Shrove Tuesday: Feast before the Fast - Madonna Magazine

Shrove Tuesday: Feast before the Fast

James O'Brien 19 February 2020

Hymns: I am the Bread of Life, Suzanne Toolan; Come to the Feast, Marty Haugen; One Bread, One Body, John Foley; Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow, Thomas Ken and Louis Bourgeois.

Readings: James 4:1-10; Throw your cares on the Lord, and he will support you – Psalm 55; Mark 9:30-37


Shrove Tuesday is a traditional day for feasting as the final flourish before the fasting of Ash Wednesday.

The communal nature of feasts illustrates the place of relationships in our lives as human beings. Feasts are celebrations of the interwoven relationships between self, God, one another and the Creation whose produce we enjoy. This feasting flows out of God’s abundance, which is ultimately a communal experience. When feasting, we have a special cause to acclaim with joy, praise and thanksgiving all that God is doing in us as a community. As we attend to the food and drink, and enjoy the company of friends and strangers alike, however, there are those who subsist beyond the reach of our tables. It may be counter-cultural, but this year we may well feel encouraged to extend the hand of welcome beyond the usual family or community practice. One more chair at the table may be possible.

As we move into Lent, we prepare a place for fasting in the days and weeks ahead. In readying ourselves, let us ask for the grace to be more attuned to our deep down hunger and thirst for God’s presence in our days. When we feel removed from the felt sense of God’s peace, we can go through a challenging time. But the invitation of God’s Word is to return from the far country. God seeks us out there, making Godself known through signs of presence and grace in our midst. And so it is said: ‘If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts’ (Hebrews 3:15). Let us incline our ear to his voice in conversation and silence, community and solitude, feasting and fasting.

Prayers of petition:

Creator God, we ask for the grace to enjoy deeply those feasts which we celebrate as family, community and church. Make us conscious of your presence among us in such gatherings. Lord, hear us.

Father of all, you call us to yourself. We ask that all your people may be brought together to share at the table out of your abundance. May we bring the feast to those most in need. Lord, hear us.

Spirit of life, you pour forth love into our hearts. Kindle within us a new fire of generosity for those who go without this day. Lord, hear us.

Spirit of freedom, be with all people who need your consolation today. Strengthen and comfort them with your healing and light. Lord, hear us.

Christ our Bread, you are food for the journey. Deepen our experience of your presence in the Eucharist. Nourish us with your Word. Lord, hear us.

Jesus, friend of the human family, draw us towards the promise of your kingdom. Be the source of our joy. Lord, hear us.