Sunday, February 3, 2013

Septuagesima: Preparing for Lent

This is a bit late, seeing that Septuagesima started a week ago, but better late than never, right?

"So," you ask, "what on earth is Septuagesima?"  You've probably guessed from the title that it has something to do with Lent.  See, traditionally there was no "ordinary time," but Sundays after Epiphany, Septuagesima season, and Sundays after Pentecost.  These seasons emphasize that there is no such thing as "ordinary" in the Church.  Septuagesima is a three-week period between the last Sunday after Epiphany and Ash Wednesday - a time of anticipating Lent and beginning to prepare for it.  Just goes to show how intense Lent is really supposed to be...

"Okay," you say, "so it's a time of preparation for Lent.  But what in heaven's name does it mean?"  Well, the word "septuagesima" means "seventieth." The season consists of three Sundays, as I said, named, respectively, Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima.   (Those are really fun to say. )  So since the first one means "seventieth," it follows logically that the next two mean "sixtieth" and "fiftieth."  If you know any Latin, you probably figured that out.  Supposedly Septuagesima Sunday is "roughly seventy days before Easter." (source)

Traditionally, during Septuagesima the priest's vestments change to purple and the Gloria isn't sung again Laetare Sunday or Easter.  I'm not sure which.  *blushes*  It's a good time to start "training" for Lent by making more sacrifices and generally getting your soul in good shape for all the self-denial you'll be practicing in the coming weeks.  I mean, really, isn't it much easier to eat small meals and give up sweets if you've already been cutting back?

This is also the perfect time to plan out your Lent: what you'll give up, what prayers you'll say, what spiritual reading you'll do...that sort of thing.  Also, cleaning.  I'm certain that it's easier to keep your soul clean if your room/apartment/house is clean.  Really.  Here's a little thing my mom did that's really helping me already: she simply took the lace cloth off of the mantle.  Our mantle is now bare except for two statues and two electric candles.  (I know you're cringing about the electric candles.  So am I, but it's better than nothing.) It reminds one of the altar on Good Friday. Every time I glance at that room, I see the bare mantlepiece and I remember that it's nearly Lent.  It's quite exciting, actually.

Sorry about the slightly random picture.  I typed "septuagesima" into google images and this is what came up. :)

What are you doing for Lent?  Did you know about Septuagesima before now?


  1. I always give up sweets, and limit browsing blogs to Sundays only. I'm also looking around for a good book written by a Saint to read. Have any suggestions?

    Yes, I already knew about the three Sundays leading up to Lent, because I go to mass in the Extraordinary Form. I am a very big fan of easing into Lent. Septuagesima helps take away the, "Oh my goodness it's Ash Wednesday tomorrow!?!"

    Gloria's gone until Easter. : ) Traditionally on Laetare Sunday the organ can play a little on its own though, and that makes a happier mood.

    1. Hm...a book written by a saint...there's the Imitation of Christ and St. Therese's autobiography. Those are my favorites. I've also read some of St. Teresa of Avila's book The Interior Castle and was having problems getting through it, but that was a long time ago. I daresay it's very good, only I wasn't ready for it yet.

      Thanks for the information about the Gloria. That makes sense.


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