Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The Season Of Septuagesima...

2013-01-27 10.40.59One of the things that I love about the Traditional Latin Mass is that it adheres to the old liturgical calendar, with all the Vigils, Octaves and seasons. I particularly like the season of Septuagesima - the two and a half weeks before Lent. The idea is that we need to prepare for the great feast of Easter by observing Lent, but the forty days of Lent form such a pivotal part of our spiritual conversion that we actually need time to prepare for it as well, hence the gentle mournfulness of the season. The Alleluia is "buried" until Easter, the Gloria is not sung at Sunday Mass (nor the Te Deum at Matins), and purple vestments are worn.

I was fascinated to read the history of Septuagesima as written by Dom Guéranger, OSB, and the relationship to the forty days of Lent. Apparently, in the Greek Church, they didn't fast on Thursdays, Saturdays or Sundays, and so, to make up the forty days, Lent actually started on Septuagesima. In the Latin Church, however, Lent began on Quadragesima Sunday, but, since Sundays were not counted as fasting days, Lent was only 36 days long (as noted by St. Gregory the Great in one of his homilies, quoted by Dom Guéranger.)

Therefore, in order to make up the "shortfall", the Latin Church started her Lenten fast on Ash Wednesday...

If you want to read more about the liturgy for Septuagesima, Zephyrinus has posted the texts (and explanatory notes) from the Saint Andrew's Daily Missal, which form a wonderful resource for prayerful contemplation. He has posted each Sunday separately (Septuagesima Sunday, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima) - the latter is from last year, but will be changed when this year's post is up.

There's only a week to go before Lent (I'm a little late in posting this!) but at least, due to the old calendar, Ash Wednesday won't catch me unawares...

1 comment:

Zephyrinus said...

Thanks, Mac.

I totally agree with you and Dom Gueranger
that Septuagesima-tide provides an ideal preparation
for Lent in the Usus Antiquior Rite.

And, of course, Lent provides an ideal preparation
for Easter.

So much has been thrown away in the post-Conciliar Church
by eliminating the Septuagesima-tide preparations
for Lent in the Novus Ordo Rite.

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