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Getting ready for Paczki Tuesday.
February 10, 2013
Subscribers Newsletter

Here comes another Paczki Tuesday.

Paczki Tuesday is next Tuesday already. Time flies when you're having fun, or when you're not paying attention. For the unititiated, Paczki is a Polish word; it's pronounced Punchkey; I've also heard it pronounced Poonchkey. How you get that pronunciation out of Paczki is beyond me, but then I'm not Polish. (I don't speak Lithuanian either.) A Paczki is a little jelly-doughnut, or a jelly-filled little dough ball, usually covered with some kind of sugar glaze, powdered sugar or frosting of some kind. They come in various sizes and with different fillings and outside sweet coverings. Germans make the same sort of thing and call them Berliners; Austrians call theirs Krapfen.

My wife loves the cream-filled ones; I like the red or blue jelly. The Paczki is a harbringer of the 40 days of abstinence and fasting that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. For forty days there will be no good sweet snacks in the house; so all the sugar and good sweet stuff in the house is to be used up and cooked up in cakes, pies and desert-dishes for Paczki Tuesday, which is the same as Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday which is the first day of Lent.

What doesn't get eaten up on Paczki Tuesday gets thrown to the pigs, or chickens, or whatever if you live on a farm; otherwise, it goes to the trash. If the Lord could fast for 40 days, then so can we, His disciples.

The grownups know, or should know, better than to just pig-out and stuff themselves on Paczki Tuesday. Go ahead and eat, but remember this:

It should be a day of reflection and preparation for for a period of repentance, involving hunger and turning away from the world, and turning our faces more toward the Lord, our only true salvation. In our house, we have always abstained from meat on Fridays, all year long. During Lent, meatless Fridays are a Catholic requirement. It's a minor thing; we don't even notice it during Lent because it is our habit. So we give up other things we like, and we do extra prayers. But there are fast days during Lent; Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are both abstinence and fasting days.

On Fast days we restrict ourselves to one meal. Really, all through Lent, we should all cut down on our intake, enough to at least feel a little bit hungry when we go to bed. And in the morning we should not eat our fill. Every time you feel a little pang of hunger, think of the Lord during His 40 days in the desert. It is a time of extra devotions; the Stations of the Cross are usually offered on Fridays during Lent in most Churches. However you do it, whatever your schedule allows, more time should be devoted to the Lord every single day during Lent.

Reflection, repentance and penance is enhanced by multiple trips to Confession, paying close attention to the spiritual direction of the Priest and doing penance in a true spirit of contrition and a seeking of Grace. It is a time of turning; a time of seeking; a time of preparation.

Lent culminates in Holy week; Holy Thursday, the Washing of the Feet and the Last Supper. Good Friday, The Lord's Passion, and the Way of the Cross. Holy Saturday, the Day of Silence, Watching and Waiting. And finally, Easter Sunday, the Day of the Resurrection and the Rising, our most Glorious Feast Day, and the end of Lent.

But, first things first.

Are you prepared for Paczki Tuesday, and the commencement of Lent? After you eat your favorite foods on Paczki Tuesday and the day is done, how do you plan to go through the 40 days this year?

These are either terrible days, or wonderful days, for America and for the larger world. We do not know what will come of all that has happened in the past four-plus years. But I can tell you this:

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