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The Day After Fat Tuesday [Ash Wednesday, Beginning of Lent]
Catholic Exchange.com ^ | February 21, 2009 | Matthew Warner

Posted on 02/22/2009 11:03:36 PM PST by Salvation

The Day After Fat Tuesday

February 21st, 2009 by Matthew Warner

The day after Fat Tuesday begins with suffering and self-sacrifice for many people…suffering from a hangover and a sacrificing of much needed sleep in order to make it to work on time. Somehow, I think many of us might be missing the point. For many, Fat Tuesday (English for Mardi Gras) seems to be just another reason to stay out late, drink heavily, expose ourselves, and commit all types of RAI (Random Acts of Immorality). And somehow it’s all excused because hey… it’s Mardi Gras!

Nobody likes to poop on a party, but it is quite obvious that we have lost sight of the true meaning of the festivities. If I thought that this next point would be contested by many, I might actually do a survey to verify it. But if we were to ask the average crowd on Bourbon Street during a Mardi Gras celebration, “What day is tomorrow?” I am willing to bet that many of them would not really have a clue what we were really asking. Midnight on Fat Tuesday is not just the end of the party, it’s the beginning of something much more significant and much more important. It’s the beginning of Lent. The day after Fat Tuesday is Ash Wednesday .

The whole purpose of Fat Tuesday is to feast in order to prepare for the fast of the 40 days of Lent. Traditionally, the feast consisted of fattened calves, dairy, eggs, fat, etc. that all had to be used up before Lent because the fast of Lent required abstaining from those things. This was back when the observed fast was generally stricter than just the “no meat on Fridays, etc.” that it is currently in the United States today. Fat Tuesday also marks the final day of the Carnival festivities, which comes from the words “Carne Vale,” meaning “farewell to the flesh.”

So the spirit of Fat Tuesday is one of preparation for the Lenten season to come. It is a farewell to the flesh. It is about preparing ourselves to die a little more to ourselves during Lent through fasting and abstinence in order to prepare for Good Friday and Easter, the remembrance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And since Easter is the climax of the Christian calendar, it deserves preparation. It is the Easter event that we celebrate most as Christians and, as Catholics, on a smaller scale every Sunday at Mass. So it is only appropriate that we prepare ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually to participate fully in the sacrifice and redemption of the cross. And we should do this for the celebration of the Mass each and every Sunday, but most especially for the Easter Mass. This Easter preparation is what the Church calls Lent.

The early Church, in its wisdom, evolved many of the pagan festivals and holidays existing during that time and turned them into Christian celebrations instead. This was because it was more difficult to kill existing traditions and begin new ones than it was to just change the meaning of the existing traditions. So what it did was take something that had strayed from God’s desires and converted it to a new meaning that pointed it back to God. (Which is pretty neat because that’s exactly what Christ came to do for us; He didn’t come to condemn our hearts, He came to convert them.)

Similarly, Fat Tuesday has its roots in hedonistic pagan rituals and celebrations, but the Church came and gave deeper meaning to them. It said, yes, be thankful for all these things you have, celebrate those, but here is Who you should be thanking: Jesus. And go ahead, live it up and be silly and happy. Fill yourselves with all of this wonderful food tonight, because tomorrow… tomorrow we fast and abstain for 40 days. Tomorrow we prepare for the real and ultimate fulfillment, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Savior. Tomorrow we prepare to receive the eternal food, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. And of course with this new Christian purpose, even with all of the feasting and merriment prior to Lent, it was not an excuse to sin. It was a call to conversion from sinful traditions. It was just as much a call to repentance.

Unfortunately, currently we find ourselves very much back in that same situation. Most Mardi Gras celebrations today are a closer resemblance of the ancient hedonistic festivals than the Christian preparation for Lent that they are supposed to be. As Catholics (and other Christians who practice Lent), we must partially blame ourselves for allowing this holy time of year to be overshadowed by a drunken, over-indulgent, high-jacking of our own celebration. Like the early Church Christians, we have to give it meaning again. We have to point it back in the right direction — toward God. We have to allow ourselves to be converted and then work for the conversion of others. We shouldn’t wake up the day after Fat Tuesday suffering from a hangover. We should wake up immersed in the suffering and self-sacrifice of Lent. And everyone should know what day comes after Fat Tuesday.

 
Matthew Warner is a Catholic blogger, speaker, musician and founder of Fallible Blogma and flockNote.com.


