Some thoughts on Septuagesima and the warfare for which all disciples are destined

The emphasis today has ceased to be upon the joys of Christ’s coming or upon the peace and wonder of possessing Him. Now the stress is on what it cost Our Lord to atone for the sins of men, on how much everyone needs His atoning death, and on what everyone can do to have a part in atoning for sin.Every Christian without exception must enter into the warfare between Christ and Satan — the warfare that begins to be dramatized and lived anew in these weeks.

The following is an excerpt from a longer essay on the liturgical/historical aspects of the season, written by a priest of the FSSP who is known to me. Please pray for him.

Themes: The season of Septuagesima is set aside as a season of preparation for Lent and for the reception of ashes on Ash Wednesday. We are invited by the Liturgy to contemplate the misery of fallen humanity and the fatal consequences of original and actual sin. The Fall (original sin), the Flood (resulting from the malice of actual sin), and the Sacrifice of Melchisedech (a foreshadowing of the Sacrifice of Christ by which He worked our salvation from sin) are presented in the Matins readings over the course of the season. The Gospels and Epistles of the Sundays also touch on the themes of the Passion, salvation, and the necessity of penance. The season also serves as a transition period from the joys of Christmastide to the austerities of Lent.

The numerical value associated with the name of this season, 70, brings to mind the 70 years of exile the Hebrews endured in Babylon. This serves as a reminder that we, too, are living exiled from our heavenly home and invites us to sever our inordinate attachments to the things of this world so that we can seek after those of our true Homeland.

This multiple of 7 also calls to mind the Seven Ages of the World which, according to the ancient Christian tradition, are as follows:

1. The time from the creation of Adam to Noah

2. The time from Noah and the renovation of the earth by the flood to the calling of Abraham

3. The time from Abraham to Moses

4. The period between Moses and David

5. The years which passed between David’s reign and the captivity of Babylon, inclusively

6. The return of the Jews to Jerusalem to the birth and life of Our Savior

7. From Christ’s Resurrection to His Second Coming

The 8th and Final Age is that which follows the General Resurrection and the Last Judgement.

Length of Septuagesima: 17 days including Sundays.

Shrovetide and Forty Hours: “Shrovetide” refers to the three last three days of Septuagesima (Quinquagesima Sunday and the following Monday and Tuesday). The English terms “shrove” and “Shrovetide” come from the verb “to shrive,” which means “to hear confessions.” It was a traditional practice to confess one’s sins before the start of Lent. These are also the final days of Carnival (derived from the Latin “carnem levare,” “taking away of flesh/meat”). Tuesday of Shrovetide, Shrove Tuesday, is also called “Mardi Gras” (French for “Fat Tuesday”) or “Pancake Tuesday” because fats, eggs, and butter in the house had to be used up before Lent began (when the Lenten fasting laws were stricter), and making pancakes or waffles was a good way to do it (this also helps explain the practice of the Easter egg). Unfortunately, the innocent merrymaking kept during this time before entering the exercises of Lent was corrupted by a general excess. In order to provide a pious alternative and to make reparation for these excesses, the Church instituted for this time the Forty Hours Devotion (forty hours of Eucharistic Exposition and Adoration).

Gloria?: Only on feast days. The intermittent absence of the Gloria is a foretaste of its prolonged absence during Lent.

Alleluia?: At the conclusion of First Vespers of Septuagesima Sunday (the Saturday night before), the Easter Benedicamus with double Alleluia is Sung.

After this, the Alleluia will not be heard again in the Liturgy until the Easter Vigil. In some places an Alleluia banner is buried on this day and then dug up on Holy Saturday.

The absence of the Alleluia, which is a heavenly word, serves as a striking reminder that we are in a land of exile and should set our hearts on our heavenly home and that, were it not for the Sacrifice of Christ, which will be solemnly commemorated during Holy Week, the gates of Heaven would, due to sin, still be closed to us. The Alleluia in the Mass is replaced by the Tract and in the opening of the Office by “Laus tibi, Domine, Rex æterne gloriæ! / Praise be to Thee O Lord King of eternal glory!”

Liturgical Color: Violet, as a preparation for Lent, is the color of the season.

Organ and Flowers?: Yes, they are a remnant and reminder of our Christmas joy.

2 thoughts on “Some thoughts on Septuagesima and the warfare for which all disciples are destined”

  1. As we are locked out of our Church, Grandma and I are catacoumed in our residence. No matter, again today for this beautiful Sunday. A Sunday from Ireland, also locked down by the Freemason forces.

    The Mass of today, beautiful Low Mass,

    And the sermon if that all you want from Father,

    We love our Sundays so much, the Hand of God shows us the way for the week spiritual combat.

    Thank you for the link.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.