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Reclaiming our patrimony – Ember Days September 20, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, Interior Life, North Deanery, Saints.

For much of the history of the Church, seasonal fasts called Ember Days were kept four times a year, at the change of the seasons.  The reason for these periods of fasting were to consecrate the entire year to God and to allow for a time of reflection and a spiritual ‘check up’ – they were intended to include not only fasting and abstinence but also additional prayer, meditation and more detailed examinations of conscience.  Another aspect is to give thanks for the gift God provides through nature. Even prior to Vatican II, Ember Days had fallen into something of disuse or inattention, but with Summorum Pontificum and a general reawakening of an interest in Tradition, they are making a bit of a comeback.  We are coming upon the fall Ember Days of Michaelmas.

Ember Days involve all the above (fasting, prayer, abstinence, etc) on 3 days of the where the change of seasons occurs – Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.  The September Ember Days this year are Sept. 21, 23, and 24.  At this time, the Liturgy in the Traditional Mass changes to incorporate more readings from the Old Testament – sometimes as many as five – and it is intended to a special Mass on these days. 

The Catholic Encyclopedia, written in 1913 and generally pretty solid, gives a bare bones exposition on Ember Days, but contains the error that Ember Days were first instituted to occupy dates previously celebrated by the pagans in Rome – in actuality, the Ember Days were first practiced by the Apostles due to their Jewish roots, and pre-date even the Church’s presence in Rome.   There is a fine article on the purpose and history of Ember Days at Rorate Caeli.   The Ember Days starting this Wednesday are also starting on the Feast of the Apostle St. Matthew, who likely celebrated them himself.

There are many aspects of our wonderful patrimony that have been lost.  I think Ember Days are a worthy aspect of that patrimony to re-embrace.

Many graces will descend on those who fast and abstain in love for the Lord!

Colleen sometimes shares recipes on Ember Days. I hope she will again.

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