|The gospel for Septuagesima Sunday was Matthew 20:1-16.|
I haven't quite figured out how this fits in with the day,
but I like this picture.
Septuagesima Sunday marks the beginning of a period during which we examine our lives, repent, and discern what we will be doing penance for during Lent. I wrote a longer post about this two years ago. This year, however, marks the first time in my life that I have ever remembered Septuagesima Sunday before the day.
Lately I have been thinking about the words contrition and compunction. Contrition comes from a Latin word which means worn out, ground to pieces. Compunction comes from a word that means to severely prick; sting, or to pierce. It seems to have a connotation of being pierced to the heart. I have at times felt pierced to the heart by the realization of the weight of my sins, and I have more frequently felt worn out and ground to pieces by that weight, but for the most part, I don't. I'm sorry that I sin, and I want to quit sinning, and I go to Confession fairly frequently, but really, my sorrow is pretty much of an intellectual sort. And I suspect that I am not alone. Now this is not really bad. The sort of contrition that is an act of the will, and a determination to turn away from sin (hopeless as this may seem) is all that is necessary for forgiveness, but occasionally it's a good idea to attempt something more.
All of this points to the benefit of taking advantage of this period before Lent when we can prepare ourselves to observe Lent more fruitfully. It is a time when we can spend time looking at the fruit of our sin, how it weakens us, and how it negatively effects others, especially those in our family. It is a time when we can remember all the graces we have been given, and how ungrateful we have been. I think that this kind of reflection will provide the impetus to enter into the penance of Lent in a new way.