Thursday, March 9, 2017

Ember Days

They are still around!

"In the drawing up of the Calendar of a nation, the Rogation Days and Ember Days should be indicated (cf. no. 373), as well as the forms and texts for their celebration,[154] and other special measures should also be kept in mind."  GIRM, 394

Paul VI's, Mysterii Paschalis: Normae Universalis de Anno Liturgico et Calendrium Romanum Generale of February 14, 1969, is also included in the introductory section of all subsequent novus ordo editions of the Roman Missal including the most recent Amended Latin Third Typical Edition of 2010 right after the above mentioned GIRM. In that text you will find the following instruction on Ember Days.

"VII. Rogation and Ember Days (From the 2010 publication of the Roman Missal,
"45. On rogation and ember days the practice of the Church is to offer prayers to the Lord for the needs of all people, especially for the productivity of the earth and for human labor, and to give him public thanks.
"46. In order to adapt the rogation and ember days to various regions and the different needs of the people, the conferences of bishops should arrange the time and plan for their celebration.
"Consequently, the competent authority should lay down norms, in view of local conditions, on extending such celebrations over one or several days and on repeating them during the year.
"47. On each day of these celebrations the Mass should be one of the votive Masses for various needs and occassions that is best suited for the intentions of the petitioners."

The bishop of the diocese, and/or the conference of bishops, establishing the norms.

The instructive element in this is that the Ember Days have not been forgotten. There is no requirement from the Church on the matter, as far as I can tell, in USA or in Newark, but every man is free to follow that old discipline if he likes, just like the traditional Lenten fast (which the US bishops actually strongly recommend--Pastoral Statement On Penance And Abstinence, 14). We can all wear sackcloth too if we are so inclined, as did the Ninevites upon the preaching of Jonah and the Jews of the time and place of Queen Esther and Mordecai. (Cf. the penances implied in the daily first readings of the OF mass today and yesterday). Where can I get some sackcloth to wear? I think I'll get the youth group to make shirts of sackcloth as a fundraiser for next year! As far as I know the traditional "hairshirt" was never required. Saints wanted to do more for God and in reparation for sins. Our penances should never be limited to what is required.

I am very happy to hear and learn about all of these traditional observances of our past heroes of the faith. Very inspirational.

"Ember days are "the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of four weeks during the year. Ember Fridays were formerly days of fast and abstinence; Ember Wednesdays and Saturdays were formerly days of fast and partial abstinence (meat permitted only at the main meal). The Ember Days, of ancient origin, were days of fasting for the special sanctification of the four seasons and for obtaining God's blessing on the clergy. They occur during the third week of Advent, the first full week of Lent, the week after Pentecost, and the third full week in September...
"It is praiseworthy to continue the former (traditional) penitential observances, even though they are no longer obligatory. Penance serves to rectify our self-centeredness, to make up for sins (our own and those of others), to strengthen our wills, and to guide us in the footsteps of our Savior. It can be a very pure form of love for God, and can be offered up for the conversion of sinners and the relief of the souls in Purgatory." TAN Saints Calendar

There are ancient rhymes which remind you when are the four times of ember days.

Post Luciam, Cineres, post sanctum Pneuma Crucemque,
Tempora dat quatuor feria quarta sequens.
(After the feast of Saint Lucy [December 13], Ash Wednesday, Pentecost, and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross [September 14], we have the four sets of ember days, following Wednesday.)

Post Cineres, Pneuma, post Crucem, postque Lucyam
Mercurii, Veneris, Sabbato, ieiunia fiant.

Vult Crux, Lucia, cineres, charismata dia,
Ut det vota pia, quarta sequens feria.
Durandus, Rationale Divinorum, VIII, iii, 22.

Fasting days and Emberings be
Lent, Whitsun, Holyrood, and Lucie.

The traditional ember days (when they were observed and what they meant) are explained here.
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