Father's Column – February 9, 2020

Posted on February 9, 2020 View all news

Laudetur Jesus Christus! Gelobt sei Jesus Christus!
Sia lodato Gesù Cristo! Praised be Jesus Christ! 

Today we enter into the pre-Lent Season of Septuagesima. Fasting is something vital to us in both the natural and also the supernatural sense. In the natural sense, if we feasted all day, we would be both unhealthy and unprepared for the difficulties and challenges of life. It is also a command supernaturally because we are supposed to tend toward Heaven, and not toward earth; our time here is limited. 

Lent is the time when we truly enter into the fasting period of the Church. It is meant to be tough and challenging. Anything difficult must begin with preparation, and Septuagesima is that preparation. Please find this history of Septuagesima from Dom Prosper Guéranger. Next week I will include a section from his mystery of Septuagesima. Have a blessed week ahead!

“The Season of Septuagesima comprises the three weeks immediately preceding Lent. It forms one of the principal divisions of the Liturgical Year, and is itself divided into three parts, each part corresponding to a week: the first is called Septuagesima; the second, Sexagesima; the third, Quinquagesima.

All three are named from their numerical reference to Lent, which, in the language of the Church, is called Quadragesima, – that is, Forty, – because the great Feast of Easter is prepared for by tile holy exercises of Forty Days. The words Quinquagesima, Sexagesima, and Septuagesima, tell us of the same great Solemnity as looming in the distance, and as being the great object towards which the Church would have us now begin to turn all our thoughts, and desires, and devotion.

Now, the Feast of Easter must be prepared for by a forty-days’ recollectedness and penance. Those forty-days are one of the principal Seasons of the Liturgical Year, and one of the most powerful means employed by the Church for exciting in the hearts of her children the spirit of their Christian vocation. It is of the utmost importance, that such a Season of penance should produce its work in our souls, – the renovation of the whole spiritual life. The Church, therefore, has instituted a preparation for the holy time of Lent. She gives us the three weeks of Septuagesima, during which she withdraws us, as much as may be, from the noisy distractions of the world, in order that our hearts may be the more readily impressed by the solemn warning she is to give us, at the commencement of Lent, by marking our foreheads with ashes.

This prelude to the holy season of Lent was not known in the early ages of Christianity: its institution would seem to have originated in the Greek Church. The practice of this Church being never to fast on Saturdays, the number of fasting-days in Lent, besides the six Sundays of Lent, (on which, by universal custom, the Faithful never fasted,) there were also the six Saturdays, which the Greeks would never allow to be observed as days of fasting: so that their Lent was short, by twelve days, of the Forty spent by our Saviour in the Desert. To make up the deficiency, they were obliged to begin their Lent so many days earlier, as we will show in our next Volume.” – Dom Prosper Guéranger

Read More: http://www.liturgialatina.org/lityear/septuagesima/septua1.htm