Septuagesima Sunday and the Feast of Saint Cyril of Alexandria and Saint Apollonia

Written by on 02/08/2020

Septuagesima Sunday and the feast of Saint Cyril of Alexandria and Saint Apollonia.

 Septuagesima Sunday begins the season that comprises the three weeks immediately preceding Lent.

It forms one of the principal divisions of the Liturgical Year, and is itself divided into three parts, each part corresponding to a week: the first is called Septuagesima; the second, Sexagesima; the third, Quinquagesima.  Saint Cyril of Alexandria is a Doctor of the Church, and was “the soul of the Council of Ephesus” in 431.  This was an Ecumenical Council, the third one and it defended the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary against a diabolical heretic, a bishop named Nestorius.  It was this Council, and largely due to Saint Cyril’s inspiration, which gave us the last half of the “Hail Mary”: 

“Holy Mary, Mother of God. pray for us sinners,” to which was later added, “now and at the hour of our death, Amen.”

Saint Apollonia, a Virgin Martyr was a noble and valiant Catholic woman of Alexandria in Egypt.  She was burned to death for professing the Catholic Faith, after all her teeth were torn out.  Saint Apollonia is the patroness of Catholic dentists.

Dom Prosper Gueranger offers this beautiful meditation on this day o get our minds thinking correctly and ordered toward that great mystery of Lent which approaches.

It is of importance that we should well understand this parable of the Gospel, and why the Church inserts it in today’s liturgy. Firstly, then, let us recall to mind on what occasion our Savior spoke this parable, and what instruction He intended to convey by it to the Jews. He wishes to warn them of the fast approach of the day when their Law is to give way to the Christian Law; and He would prepare their minds against the jealousy and prejudice which might arise in them, at the thought that God was about to form a Covenant with the Gentiles. The vineyard is the Church in its several periods, from the beginning of the world to the time when God Himself dwelt among them, and formed all true believers into one visible and permanent society. The morning is the time from Adam to Noah; the third hour begins with Noah and ends with Abraham; the sixth hour includes the period which elapsed between Abraham and Moses; and lastly, the ninth hour opens with the age of the prophets, and closes with the birth of the Savior. The Messias came at the eleventh hour, when the world seemed to be at the decline of its day. Mercies unprecedented were reserved for this last period, during which salvation was to be given to the Gentiles by the preaching of the apostles. It is by this mystery of mercy that our Savior rebukes the Jewish pride. By the selfish murmurings made against the master of the house by the early laborers, our Lord signifies the indignation which the scribes and pharisees would show at the Gentiles being adopted as God’s children. Then He shows them how their jealousy would be chastised: Israel, that had labored before us, shall be rejected for their obduracy of heart, and we Gentiles, the last comers, shall be made first, for we shall be made members of that Catholic Church which is the bride of the Son of God.

This is the interpretation of our parable given by St. Augustine and St. Gregory the great, and by the generality of the holy fathers… Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year.

Oremus & Happy Septuagesima Sunday

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