The Ember Days recall an age when the rhythms of human life were still bound to the changing of the seasons. A corruption of the Latin Quatuor Tempora (“Four Times”), the Ember Days were an attempt by the ancient Church to preserve and sanctify the pagans’ observation of equinoxes and solstices. Our predecessors in the faith marked the cycles of Creation with fasting, prayer and acts of charity – giving thanks to “the Lord of the Harvest”, as Jesus called his Father.
The Ember Days are seldom marked by Catholics today, when every fruit and vegetable is available in the supermarket all year round…
Ember Days have been suppressed, of course, in the 1969 Novus ordo calendar, but they are in the Traditional Calendar. Once upon a time, Ordinations took place on Ember Days, and the faithful were to pray for priests.
Fr. Z has a 5 minute podcast on Wednesday of the 1st Week of Lent, which includes the Ember Days, here. It is a brief reminder of the Ember Days and what they are about, and a reading from Cardinal Newman. It is 5 minutes well spent.
Curate, ut valeatis!