Quinquagesima Sunday: Prepare for battle!

QuinquagesimaIn our traditional Roman calendar Sunday is Quinquagesima, Latin for the symbolic “Fiftieth” day before Easter.   This the final pre-Lenten Sunday before for the annual discipline of Lent begins.

The prayers and readings for the pre-Lenten Sundays were compiled by St. Gregory the Great (+604).

The Consilium’s liturgical engineers under Annibale Bugnini and others eliminated these pre-Lent Sundays, much to our detriment.  (BugniniCare).

Those who participate at Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form will see that the priest’s vestments are purple. A Tract is sung in place of an Alleluia.

The Introit refers to the “rock” and the Roman Station today is at St. Peter’s on the Vatican Hill.

Preces nostras, quaesumus, Domine, clementer exaudi:
atque, a peccatorum vinculis absolutos,
ab omni nos adversitate custodi.

This prayer is found in the ancient Liber Sacramentorum Augustodunensis and the L.S. Engolismensis.  I cannot find it in any form in the post-Conciliar editions of the Missale Romanum.

You won’t find Quinquagesima in the post-Conciliar Missal either!  But I think you’ve gotten my point.

The ponderous Lewis & Short Dictionary reminds us that absolvo means “to loosen from, to make loose, set free, detach, untie” or in juridical language “to absolve from a charge, to acquit, declare innocent”.  The priest uses this word when he absolves you of the bonds of your sins.  Vinculum is “that with which any thing is bound, a band, bond, rope, cord, fetter, tie”.  This bond can be literal, as in physical fetters, or it can be moral or some sort of state.  You can be bound in charity or peace, or bound in damnation or sin.  In the case if sin, in liturgical prayer we find a form of vinculum or its plural with “loosing” verbs such as absolvo or resolvo or dissolvo.

In ancient prayer the state of sin conceived as a place in which we are bound.  The bonds must be loosed so that we can escape and be free.

In the whole of the post-Conciliar Missal I don’t believe the combination peccata absolvere is found, but it is in ancient collections.  Apparently it isn’t a post-Conciliar concern.  One finds the phrase with some additional term such as “bonds” or “ties” of sins.

We beseech You, O Lord, graciously attend to our prayers:
and, having been loosed from the fetters of sins,
guard us from every adversity.

What is the first thing an enemy does to you, once you are captured? 

He disarms you.  He renders you powerless to do your own will.

Even when we have fallen into sin, we retain free will, but our will is already weakened due to original and actual sin.  We can become so mired in sin that we can’t rule ourselves.

The Sacrament of Penance is a great gift.

We must strive to live without mortal sin.

But we fall.  In mortal sin we divest ourselves, as it were, of our spiritual armor. We make ourselves prisoners.

We pray to God to protect us from the dire consequences of sin, including the attacks of the Enemy, which on our own without God’s help we cannot resist.  Among the benefits of the Sacrament of Penance, along with being freed from the chains of sins, is a strengthening to resist sin in the future.

These prayers of the pre-Lenten Sundays are meant to help us ready the stores in our interior fortresses before the spiritual battle of Lent.

We must empty out what does not serve and be filled with that which does.

Prepare yourselves for battle and Lent’s discipline.


Quinquagesima Sunday: Prepare for battle!
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10 Responses to Quinquagesima Sunday: Prepare for battle!

  1. Priam1184 says:

    Thank you Father. A great Collect to march into Lent with. I don’t know, my Latin must be getting better (or it is just the simple and to the point magnificence of this Collect) but I actually understood it without first going to your translation.

  2. StWinefride says:

    Fr Z says: These prayers of the pre-Lenten Sundays are meant to help us ready the stores in our interior fortresses before the spiritual battle of Lent.

    I have just posted this quote from St Francis de Sales on another post but it’s quite appropriate here too re the above:

    Lent is the autumn of the spiritual life when we pick the fruit and gather it for the whole year. Enrich yourself, I beg you, with these precious treasures which nothing can neither steal nor destroy…”

    Thank you, Father Z.

