Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Saturday, 15 February 2014


Tomorrow is in the Usus Antiquior Septuagesima Sunday, and the beginning of the Pre-Lent season - and in some circumstances of the Lenten fast. There is an online introduction to the history and practice of Septuagesima here. I wrote last year about this season and the debate about its position in the liturgical year in The Season of Septuagesima.

My copy of the excellent St Andrew Missal (reprinted by the St Bonaventure Press) gives a good introduction to the development of this season, and explains it as originating in the liturgical themes of the three Sundays - the Fall, Noah and Abraham - and a consequential extension backwards of Lenten themes. One summary I have seen is that in Septuagesima we recognise that we are a fallen humanity, and in Lent by penitence we try to do something about it.


Earlier this evening I was at the Ordinariate Mass here in Oxford. In their calendar this weekend is called Septuagesiama, the next two Sundays have their traditional names. These terms were retained in the Book of Common Prayer, and have returned to the Catholic Church with the Ordinariate Use. 

However more than the name there is no change to Novus Ordo useage with this newly approved Use. The vestments are green not purple, the Gloria and Alleluia are not suppressed, and the readings are those of, this year, Sunday of Week 6 of Ordinary Time. Returning to the issue I linked to in my post Reform of the Reform or Reversal of the Reform? last week this is perhaps an indication of how far the Reform of the Reform could go at the moment. It is perhaps a pity that room for more provision of ancient uses has not been found with this liturgy. Maybe time will bring organic development.

Update Monday February 17th

The blog Rorate Caeli has this post about Septuagesima and its significance: Septuagesima: Christianity is as old as the world

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