Monday, September 18, 2017

Traditional Ember Days

E M B E R     D A Y S

The September Ember Days in 2017 are: Wednesday, September 20; Friday, September 22; & Saturday, September 23.
Sung Masses at Holy Innocents this week:

Wednesday, September 20 at 6PM - Ember Wednesday Mass (Violet)

Thursday, September 21 at 6PM - Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle (Red)

Friday, September 22 at 6PM - Ember Friday Mass (Violet)

Saturday, September 23 at 1PM - Ember Saturday Mass (Violet


Ember Days (from Latin Quatuor Tempora, four times) are the days at the beginning of the seasons ordered by the Church as days of prayer, fast, abstinence, mortification, and almsgiving. Though these days were definitely arranged and prescribed for the entire Church by Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085), their real origin goes back to the early days of the Church at Rome. The Ember Days are specific to the West; the East does not know them.
In addition to prayer and fasting, another reason for the Ember Days is to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy. The immediate occasion (for their origin) was the practice of the heathens of Rome who worked in agriculture. In the months June, September, and December, the Romans invoked their false deities for protection upon their fruits of the earth: in June for a bountiful harvest, in September for a rich vintage, and in December for the seeding.

The Church, when converting heathen nations, has always tried to sanctify any practices that could be utilized for a good purpose. At first, the Church in Rome had fasts in June, September, and December, but the exact days were not fixed. The Church, on these days, taught Christians to consecrate the seasons by means of fasting, abstinence, prayer, mortification, and almsgiving in order to invoke the blessing of the One and True God upon their crops by means of sun and rain in due season. 

Additionally, following the example of Our Lord, who fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, the Church always prepared for special feasts and festivals by fasting (Saturdays were days of fast and abstinence in preparation for Mass on the Lord’s Day – Sunday). This helped Christians to prepare spiritually and to increase their life of virtue by subduing the flesh to the spirit: “Fasting has always been the nourishment of virtues. By voluntary mortifications, the flesh dies to its concupiscence and the spirit is renewed in virtue” (Pope St. Leo).

Taken from Catholic Enclopedia and A Pulpit Commentary on Catholic Teaching: The Liturgy of the Ecclesiastical Year.


May such beautiful days of fast and abstinence bring about “time for true and fruitful penance, an always repentant heart and amendment of life, the grace and consolation of the Holy Ghost, and final perseverance in good works” (as the old Papal blessing used to go).


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