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Ramping Up for Lent

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Because the date of Easter changes every year (see When Is Easter?), the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period of penance and preparation before Easter, changes also. (See When Is Lent? for details.)

In the traditional Roman Catholic calendar, the one still used in the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (the Traditional Latin Mass), the preparation for Lent has already begun. The three Sundays before Lent starts used to be known (in order) as Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima--from the Latin words for 70, 60, and 50, because they were (roughly) 70, 60, and 50 days before Easter. In 2014, Septuagesima Sunday is February 16.

This pre-Lenten period was designed to ease Christians into the Lenten fast, and the Mass itself reflected this. Starting on Septuagesima, the Gloria and the Alleluia were omitted from the Mass, and the Gospel readings started to focus on the coming of the Kingdom of God.

While these three Sundays are no longer marked in the calendar used in the Ordinary Form of the Mass (the Novus Ordo), we can still take advantage of these few weeks before Lent to start planning our Lenten discipline. That way, when Ash Wednesday comes, we can begin Lent with the proper attitude, preparing our souls for the commemoration of Christ's Death on Good Friday, and His Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

More on Lent:

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