Last Sunday (yesterday) in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite we began the pre-Lent season of Septuagesima with purple/violet vestments. When I first saw this I thought it so odd, to be going into purple so far before Lent. Perhaps it struck me all the more as it might have been a year when Easter was particularly early and so we had barely finished the Christmas season. Now I realise that to have a few weeks preparation for Lent fits our human condition perfectly. Ash Wednesday seems to take us by surprise, and for anyone who has missed Ash Wednesday, we have already had four days of Lent before they hear any word of Lent at Sunday Mass.
The New Liturgical Movement has some posts from 2010 on the background to this pre-Lent season. This pre-Lent period helps us to prepare for Lent. While the season of penance has not yet commenced, we have three Sundays reminding us to get ready. According to NLM:
Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, in the twenty-first chapter of The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: 1948-1975 (p. 307, footnote 6), readily noted that the removal of Septuagesima in the modern Roman calendar was the source of some disagreement. He specifically notes Paul VI's own thoughts on the matter: "On one occasion Pope Paul VI compared the complex made up of Septuagesima, Lent, Holy Week, and Easter Triduum to bells calling people to Sunday Mass. The ringing of them an hour, half-hour, fifteen, and five minutes before the time of Mass has a psychological effect and prepares the faithful materially and spiritually for the celebration of the liturgy."
Read these interesting posts from 2010 at New Liturgical Movement:
Some Notes on the Origins and Character of Pre-Lent (Septuagesima, Sexagesima, Quinquagesima)
The Question of the Septuagesima Season and the Modern Roman Liturgy: Possible Enrichment?
The Station Churches of Septuagesima