February 17, 2010

Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday

Yesterday my friend and I decided to take our kids out to a Mardi Gras parade. The only problem was picking one to go to.

Every town here in Louisiana has a Mardi Gras parade. Each is different. Some are long and have tons of big floats. Others are smaller and consist of mostly the Mardi Gras runners showing off their chicken they caught to cook in the traditional gumbo.

We decided to take the kids to one in Eunice. When I was younger I had attended this parade a few times. It was always a smaller one. Not this year. The people where packed waiting for this parade. We had a hard time finding a place to stand so that the kids could see. Finally we found a place between two older couples. They had a big planter the kids could stand on and see over the barricade.

The parade was great. They had lots more floats than I would have imagined for a smaller town, and beads where being thrown in abundance. Between our two 3 year olds, we had two bags full of beads, two or three cups, a ball, and a little bit of candy. (Beads are what most parades throw for Mardi Gras, not candy.)

After the almost too long parade, we went home and I made a big old pot of chicken and sausage gumbo. We had the last king cake of the season for desert!

Today is Ash Wednesday, and Will and I got up early to attend Mass. We are now sporting our ashes on our head and I (not Will, he is too young) am ready to start my Lenten season.

As many of you know, I have been on a journey to become closer to the Lord our God. Lent is especially important to me this year. I feel more connected and better understand what Lent is all about. As my Hubby (who is not Catholic) often says "People only really want to be Catholic around holidays and Lent." This is because we do not eat meat on Ash Wednesday or on Fridays for the entire Lenten season.

The people my Hubby is talking about are the ones who, every Friday go out to a seafood restaurant and eat seafood platters. This is a time for penance. Not a time for indulgence. To go out and do this is more of an indulgence than a penance. I must admit I have been know to do this in the past. Know I better understand what penance is. I may still go out for seafood once, but not every Friday, or anymore than I would normally. (This would be almost never.)

We are also suppose to give something else up as a penance. The last few years though, I have decided to do something other than give something up. The practice of spiritual discipline is always appropriate. One year I started with saying extra prayers for those I dislike or those who hurt me. This year I plan to spend more time reading and studying the Scriptures. This is something I feel that I can benefit from and need to do.

So for all those out there who are also practicing penance in this great time of year, I will say an extra prayer for you. I hope everyone enjoys Lent this year!


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