  3. Jeannie_C says:

    “We must empty out what does not serve and be filled with that which does.” – Thank you, Fr. Z., I’m going to repeat that to myself throughout Lent and ask myself whom I think I’m serving? I’ve been waiting for a Divinely inspired message to fuel my Lenten preparation, now I have it.

  4. RafqasRoad says:


    Your St. Francis de Sales quote ‘“Lent is the autumn of the spiritual life when we pick the fruit and gather it for the whole year. ‘ is most fitting for us in the Southern Hemisphere, where the liturgical year and seasons are not in synch with each other – light and 40 degree C days at Christmas, lent and Easter during the transition from Summer to Autumn – many writers of the faith have drawn analogies between the seasons and liturgical year, but these are of Northern hemisphere making – good solid Catholic faith writing that looks at we in the South and how we fit into everything would be rather helpful. Perhaps Fr. Z. could keep his Southern Hemisphere readers in mind from time to time. Just a thought, and thanks go once again to StWinefride who has shared something wonderful for we at the bottom of the world. (

  5. Sonshine135 says:

    Between Men’s Conference yesterday with Confession and Mass in the Extraordinary Form today, I do feel as though I am prepared for battle Father! Adoration of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament- check, Cross with Embedded Benedictine Medal- Check, Rosary- check, Bible- check, Fasting, Abstaining, and Almsgiving- check check and check………Church Militant move out!

  6. Supertradmum says:

    Fr. Z., excellent. How interesting to me that the spiritual battle will become a physical battle. As the Church is a physical reality, and as we are both body and soul, perhaps God is allowing this to happen to make us really whole and entire, not split. None of this, “my spiritual life is private” garbage.

  7. Priam1184 says:

    @RafqasRoad You are correct of course, but most of the world’s population lives in the northern hemisphere because so much of the southern hemisphere is open ocean. I have always wondered how that affects the liturgical life down there and in the tropics. The Church had its roots in the northern temperate zone. All divine providence I guess. God created the world this way and I trust He knows what He is doing.

  8. JonPatrick says:

    Our parish now has a monthly 1st Saturday EF Mass (Deo Gratias!) and in Father’s brief homily he spoke about the Septuagesima period of preparing for Lent which used to exist in the older form and now has been done away with which is a shame because we need to prepare ourselves if we are going to have a fruitful Lent, just as our Blessed Mother must have needed to prepare herself for the birth of Jesus (tying in to the theme of the Mass which was a votive for the BVM).

  9. StWinefride says:

    RafqasRoad, you are welcome! and if you don’t know them already, here are a couple more quotes from St Francis de Sales, he mentions autumn in the first one, the second one is not specific to autumn but the idea expressed is beautiful:

    “I see that all the seasons of the year converge in your soul: at times you experience all the dryness, distraction, disgust and boredom of winter; at other times, all the dew and fragrance of the little flowers in Maytime; and again, the warmth of a desire to please God. All that remains is autumn, and you say that you do not see much of its fruit. Yet it often happens that in threshing the wheat and pressing the grapes we discover more than the harvest or vintage promised. You would like it to be always spring or summer; but no, dear daughter, we have to experience interior as well as exterior changes. Only in Heaven will everything be springtime as to beauty, autumn as to enjoyment and summer as to love. There will be no winter there; but here below we need winter so that we may practice self-denial and the countless small but beautiful virtues that can be practiced during a barren season…”

    “Madam, this desire of yours [holiness] should be like orange trees along the seacoast of Genoa which almost all year long are covered with fruit, blossoms and leaves all at the same time. Every day presents occasions for your desire to ripen, so you should bear fruit constantly; yet, you should never stop hoping for further opportunities to advance. Such longings are the blossoms on the tree of your desire; the leaves are the frequent admissions of your weakness, which keeps both your good works and your desires in a healthy condition.”

  10. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: de Sales — That’s really beautiful.