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: ashwednesday; catholic; catholiclist; fattuesday; lent; mardigras
For your contemplation and discussion.
1 posted on 02/22/2009 11:03:36 PM PST by Salvation
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To: Salvation

Thank you!


2 posted on 02/22/2009 11:22:44 PM PST by mckenzie7 ( mohammed = 666)
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To: Salvation

Silly Latins. Lent begins after Cheesefare, when there are snowball fights, blintzes and sleigh rides.

I’m not sure why the Latins go so crazy before a season where they still consume everything, except eat fish on Friday.


3 posted on 02/23/2009 3:43:00 AM PST by cizinec (The truth is . . . . . 127!)
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To: Salvation

Is it? We’re too tired to notice. Pseudo-Lent, when you sit in the rocker with your eyes closed and say, “Oh, just get yourselves some toast. Maybe I’ll buy groceries tomorrow.”


4 posted on 02/23/2009 4:03:02 AM PST by Tax-chick ("Global leadership means never having to say you're sorry." ~IBD)
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To: Salvation

“As Catholics (and other Christians who practice Lent), we must partially blame ourselves for allowing this holy time of year to be overshadowed by a drunken, over-indulgent, high-jacking of our own celebration”

As someone who grew up near the NO area, “overshadowed” is a huge understatement.


5 posted on 02/23/2009 8:04:25 AM PST by Augustinian monk (When your going through hell, keep going - Winston Churchill)
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To: Augustinian monk; Salvation
we must partially blame ourselves for allowing this holy time of year to be overshadowed by a drunken, over-indulgent, high-jacking of our own celebration

Why must we? The author's welcome to blame himself, if it makes him feel better, but I have absolutely no responsibility for debauchery that became traditional, in some subcultures, long before I was born.

6 posted on 02/23/2009 8:13:42 AM PST by Tax-chick ("Global leadership means never having to say you're sorry." ~IBD)
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To: cizinec

The article talks about the customs of Lent.

Fasting (only one full meal a day) is the in thing for all days during Lent — but obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Abstinence from meat is in for all Fridays.

If the Catholics you know aren’t doing this, then they are probably CINOs or don’t know any better. Maybe you can inform them.


7 posted on 02/23/2009 9:10:21 AM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Augustinian monk

I agree with you. They party, but then they don’t turn toward penance and God during Lent.

Modern world syndrome, huh?


8 posted on 02/23/2009 9:11:48 AM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: cizinec; Tax-chick
Fasting and Abstinence during Lent -- EWTN

The Holy Season of Lent
Fast and Abstinence.

It is a traditional doctrine of Christian spirituality that a constituent part of repentance, of turning away from sin and back to God, includes some form of penance, without which the Christian is unlikely to remain on the narrow path and be saved (Jer. 18:11, 25:5; Ez.  18:30, 33:11-15; Joel 2:12; Mt. 3:2; Mt. 4:17; Acts 2:38). Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). The general law of penance, therefore, is part of the law of God for man.

The Church has specified certain forms of penance, both to ensure that the Catholic will do something, as required by divine law, while making it easy for Catholics to fulfill the obligation. Thus, the 1983 Code of Canon Law specifies the obligations of Latin Rite Catholics [Eastern Rite Catholics have their own penitential practices as specified by the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches].

Canon 1250  All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.

Canon 1251  Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Canon 1252  All persons who have completed their fourteenth year are bound by the law of abstinence; all adults are bound by the law of fast up to the beginning of their sixtieth year. Nevertheless, pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated in an authentic sense of penance.

Can. 1253  It is for the conference of bishops to determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence and to substitute in whole or in part for fast and abstinence other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.

The Church, therefore, has two forms of official penitential practices - three if the Eucharistic fast before Communion is included.

Abstinence  The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Meat is considered to be the flesh and organs of mammals and fowl. Moral theologians have traditionally considered this also to forbid soups or gravies made from them. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted, as are animal derived products such as margarine and gelatin which do not have any meat taste.

On the Fridays outside of Lent the U.S. bishops conference obtained the permission of the Holy See for Catholics in the US to substitute a penitential, or even a charitable, practice of their own choosing. Since this was not stated as binding under pain of sin, not to do so on a single occasion would not in itself be sinful. However, since penance is a divine command, the general refusal to do penance is certainly gravely sinful. For most people the easiest way to consistently fulfill this command is the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year which are not liturgical solemnities. When solemnities, such as the Annunciation, Assumption, All Saints etc. fall on a Friday, we neither abstain or fast. 

