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
for the Intercession of the Saints
Defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all dangers of mind and body; that through the intercession of the blessed and glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, together with blessed Joseph, Thy blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and blessed N. (Here mention the titular saint of the church), and all the saints, mercifully grant us safety and peace; that all adversities and errors being overcome, Thy Church may serve Thee in security and freedom.
For the Church
Graciously accept the prayers of Thy Church, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that, overcoming all hostility and error, She may serve Thee in safety and freedom. 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
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
For the Intercession of the Saints
Graciously hear us, O God our Savior, and by the virtue of this sacrament protect us from all enemies of soul and body, bestowing on us both grace in this life and glory hereafter.
For the Church
Protect us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, who assist at Thy mysteries, that holding fast to things divine, we may serve Thee both in body and soul. 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
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, and profitable unto salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O Holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God, through Christ, our Lord. Though whom the angels praise thy majesty, the dominions adore it, the powers are in awe. Which the heavens and the hosts of heaven together with the blessed seraphim joyfully do magnify. And do thou command that it be permitted to us join with them in confessing thee, while we say with 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.
For the Intercession of the Saints
May the oblation of this divine sacrament cleanse and defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and, through the intercession of the blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, with blessed Joseph, Thy blessed apostles Peter and Paul, blessed N. (here mention the titular saint of the church), and all the saints, purify us from all our sins and deliver us from all adversity.
For the Church
We beseech Thee, O Lord our God, that Thou wouldst not allow to be exposed to human perils, those whom Thou hast been pleased to make sharers of these divine mysteries. 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