The Pre-Lenten season is yet another tradition the Church disposed of for no good reason at all during the 1960s. Quinquagesima refers to fifty days before Easter Sunday, a more symbolic number than literal. For some of the early Christians, this Sunday marked the beginning of our penitential abstention from meat. Those of us in the West have until the night before Ash Wednesday. This week we celebrate Mardi Gras, literally translated as Fat Tuesday. This is the time of Carnivale, or "Bye bye meat." Traditionally, our fasting and abstention was much more severe in the West. The East puts us to shame in that regard. At one time we gave up flesh meat, milk, and eggs for all 40 days of Lent. Mardi Gras fare usually consisted of meat and pancakes. Sounds pretty good to me. Tonight we're throwing a Mardi Gras celebration for the LifeTeen kids with lots of meat and pancakes.
For lunch on Tuesday, I'm going in to Subway to order my annual Mardi Gras special: "Hello! What can I get you today?"
"Oh… okay, on what kind of bread?"
"I want roast beef, ham, turkey, salami, and steak between two oven roasted chicken breasts. Wrap the whole thing in bacon."