MARIA STEIN – The Maria Stein Shrine hosted a Shrove pancake dinner followed by the ceremonial burying of the Alleluia on Tuesday, March 5. The Rev. John Tonkin, Shrine Rector and pastor of St. Christopher Church in Vandalia, led the ceremony.
Shrove Tuesday falls right before Lent, which is a time of absolution and penance for many Christians. During the 40 days of Lent, some people fast, while others give up something they enjoy. This is to mirror Jesus’ 40 days walking in the desert, and to get forgiveness for sins from God. Shrove is the past tense of the word shrive, which means to present oneself to a priest for confession, penance, and absolution. Since Shrove Tuesday is the day before people aim to find penance by fasting for Lent, this is where the day got its name. In some countries, the term Mardi Gras is used to represent this day. This is French for Fat Tuesday and, like in British celebrations, involves plenty of food and drink.
The reason pancakes are eaten on this day is because they were a good way for people to use up the richer ingredients they had before the Lenten fast when they’d go bad. Each ingredient is also said to represent one of the four pillars of the Christian faith. Eggs represent creation, flour the mainstay of the human diet, salt denotes wholesomeness, and milk is purity.
During the season of Lent the Church does not use the word Alleluia – a joyful cry of praise to God. The omission of alleluia during Lent goes back at least to the fifth century in the western church. The association of alleluia with Easter led to the custom of intentionally omitting it from the liturgy during the season of Lent, a kind of verbal fast which has the effect of creating a sense of anticipation and even greater joy when the familiar word of praise returns.
People do not use it at church. People do not use it at home. People let it rest, as it were, during Lent, so that when it reappears on Easter, people may hear it anew. In fact, once it returns on Easter, people give it no rest at all, repeating it again and again, in celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. The custom of actually bidding it farewell developed in the Middle Ages in Babylon. Many churches embrace the practice of physically “burying” the alleluia as a symbol of this solemn Lenten change.
The Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics provides faith nourishment and spiritual renewal through opportunities for prayer and pilgrimage and inspiration from the lives of the saints. People from around the world visit the shrine to explore and enjoy this environment rich in holiness and history.
The Shrine is located at 2291 St. John’s Road in Maria Stein. For more event information, visit www.mariasteinshrine.org.