While we’re eating our pancakes or doughnuts, let’s not forget that the real reason for Shrove Tuesday is to prepare for a holy celebration of Lent: it’s not only about pancakes, but about penitence for one’s sins! The doughnuts or pancakes were made in order to use up the fat and eggs from which folks would be abstaining during the Lenten Fast (this is also the origin of “Fat Tuesday,” or “Mardi Gras”).
As the images above point out, “shrove” is the past tense of the archaic English verb “to shrive,” meaning to be absolved of and receive pardon from one’s sins through confession and penitence, again in preparation for a holy Lent – the time of penitence and self-examination leading up to Good Friday and Easter, the commemoration of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Or, as the Prayer Book exhortation puts it,
“… if there be any of you, who by this means [prayerful self-examination, and repentance before God on one’s own] cannot quiet his own conscience herein, but requireth further comfort or counsel, let him come to me, or to some other Minister of God’s Word” – another Anglican source refers to “a discrete and understanding priest” – “and open his grief; that he may receive such godly counsel and advice, as may tend to the quieting of his conscience, and the removing of all scruple and doubtfulness.”
The traditional Anglican standard for this sort of private confession to / with a priest is that “all may, some should, none must.” That seems, to me, a good approach.
Wishing everyone a holy, as well as a happy, Shrove Tuesday!