This Sunday is Septuagesima Sunday! In the Great Tradition of the Western Church, the three Sundays which precede Ash Wednesday have been anciently known as Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima Sunday respectively. The names come from the fact that these Sundays fall at roughly 70, 60 and 50 days before the celebration of Easter (thus the funky names which are simply Latin for 70, 60 and 50 days). These three Sundays have traditionally served as the gateway and vestibule to the season of Lent. In the medieval Church they almost took on a flavor of "Lent lite" as some of the restrictions of the Lenten fast were slowly imposed (such as the omission of the Alleluias and the Gloria in the liturgy). It also served a similar purpose to practices still observed in the Eastern Church where believers gradually begin eliminating meat and dairy from the diet over the weeks which precede the Fast proper to prevent the faithful from experiencing the shock of "going cold turkey."
For our purposes as contemporary Anglicans, I would urge us to consider taking this nudge from the Church calendar and begin now to think, pray and prepare for the Lenten season which is just ahead of us. If you are at all like me, it is likely you have experienced those years wherein you feel as though you missed out on the first 5 days or so of Lent because it takes that long to decide what you need to be doing. This is why, in Her Wisdom, Mother Church gives us this "heads up" to do that discerning and preparing now.
Take the time now to ask the Lord what He would have your fast look like this year. In addition to dietary fasts, are there other areas of your life: media, entertainment or "creature comforts" that He would have you lay aside for this season? Are there particular disciplines He would have you take up? Here at Christ our Hope we will have materials available in the next 3 weeks to help you in this endeavor.