What is pre-Lent or Septuagesima?

January 31st marks what is traditionally known as ‘the Septuagesima Season’. The word Septuagesima is Latin for “seventieth.” Pre-Lent, as this period may be called, consists of three Sundays with particular numbered names, Septuagesima (seventieth), Sexagesima (sixtieth), and Quinquagesima (fiftieth). But before you get out your calendar and start counting, even the Church was aware that these numbers do not properly reflect that number of days before Easter, as their names suggest. Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima Sundays actually fall on the 61st, 54th, and 47th days before Easter, respectively.

The Purpose of Septuagesima

‘The Septuagesima season’ was to help people ease into Lent as a type of pre-c0nditioning program. Septuagesima time, is an anticipation of Lent, which calls to take a step back and ask ourselves what are we going to do for Lent? And so let us take the opportunity during ‘The Septuagesima season’  to sit with Lord and ask yourselves that?

How do I want to “be” during Lent this Year?

Do I want to be more quiet and thoughtful? More open to God’s desires? Better able to sit with people who need me? Should I pay more attention to the daily sacred readings for Mass whether in church or in private? Do I need to be more compassionate toward my own fears and failings? Do I need to become more courageous about using the gifts God has given me?

In the days prior to Lent, let us ask the Lord these three questions.

1) “Lord, what does my soul need?”

Just ask, and wait quietly. Do take several days of praying this question and when we are truly open and humble enough we will know the answer.

2) “ Lord, what about my life makes you happy”

Yes, when God looks at your life, some parts of it—perhaps many aspects of it—bring joy to God’s heart. God is always in relationship with you, which means that your sins severe that relationship. But God desires your growth and love and freedom and kindness for that brings joy to God. Again, you will probably need to pray this a few times before you are willing to consider that you give God pleasure, that you make God happy in any way.

3) “ Lord, I want to be open to the graces of this Lenten Season.”

Maybe you are not open right now, or you’re not as open and willing as you’d like to be or think you should be. . We can always open our lives a bit more, let go of more stuff, listen better, and do more quickly and passionately what we know helps nurture God’s kingdom on earth.

Lent is a season of grace. The joy of the Risen Lord at Easter will depend on how we live out this holy season of Lent. God’s love knows no limits, but we often fall short in giving God our whole hearts so that He can fill them and fulfil them with His love.

Is the pre-Lent season in preparation for Lent which begins on Ash Wednesday, this is also the time for us to bring our past year’s Palm branches back to Church so that they could be burnt and used as ashes for Ash Wednesday.