FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- In Christian tradition, the day before Ash Wednesday has many names -- including Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday and Pancake Day -- signifying the last chance to eat rich foods before the season of Lent, the 40-day period of fasting and sacrifice before Easter.

On Fort Leonard Wood, the Installation Chaplain's Office decided to host a post-wide Fat Tuesday Pancake Supper Feb. 21 to kick off the Lenten season and help community members focus on their faith.

"Today is Fat Tuesday -- that doesn't mean that you eat until you're fat," said Cindy Dack, religious education director, as she opened the event. "What that means is that you clean out your pantry, because the next 40 days is a time of Lent -- a time of doing without, of sacrificing, because Jesus Christ sacrificed for us.

"In the old tradition, they used to get rid of everything in their pantries that was fattening, and they would eat it on this day," she explained.

In keeping with this tradition, volunteers took over the Main Post Chapel kitchen to serve up chocolate chip and regular pancakes with all the toppings, sausages, milk and orange juice.

Tim Diamond, a volunteer, manned the griddles throughout the event. He said the event was a great way to get members of the community together.

"Any chance we can build fellowship among the (Christian) community … and Fort Leonard Wood as a whole, (this congregation) goes out of their way to do that for them," Diamond said.

Nine-year-old Jasmine Williams was impressed with the meal. "One thing I like about this is pancakes for supper," she said, while tucking into a chocolate chip pancake.

During the event, Dack read children the story of Lent and helped them make an Easter craft: colorful butterflies and eggs, representing new life in Christ.

"We're going to read the story about Lent and talk with the children about what it means to be sacrificial -- giving up something that you don't want to do without, like chocolate or Dr. Pepper or that extra hour of sleep. What you're supposed to do is think about why it is you're doing without something and that is to remind yourself of Christ and what he did for us," Dack said.

In spiritual parallel to "cleaning out the pantry," many families give up a favorite food or activity to remind themselves of the significance of Easter, Dack added.

One such family is the Ortizgarcia family, who enjoyed eating pancakes while talking about what they would give up for Lent Feb. 21.

"I won't be eating meat for the next 40 days," said Sgt. 1st Class Gabriel Ortizgarcia. "It's more about the spiritual meaning that it has, which is (to) be giving something up so that you can say 'Okay, I can resist. I can go through life without.' I don't have to be dependent on that."

His wife, Gina, said "I'm giving up coffee. It's going to be hard. I get very dependent on coffee, so it will help to find other, better ways to find motivation."

No matter how they choose to observe Lent, Dack said events like the Pancake Supper can help community members to focus on their faith and why it's important to them.
"It makes us think about things a little bit deeper, and it grows the soul," she said.

Page last updated Wed February 29th, 2012 at 11:49