6 February 2007

Where have the Gesimas gone?

Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Paragraph 107:

The liturgical year is to be revised so that the traditional customs and discipline of the sacred seasons can be preserved

Well, the pre-Lent Season of Septuagesima, Sexagesima, Quinquagesima somehow seems to have missed out on that.

or restored to meet the conditions of modern times; their specific character is to be retained

The pre-Lent Season certainly had a specific character. It entered the Liturgy at a time when Rome had been sacked ... have I got this right ... some seven times; catastrophic floods had, as they still do in some parts of the world today, led to typhoid; the Lombards were relocating the population of Latium to the slave-markets of the North. So the Bishop and people of Rome resorted to penitential supplication in the three basilicas of the three patrons of Rome, Ss Lawrence, Paul, and Peter, which stood like fortresses at the approaches to the city. They prayed in penitence, seeing their calamities as the punishment fo their offences, begging deliverance. As Dr Cranmer translated the ancient Septuagesima collect:

O Lord, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people: that we, who are justly punished for our offences; may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness for the glory of thy Name.

Has the world changed much? Has the theme of the Gesimas lost any of its topicality? Is there any reason for the Roman Rite to continue to deny its worshippers these instructive and relevant Sundays, which it would be so easy to restore

so that they may duly nourish the piety of the faithful.


Steve Cavanaugh said...

From your lips to God's ears, Father Hunwicke. Thank you for this post and the repost on the three 'Gesima Sundays, whose loss, like that of the Ember days, is a sad loss to contemporary Christians.

Eugenie Roth said...

luThank you also from Germany. I will put a link on my blog to "Septuagesima".