Priest: Nothing wrong with playing mas and taking ashes

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

CARNIVAL COLOURS: This masquerader from The Lost Tribe’s Fly enjoys herself during the Parade of the bands at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain on February 13. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Fr Emmanuel Dafe says the belief that people who received ashes on Ash Wednesday after partaking in Carnival celebrations were insincere is an unfair one.

Speaking with Newsday after delivering the homily at Wednesday’s midday mass at the Sacred Heart RC church on Richmond Street in Port of Spain, Dafe said, “Nobody is completely a perfect human being.”

He said Carnival “reminds us of our humanity” while receiving ashes is a reminder that God has built into us a spiritual life adding, “Man is both human and divine.”

He said the purpose of Ash Wednesday was to ask God for forgiveness and the strength to change.

“This is the time in case maybe the way you played mas or did certain things (during Carnival) if it is not completely good in the sight of God, (Wednesday) is the day that you have to come and say, ‘God, I am sorry. I am human, I am sorry. Give me that grace to continue because all of us are works in progress.”

He added while some aspects of Carnival were in opposition to Christian beliefs, the festival was “not all bad” as there were some positives about it.

“I do not completely see Carnival from a negative perspective because if something like that is not happening, how would the world be? People are so disillusioned. Some don’t find joy even in their own life.”

Dafe said Carnival attracts visitors from all over the world and brings people together to laugh and connect.

“Some people would have made a lot of contacts, a lot of connections. You hardly can know. Some people might get a job outside Trinidad just because of people that came for the show and they made some friends.” He described the celebrations as “therapeutic” and said it allows people to interact with laughter, eat, drink, and celebrate.

Dafe said it was proof for some that “something good” can still come of their life and that “life is purposeful.”

He warned against taking life too seriously and wearing a gloomy face.

“Something like that could bring joy in the hearts of so many people. It helps some to have a quiet and relaxed atmosphere, others have time to celebrate and have time to jump up. They have time to see that life is not just all about problems, stress and tension.”

He said he believed, despite what others might say, even the lord could find something positive about Carnival.

“It makes people laugh, it makes people smile. It eases tension and it helps us to appreciate one another as male and female. So something good is there.”