September 13, 2017

What are Ember Days? And Why They are Important


Three days set apart for fasting, abstinence, and prayer during each of the four seasons of the year. They were the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday after St. Lucy (or Lucia, d. 304) (December 13), the First Sunday of Lent, Pentecost, and the feast of the Holy Cross (September 14). Since the revision of the Roman calendar in 1969, Ember Days are to be observed at the discretion of the National Conference of Bishops. Moreover, their observance may be extended beyond three days and even repeated during the year. Possibly occasioned by the agricultural feasts of ancient Rome, they came to be observed by Christians for the sanctification of the different seasons of the year, and for obtaining God's blessing on the clergy to be ordained during the Embertides. (Etym. Anglo-Saxon oemerge, ashes.) [Ember days draw us closer to God and His universal Church.]

Source: Modern Catholic Dictionary, Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, Doubleday, 1980.

An Ember Day Prayer

Almighty and eternal God, hear our humble prayer, and give to Thy Church worthy priests, true shepherds and zealous ministers. Pour into them the blessings of Thy grace that they may always approach Thy altar with a pure heart, celebrate the Holy Sacrifice with faith and reverence, administer the holy sacraments with zeal, preach Thy holy gospel with joy and courage and, at the same time, walk before Thee with steadfast faith, ever shedding the light of a holy example and, by word and deed, edify Thy people most blessed.... Amen.

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