The greatest feast of the year, the Resurrection of Our Lord, is preceded by a period of preparation called Lent. But in order that the rigors of Lent not come upon us unexpectedly, the Church has wisely instituted a brief liturgical season in order to prepare us for Lent itself: this is the period of Septuagesima.
Septuagesima Sunday is the name for the ninth Sunday before Easter, the third before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins. This period is also known as the pre-Lenten season.
The other two Sundays in this period of the liturgical year are called Sexagesima and Quinquagesima. Septuagesima derived from the Latin word for “seventieth.” Likewise, Sexagesima, Quinquagesima, and Quadragesima mean “sixtieth,” “fiftieth,” and “fortieth” respectively.
SUSPENSION OF THE ‘ALLELUIA’
The Alleluia, the chant sung eternally by the saints in heaven (Apoc 19:1), is suspended during Septuagesima and Lent.
Our holy mother the Church knows how necessary it is for her to rouse our hearts from their lethargy, and give them an active tendency towards the things of God. On this day, she uses a powerful means for infusing her own spirit into the minds of her children. She takes the song of heaven away from us: she forbids our further uttering that Alleluia, which is so dear to us, as giving us a fellowship with the choirs of angels, who are forever repeating it.
By taking from us our Alleluia, she virtually tells us that our lips must ﬁrst be cleansed, before they again be permitted to utter this word of angels and saints; and that our hearts, deﬁled as they are by sin and attachment to earthly things, must be puriﬁed by repentance.
SAINT TIMOTHY, BISHOP AND MARTYR
From The Liturgical Year by Dom Guéranger
Before giving thanks to God for the miraculous Conversion of the Apostle of the Gentiles, the Church assembles us together for the Feast of his favourite Disciple. Timothy—the indefatigable companion of St. Paul—the friend to whom the great Apostle, a few days before shedding his blood for Christ, wrote his last Epistle—comes now to await his master’s arrival at the Crib of the Emmanuel He there meets John the Beloved Disciple, together with whom he bore the anxieties attendant on the government of the Church of Ephesus; Stephen, too, and the other Martyrs, welcome him, for he, also, bears a Martyr’s Sim in his hand. He presents to the august other of the Divine Babe the respectful homage of the Church of Ephesus, which Mary had sanctified by her presence, and which shares with the Church of Jerusalem the honour of having had Her as one of its number, who was not only, like the Apostles, the witness, but moreover, in her quality of Mother of God, the ineffable instrument of the salvation of mankind.
Let us now read, in the Office of the Church, the abridged account of the actions of this zealous disciple of the Apostles.
Timothy was born at Lystra in Lycaonia. His father was a Gentile, and his mother a Jewess. When the Apostle Paul came into those parts, Timothy was a follower of the Christian religion. The Apostle had heard much of his holy life, and was thereby induced to take him as the companion of his travels: but, on account of the Jews, who had become converts to the faith of Christ, and were aware that the father of Timothy was a Gentile, he administered to him the rite of circumcision. As soon as they arrived at Ephesus, the Apostle ordained him Bishop of that Church.
The Apostle addressed two of his Epistles to him—one from Laodicea, the other from Rome—to instruct him how to discharge his pastoral office. He could not endure to see sacrifice, which is due to God alone, offered to the idols of devils; and finding that the people of Ephesus were offering victims to Diana, on her festival, he strove to make them desist from their impious rites. But they, turning upon him, stoned him. The Christians could not deliver him from their hands, till he was more dead than alive. They carried him to a mountain not far from the town, and there, on the ninth of the Calends of February (January 24), he slept in the Lord.
Commentaries taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Guéranger
Commemoration for St. Timothy
Semi-double – Violet vestments
Privilege of the Second Class
STATION AT ST. LAURENCE-WITHOUT-THE WALLS
Missa ‘Circumdederunt me’
The Introit describes the fears of death, where with Adam and his whole posterity are tormented, in consequence of sin. But in the midst of all this misery there is heard a cry of hope, for man is still permitted to ask mercy from his God. God gave man a promise, on the very day of his condemnation: the sinner needs but to confess his miseries, and the very Lord against whom he sinned will become his deliverer.
