This weekend starts the Easter Cycle, with Septuagisma Sunday.
7 Things about Septuagisma Sunday
The name Septuagisma comes from the Latin for 70th, which means 70 Days Before Easter. It’s not really 70 days before Easter, but it’s the 3rd Sunday before Lent, which is 40 Days Before Easter. So, it’s Three Weeks before the beginning of Lent.
In some places it’s called Circumdedérunt Sunday, because of the 1st word of the Entrance Antiphon.
Ps 17:5; 17:6; 17:7
Circumdedérunt me gémitus mortis, dolóres inférni circumdedérunt me: et in tribulatióne mea invocávi Dóminum, et exaudívit de templo sancto suo vocem meam.
Díligam te, Dómine, fortitúdo mea: Dóminus firmaméntum meum, et refúgium meum, et liberátor meus.
Circumdedérunt means “about”, “around”, “encircling”… Which is why you rarely hear it referred to these days as Circumdedérunt Sunday. Because unlike “Rejoice Sunday”, during Advents and Lents, “Around Sunday” doesn’t have quite the same literary appeal.
The full translation of the Entrance Antiphon is:
“The terrors of death surged round me, the cords of the nether world enmeshed me. In my distress I called upon the Lord; from His holy temple He heard my voice.”
“I love You, O Lord, my strength, O Lord, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.”
The 17-day period beginning on Septuagesima Sunday is a preparation for the season of Lent. “In many countries, however, Septuagesima Sunday marked and still marks the traditional start of the carnival season, culminating on Shrove Tuesday, sometimes known as Mardi Gras.” (via Wikipedia.)
However Carnival Season, as we all know, starts on Epiphany, with the celebration of the Three Kings bringing our precious Lord the gracious gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
There is a close correspondence between the pictures in the Roman Catacombs, and the readings which occur from Septuagisma Sunday through the 2nd Sunday of Easter. We’re talking ancient here.
In some places, the custom of the “Burial of the Allellulia” still takes place after Septuagisma Sunday, usually the Sunday before the first Sunday of Lent, as the Allelulia is not said during Lent.
Via St. John Cantius, The Burial of the ‘Alleluia’ is a beautiful custom repeated each year at St. John Cantius Parish. On the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, we bid this sacred word a fond farewell for the duration of Lent.
At the end of Mass, a placard with the ‘Alleluia’ in ornate gold letters is taken from the Sanctuary and processed to Mary’s Altar where it is “buried”—placed under the altar cloth. The ‘Alleluia’ will only emerge again at the Easter Vigil after the 40 days of Lent, we hear the Church proclaim the Resurrection of Our Lord.
And via the New Liturgical Movement:
“On Saturday before Septuagesima Sunday all choir boys gather in the sacristy during the prayer of the None, to prepare for the burial of the Alleluia. After the last Benedicamus Domino [i.e., at the end of the Vespers service] they march in procession, with crosses, tapers, holy water and censers; and they carry a coffin, as in a funeral. Thus they proceed through the aisle, moaning and mourning, until they reach the cloister. There they bury the coffin; they sprinkle it with holy water and incense it; whereupon they return to the sacristy by the same way.”
This burial of the Alleluia was nicknamed the deposition (i.e., “the giving on deposit”). Curiously enough, gravestones in Catholic cemeteries traditionally had the inscription Depositus, or simply “D,” to indicate a Christian’s burial. When this term indicates the burial of the Alleluia or of the faithful departed, the Christian belief in resurrection is clear. As we bury those who have been “marked with the sign of faith,” (Roman Canon), and as we enter into the fasting of Lent, we do not silence our tongues because of despair or permanent loss. Rather, we do so with confidence that what has been deposited into the earth—our dead, our Alleluia—will rise again.”
Origen has an interesting Homily on the Gospel of the Day:
“Observe if you can that the first order stands for Adam, and for the creation of the world: for the Householder going out in the morning early as it were hired Adam and Eve to work in the vineyard of His justice. The second order of workers means Noah, and the Covenant which He established with him. The third order signifies Abraham, and those who, following him, were Patriarchs, until the time of Moses. The fourth order is Moses, and all who went with him out of the land of Egypt, and the Law that was given in the desert. The last order, about the eleventh hour, means the Coming of Jesus Christ. The Householder was but one, as the parable records: He went forth five times, and He went forth that He might send into His vineyard workmen that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (II Tim. ii. 15), who would labour in His service. And One is Christ coming frequently among men, ever providing what is needed for the calling of His workers.”
The entire homily is edifying.
Septuagisma Sunday is this coming Sunday ~ lots to be done before the Lenten Season.