Introduction

This blog contains regular postings relating to the Traditional Latin Liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. It includes regular commentary on the saints days and the liturgical cycle, with brief background and extracts from the liturgy both in Latin and English. Much of the material has been extracted from the 'St Andrew's Daily Missal', Dom Gueranger's 'Liturgical Year', or similar sources.

Related website: http://www.liturgialatina.org/





Sunday, 24 January 2016

The Season of Septuagesima - Liturgical Note

Liturgical Note from the St Andrew's Daily Missal



The Septuagesima season always begins with the ninth week before Easter and includes three Sundays called respectively Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima. These names which were borrowed from the numeral system of the time, denote a series of decades working back from the commencement of Lent, which is known in Latin as Quadragesima. [As the intervals between these Sundays only consist of seven days it is evident that this name must not be taken in a strictly arithmetical sense; but whereas Quadragesima comes exactly at the closing day of the 4th decade before Easter, Quinquagesima (47 days) falls within the 5th decade, Sexagesima (54 days) within the 6th, Septuagesima '61 days) within the 7th.]

Easter is a movable feast and can be kept, according to the year in which it occurs, between March 22 and April 25. When it falls early the Septuagesima season encroaches on the Time after Epiphany, some Sundays of which are then kept between the twenty-third and the last Sunday after Pentecost. This table shows the two extreme cases:


This liturgical period is a prelude to Lent and a remote preparation for Easter. It serves as a time of transition for the soul, which must pass from Christmas joys to the stern penance of the sacred forty days. Even if the fast is not yet of obligation, the colour of the vestments worn is already violet. As during Advent, the recital of the Gloria in excelsis is suspended, since this hymn which celebrated Christ's birth in our mortal flesh, is reserved to extol Him when born in His undying Body, i.e. when He rises from the tomb. "Born once of the Virgin, thou art now reborn from the sepulchre," will then be the cry of the Church. Again the Martyrology introduces Septuagesima Sunday as that on which "we lay aside the song of the Lord which is Alleluia." "How," said the people of Israel, "shall we sing the song of the Lord in a strange land?"

This "strange land" is for the people of Christ, the world, which is a place of exile, while Alleluia, the chant St. John heard in heaven, will begin again in the liturgy at Paschaltide, which represents the future life. In the Easter festivities we shall hail our Lord, the conqueror of Satan, who while freeing us from the bondage of sin, will re-open to us the heavenly kingdom. The season of Lent which lasts for forty days (Quadragesima) and that of Septuagesima which is made up of the following periods of ten days (Quinquagesima, Sexagesima and Septuagesima) may well be taken as representing the seventy years passed by Israel in exile under the harsh captivity of the Babylonians. The chant of Alleluia is silent during this period in which the spirit and very name remind us so strongly, that we are "poor banished children ... mourning and weeping in this vale of tears" (Salve Regina).

The Season of Septuagesima ends in the Temporal Cycle on Ash Wednesday. In the Sanctoral Cycle its extreme limit is March 10, that is, when Easter falls on April 25.


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