Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Today is Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday. The day is special for me because I wrote my dissertation on an event that occurred in Rome on this day. During the last three days of carnival, concluding on Mardi Gras, the festivities of the Roman Carnival reached a fevered pitch.  The long straight street that connected the Piazza del Popolo with the Roman forum provided the playground for drinking, dancing, and other behaviors which would set any good Jesuit’s teeth on edge to say nothing of their concern for the eternal salvation of these poor souls. What was a Jesuit to do? And this debauched behavior occurring right in the backyard of the Mother Church of the Society! Well, if carnival was the world of over-turned moral behavior, the Jesuits would re-turn (or convert) this behavior by re-focusing these revelers towards the person of Jesus. But getting the partygoers off the street and into the church to attend Eucharistic adoration was a bit of a problem, considering the competition. So the Jesuits teamed up with a group of laity who financed and produced an incredible theatrical scene with stage effects, thousands of candles, and the distribution of holy cards and medals. The Jesuits did the preaching and the laity produced an event that had the church packed. The lesson of this story is that effective cooperation with the laity has occurred way before the Second Vatican Council. Everyone worked together by sharing their faith, resources, and talent for the salvation of souls during the Roman Carnival.

February 28th, 2017