From ‘Venite Prandete’ on Facebook
The Advent Ember Days occur in the week following the Feast of St Lucy on 13th December. This year, the Advent Ember Days fall on Wednesday 16th December, Friday 18th December and Saturday 19th December.
Ember Days were related to the seasons in agrarian times and derived from an acknowledgment of our indebtedness to God for our physical well-being. Such awareness, however, is not confined to the past, nor irrelevant to modern life. Ember Days are days of prayer and penance, whereby God’s blessing is sought and during which thanks and praise should be offered to God in appreciation of the blessings bestowed on us. The Sydney Archdiocese has noted on their web-site, that the modern observance of Ember Days focuses on our responsibility for stewardship of the world’s resources, and that, together, we should intercede for a conversion of heart in regard to the care of the earth. This emphasis on the environment reflects the thoughts of Pope Francis, and shows that the truths of the faith are timeless. The Archdiocese provides: “For this reason, the bishops requested that emphasis be placed on doing penance, on fasting and abstaining in connection with these Ember Days. Fasting and abstaining from meat will encourage us to restraint in our exploitation of natural resources.”
Ember Days occur in regard to four seasons throughout the year, the first of these being the days following the feast of St Lucy. The next Ember days are the Lenten Ember Days, these being the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of the week following the First Sunday of Lent. The Whitsunday Ember Days are those in the week following Pentecost Sunday. Finally, the Ember Days in the week after the Feast of the Holy Cross, (Roodmas), on 14th September, bring the Ember Days to us for all four seasons of the liturgical and agrarian year.
Ember Days require similar fasts as Fridays throughout the year, in which the total food intake throughout the day amounts roughly to one small meal, and in which no red meat is eaten. The custom is generally to eat vegetarian on those days or eat seafood, similar to the Friday fast and abstinence. The Missal provides that ‘ordinations generally take place on Ember days. The faithful ought to pray on these days for good Priests.’ So we can link our prayers with the fasting for a very needed purpose – and we can also link it to give thanks for our good Priests.