On February 20 we celebrated Septuagesima Sunday, the start of a short period encompassing three Sundays to prepare us for the penance of Lent. According to some accounts, Pope Paul VI wasn't favorable to the suggestion made after Vatican II to eliminate this preparatory period when the idea was put before him. However, eliminated it was. Today's liturgy reflects this gradual preparation for Lent in the violet color of the vestments and the elimination of the Gloria and Alleluia at Mass. The Scripture lessons of the day highlight man's sorrowful condition and need for salvation, and the importance of man's penitential cooperation in the salvation of his soul as he "runs the race" in order to win an eternal prize.