You might have looked at the cover of the bulletin last month and wondered, what is Septuagesima, Sexagesima, or Quinquagesima? Well, you aren’t alone. For the record, Septuagesima means 70 days, Sexagesima means 60 days, and Quinquagesima means 50 days and it is the Sunday prior to Ash Wednesday. These three Sundays are known as the “gesimas.” These Sundays prepare us for Lent.
In the seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter, many of the Sundays have Latin names. These names are often drawn from the introit, the psalm chanted towards the beginning of the Divine Service and convey themes for each Sunday. In the case of Lent, the themes guide us to Holy Week.
Although we can’t pinpoint an exact date of when Latin names for these Sundays began, it is widely believed they have been a fixture since the conception of the lectionary. If you dig out an old TLH (The Lutheran Hymnal), you’ll see the Sundays of Lent listed: Invocabit, Reminiscere, Oculi, Laetare, Judica, and the names used throughout Advent and Easter too.
There might be temptation to shy away from using these names for many of the Sundays because the Latin language is deemed old and archaic. But the language and names of each Sunday also serve as ar eminder that when we enter the Divine Service, we enter a time and space where heaven touches earth. In some instances, language can give us the jolt and friendly reminder that we are God’s children and our eyes, our minds, and our hearts are to always be casted upon Him and His transcendent Word.
As we approach Holy Week and Easter, I invite you to look at the cover of the Sunday bulletin. Learn the names of various Sundays and reflect on how they convey a theme for our worship. I also invite you to continue reading below about the Sundays in Lent. May God bless you throughout the Lenten season.
The First Sunday of Lent is known as Invocabit
The phrase “Invocabit” means “He shall call upon (me).”
The Second Sunday of Lent is known as Reminiscere
The phrase “Reminiscere” means “Remember, (O Lord).”
The Third Sunday of Lent is known as Oculi
The phrase “Oculi” means “eyes.”
The Fourth Sunday of Lent is known as Laetare Sunday
The phrase “Laetare” means “Rejoice Ye.”
The Fifth Sunday of Lent is known as Judica Sunday
The phrase “Judica” means “Judge (me).”