WDTPRS: Quinquagesima

In our traditional Roman calendar this Sunday is Quinquagesima, Latin for the symbolic “Fiftieth” day before Easter.  Today is one of the pre-Lenten Sundays which prepare us for the discipline of Lent. The priest’s vestments are purple. No Alleluia. The prayers and readings for the pre-Lenten Sundays were compiled by St. Gregory the Great (+604).   After the Second Vatican Council the Consilium’s liturgical reformers under Annibale Bugnini and others eliminated these pre-Lent Sundays, much to our detriment.

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 this prayer in any form in the post-Conciliar editions of the Missale Romanum

Of course you won’t find Quinquagesima either.

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.  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 renders you powerless to do your own will.

The Sacrament of Penance is the great gift.  In all good will we must strive to live without mortal sin.  But we fall.  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 among other things to help us ready with stores our interior fortresses before the spiritual battle of lent.  We must empty out what doesn’t serve and be filled with that which does.  Prepare yourselves for Lent’s discipline.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. idatom says:

    Fr. Z.;

    You touch on a sore spot with me when ever you mention Quaesumus Domine. To me this is more proof of an agenda back when the new Mass was translated into English. Think of millions of times, over the past 40 years, when we did not pled, beseech, beg Our Good God during the Holy Sacrifice of Mass as the Church intended. I am still waiting to hear why Rome approved that miserable translation.

    Tom Lanter

  2. Supertradmom says:

    Thank you a hundred times for these lovely meditations.

  3. ssoldie says:

    Ah! yes the ‘fabricated’ liturgy of Bugini, that was hoisted on us, and thru deception made us believe that the Traditional Latin Mass that had been handed down thru the centuries from the time of St Gregory The Great +604 to John XXIII organicly had been absolved and forbidden to pray. I myself thank God everyday for giving the Church Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, and the society which he founded in 1970. I ask what are the fruits that have come about in the last forty-five years since Vatican Council II, the word ‘ambiguity’ looms strongly, ambiguious wording in much that was used at the council. What say you?

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