Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ember Days

The following is something new I learned from Seminarian Matthew of a Catholic Life
For those who are able to do so, I highly encourage you to observe the ancient practice of fasting and partial abstinence on these days - this coming Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. The following information is from Fish Eaters:

These times are spent fasting and partially abstaining (voluntary since the new Code of Canon Law) in penance and with the intentions of thanking God for the gifts He gives us in nature and beseeching Him for the discipline to use them in moderation. The fasts, known as "Jejunia quatuor temporum," or "the fast of the four seasons," are rooted in Old Testament practices of fasting four times a year:

Zacharias 8:19:

"Thus saith the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth shall be to the house of Juda, joy, and gladness, and great solemnities: only love ye truth and peace."

Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after Gaudete Sunday (3rd Sunday of Advent) are known as "Advent Embertide," and they come near the beginning of the Season of Winter (December, January, February). Liturgically, the readings for the days' Masses follow along with the general themes of Advent, opening up with Wednesday's Introit of Isaias 45: 8 and Psalm 18:2 :

"Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just: let the earth be opened and bud forth a Savior. The heavens show forth the glory of God: and the firmament declareth the work of His hands"


GrandmaK said...

I'm just old enough to remember ember days...I'm a pre-Vatican II baby...I think the feast of St. Stephen was one of those days my family observed (December 26). We ate no meat the day after Christmas. I'm not sure what the reason was, but after Vatican II and the fasting requirement were decreased so did fasting the day after Christmas at my house. I believe however that fasting and abstaining from meat or perhaps fasting from "fish" for those who really love it, as I do, is good for the soul.

Esther said...

Oh I am well familiar with St. Stephen's's my birthday :-) We abstain from meat on Christmas Eve. I didn't know about abstaining the day after Christmas.

GrandmaK said...

Interesting...maybe I have it backwards...I've been known to do that...And what a wonderful Holy Day to be born...