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Expulsion from Eden

SEPTUAGESIMA

Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima are the three Sundays and weeks which the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite wisely gives us in preparation for Lent.

The afterglow of Epiphany is replaced by the austerity of Septuagesima and the three weeks which follow. The liturgical colour is violet. The Gloria is not sung or said. Alleluia is omitted. This is to help us get in training for Quadragesima itself, the forty days of intensive prayer and penance in preparation for Eastertide.

These three pre-Lenten preparatory weeks are not included in the Ordinary Form of the Roman rite.

However, in the magnificent Divine Worship missal authorized for use by the Ordinariates, the gesimas are included, together with other valuable elements from the traditional Roman rite. Among many admirable inclusions is the octave of Pentecost (‘Whitsun Week’).

The coherence and register of the liturgical language in the Ordinariate missal are of an enviably high quality. The liturgical texts in that missal read and sound like English, and they also read and sound like prayer.

One recent example; the collect for the Epiphany from the Ordinariate missal:

“O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy Only Begotten Son to the Gentiles: mercifully grant that we, who know thee now by faith, may be led onward through this earthly life, until we see the vision of thy heavenly glory; through the same….”

‘Thee and Thou’ usage provides some of the dignity and elevation which, mutatis mutandis, are characteristics of the Latin liturgical tradition, characteristics less apparent in current vernacular versions – the Ordinariate missal being an inspiring exception. (The next edition would be improved still further by omitting the Cranmerian interpolations)

In addition to the existing provisions of Summorum Pontificum, what a great blessing it would be to make the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite also available in the vernacular, retaining of course the same 1962 rubrics as when celebrating it in Latin.

Such a provision would help towards a much needed sanatio in radice of the current disjunction between the present versions of the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman rite.