, Fresca, coffee, ten more unappealing liquids, and, finally, water. You suddenly get this vague sense that maybe the V8 has been around awhile, or the Sprite may be flat, or the coffee not made, or the Fresca—do they even make that anymore? In the end, someone finally says, "Oh, I’ll just have a glass of water." Someone else concurs. Folks, when that happens, the party is over before it begins.
The way to avoid this catastrophe is to have one official drink of the evening. "Tonight," you announce, "I am serving champagne cocktails" Who wouldn’t cheer? Serve them with a cherry or an orange slice, and you have created a memorable drink. Alternatively, you could serve martinis, or mint juleps, or some slushy, fruity concoction from the freezer. Whatever it is, stick to it. If someone doesn’t drink, he’ll say so. You should always have some fancy water available for nondrinkers and throw in a slice of lemon or lime for good measure.
What to Wear?
What people should wear to a party is a tricky subject. This much is an incontrovertible fact: The best parties feature people dressing up, or at least not wearing torn cutoffs and worn sneakers. But if you tell your guests to come casual, cutoffs and sneakers is what you will get. Such is the nature of the times. Just look at what people wear to Mass these days! You can hardly expect them to show up at your party dressed any better.
People act nicer and smarter, however, when they wear nice clothes. They sit straighter and generally feel as though something special is taking place. Grubby clothes and truly memorable times just don’t mix, unless you are at the lake or repairing a house or in some other situation that specifically calls for casual attire.
Dress codes can seem like an imposition to some these days. I handle it by telling guests, "Feel free to dress up" or, "I’ll be in a coat and tie." It’s a way of leaving their options open while delivering a strong hint. Finally, don’t rule out telling your guests that the dress is black tie. If it’s New Year’s Eve, this can make the evening even more joyful.
Setting the Mood
Can we have a break from rock music, please? Classical music is perfectly festive. Try Schubert’s Trout Quintet, Mozart’s string quintets, Bach’s orchestral works, or even light operas. Chamber music works better at parties than symphonies. Pre-World War II jazz has an endless capacity to charm. Old and new movie soundtracks are always fun. How about bluegrass? The idea is to play something that is not too intrusive but isn’t boringly familiar either.
Catholic liturgical music is great, but it should be reserved for Mass and Vespers, not parties. Always remember Pope St. Clement’s dictum from the first century: no pagan music at liturgy and no liturgical music at minstrel shows or other non-sacred occasions. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to and enjoy Machaut and Byrd at home, but parties aren’t the right times to push this repertoire.
My final musical note: If someone in the group can play the piano and there’s one in your home, it should be compulsory that he play.
It’s Party Time-Not recommended by Dr. Fauci
More important than the specifics of a party are the spirit. The spirit of a good party is a variant of the spirit of good liturgy: a work of a community of people that follows a plan. "Every religion has its feasts," the Catholic Encyclopedia says, "but none has such a rich and judiciously constructed system of festive seasons as the Catholic Church."
It’s time we lived up to our religious tradition by putting some effort and thought into our parties. Given the generally dull tenor of the times, you will suddenly become a famous and much-heralded host or hostess by making a little effort at being countercultural. And you will also help demonstrate to others, in the tradition of Cana, that we Catholics are not always dour and penitent, but also, at the right time, fun and hospitable people who display our hope that someday we will join the heavenly banquet, the most wonderful party of all. It’s part of our heritage and our faith.
5 Best Mardi Gras Celebrations Not in New Orleans
With over-the-top parades, festive music and delicious king cake, it’s easy to see why New Orleans is synonymous with Mardi Gras. You may be surprised to learn, however, that Fat Tuesday, the French translation of Mardi Gras, is actually just one day in a much longer celebration known as Carnival, which spans from the Epiphany (January 6) to Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent).
New Orleans has hosted an official Mardi Gras parade nearly every year since 1837, with only 13 cancellations due mostly to war. With a yearly attendance around 1.4 million, it’s the largest Mardi Gras celebration in the United States. Size isn’t everything though. Cities around the globe celebrate Carnival in their own special way and we’ve highlighted five of the most unique below.
1: Mobile, Alabama
If you head two hours east from New Orleans you’ll land in Mobile, Alabama, the original home of Mardi Gras in the United States. Mobile’s first Fat Tuesday celebration took place in 1703 and the first masked ball began the following year. At that time, Mobile was the capital of French Louisiana but due to fear of hurricane damage, the capital was moved to New Orleans along with the Mardi Gras tradition in 1718. Nearly 150 years later, the Mardi Gras celebration returned to Mobile and it’s now the second largest Fat Tuesday gathering in the country.
2: Venice, Italy
Estimated to have originated in the 12th century, Venetian Carnival draws millions of visitors each year. The festival is perhaps best known for the elaborate masks worn and sold on the streets of Venice. The expressive masks were worn during Carnival as early as the 13th century and they remain a symbol of the city to this day. The highlight of the Venetian Carnival is the Maschera piu Bella contest, which takes place in Saint Mark’s Square. In the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras, masked contestants dressed head-to-toe in decorative costumes are judged by a panel of experts and the winner is chosen on Fat Tuesday.
3: Nice, France
With a history that dates back to 1294, the original Carnival celebration is located in sun-soaked Nice, France. Nice Carnival is the premiere winter event on the French Riviera and draws over a million people each year. The celebration, which has a different theme every year, lasts for 15 days and visitors are treated to an array of floats and over 1,000 musicians and dancers from around the world. Not to be missed are the flower battles in which mimosas, gerberas and lilies are tossed to spectators from decorated floats.