During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere, and it is sinful not to observe this discipline without a serious reason (physical labor, pregnancy, sickness etc.).

Fasting The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday [Canon 97] to the 59th Birthday [i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday] to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal in quantity. Such fasting is obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The fast is broken by eating between meals and by drinks which could be considered food (milk shakes, but not milk). Alcoholic beverages do not break the fast; however, they seem contrary to the spirit of doing penance.

Those who are excused from fast or abstinence Besides those outside the age limits, those of unsound mind, the sick, the frail, pregnant or nursing women according to need for meat or nourishment,  manual laborers according to need, guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense or causing enmity and other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline.

Aside from these minimum penitential requirements Catholics are encouraged to impose some personal penance on themselves at other times. It could be modeled after abstinence and fasting. A person could, for example, multiply the number of days they abstain. Some people give up meat entirely for religious motives (as opposed to those who give it up for health or other motives). Some religious orders, as a penance, never eat meat. Similarly, one could multiply the number of days that one fasted. The early Church had a practice of a Wednesday and Saturday fast. This fast could be the same as the Church's law (one main meal and two smaller ones) or stricter, even bread and water. Such freely chosen fasting could also consist in giving up something one enjoys - candy, soft drinks, smoking, that cocktail before supper, and so on. This is left to the individual.

One final consideration. Before all else we are obliged to perform the duties of our state in life. When considering stricter practices than the norm, it is prudent to discuss the matter with one's confessor or director. Any deprivation that would seriously hinder us in carrying out our work, as students, employees or parents would be contrary to the will of God.

----   Colin B. Donovan, STL


9 posted on 02/23/2009 9:14:47 AM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Tax-chick
**On the Fridays outside of Lent the U.S. bishops conference obtained the permission of the Holy See for Catholics in the US to substitute a penitential, or even a charitable, practice of their own choosing. Since this was not stated as binding under pain of sin, not to do so on a single occasion would not in itself be sinful. However, since penance is a divine command, the general refusal to do penance is certainly gravely sinful.**
 
I wonder how may U. S. Catholics actually do the act of pentitence to substitute for abstaining on Fridays during the entire year?? 

10 posted on 02/23/2009 9:18:23 AM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: nickcarraway; Lady In Blue; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; Catholicguy; RobbyS; markomalley; ...
The Day After Fat Tuesday [Ash Wednesday, Beginning of Lent]
Ash Wednesday and the Lenten Fast-Family observance Lenten season [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]

More Protestants turn to Ash Wednesday
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, Ashes
Ash Wednesday
Where does Ash Wednesday get its ashes?
Every Ash Wednesday comes the question about ashes: to burn or to buy?

Pope will preside at Ash Wednesday Mass, procession; act will renew ancient tradition
Ash Wednesday: Preparing For Easter
Ash Wednesday: Our Shifting Understanding of Lent
Ash Wednesday


11 posted on 02/23/2009 9:20:15 AM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

Honestly I had no idea that Mardi Gras had anything to do with Ash Wednesday. It just meant Mardi Gras-massive party day. It is amazing how off course the world can get when it kicks God out.


12 posted on 02/23/2009 9:45:07 AM PST by GOP Poet
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To: Salvation

I have no idea. The good part about the Friday abstention rule, imo, is that it was simple and obvious, easy to plan for. You didn’t have to ask yourself, “Is it penitential to make a big, labor-intensive, multi-item meal for the family when what I really want is toast?” I guess it is. We’d fast every Friday, if it were up to me, because I’m ready to die by the end of the week ... but I’ve still got nine other people and the dog demanding tons of food.


13 posted on 02/23/2009 9:46:00 AM PST by Tax-chick ("Global leadership means never having to say you're sorry." ~IBD)
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To: Salvation
I wonder how may U. S. Catholics actually do the act of pentitence to substitute for abstaining on Fridays during the entire year??

Guilty as charged :-)

14 posted on 02/23/2009 9:53:58 AM PST by pegleg (Lies will seek you out, but the truth must be sought.)
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To: GOP Poet

I remember my mom using up all the bacon fat and lard before Lent, so that the cooking could be done with other things.

Anything meat or meat products was out.

BTW, don’t tell the world that Mardi Gras has anything to do with Ash Wednesday. New Orleans would lose so much money — LOL!


15 posted on 02/23/2009 10:03:19 AM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: pegleg

So just do the abstinence from meat on Friday and take care of it all?


16 posted on 02/23/2009 10:05:38 AM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

LOL. Great point! It was always fish sticks on Friday for our big family of gigantic proportions.


