Lenten Embertide: Spring

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ember days

Ember Days Primer

“All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under heaven..A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.”  Ecclesiastes.

The term “Ember” is derived from the Latin term Quatuor Tempora, which means four times.

And so the Ember days occur in the four seasons: spring, summer, winter and autumn.

Aside from the general purpose of praying and fasting, which are meritorious in itself, the Church found itself contending with the pagan practices of the Roman pagans in the early centuries and looked for a way to sanctify these pagan holidays.  And so the Ember Days were instituted.

“The immediate occasion was the practice of the heathens of Rome. The Romans were originally given to agriculture, and their native gods belonged to the same class. At the beginning of the time for seeding and harvesting religious ceremonies were performed to implore the help of their deities: in June for a bountiful harvest, in September for a rich vintage, and in December for the seeding;”  New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia.

How  Come I Never Heard of Ember Days?

The Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. no longer observes Ember Days, but like all penitential practices, we are welcome to do more.

Ember Days are still observed by those who follow the 1962  Missal.

The wonderful thing is that a lot of people are choosing to observe the Ember Days again.

Why Are Ember Days on Wednesdays, Fridays & Saturdays?

The Jews fasted on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but Christians chose to fast on Wednesdays (the day Christ was betrayed), Fridays (the day he was crucified), and Saturday (the day he was buried).


Lenten Embertide: Spring

lenten embertide

Labours of the Month-March: Pruning Trees

When Are the Lenten Ember Days?

The Lenten Ember Days are always in the first week of Lent (the week after Ash Wednesday).  They are on Wednesday, Friday & Saturday.

Lent comes early this week, so  we are still in winter, but let’s just pretend it’s spring already.

lenten embertide

Labours of the Month: April – Enjoying Nature

Fasting Rules for  Lenten Embertide

The rules apply to everyone who is 18 years of age through 59 years of age

How Much Food Can I At?
One full meal and two smaller meals, that when combined, do not equal a full meal.

Wednesday of Lenten Embertide – Fasting & Partial Abstinence

Partial abstinence: meat is allowed during the main meal of the day.

Friday of Lenten Embertide:  Fasting & Abstinence

Full Abstinence: No meat is allowed for Latin Rite Catholics.  Fish, eggs and cheese are allowed.

Saturday of Lenten Embertide – Fasting & Abstinence

Full Abstinence: No meat is allowed for Latin Rite Catholics.  Fish, eggs and cheese are allowed.


Collects of Lenten Embertide (1962 Missal)

Wednesday of Ember Week in Lent

“Look down favorably, we beseech Thee, O Lord, upon the devotion of Thy people, that they whose bodies are mortified by abstinence, may through the fruit of good works be refreshed in mind. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.”

Friday of Ember Week in Lent

“O Lord, be gracious to Thy people; and as Thou makest them devoted to Thee, in Thy mercy cherish them by Thy kind assistance. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.”

Saturday of Ember Week in Lent

“Let us Pray. Let us kneel Arise. Look down graciously upon Thy people, we beseech Thee, O Lord; and mercifully turn away from them the scourges of Thy wrath. Through our Lord.”

 

Labours of the Month

Labours of the Month – May – Falconing

There are various images found in medieval manuscripts that portray the various labors that can be undertaken according to the seasons.

“The Labours of the Months are frequently found as part of large sculptural schemes on churches, and in illuminated manuscripts, especially in the Calendars of late medieval Books of Hours. The manuscripts are important for the development of landscape painting, containing most of the first painting where this was given prominence.”  Wikipedia.

The Cycles for Spring Are:

  • March – Pruning trees, or digging.
  • April – Planting, enjoying the country or picking flowers.
  • May – Hawking, courtly love.

If you are already observing the traditiional Lenten fast, you are already fasting and if you’ve given up meat for Lent, you are not adding any extra obligations.

Even though Ember Days are no longer observed in the United States, it is a beautiful tradition that is newly observed by many Catholics in the world.

Do you observe Ember Days?


Recommended Lenten Reading

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