The last day before Lent starts where everyone can party hard, and pig out.
What a misconception.
Lent is one of the most solemn liturgical seasons in the Church, and instead of using this time to really think about how we're going to begin our "lenten path", we're more concerned with packing in the sweets, treats, and everything in between. How many times, we get to Ash Wednesday and realize....."whoops! kinda forgot Lent was coming. What am I going to do? Well I'll just do some extra reading and praying." Or, we could be the type that goes through the days preceeding Lent knowing it's approaching, but we still get to Ash Wednesday and say to ourselves, "...well things were just so hectic I didn't have time to think about what I was going to do, so..."
The Church gives us days preceeding Lent to gradually come down from the joyful season of Christmas and Ephiphany, and start contemplating the most important part in the life of Christ---namely, our Redemption. They start raising those red flags to start poking and proding us--"hey! Lent is coming!" And yet, how many of us (and notice the "US" part!) still reach that holy, solemn day of Ash Wednesday without truly understanding or having prepared for the long journey ahead.
Society treats Fat Tuesday as "Mardi Gras"....grab those colorful beads, party, masks, parades.....it's time to celebrate! But is it really? True, its the day to indulge where you can to a certain extent....but should our thoughts truly be so callous? And how sad is it, that too many people take the spirit of "Mardi Gras" all throughout Lent.
Today is not a sorrowful day, I know that. And I guess you can refer to it as that "cushion" the Church provides for us to enjoy before we "take up the cross" on the road to Calvary. But let's also keep in mind the truth of today: that Lent IS approaching, and each one of us has a Catholic duty to make this Lent our best one yet!
(**Disclaimer: This naturally did not prevent me from indulging in a few sweets...homemade chocolate cookies! Yummm!***)