Wednesday, March 8, 2017
The Seasons pass, and for each, there is a set of three Ember Days.
Today is also the Ember Wednesday of Lent. What is that you ask?
The Ember Days were traditionally a Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, occurring in Lent, the Octave of Pentecost, this week in September, and in Advent, These "Quatuor Tempora" had as their purpose, "besides the general one intended by all prayer and fasting, was to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy." (Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Ember Days).
Formerly, these were days of fasting and partial abstinence (only meat at the "main" meal).
For more on the Ember Days, you might note: Fisheaters: Ember Days
These days, then, four in number, like the seasons, were a time of gratitude, penance, and prayer. Indeed, in the current General Instruction of the Roman Missal, it provides that: "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, and other special measures should also be kept in mind." (USCCB GIRM: Chapter IX)
Why the practice and celebration of Ember Days has largely disappeared, and is now restricted to traditional communities is tragic, and seemingly contrary to the instructions of Holy Mother Church.
Perhaps if it is not a custom you have, this is the year it will be revived in your family or parish?