17 posted on 02/23/2009 10:12:04 AM PST by GOP Poet
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To: Salvation
So just do the abstinence from meat on Friday and take care of it all?

Ooops, sorry for the senior moment. I observe meatless Friday's all year long.

18 posted on 02/23/2009 10:13:10 AM PST by pegleg (Lies will seek you out, but the truth must be sought.)
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To: Salvation
The early Church, in its wisdom, evolved many of the pagan festivals and holidays existing during that time and turned them into Christian celebrations instead. This was because it was more difficult to kill existing traditions and begin new ones than it was to just change the meaning of the existing traditions.

Meanwhile, Biblical holidays (Pesach, Purim, Ro'sh HaShanah, etc.) were abolished outright and their practice proscribed as heretical "Judaizing." Jewish holidays deny Chr*st, but pagan ones are the means of "appropriating salvation."

This is another area of traditional anti-Judaism that liberal Jewish anti-Catholics, with their hang-up on persecution and blind spot for theological liberalism, never seem to bring up.

19 posted on 02/23/2009 10:17:46 AM PST by Zionist Conspirator (Venatatta 'el-ha'aron 'et ha`edut 'asher 'etten 'eleykha.)
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To: Salvation

Interesting post.

Thanks..


20 posted on 02/23/2009 11:15:28 AM PST by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: Salvation

Fat Tuesday? Never heard of it called that, we generally call it pancake day.


21 posted on 02/23/2009 12:15:18 PM PST by Catholic Canadian ( I love Stephen Harper!)
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To: Salvation

Sorry, but it was a little dig at my RC brothers. Lent doesn’t begin for us until next Monday. ;)

Orthodox fasting is a little . . . different. The “official” RC rules look pretty lax to us. My wife’s grandmother was RC and she practiced fasting rules much more like Orthodox ones.

Of course, it’s not the rules that count, but your heart when fasting. We have something called a “demon’s fast.” It’s when someone follows a very strict fast but is a real jerk. We call it a demon’s fast because even the demons don’t eat.


22 posted on 02/23/2009 2:27:33 PM PST by cizinec (The truth is . . . . . 127!)
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To: Salvation
I do not eat meat on Fridays. On the rare occasion when I am in a position where I have to (such as being the guest of someone for dinner) I abstain from alcohol and dessert.

I find that this makes me remember Christ's sacrifice, enforces my Catholic identity, and encourages me to a life of more discipline.

23 posted on 02/23/2009 4:14:58 PM PST by Miss Marple
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To: cizinec

So what are the orthodox rules for Lent?


24 posted on 02/23/2009 4:35:30 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
Wait! There's a day after Mardi Gras?

The modern Lenten Discipline: Party 6 days a week and sleep it off on Sunday.

And time for my annual curmudgeonly remark: If people in the country observed Lent with half the enthusiasm with which they observe Mardi Gras, our nation would be renewed.

/curmudgoen off.

25 posted on 02/23/2009 5:44:37 PM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: All
More about Shrove Tuesday

Pre-Lenten Days -- Family activities-Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras)[Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]

And so it begins - The Questions, the questions... [Shrove Tuesday]

On Pancakes

Mardi Gras' Catholic Roots [Shrove Tuesday]

New Orleans: A Tale of Two Cities (Rosary Walk Before Mardi Gras)

26 posted on 02/23/2009 9:37:57 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
Thank you for posting this. My husband and I were discussing Mardi Gras last night, and failed to see what the attraction was. Now, knowing that it has some root in Christianity gives me a sense of understanding.

I grew up around a lot of catholics, and always loved the Friday Fish Fries, but never had any knowledge other than it was a great bonus for those of us who did not participate in Lent.

Have most Catholics strayed from the Friday Fish Fries? I don't see them offered at the local restaurants like I did as a kid (of course I'm living in a strong Baptist area now, so maybe that's the difference).

27 posted on 02/24/2009 2:30:43 AM PST by borntobeagle (Good fences make good neighbors------R. Frost)
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To: Salvation

It’s different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but . . .

The first rule is the whole “why are you doing it.”

The food rules are generally as follows:

No meat after one week before Lent.

No dairy after Lent begins.

No oil on many days, although this is generally not observed outside of monasteries.

For Greeks, no alcohol except on special wine days, which are very rare.

For us weak slavs, no alcohol means no hard liquor and, often, no wine. Beer is not considered alcohol by some of the Slavic jurisdictions.

