Some years ago on Shrove Tuesday when I was a student chaplain, we would make a large amount of batter and at tea time our kitchen would be swarming with students coming to share the joy of pancakes. As you know the word shrove comes from the anglo saxon word to shrive.
In the Middle Ages, especially in Northern Europe and England, it became the custom for people to go to the priest to confess their sins on the day before Lent began in order to enter the penitential season in the right spirit. They were shriven or forgiven.
Pancakes became associated with Shrove Tuesday as they were a dish that could use up all the eggs, fats and milk in the house with just the addition of flour. Today we could take the opportunity to prepare for Lent. On our board in the church we will have a banner that says “Lent: our journey to Easter.” As Thomas Merton wrote:
“We must remember the original meaning of Lent, as ver sacrum, the Church’s “holy spring” is not a season of punishment so much as one of healing. There is joy in the salutary fasting and abstinence of the Christian who eats and drinks less in order that the mind may be more clear and receptive to receive the sacred nourishment of God’s word.”
Let us enjoy the pancakes if this is our tradition and make a decision to spend this weeks leading to Easter in opening our hearts to the healing of Christ, through our prayer, our fasting and our almsgiving (works of charity).