Sunday, February 12, 2017

The season of Septuagesima

Septuagesima Sunday marks the start of the 'pre-Lenten' or 'Shrovetide' season.

Septuagesimatide comprises of three Sundays, named for their distance from Easter:
  • the week of Septuagesima;
  • the week of Sexagesima; and
  • Quinquagesima Sunday and the Monday and (Shrove) Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
Septuagesimatide is a post-St Benedict addition to the calendar (one of the Gregorian reforms), hence the inconsistency between the rubrics, which banish the Alleluia for this period, and St Benedict's own prescriptions for the use of the Alleluia in the Rule in Chapter 15.

This little warm-up season is intended to help us ease us into Lenten mode, and so is a good time to start thinking about what book to choose as spiritual reading for Lent, and what penances you plan to adopt.

The key features of the Office for the Season of Septuagesimatide are:
  • the Alleluia is solemnly 'buried' with extra Alleluias added to the close of the Office of I Vespers of Septuagesima Sunday;
  • thereafter the Alleluia is no longer used in the Office - in the opening prayers of the Office it is replaced by 'Laus tibi Domine, Rex aeternae gloriae';
  • at Vespers, there are daily antiphons for the Magnificat.

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