Fr Dexter Brereton, CSSp offers some practical tips to guide behaviour during Carnival, bearing in mind that one cannot always simply look at actions and tell whether they are right and wrong:
1. Develop the capacity for self-examination. Ask yourself: “What happened to me during last Carnival?” “What were the problems I encountered?” When did they start?” “Who was I with?” “What was I consuming?”. This process, he said, can lead persons to discover what constitutes an occasion of sin. An occasion of sin refers to a situation, thing or even a person, which can entice us to sin. What is an occasion of sin for one may not be an occasion of sin for another. Thus, if one knows that alcohol abuse is frequent in his/her family, maybe he/she should avoid persons who drink heavily.
2. Develop common sense. Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 3.26 says ‘Those who love danger will perish in it’. Avoid situations where your moral virtue will be severely tested. Avoidance is often the better part of valour.
3. Develop awareness of your emotional dynamics. If for example, your dancing leaves you extremely aroused (horny) or you feel yourself losing control, then you have probably gone too far.
4. Develop a sense of compassion. Be aware of what may be going on in others. Do not lead others into sin. It is very wrong to deliberately seek to entice someone to sin or to arousal through one’s actions, words or appearance. “Our patriarchal misogynistic society encourages men to take the role of ‘sexual conquerer’ and women to take the role of ‘temptress’. Both women and men, he said, suffer as a result. As Christians, especially during the Carnival festivities are called to resist the death-dealing parts of our culture
5. Develop your knowledge of Catholic doctrine. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a wonderful source of moral guidance for Catholics. Nos. 2052 to 2550 cover the Ten Commandments and it is here that we can find a lot of encouragement to live whole and balanced lives, not simply rules telling us what not to do.