Monday, 6 February 2012


Yesterday in the Extraordinary Form we celebrated the Mass of Septuagesima.

This begins the count-down to Lent and Easter: so, for example, we had no Gloria at yesterday's Mass, and Alleluia is not used in the liturgy.   The Alleluia before the Gospel is replaced by the Tract; yesterday's was:

From the depths I have cried to thee, O Lord; Lord hear my voice.  
Let thine ears beattentive to the prayer of thy servant.  
If thou shalt observe iniquities, O Lord, Lord, who shall endure it?  
For with thee is propitiation, and by reason of thy law I have waited for thee, O Lord.

Curiously, while Quinquagesima is indeed 50 days before Easter as its name would suggest, Sexagesima and Septuagesima are not 60 and 70 days before Easter.

This period of pre-Lenten preparation has been replaced in the new Calendar by a few Sundays of Ordinary Time; these are then resumed after Pentecost, as a further set of Ordinary Time Sundays.  In former times (and still, if one celebrates according to the traditional calendar) these were the Sundays after Pentecost.

In my view, that change is an impoverishment.  The seasons of the Church year used to be a constant reminder of one or other of the great mysteries of our Faith.  It seems particularly ironic that in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, when we were all supposed to be so much more aware of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church today, we should have removed the reference to the descent of the Holy Spirit in our counting of the Sundays after Pentecost, and replaced them with 'Ordinary.'

If I had my way, we'd call them Ghostly Sundays, in honour of the Holy Ghost, and because it would be such a great name!

All of which reminds me that I forgot to post the Ave Regina Caelorum on the correct date: 2nd February, the Feast of the Purification of Our Lady (consider the irony inherent in that: not dissimilar to Our Lord being baptised, I think...)

We sang it after Mass yesterday (of course), and here it is: better late than never!  (And of course it is sung daily until compline of the Wednesday of Holy Week.)

Ave, Regina Caelorum,
Ave, Domina Angelorum:
Salve, radix, salve, porta
Ex qua mundo lux est orta:
Gaude, Virgo gloriosa,
Super omnes speciosa,
Vale, o valde decora,
Et pro nobis Christum exora.
Hail, O Queen of Heaven enthroned.
Hail, by angels mistress owned.
Root of Jesse, Gate of Morn
Whence the world's true light was born:
Glorious Virgin, Joy to thee,
Loveliest whom in heaven they see;
Fairest thou, where all are fair,
Plead with Christ our souls to spare.

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