Some time ago I was led to considering Exodus90, (a paid programme intended to break people out of bad habits through the use of penance and prayer for 90 consecutive days), and its suitability for some friends I knew who were asking me about it.
After examining it, I considered that while it had some excellent aspects it also had some significant limitations, and yet I felt that many of its underlying principles needed to be rediscovered and could be very useful. Too often these principles were misused or not implemented sufficiently by modern-day Catholics.
So after talking with a few Exodus90 adherents and thinking about our rich cultural and liturgical inheritance, particularly centred around the Lenten season, Septuagesima70 became the delightful, if occasionally difficult and demanding, spiritual result.
Our principal aim is to lead you back to Holy Mother Church’s aims for this wonderful liturgical time: penance, for sure, but also deeper, more guided, and fruitful prayer, based particularly around the practice of meditation.
I hope you will read on to the practices which appear in the next post and will be pinned at the top of these blogs so you can always return to them when you require a little more guidance.
I want, also, to exhort you to see that if you have been led to this website, and to these posts, this is in no way accidental. God has a plan for this. He has led you to this.
It may be that on reading some of the following “practices” your human self will revolt. “It’s a bit complex.” “I really won’t have the time”. “Maybe I’ll do some things but I couldn’t do all of it!” Perhaps some of these thoughts have been springing to your mind. Don’t give them countenance.
I want to invite you to be bold. Our Church and Our World, in many ways, stands on a precipice. Increasing secularisation, but also scandals and difficulties within the institutional Church, have often led souls away from God and His Church, and away from the rich cultural, intellectual, liturgical and spiritual heritage that is ours in the Catholic Church. Holy Mother Church needs her faithful, in these times, to “step up” a little. It may be that you have done Septuagesima70 in past years. Maybe you felt doing it once was sufficient. I hear you and I feel for you. If you have done this before, why on earth would you want to impose this on yourself again?!
The Holy Season of Lent and pre-Lent (Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinqagesima) rolls round only once a year. I truly believe it rolls around at just the right time. We need a little “kick-start” to our prayer and penitential life, and I need it right now.
There is no doubt that if it is lived well, in the spirit of these practices that we lay out here, the next few weeks will have their difficulties. But, but, but…my promise to you is - and former adherents would know this - is that after doing Septuagesima70 the celebration of Easter will never quite be the same again; so wonderful and prepared you will be to enjoy the fruits that this next period will open up for you when Easter and Pentecost rolls around.
But, but but. Holy Mother Church, moreover, demands this of you, requires it of you, begs this of you. She needs us, this year in particular, to offer, for souls, our small offerings of penance and prayer, for ourselves, and those who are dear to us, and…for the Universal Church and Our Holy Father.
Please sign on to Septuagesima70. Read the Practices, and live them well. And invite along somebody to join you, perhaps for spiritual support, but also because this is something that ought to be shared. The joy that comes through penance and prayer needs to be shared once again.
And pray for us. A lot of work goes into this behind the scenes and we do it gladly, but sometimes the devil has his little victories. Pray for us, and pray for all who will join us for this new run of Septuagesima70 in 2023. May it bear fruit, fruit that is abundant, and fruit that will last.
A blessed Septuagesima to all!
Fr. Mark Withoos
(With Dylan Shogren)