Septuagesima Sunday

FrZuhlsdorfSeptuagesimaSunday2013-600In the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, the green vestments are gone already and we’ve begun a liturgical season that entirely does not exist anymore in the Ordinary Form: the “pre-Lent season”, Septuagesima Sunday, Sexegesima Sunday, and Quinquagesima Sunday. It’s on this Sunday that “Alleluia” is reposed until the Feast of the Resurrection, whereas in the Ordinary form (the Novus Ordo) Ash Wednesday is the first day without the Alleluia. If I am remembering correctly these represent (though not quite literally/numerically) seventy, sixty, and fifty days before Easter. An internet source says that in times past, monastic persons would begin fasting on Septuagesima, the Greeks on Sexegesima, and secular clergy on Quinquagesima. Yes, it was not that long ago that fasting (as well as abstaining) every day except Sunday or Solemnities during Lent was for everyone who was reasonably able. I want to write more about fasting on another occasion.

Fr Z, just back from the March for Life in DC and then will be off again right away to a conference tomorrow on exorcism in Tulsa*, celebrated Septuagesima Sunday Mass this morning at Holy Redeemer Church (photo above). He says that in this season we get time to prepare for Lent, not just plunged in suddenly. Make your plan now as to Lenten discipline. Everyone gives up chocolate but you should think of what will really benefit your spiritual growth. St Paul speaks in the Epistle for the day about how athletes, who run the race so as to win, give up all kinds of things and discipline themselves. Fr Z points out that we are weak, so whatever your habitual sins may be, plan and rehearse in your mind what you are going to do when the temptation arises, plan how to avoid the occasion of sin or what is the alternate activity you are going to do, such as scrubbing the oil stains off your driveway. And even if it so happens that you do not succeed at your Lenten resolution until the very end of Lent, smile, and thank God!

I substitute taught 2nd grade Catechism class, then went to the 11am ordinary Form Mass Celebrated by Monsignor Holmes, who is back to his excellent homilies on the documents of Vatican II and preached today the second one on Lumen Gentium. At the link are audio downloads and notes for all this series of homilies, as well as information on joining a Year of Faith discussion group focused on them, these are neighborhood based and located all around Madison. I wrote about that previously, in November. Yes you can still get involved and I believe it is worthwhile.

* (A priest may exercise the ministry of exorcism only if appointed by a diocesan bishop. We do not have anyone thus appointed in our diocese. Bishop Morlino gave a fascinating talk about spiritual warfare and exorcism to UW students at St Paul’s in October 2011. He even read the long exorcism prayer (in English), which, although he was not actually performing an exorcism, was powerful. A bishop is chief exorcist of his diocese even if he does not personally engage in that ministry. He said he wanted to have a diocesan exorcist, and mentioned some specific good local priests as suitable for that ministry. It takes a priest of great prudence. I know at least one of them went to an exorcism conference at Mundelein, but they have not been appointed as exorcist and it may be because those priests are extremely busy with other essential ministries. And from this you may also understand that Fr Z going to an exorcism conference does not mean “he is going to be an exorcist”. I have prayed, though, that we may have a holy and prudent priest to exercise a ministry of deliverance from the demons, if God may be so pleased.)


Irresistible poster advertising the talk Bp Morlino gave at St Paul’s, October 2011.

4 Responses to Septuagesima Sunday

  1. Elizabeth, there is at least one thing your posts have convinced me to do: carry a camera with me everywhere! 😉

  2. I like this comment of Fr. Z’s that you mentioned, “Fr Z points out that we are weak, so whatever your habitual sins may be, plan and rehearse in your mind what you are going to do when the temptation arises, . . . .” In this regard, he said that he is in the practice of using the name “Jackson” to refer to any numbskull who has behaved badly in traffic. That practice helps him avoid using an “expletive deleted” instead. I may start using that, too!

  3. Someday the Divine Office will be sung publicly again, and my favorite tradition of Septuagesima will return: the burying of the Alleluia.

    In the Middle Ages (and up until 150 years or so ago — although it has been brought back recently in a few places), at the end of First Vespers of Septuagesima Sunday, the servers would carry a scroll, plaque, or sheet of paper with the word “Alleluia” written on it in procession around the Church. They would have a ceremony, more or less elaborate depending on local custom (the French took it perhaps too far, sometimes even using a catafalque), and would bury or otherwise hide the word, not to be seen or heard again until the Resurrection.

  4. We were talking and a friend (b. 1939) of mine said they observed the Ember Days in Lent growing up-Monday, Wednesday, Friday-no meat, one full meal.


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