Before entering "superstar" status in the religious blogosphere, Fr. Zuhlsdorf wrote (and still does) a wonderful column for The Wanderer called "What Does the Prayer Really Say?" As he says today in his Sunday blog post:

Some of you who are more recent readers of this blog may not know that for years I have written a column in The Wanderer about liturgical translations. I have compared the original Latin texts of prayers with the official ICEL versions and picked them both apart. The column has had great success, and has wound up being rather influential, I am happy to say. More importantly it has helped many people understand that our prayers for Mass have a profound content, nay rather, a divine content: the true content of our prayers in Mass is the divine Person, Jesus the High Priest, the Head of the Church lifting prayers to the Father.

For the first seven years of the WDTPRS column I looked at the prayers of Mass with the Novus Ordo. This year I am examining prayers from the 1962 Missale Romanum.

Fr. Z. then goes on to quote from his Wanderer article on Septuagesima Sunday:

What Does the Prayer Really Say? Septuagesima Sunday (1962 Missale Romanum) Roman station Mass: San Lorenzo fuori le mura


In the pre-Conciliar calendar this period before Ash Wednesday is called the Season of Epiphany. This year, because Easter falls so early, the Sundays after Epiphany are bumped. The time after Epiphany and the time after Pentecost are both called the tempus per annum, “the time through the year”. That terminology remained in the Novus Ordo to describe the two parts of “Ordinary Time”.

In the traditional Roman calendar this Sunday is called Septuagesima, Latin for the “Seventieth” day before Easter. This number is more symbolic than arithmetical. The Sundays which follow are Sexagesima (“sixtieth”) and Quinquagesima (“fiftieth”) before Ash Wednesday brings in Lent, called in Latin Quadragesima, “Fortieth”. These pre-Lenten Sundays prepare us for the discipline of Lent, which once was far stricter.

Septuagesima gives us a more solemn attitude for Holy Mass. Purple is worn on Sunday rather than the green of the time after Epiphany. These Sundays have Roman stations. Alleluia is sung for the last time at First Vespers of Septuagesima and is then excluded until Holy Saturday. There was once a tradition of “burying” the Alleluia, with a depositio ceremony, like a little funeral. A hymn of farewell was sung. There was a procession with crosses, tapers, holy water, and a coffin containing a banner with Alleluia. The coffin was sprinkled, incensed, and buried. In some places, such as Paris, a straw figure bearing an Alleluia of gold letters was burned in the churchyard. Somehow that seems very French to me.

The prayers and readings for the Masses of these pre-Lenten Sundays were compiled by St. Gregory the Great (+604), Pope in a time of great turmoil and suffering. Pre-Lent is particularly a time for preaching about missions and missionary work, the evangelization of peoples. In the Novus Ordo of Paul VI there is no more pre-Lent. A terrible loss. We are grateful that with Summorum Pontificum the pre-Lent Sundays have regained something of their ancient status.
Please check his article today and discover the beautiful prayers for this Sunday from the 1962 Missale Romanum. It is a marvelous column!