Whatever you call it, Mardi Gras, Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, this is one of my favorite days of the year.
It's the day to get ready for Lent; to decide on practices, to get all the religious equipment together, and to hope for a spiritual renewal to culminate in the renewal of our baptismal vows at the Great Vigil of Easter.
I guess I see the beginning of Lent as something like the fresh start of a new year; a time to gather things back up and start again. It's a moment to dream of what could be, of how I can learn anew to pray, fast, and give alms. Time to quiet down, forget about trifles, pull out hefty volume II of the breviary, and make a new effort to be faithful to the Lord.
Yes the temptation is spiritualized ambition, but hopefully the ambition aims at giving up ownership and control over prayer, fasting, and almsgiving and letting the Spirit of the God and the daily cycles of Mass and Office take control of my imagination.