Editorial by the Rev. Fr. Sebastian Wall, Prior of St. Andrew's House, Carluke, Scotland
Since the date of Easter depends on the phases of the moon, Lent may start sooner or later after the Epiphany season. This year it is particularly late since the third full moon is not until the 20th March. This means that Septua- gesima only starts in the middle of this month, on the 17th, and Lent not until next month, on the 6th. Thus we have quite a long period of adjustment from the feasting of the Christmas cycle to the fasting at the start of the Easter cycle.
Septuagesima is sometimes called Shrovetide, since it ends on Shrove Tuesday, and reminds us that it is a good time for a thorough confession, itself a turning away from a life of sin. Many of the Fathers see it as a mystical representation of the seventy year Babylonian captivity (septuagesima means seventy) which makes more sense than the mere number of days before Easter—which is not seventy. Though it is not as rigorous as Lent, the tradition of the Church until the Council kept a certain period of adjustment from feasting to fasting involving at least some penance and if not fasting then at least abstinence. An interesting aside, the Polish bishops have reinstated the period of Septuagesima.
The start of this month sees the official close to the extended Christmas season so the crib is taken down and we commemorate the events which took place 40 days after the birth of our Saviour, viz. the Purification of the Blessed Virgin together with the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple. The Gospel at the start of the Christmas season presents us with these events: at the start of the Christmas season showing what will be celebrated at the end of the Christmas season. Similarly the events of the Presentation of the Lord involve, at the start of His life, what will happen at the end of it. It is therefore an expression of the wisdom and particularly the Providence of God in His disposition of all things. This is also the day we traditionally bless the candles for the coming year, hence its name: Candlemas. Hopefully, many of you will be able to come to Mass on that day since it is a Saturday this year.
The following weekend Edinburgh is hosting the next in the series of conferences on the spirit of the Founder of the Society of St. Pius X, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. These conferences were originally started particularly for the youth of our chapels but have since become open to all. Since we do not yet have adult catechism in Scotland these occasional events are a marvellous opportunity to deepen one’s understanding of the faith. Consult your notice board for details.
Finally, it is during the week of Septuagesima that we are holding our annual priests’ retreat this year. Fr. Edward Black will be making a very welcome return to these shores to preach the retreat to us and hopefully will be able to spend some time visiting his native land and meet up with many of you later in the month. Please remember to pray for your priests during this week.
With every good wish and blessing,
Rev. Sebastian Wall (Prior)