Sunday’s liturgies are (for all jurisdictions) the Liturgy of St. Basil, which is longer than our normal Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

More home prayers, liturgies, etc.

How many people actually observe the fast? It’s hard for me to tell and I don’t ask. It seems that most at my church follow it, but it’s a taboo subject. A person may have an ailment that requires dispensation. Dispensation is almost always from the priest.

A person can get dispensation based on the fact that they’ve never fasted before and it’s too hard. The priest then makes a rule of fasting for that individual, which is usually very challenging.

Unfortunately, the Eastern Rite Catholics have had the tendency to leave their own fasting traditions (used to be Orthodox) and follow more RC stuff. Most of the ECs don’t eat meat or dairy on Wednesdays and Fridays, but do not fast otherwise.

If you want a good challenge for Lent, skip meat and cheese on Wednesdays and Fridays (talk to your priest first). Stick to bread and inexpensive fruit. Take the cheese and meat you would have eaten and donate it to your local food bank, or whoever.

Sorry to go on and on. I was just trying to give you guys a hard time.

Have a blessed Lenten season.


28 posted on 02/24/2009 9:06:34 AM PST by cizinec (The truth is . . . . . 127!)
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To: Catholic Canadian

Fat Tuesday? Never heard of it called that, we generally call it pancake day.

&&&
We have always called it Shrove Tuesday in my home, as it was called in the home I grew up in. Pancakes for supper that night. Last night, the husband and I attended a pancake supper given by the K of C at my parish.


29 posted on 02/25/2009 9:10:59 AM PST by Bigg Red (Palin in 2012!)
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To: Zionist Conspirator

...another area of traditional anti-Judaism....

&&
Well, I apologize for the sins of my forefathers, but that was then, and this is now.

Our Eastertide gives the nod to your Passover, BTW, and some RC liturgies introduce elements of Passover traditions.

I was never, in my 12 years of Catholic education, beginning in the 1950s, taught anything but respect for Judaism, both in school and in my parents’ home.


30 posted on 02/25/2009 9:17:26 AM PST by Bigg Red (Palin in 2012!)
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To: Zionist Conspirator

...another area of traditional anti-Judaism....

&&
Well, I apologize for the sins of my forefathers, but that was then, and this is now.

Our Eastertide gives the nod to your Passover, BTW, and some RC liturgies introduce elements of Passover traditions.

I was never, in my 12 years of Catholic education, beginning in the 1950s, taught anything but respect for Judaism, both in school and in my parents’ home.


31 posted on 02/25/2009 9:32:10 AM PST by Bigg Red (Palin in 2012!)
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To: Zionist Conspirator

Sorry for the double post.


32 posted on 02/25/2009 9:34:41 AM PST by Bigg Red (Palin in 2012!)
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To: Bigg Red
I don't really want to get into a big discussion right now because I have other things on my mind, but for some reason you--and all liturgical chr*stians, for that matter--seem to miss the point I am trying to make.

I grew up sharing the beliefs of my Fundamentalist Protestant culture, one of which was that the "old law" no longer applied because it had been explicitly abolished in the "new testament"--however, this same abolition was seen to make all rituals, ceremonials, holidays, and laws completely superfluous.

Eventually I converted to Roman Catholicism because of the historical argument, but this created an even bigger problem. I retained my Biblical sentimentalism, but now I found myself having to justify and defend post-Biblical rituals, ceremonials, holidays, and laws while interpreting Paul's strictures only against Biblical (ie, Jewish) rituals, ceremonials, holidays, and laws. Eventually I could no longer go along with this.

If the ceremonials and laws of the Bible have been abolished, then, qal vachomer, so have all post-Biblical laws. If, on the other hand (as liturgical chr*stianity teaches) post-Biblical laws are the means by which "salvation" is "appropriated," then there was never anything wrong with Biblical law in the first place.

This is strictly theological anti-Judasim, not "anti-Semitism" as it is conventionally defined today. I also took a little swipe (reread my post and perhaps you'll see it) at Jews who engage in endless dialogues with the most liberal, anti-Biblical chr*stians they can find and who scream bloody murder at ethnic prejudice but never seem to complain about the abolition of Jewish holidays in favor of pagan ones (or about slams at the "Pharisees," who remain a perfectly legitimate target uncovered by the shield of "political correctness").

Thank you for your interest. I know you are not an anti-Semite.

33 posted on 02/25/2009 10:35:15 AM PST by Zionist Conspirator (Venatatta 'el-ha'aron 'et ha`edut 'asher 'etten 'eleykha.)
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