For centuries it has been customary to observe a period of preparation for the rigors of Lent. Called the season of Septuagesima from the Sunday that marks its beginning (three Sundays before Ash Wednesday), these three 'weeks' leading up to Ash Wednesday are characterized by a certain somberness in the extraordinary form - the vestments are changed to violet, the Mass texts turn our attention to the reality of original sin and its consequences, and, perhaps most striking of all, the Alleluia is omitted, not to be heard again until the Easter Vigil.
For the first time in our community history, we observed this delightful custom. The Alleluia rang out one last time at the conclusion of Vespers followed by a solemn procession escorting the Alleluia from its honorary place on the altar to its Lenten grave, where it will remain until after the Easter Vigil. Its absence is notable, reminding us of the solemn season rapidly approaching and prompting us to ask for the graces attached to this liturgical season.