4: Binche, Belgium
The Carnival of Binche is one of Europe’s oldest surviving street carnivals (dating back to the 14th century) and in 2003, it was recognized as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO. The town begins celebrating several weeks before Ash Wednesday, but the carnival officially begins on the Sunday before and culminates on Mardi Gras when masked men known as Gilles parade through town in their traditional costumes consisting of wooden clogs, wax masks and ostrich-feather hats. After the dressing ceremony in the early hours of Mardi Gras, the Gilles lead a procession through town with musicians, dancers and other costumed participants in tow. The highlight of the day, though, is in the evening when the Gilles head to Binche’s Grand Place to dance under a fireworks display.
5: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Known as the Carnival capital of the world, Rio de Janeiro welcomes approximately 500,000 visitors every year looking to experience one of the most colorful and artistic celebrations in the world. Rio Carnival is a five-day celebration that begins with the Rio mayor handing an oversized key to the city to someone dressed as King Momo (a mythical character based off Greek mythology and Brazilian folklore). The party takes over the city and eventually culminates with the Samba Parade at the Sambodromo, a stadium specifically built in 1984 for this event. The parade is essentially a competition between samba schools (social clubs with their own colors, flag and supporters) that involves months of preparation. The highly orchestrated events takes place over the span of a few days and schools are judged in 10 categories with the results being revealed on Ash Wednesday.
NOVENA TO THE HOLY FACE
DAILY PREPARATORY PRAYER
O Most Holy and Blessed Trinity, through the intercession of Holy Mary, whose soul was pierced through by a sword of sorrow at the sight of the passion of her Divine Son, we ask your help in making a perfect Novena of reparation with Jesus, united with all His sorrows, love and total abandonment.
We now implore all the Angels and Saints to intercede for us as we pray this Holy Novena to the Most Holy Face of Jesus and for the glory of the most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Psalm 5 1, 10-11.
Make me hear rejoicing and gladness, that the bones you have crushed may revive. From my sins turn away your Face and blot out all my guilt.
Holy Face of Jesus, Sacred Countenance of’ God, how great is your patience with humankind, how infinite your forgiveness. We are sinners, yet you love us. This gives us courage. For the glory of your Holy Face and of the Blessed Trinity, hear and answer us. Mary our Mother intercede for us, Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Through the merits of your precious blood and your Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, Pardon and Mercy.
Prayer to Saint Joseph
Dear Saint Joseph! Adopt us as thy children, take charge of our salvation; watch over us day and night; preserve us from occasions of sin; obtain for us purity of body and soul, and the spirit of prayer, through thy intercession with Jesus, grant us a spirit of sacrifice, of humility and self-denial; obtain for us a burning love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and a sweet, tender love for Mary, our Mother.
Saint Joseph, be with us in life, be with us in death and obtain for us a favorable judgment from Jesus, our merciful Savior. Amen.
one (1) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary’s, (1) Glory Be.
O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (Three times)
The Devil and Temptations
There are many and varied ways in which sin and evil are presented to us in an attractive way.
Curing Sickness by Superstition ("Curanderos" And "Santeros")
· It doesn't matter if there are statues, holy water, crucifixes, prayers to Jesus, Mary and the saints, if there is any superstitious practice it is evil. These are some examples:
o using charms or a tomato to wash one's body, putting the remainder under the bed,
o cleaning one's body with eggs or lemons and burning the materials with charcoal,
o Using rose water and alcohol for healing. (In one case this was prepared by placing a skeleton in the water for six hours, followed by singing and praying over the water.)
· Sometimes a "curandero" gives a special vitamin to take or even prescribes "Catholic" prayers to be said. None of these "prayers" should be said in these circumstances because they were prepared under the influence of evil. Other examples include:
o Taking a special bath prepared with wine, flowers, bread, cinnamon, black sugar, and water from a river.
o Wrapping a person in a special bandage, cutting off piece by piece, and burying it in a recent grave in the cemetery.
· Sometimes people pray to God and to the saints and then go off seeking relief through the kingdom of darkness. Many times, God does not heal through prayer or doctors because He wants the soul to be healed first of hatred, jealousy, or some other sin. God knows what He is doing. We have to choose either the power of God or the power of evil. If you have any objects used in these false cures, destroy them. Renounce Satan, renounce this sin, ask God's forgiveness and confess your sin to a priest.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
PART THREE: LIFE IN CHRIST
SECTION TWO-THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
Chapter 2 “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Article 7-THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT
I. The Universal Destination and the Private Ownership of Goods
2402 In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them, master them by labor, and enjoy their fruits. The goods of creation are destined for the whole human race. However, the earth is divided up among men to assure the security of their lives, endangered by poverty and threatened by violence. the appropriation of property is legitimate for guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of persons and for helping each of them to meet his basic needs and the needs of those in his charge. It should allow for a natural solidarity to develop between men.
2403 The right to private property, acquired by work or received from others by inheritance or gift, does not do away with the original gift of the earth to the whole of mankind. the universal destination of goods remains primordial, even if the promotion of the common good requires respect for the right to private property and its exercise.
2404 "In his use of things man should regard the external goods he legitimately owns not merely as exclusive to himself but common to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as himself." The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others, first of all his family.
2405 Goods of production - material or immaterial - such as land, factories, practical or artistic skills, oblige their possessors to employ them in ways that will benefit the greatest number. Those who hold goods for use and consumption should use them with moderation, reserving the better part for guests, for the sick and the poor.
2406 Political authority has the right and duty to regulate the legitimate exercise of the right to ownership for the sake of the common good.
· Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus
· Manhood of the Master-week 1 day 5