Saturday, February 14, 2015

Quinquagesima Sunday

Latin for "50 days" - we're quickly approaching the season of Lent!  This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and so begins Lent 2015.  Lent is actually 40 days which symbolize the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert in fasting and penance before beginning His public ministry.  It is also prefigured by the 40 years the people of Israel wandered in the desert before God allowed them to enter the Promised Land.   Quinquagesima is for "50 days" - which mathematically it does not add up, like Quadragesima (40 days) does for Lent (beginning Ash Wednesday, minus the Sundays = 40 days till Easter Sunday).

On the modern calendar, Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima Sundays are not observed as such - in fact, they are part of "Ordinary Time."  To me, this is sad for we lose a special season which is anything but "ordinary!"  During these three weeks before Lent we can begin our Lenten preparations and plans.  This is one of the reasons I prefer the Extra-ordinary Rite, where the traditional lectionary is still observed.  We don't lose these weeks to "Ordinary Time."

Ordinary Time?
Every so often I like to point out as well that "Ordinary Time" is anything but "ordinary" too!  It is unfortunate that name is used.  Ordinary was taken from the previous tradition of calling the weeks between Epiphany and Septuagesima as the "ordinal" weeks or "counting" weeks after Epiphany.  This allows us to hang on to Christmas that much longer too as we recall the Epiphany of the Three Wise Men.  We return to "ordinal" or "counting" weeks after Pentecost, which last throughout the rest of the liturgical year - when Advent begins.  In the modern lectionary the weeks after Pentecost continue with where the weeks after Epiphany ended and are weeks in "Ordinary Time" - which makes them sound, well, "ordinary."  Again, if we look at the readings and follow the seasons, Ordinal Time is anything but ordinary!

What are YOU offering up for Lent this year?
Lent is a time for fasting and penance and traditionally Catholics, as well as many other Christians, "give up something" for Lent.  Some make it hard on themselves, so they actually feel some suffering, while others make it "easy" but something they would normally partake in every day so that when they would have partaken in it they are reminded of what Christ went through for us to redeem us from our sin.  So, you don't have to be hard on yourself - and sometimes even "easy" things get a bit "difficult" after 40 days!  So, choose wisely!   Pick something you'll actually stick to so that your penance not only has meaning, but you will have that feeling of accomplishment on Easter Sunday.

Only A Few Days Left!
Sounds like a sale!  Well, the fact is - Lent begins this Wednesday!  During Lent we do not have parties and celebrations - (kinda tough on those of us who have birthdays in Lent!) - or if we do, we can have such celebrations on Sundays.  Sundays are "feast days" and just like every Friday (throughout the year, not just Lent) are like "little Good Fridays," Sundays throughout the year are like "little Easters."  We do not fast or abstain on Sundays or other solemnities.  Sometimes these last days before Lent are full of rabble-rousing, in fact "Fat Tuesday" was/is an unofficial Catholic holiday.  Fat Tuesday was like THE day to get all your partying, and sweets, and deserts, etc. over with, because for the next 40 days - we do without these things, again excepting Sundays (in Eastern tradition the lenten penance is still observed even on Sundays).

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