Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mardi Gras-- Mission Style

The rising of baby Jesus "El Nino"
Lent has begun but I do wish to share Mardi Gras--or our version of it-- here in Eastern Tennessee.  It was unique and delightful.
Breakfast is served

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Mission held a pancake breakfast for our last feast before Lent.  Since we now have two Masses, one in English at 9 and the other in Spanish at 11, we held the breakfast at 10 and started the Spanish Mass a little be later.  (Had to have time for the fast.)  This was a great way for the two language groups to come together to build community.  Our students know each other because of Wednesday night faith formation, but our adults do not.  Our pancake makers and flippers were wonderful.  Everyone seems happy and "fat"--- get it "Fat Tuesday", but of course it was Sunday.
Pancake flippers

At Blessed John Paul II Catholic Mission it was not really Mardi Gras, but it was a party!!!  A family asked if they could celebrate "Levante El Nino"-- the rising of the baby Jesus.  I have seen the tradition once many years ago at someone's home in Mexico, but it was the first time for the request here in the United States.  I wonder if the feast normally is done earlier after Christmas, but we were happy to do it last Sunday.

Tiny baby Jesus be reverenced
The tradition was that after Mass, one boy and one girl each took an image of the child Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes and dressed him.  Jesus is no longer a baby, but a child who can walk.  It was beautiful to watch the care in which this was done.  Then these two baby Jesus' were processed throughout the church and everyone kissed the image.
The larger child Jesus be reverenced

Then we ate and ate.  It was a huge feast and delightful time.  We had about 125 people in attendance, which is the largest in the worship space to date.  Truly it was a joy and wonderful to celebrate before moving into the Lenten time.
Waiting for the feast to begin

So we ended ordinary time with a great celebration of God's love with food and fellowship.  Now we slow down and begin the Lenten journey of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  The rejoicing will begin again in just 40 days.  Hope your journey of Lent leads you to the joy of Easter.

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