From the Rector: The Gesimas & the Church Calendar

Septuagesima, Sexagesima, & Quinquagesima

Those who remember prior liturgical church calendars might remember these Gesima Sundays. Our current BCP calendar does not refer to the gesimas, simply calling every Sunday between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday a "Sunday after the Epiphany." In the Church of England, they number these weeks of January and February a bit differently. The Sundays between the Epiphany and Candlemas (February 2) are called the Sundays after the Epiphany. (It is also worth noting that in England, both the Epiphany and the Presentation may be transferred to a Sunday, a practice similar to how All Saints Day may be transferred to a Sunday in the Episcopal Church's calendar.) The Sundays between the Presentation and Ash Wednesday are called the "Sundays before Lent." Hence, white may be used as the liturgical color throughout January, and then green is used between the Presentation and Ash Wednesday.

I find the Church of England's usage quite helpful. It allows for a more robust incarnation cycle of Advent, Christmas, and the Epiphany, coming to a conclusion on the Presentation. It also allows for a season which could be labeled pre-Lent, either called the Sundays before Lent or the Gesima Sundays. This time helps us change our orientation from the incarnation cycle of the church towards the resurrection cycle (Lent and Easter). The three Sundays before Ash Wednesday are traditionally known as Septuagesima, Sexagesima, Quinquagesima, being roughly Seventy, Sixty, and Fifty days before Easter. This is a time when we prepare for Lent by thinking about what we might do this coming Lent. Also notice that the math is rough. Of course we do not have ten day weeks. Think of it more like "theological math," perhaps the best type of math to do.

Father Paul Lillie+