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Scott P. Richert

Ramping Up for Lent

By February 16, 2014

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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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January 22, 2008 at 10:18 pm
(1) Greg says:

OK, I’m confused. Ash Wednesday this year is February 6 and Easter is March 23 so that’s 47 days for Lent. The traditional 40 days of Lent would be from February 6 is March 16. What’s up with that?? I thought it was incredibly fortuitous to have St Paddy’s Day the day after Easter but I’m going to be denied! Are “we” into an extra week of denial / fasting / preparation for this year’s Easter? I thought the 40 days of Lent were based on the calculated date for Easter and then counted back from that date. I’m not sure if I can last that extra 7 days this year…

January 28, 2013 at 1:45 pm
(2) Jack says:

It is a bit confusing Greg.

Check out this link: http://catholicism.about.com/b/2009/03/12/reader-question-observing-lent-before-vatican-ii.htm

The part you would most likely most helpful reads:

Meat and all other items were allowed on the Sundays in Lent, because Sundays, in honor of the Resurrection of our Lord, can never be days of fasting. (That is why there are 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday; the Sundays in Lent are not included in the 40 days of Lent.

January 30, 2013 at 3:45 pm
(3) Olivia says:

I hate to tell you this Greg, but you had been fasting for 47 days during the Lenten season. You just didn’t realize it.

February 1, 2013 at 9:06 am
(4) Maria says:

Well, I thought if you are a true christian who knows what he is fasting for,you wouldn’t take the trouble to count days. Iam one person who has fasted and never counted days. It is amazing to know that I have been unknowingly allocating an extra 7 days to my God! Thanx for this knowledge. I have simply enjoyed observing this period with all my heart.
Greg, fast religiously, you will survive it.

December 7, 2013 at 11:52 am
(5) Calvin Williams says:

I really believe that you all know the answer to this question accept the Lord Jesus Christ in all things well become clear to you… hallelujah I gave thanks to my Lord Jesus Christ

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