Ember Days

By May 13, 2008Devotional

ember days

Former (traditional) penitential observances known as “Ember Days” can be found on many traditional Catholic calendars, though sadly not on many diocesan ones. What are the “Ember Days”? They are/were for the special sanctification of the four seasons and for obtaining God’s blessing on the clergy. They are/were days of fast and abstinence. On Wednesday and Saturday the abstinence is only partial, meaning meat may be eaten at the main meal. Ember Fridays are just like Good Friday, fast and abstinence from all meat.

The Ember Days occur during the third week of Advent, the first full week of Lent, the week after Pentecost (meaning tomorrow), and the third full week in September.

In our sad times I’d say our clergy (and the rest of us) could use all the blessings they can.

Author Extra Frate

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Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Ave Maria says:

    I sure could not have told you what an ’ember day’ was. Thanks for the report.

    Now I am still wondering what a ‘feria day’ is.

    Returning to tradition will take some educating!

  • Extra Frate says:

    Feria is “feast” and “…is the name given in the ecclesiastical calendar to all days of the week except Sunday (“Dies dominica”) and Saturday (“Sabbatum”).”

    A somewhat insufficient explanation as to why every day except Saturday and Sunday are “feast” days can be found in the breviary (Feast of St. Silvester, lect. vi.). It is that clerics are to be free from worldly cares and keep a perpetual feast to God.

    My Catholic dictionary (c. 1883) suggests the true explanation may be found thus, “The Jews were accustomed to name the days of the week from the Sabbath, and thus we find in the Gospels such expressions as “unam sabbati,”…in other words, the first day of the week. The early Christians reckoned the days in Easter week in the same fashion: only as all the days in that week were holy days, they called Easter Monday, not the first day after Easter Sunday, but the second feria or feast-day; and as every Sunday is a lesser Easter, the practice prevailed of calling each Monday “feria secunda,” each Tuesday, “feria teria,” and so on.”

    Hope this helps.

  • Jennifer A. says:

    I NEVER heard of Ember days before in my life. So are we to fast all week this week? Or, just Wednesday and Friday? Is this something that still gets observed and something intended to be continued but somehow got lost after Vatican II? Just curious.
    Thanks for your wonderful tidbits … the older I get, the more I learn, the more I realize that I know so very precious little. sigh.

  • Extra Frate says:

    Hi Jennifer, Ember Days are traditional only. They are Wednesday, Friday and Saturday four weeks during the year (see original post). Observing them is purely optional. I don’t know when they were specifically abrogated.

  • Alex Gibbs says:

    What is the meaning of the artwork with the zodiac signs? Astrology is contradictory to the faith.

  • average joe says:

    I have seen this picture many times on other good catholic webistes, such as Fisheaters dot com, and I cant really say that any of them were contrary to the faith.

    I think the picture shows the four different times of the year one have the ember days.

    Also, I was wondering a bit on rogation days, what are those? I dont think they are well known either.

  • E. Gormley says:

    Zodiac signs are the constellations the sun passes through during the year. So they have an Astronomical significance. It just tells you the what part of the year it is.

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