INTROIT – Psalm 17: 5, 6, 7
Circumdederunt me gémitus mortis, dolóres inférni circumdedérunt me: et in tribulatióne mea invocávi Dóminum, et exaudívit de templo sancto suo vocem meam. Psalm 17: 2-3 Díligam te, Dómine, fortitúdo mea: Dóminus firmaméntum meum, et refúgium meum, et liberátor meus. V. Glória Patri.
The sorrows of death surrounded me, the sorrow of hell encompassed me: and in my affliction I called upon the Lord, and He heard my voice from His holy Temple. Ps. I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength: the Lord is my firmament, my refuge, and my deliverer. V. Glory be to the Father.
In the Collect, the Church acknowledges that her children justly suffer the chastisements which are the consequences of sin; but she beseeches her divine Lord to send them that mercy which will deliverer them.
Graciously hear, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the prayers of Thy people, that we who are justly afflicted for our sins, may be mercifully delivered by Thy goodness, for the glory of Thy name. Through our Lord.
Commemoration for St. Timothy, Martyr and Bishop
Look down on our weakness, almighty God; and since the weight of our own deeds bears us down, may the glorious intercession of blessed Timothy, Thy Bishop and Martyr, protect us. Through our Lord.
EPISTLE – 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27; 10: 1-5
Brethren: Know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? So run that you may obtain. And every one that striveth for the mastery refraineth himself from all things: and they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible one. I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty; I so fight, not as one beating the air: but I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection, lest perhaps when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway. For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud and in the sea: and did all eat the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink: (and they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ). But with most of them God was not well pleased.
These stirring words of the apostle deepen the Sentiments already produced in us by the sad recollections of which we are this day reminded. He tells us that, this world is a race, wherein all must run; but that they alone win the prize, who run well. Let us, therefore, rid ourselves of everything that could impede us, and make us lose our crown. Let us not deceive ourselves: we are never sure, until we reach the goal. Is our conversion more solid than was St. Paul’s? Are our good works better done, or more meritorious, than were his? Yet he assures us that he was not without the fear that he might perhaps be lost; for which cause he chastised his body, and kept it in subjection to the spirit. Man, in his present state, has not the same will for all that is right and just, which Adam had before he sinned, and which, not withstanding, he abused to his own ruin. We have a bias which inclines us to evil; so that our only means of keeping our ground is to sacriﬁce the ﬂesh to the spirit. To many this is very harsh doctrine; hence, they are sure to fail; they never can win the prize. Like the Israelites spoken of by our apostle, they will be left behind to die in the desert, and so lose the promised land.
GRADUAL – Psalm 9: 10-11, 19-20
A helper in due time in tribulation: let them trust in Thee who know Thee: for Thou hast not forsaken them that seek Thee, O Lord. V. For the poor man shall not be forgotten to the end: the patience of the poor shall not perish for ever: arise, O Lord, let no man prevail.
The Tract sends forth our cry to God, and the cry is from the very depths of our misery. Man is humbled exceedingly by the fall; but he knows that God is full of mercy, and that, in His goodness, He punishes our iniquities less than they deserve: were it not so, none of us could hope for pardon.
TRACT – Psalm 129: 1-4
Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice. V. Let Thine ears be attentive to the prayer of Thy servant. V. If Thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities: O Lord, who shall abide it? V. For with Thee there is merciful forgiveness, and by reason of Thy law I have waited for Thee, O Lord.
GOSPEL – Matthew 20: 1-16
At that time Jesus spoke to His disciples this parable: The kingdom of heaven is like to a householder who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the marketplace idle, and he said to them: Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just. And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour: and did in like manner. But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle? They say to him: Because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go you also into my vineyard. And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: Call the labourers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first. When therefore they were come that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: and they also received every man a penny. And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house, saying: These last have worked but one hour, and thou hast made them equal to us that have borne the burden of the day and the heats. But he answering said to one of them: Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take what is thine and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil, because I am good? So shall the last be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.
