Septuagesima Sunday is the third Sunday before the start of Lent, which makes it the ninth Sunday before Easter. Traditionally, Septuagesima Sunday marked the beginning of preparations for Lent. Septuagesima and the following two Sundays (Sexagesima, Quinquagesima) were celebrated by name in the traditional Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, which is still used for the traditional Latin Mass.
No one is quite sure why Septuagesima Sunday bears that name. Literally, Septuagesima means “seventieth” in Latin, but contrary to common error, it is not 70 days before Easter, but only 63. The most likely explanation is that Septuagesima Sunday and Sexagesima Sunday simply derived their names from Quinqagesima Sunday, which is 49 days before Easter, or 50 if you include Easter. (Quinqagesima means “fiftieth.”)
In any case, it was common for early Christians to begin the Lenten fast immediately after Septuagesima Sunday. Just as Lent today begins 46 days before Easter, since Sundays are never a day of fasting (see “How Are the 40 Days of Lent Calculated?”), so, in the early Church, Saturdays and Thursdays were considered fast-free days. In order to fit in 40 days of fasting before Easter, therefore, the fast had to start two weeks earlier than today.
In the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass, starting on Septuagesima Sunday, neither the Alleluia nor the Gloria are sung. They do not return until the Easter Vigil, when we mark the triumph of Christ over death in His Resurrection.
INTROIT Psalm 17. 5-7
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. 17: 2,3 ) I will love Thee, o Lord, my strength : the Lord is my firmament, my refuge, and my deliverer. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Repeat The sorrows of death surround me…
O God, who knowest us to be set in the midst of dangers so great that, by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always withstand ; grant to us health of mind and body, that being helped by Thee, we may overcome the things which we suffer for our sins. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R. Amen
Collect for the Saints
Defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all dangers of mind and body: and through the intercession of the blessed and glorious Mary, ever Virgin, mother of God, of St Joseph, of Thy holy apostles, Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, in Thy loving-kindness grant us safety and peace; that, all adversities and errors being overcome, Thy Church may serve Thee in security and freedom.
for the Church
Mercifully hear the prayers of thy Church, we beseech thee, O Lord, that all adversities and errors being overcome, she may serve thee in security and freedom. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
EPISTLE 1 Corinthians 9. 24-27; 10. 1-5
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians. 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 everyone 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.
GRADUAL (Ps 9: 10,11,19, 20) TRACT (Ps 129: 1-4)
A helper in due time in tribulation : let them trust in Thee who know Thee; for Thou has 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.
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 St. Matthew 20 1-16
At that time Jesus spoke to his disciples this parable: ‘The kingdom of Heaven is like to an householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the market place 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 said to them: “Why stand you here all the day idle? They say to him: Because no man has hired us. He said to them: Go you also into my vineyard. And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard said to his steward: Call the laborers 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 everyman 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: did thou not agree with me for a penny? Take what 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.’
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON 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 Jesus Christ Thy Son. Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God
Forever and ever. R.Amen
Secret for the Saints
Graciously hear us, O God our Saviour, and, by virtue of this Sacrament, defend us from all enemies of soul and body, bestowing upon us Thy grace here and Thy glory hereafter.
for the Church
Protect us, O Lord, who celebrate thy mysteries, that holding fast to divine things, we may serve thee with body and soul. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
PREFACE of the Common
It it 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, through Christ our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The heavens and the heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them, we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise: HOLY, HOLY, HOLY…
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Psalm 30: 17-18
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 gifts, O God, detach us from earthy pleasures, and ever strengthen us with heavenly refreshment. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.
Postcommunion for the Saints
May the gift of this Divine Sacrament which we have offered, cleanse us and defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord; and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God, of St. Joseph, of Thy holy apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, free us from all iniquity and deliver us from all adversity.
for the Church
We beseech thee, O Lord, our God, that thou permit not those, to whom thou hast given a participation of divine things to be subjected to human dangers. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.