Well, this week the Big Easy and Rio have one thing in common — one huge party!
And what is so interesting its very Catholic. It’s a time to let your hair down before the strike of midnight Ash Wednesday morning when we Catholics used to abstain from meat during the six-week Lenten season.
The root of the word “CARnival is the same as the word “inCARnation”~ a word that means the enfleshment of the Son of God.
Now here’s a bit of Carnival or Mardi Gras history for you.
A carnival is a celebration combining parades, pageantry, folk drama, and feasting, usually held in Catholic countries during the weeks before Lent. The term Carnival probably comes from the Latin word “carnelevarium”, meaning “to remove meat.” Typically the Carnival season begins early in the new year, often on Epiphany, January 6, and ends in February on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras in French).
Probably originating in pagan spring fertility rites, the first recorded carnival was the Egyptian feast of Osiris, an event marking the receding of the Nile’s flood water. Carnivals reached a peak of riotous dissipation with the Roman BACCHANALIA and Saturnalia. In the Middle Ages, when the Catholic Church tried to suppress all pagan ideas, it failed when it came to this celebration. The Church incorporated the rite into its own calendar as a period of thanksgiving. Popes sometimes served as patrons.
The nations of Europe, especially France, Spain, and Portugal, gave thanks by throwing parties, wearing masks, and dancing in the streets. All three colonizing powers carried the tradition with them to the New World, but in Brazil it landed with a difference. Not only did the Portuguese have a taste for abandoned merriment, (they brought the “entrudo”, a prank where merry-makers throw water, flour, face powder, and many other things at each other’s faces), but the Negro slaves also took to the celebration. They would smear their faces with flour, borrow an old wig or frayed shirt of the master, and give themselves over to mad revelry for the three days. Many masters even let their slaves roam freely during the celebration. Since the slaves were grateful for the chance to enjoy themselves, they rarely used the occasion as a chance to run away.
Pre-Christian, medieval, and modern carnivals share important thematic features. They celebrate the death of winter and the rebirth of nature, ultimately re-committing the individual to the spiritual and social codes of the culture. Ancient fertility rites, with their sacrifices to the gods, exemplify this commitment, as do the Christian Shrovetide plays. On the other hand, carnivals allow parody of, and offer temporary release from, social and religious constraints. For example, slaves were the equals of their masters during the Roman Saturnalia; the medieval feast of fools included a blasphemous mass; and during carnival masquerades sexual and social taboos are sometimes temporarily suspended
Tomorrow: Why Ashes on Ash Wednesday.
May I suggest that by Wednesday morning to try be ready to enter into a deeper journey into your inner depths to discover our Lord and at the same time your deepest Self. Be ready to experience new life, new growth for your self and for our country.
Today we let our hair down a bit and when the fun is over,
may we be ready to enter the desert on Wednesday with you
and discover how desert experiences can cleanse and purify us and make us whole.
Let us enter the desert willingly and learn its lessons well.
We ask you, Lord, to lead the way.
But, before you go, here’s a musical slide show of what a Carnival parade is like down in Rio.Click here.
Be sure to enter full screen.
(Ladies: Let your husbands have some fun – um ~ it’s not exactly R-rated.)
Check out this video first! Click here.(Then click on the << arrow on the top left corner of your computer to return to this page.)
While all things were
in quiet silence,
And that night was
in the midst of
her swift course,
Thine Almighty Word,
Leaped down out
of thy royal throne,
~ And the Word became flesh and lived among us. John 1:14
WE Christians tend to sentimentalize the Christmas story.
And yet the whole message is there beneath the charming Christmas pageants with the cute little girls holding baby dolls and boys dressed up in bathrobes as St. Joseph. Yes, it’s all there. Now let’s think about what it means.
John sums the whole story in one sentence! “The Word became flesh and lived (dwelt) among us.” The Greek word actually translates as “pitched his tent among us.” Thus, he intended to move in with us and stay with us a while!
He is Emmanuel ~ God with us!
Now there are two words here that Christians generally don’t like. One is “flesh” as in “the world, the flesh and the devil.” And the other is in the middle of the Christmas part of our faith story in theology. That theological word is “Incarnation”. The “carn” part is carnal. We don’t like that word, do we? We think it~um~refers to sin!
But there you are, folks “flesh” and “carnal” referring to what our God has taken upon himself.
Let’s look at what the Christmas story means ~ what its implications might mean for your life today:
If God accepted our “fleshiness” (by becoming flesh, by taking on a human body) – then so should (must) we accept our own bodies and, yes, our sexuality, our “fleshiness.”
This was the reason he became Man: to throw in his lot with the human race and show us how to become fully human, fully alive!
Our waiting is over.
Christmas is here.
I have the peace and satisfaction that I have poured my love into my writings
I hope to receive the special gift Jesus wants to give me this Christmas.
And I pray so very earnestly that you receive the special gift God wishes to give you.
Cleanse your heart of resentments / of preoccupations with unnecessary things.
Ask yourself what really is the meaning of life ~ your life.
For me the answer is to love as best I can.
I have a lot of love in my heart to share with whomever would like to receive.
I also have some wisdom to share that arises out of my own crosses I’ver carried over the years.
But it’s all gift!
So, I hope you have received something nourishing and sweet in the 21 posts I have been able to create this Advent.
They are my gift to you.
Have a wonderful Christmas with your family.
And if your Christmas is lonely with no one really special to share it with,
know that you have someone here who understands and who reaches out to you from my heart to yours.
And be sure to open yourself to the holiness / the wholeness / the peace of Christmas.
It is there beneath all the craziness and hype. It is yours if you seek it and ask for it.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!
Glory to God in the highest and peace to people of good will!
Here is a thrilling version of “O Holy Night” sung by the men and boys choir at Kings College, Cambridge. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.
If you would like the Scripture readings for the Scripture readings for any of the several Masses for Christmas Click here.