It is of importance that we should well understand this parable of the Gospel, and why the Church inserts it in today’s liturgy. Firstly, then, let us recall to mind on what occasion our Saviour spoke this parable, and what instruction He intended to convey by it to the Jews. He wishes to warn them of the fast approach of the day when their Law is to give way to the Christian Law; and He would prepare their minds against the jealousy and prejudice which might arise in them, at the thought that God was about to form a Covenant with the Gentiles. The vineyard is the Church in its several periods, from the beginning of the world to the time when God Himself dwelt among men, and formed all true believers into one visible and permanent society. The morning is the time from Adam to Noah; the third hour begins with Noah and ends with Abraham; the sixth hour includes the period which elapsed between Abraham and Moses; and lastly, the ninth hour opens with the age of the prophets, and closes with the birth of the Saviour. The Messias came at the eleventh hour, when the world seemed to be at the decline of its day. Mercies unprecedented were reserved for this last period, during which salvation was to be given to the Gentiles by the preaching of the apostles. It is by this mystery of mercy that our Saviour rebukes the Jewish pride. By the selﬁsh murmurings made against the master of the house by the early labourers, our Lord signiﬁes the indignation which the scribes and pharisees would show at the Gentiles being adopted as God’s children. Then He shows them how their jealousy would be chastised: Israel, that had laboured before us, shall be rejected for their obduracy of heart, and we Gentiles, the last comers, shall be made ﬁrst, for we shall be made members of that Catholic Church, which is the bride of the Son of God.
This is the interpretation of our parable given by St. Augustine and St. Gregory the Great, and by the generality of the holy fathers. But it conveys a second instruction, as we are assured by the two holy doctors just named. It signiﬁes the calling given by God to each of us individually, pressing us to labour, during this life, for the kingdom prepared for us. The morning is our childhood. The third hour, according to the division used by the ancients in counting their day, is sunrise; it is our youth. The sixth hour, by which name they called our midday, is manhood. The eleventh hour, which immediately preceded sunset, is old age. The Master of the house calls His labourers at all these various hours. They must go that very hour. They that are called in the morning may not put off their starting for the vineyard, under pretext of going afterwards, when the Master shall call them later on. Who has told them that they shall live to the eleventh hour? They that are called at the third hour may be dead at the sixth. God will call to the labours of the last hour such as shall be living when that hour comes; but, if we should die at midday, that last call will not avail us. Besides, God has not promised us a second call, if we excuse ourselves from the ﬁrst.
At the Offertory, the Church invites us to celebrate the praises of God. God has mercifully granted us, that the hymns we sing to the glory of His name should be our consolation in this vale of tears.
OFFERTORY – Psalm 91: 2
It is good to give praise to the Lord, and to sing to Thy name, O Most High.
Having received our offerings and prayers, we beseech Thee, O Lord, cleanse us by these heavenly mysteries, and graciously hear us. Through our Lord.
Commemoration for St. Timothy
Graciously receive, O Lord, the sacrifice offered to Thee by the merits of blessed Timothy, Thy Martyr and Bishop, and grant that it may be to us an unfailing help. Through our Lord.
PREFACE OF THE HOLY TRINITY
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: Who, together with Thine only-begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost, are one God, one Lord: not in the oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one substance. For what we believe by Thy revelation of Thy glory, the same do we believe of Thy Son, the same of the Holy Ghost, without difference or separation. So that in confessing the true and everlasting Godhead, distinction in persons, unity in essence, and equality in majesty may be adored. Which the Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim also and Seraphim do praise: who cease not daily to cry out with one voice saying:
COMMUNION – Psalm 30: 17-18, 2: 51
Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant, and save me in Thy mercy: let me not be confounded, O Lord, for I have called upon Thee.
May Thy faithful people, O Lord, be strengthened by Thy gifts: that by partaking of them they may continue to seek after them, and by seeking them, constantly partake of them. Through our Lord.
Commemoration for St. Timothy
We, who are refreshed by partaking of Thy holy Gift, beseech Thee, O Lord, our God, that through the intercession of blessed Timothy, Thy Martyr and Bishop, we may experience fruits of that which we worship. Through our Lord.