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Preparing for Lent

February 15, 2019

February 17 this year, in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite (Tridentine Latin Mass) Septuagesima Sunday –seventy days before Easter. The two Sundays after this would be Sexagesima Sunday (sixty), and Quinquagesima Sunday (fifty). These three weeks are a prelude to lent –in Latin, Quadragesima (forty). On that day, in the extraordinary form, the Gloria and the Alleluia are omitted, and purple becomes the Liturgical color. This season though is not yet lent but is a means to prepare for lent.

In the Parable of the sower, we see the seeds that are sown into the thorny bushes. They grow yet the thorns choke them. As we know, the seeds are the word of God and the thorns symbolize the world and all the things opposed to our salvation and sanctification. In this we can see the purpose of the Septuagesima: Lent is a very important season and that we ought to prepare ourselves for it to make the most out of it.

On the feast of Epiphany there is the tradition of announcing the movable feasts for the year. In the announcement of the date for Ash Wednesday, the cantor says “the beginning of the fast of the most sacred Lenten season.” This shows how the church has regarded lent as a very important season.

An authority no less that Dom Prosper Guerranger O.S.B., in his magnum opus, “the Liturgical year” that the Church wants us to make the most out of lent, a season of penance, that it may produce its work in our souls: “the renovation of our spiritual life.”

Oftentimes the distractions, the comforts, and the pleasures of the world render us indisposed to enter into the season of penance. Perhaps, before we know it, lent would arrive and it would catch us off guard. The Church invites us, therefore, to prepare the soil for the sowing. We ought to remove all that could impede or make difficult our observance of lent.

Dom Propser Guerranger O.S.B. tells us: “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.”

Although Septuagesima has been abolished by the liturgical reforms. The values behind it, however, remain valid. The devil, the flesh, and the world remain opposed to our salvation and sanctification no matter how these are almost no longer mentioned. We need to prepare ourselves to lent. Lent should be the time for those who do not have a spiritual life to live one, for those who have, to advance. We need to pay attention to the affairs of our soul, to our spiritual life. These would not be possible of we are distracted and choked by the thorns of the devil, the flesh, the world, and all those opposed to our sanctification. Let the remaining weeks be a time to prepare for lent so that lent this year would be the best lent we ever had.

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