Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Collect - Septuagesima

The Prayer

O Lord, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people, that we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy name; through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who liveth & reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

The Latin Collect

Preces populi tui, quæsumus Domine, clementer exaudi, ut qui juste pro peccatis nostris affligimur, pro tui nominis gloria misericorditer liberemur. Per Dominum

The Commentary

Septuagesima is the ninth Sunday before Easter and the third before Lent, known among the Greeks as "Sunday of the Prodigal" from the Gospel they read on this day. It is called Dominica Circumdederunt by the Latins, from the first word of the Introit of the Mass.

The word means seventieth in Latin. Why the day has this name is unknown. Contrary to some popular thought, a quick counting of fingers will show that this Sunday is not 70 days before Lent. The Catholic Encyclopaedia states that Amularius, in "De eccl. Off.", I, I, would make it mystically represent the Babylonian Captivity of 70 years, would have it begin with this Sunday on which the Sacramentaries and Antiphonaries give the Introit Circumdederunt me undique and end with the Saturday after Easter, when the Church sings Eduxit Dominus populum suum. Again, it may simply denote the earliest day on which some Christians began the 40 days of Lent, excluding Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from the observance of the fast.

What is clear about Septuagesima is that it marks the end of the Christmas/Epiphany cycle in the liturgical calendar and ushers in the pre-Lenten season. Hence, the beginning of a penitential focus.

The Meditation

Throughout Epiphany, our prayers have focused on our frailness and helplessness, on how ultimately defenceless we are as creatures apart from God. Yet at each turn, we are reminded that, living in God, He will defend, strengthen and support us, giving us peace.

As we enter the pre-Lenten cycle, there is an abrupt shift in focus from our weakness to our wickedness. Contrary to what post-modern theologians would have us believe, we are sinners, and worthy of punishment.

Yet, even here, and just as importantly, God will be with us if we open ourselves up to Him. Our sinfulness is a reflection of our weakness, of our separation from God. But, just as we have the assurance that He will bear us up when our footsteps falter, we are assured that He will also forgive us when our path strays.


Alice C. Linsley said...

Septuagesima is the Anglican equivalent of Orthodox Triodium. The traditional Anglican Way is a great treasure. I'm glad there are still those who value it.

Anonymous said...

Uggh...I've been experiencing all the weakness and frailty. Had a feeling it was leading to some serious confession. Double uggh.

The calendar is a powerful spiritual tool as it moves us through the fulness of the Gospel.

poetreader said...

Actually there's no great mystery about the peculiar numbering of these Sundays. They just come from a very medieval use of approximate numbers, like this:

Quadrigesima, the First Sunday in Lent, is 42 calendar days before Easter = approximately 40

Ash Wednesday is 40 fast days (not including Sundays) before Easter.

Quinquagesima is 49 calendar days before Easter = approximately 50

Sexagesima is 56 calendar days before Easter = approxiamtely 60

Septuagesima is 63 calendar days before Easter = approximately 70 days before Easter (a bit short, but, hey, it fits the pattern.)

Albion Land said...

A link worth reading: