Anticipating Mardi Gras at the PH

The mention of Mardi Gras evokes images of New Orleans and its traditional noisy, raucous celebration of Carnaval.

treeSr. Norma Bourdon has introduced the Sisters at the Provincial House to a new take on Shrove Tuesday: the spirituality of Mardi Gras, linking Advent and Christmas to Lent via a gold bead decorated tree and weekly prayers. The bare Advent Jesse Tree is replaced by the Christmas Tree we all know so well and at Epiphany the ornaments are removed from the Christmas Tree and replaced by baubles of gold, green and purple, the signature colors of Mardi Gras. Then on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the entire tree is replaced by the tree of the Cross.

For the ‘Spirituality of Mardi Gras’ the days between Twelfth Night, Epiphany and Mardi Gras are divided into three equal stages: the first stage is dedicated to King Gaspar who brings gold to the Christ Child, the second stage to King Balthazar and his green gift of frankincense, the thrid stage to Melchior who offers purple myrrh.

During the first stage the participants place gold ornaments on the tree to represent all that is ‘gold’ in their lives; during the secong stage green ornaments are added to the tree representing our spiritual life and finally during the third stage purple ornaments are added to represent the suffering in our lives. During each stage appropriate prayers, preferably formulated by the participants, are used on a daily basis to help each one enter into the attitude of mind and heart needed to fully share in this cycle celebration that reminds all of us of God’s providence and ongoing concern for us at every phase of our life and our need to respond to this manganimity continuously and appropriately.

The Sisters at the Provincial House who have chosen to participate in this experience become individually responsible for following through each stage. Sr. Norma has given some guidelines and questions that might be helpful. Of course, the Sisters are invited to gather and to share their progress in this journey. Each participant was given some bright shiny beads to wear during the entire period as an outward symbol of their commitment to the spritituality of Mardi Gras.

The photos show the beaded tree,  Sister Norma wearing her colorful beads and Sisters Lillian Belcher (left) and Clémence Croteau (both celebrating 65 years of religious life this year) with their bright symbols of participation.

Perhaps the following questions from the guided prayer for the stage  of February 15 through March 4th willl interest you in joining in our PH way of anticipating Mardi Gras…Carnaval.



  • Letting go is for life. How is this true? What have you lost this year?
  • If something or someone was taken away from you, have you said your goodbyes?
  • Letting go is also forgiveness. Why do we need this?
  • What is the gift in Grieving?
  • Why do you think King Melchior is always depicted as the closest figure to the Christ Child?
  • How can letting go bring you closer to the Dvivine Child?
  • What are synonyms for ‘letting go’? Name some antonyms.
  • Why do you think King Melchior brought Myrrh to the Christ Child?
  • Where did he get it and how much do you think it cost?

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