Oh, Dearest Mother, Sweetest Virgin of Altagracia, our Patroness. You are our Advocate and to you we recommend our needs. You are our Teacher and like disciples we come to learn from the example of your holy life. You are our Mother, and like children, we come to offer you all of the love of our hearts. Receive, dearest Mother, our offerings and listen attentively to our supplications. Amen.



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kjohnson
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Posted: Dec 03 2006 at 9:59pm | IP Logged Quote kjohnson

Today at our parish we had a retired priest celebrate Mass. Everyone in our diocese knows him well and he is a very devout man...joy radiates from his eyes. He mentioned in his homily the "old days" (he's in his 80's) in which the Ember Days were observed, specifically during Advent. I looked this up on Catholic Culture and prior to the revision of the calendar in 1969, it appears that the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday after the feast of St. Lucy (Dec.13) were set aside for the purpose of fasting and abstaining. Obviously since the revision of the calendar, these penetential days are no longer obligatory, but I was wondering if there was anyone here who observes the traditional Ember Days. It seems like such a shame that this tradition has seemingly died away. Ember Days

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Posted: Dec 04 2006 at 5:18am | IP Logged Quote stefoodie

I've never heard of Ember Days! It's so sad that there are traditions that just die without being passed on. I'll add this into our Advent preparation. How beautiful. Thanks for sharing, Katherine.

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Posted: Dec 04 2006 at 6:05am | IP Logged Quote Lisbet

Yes, we do! We belong to a very traditional parish and our priest encourages us to observe ember days.

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Posted: Dec 04 2006 at 7:49am | IP Logged Quote kjohnson

Lisbet wrote:
Yes, we do! We belong to a very traditional parish and our priest encourages us to observe ember days.


Lisa, is my description above correct? My husband and I want to incorporate this observance into the liturgical year. From what I understand, it's the Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, 4 times a year, after:

  • the feast of St. Lucy
  • the first Sunday of Lent
  • Pentecost
  • the feast of the Triumph of the Cross


What does the observance traditionally entail? Abstaining from meat or is it a fast like Good Friday?

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Lisbet
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Posted: Dec 04 2006 at 7:53am | IP Logged Quote Lisbet

Katherine, your description is correct. It is traditionally fasting, not just abstaining. I will admit we are weak on this and we usually just choose one thing to abstain from on these days. (computer, meat, etc...)

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Posted: Dec 04 2006 at 9:22am | IP Logged Quote jackiemomof7

We have been doing Ember days for years now. They are usually Weds. Friday and Saturday following the First Sunday in Lent and Pentecost Sunday, during the third full week of September and after the Third Sunday in Advent. Which would be Dec. 20,22 and 23rd this year. You fast and only have one meal with meat on those days (except the Fridays no meat) during this time you offer this sacrifice for the priest of the Church. And to also help sanctify the four seasons. Each ember set of days come at the begining of the four different seasons.

I have a booklet on this but can't locate it at the moment to give you the name. Sorry I will keep looking.

God bless,



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Posted: Dec 04 2006 at 9:28am | IP Logged Quote JennGM

Here's an excellent write-up on Ember Days, Rogations Days, and Station Churches

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Posted: Dec 04 2006 at 2:37pm | IP Logged Quote Ruth

OK. Silly question. Since the feast of St. Lucy falls on a Wednesday, it would be Wednesday the 20th, correct?



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Posted: Dec 04 2006 at 2:47pm | IP Logged Quote JennGM

burneweb wrote:
OK. Silly question. Since the feast of St. Lucy falls on a Wednesday, it would be Wednesday the 20th, correct?


It's not silly...I'm wondering, too. seems St. Lucy would be the first Ember Day. For those that live in a parish that does these, what's the answer? Would it be the Friday and SAturday after St. Lucy and then the following Wednesday?

Here's more on ember days scroll down.


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Posted: Dec 04 2006 at 2:49pm | IP Logged Quote kjohnson

I was wondering the same thing too and assuming that her feast would be the first Ember day this year. But then Jackie mentioned above the 20th. Is this right, Jackie?

Thanks for posting all of the articles Jenn, I've printed them out to read.

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Posted: Dec 04 2006 at 4:48pm | IP Logged Quote Paula in MN

I am so glad this topic was posted. I have never heard of Ember Days before. My mother was over today and I asked her about them (she was born in 1938) and she doesn't remember them from when she was younger. She even called all 3 of her sisters and they don't remember doing them either. Is it possible that this was more of a regional practice within the Catholic Church?

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Posted: Dec 04 2006 at 5:50pm | IP Logged Quote Marybeth

Paula,

My in-laws who are 79 and 83 always recall Ember Days happening until Vactican II. They grew up on farms and all their siblings lived on farms when they married. I think it was strongly upheld in rural areas. I am guessing b/c their livelyhood depended on the seasons. My Grandparents also grew up on farms and knew about Ember Days. I think at their church these days also held parish missions at night.

Thanks for everyone who explained them to me. We are going to make a point of observing them and giving this to our inlaws as a gift for Christmas. They never want anything material. I think fasting and praying for priests and our family members who are farmers would be a wonderful gift to give. Thank you all!!!!!

Mb

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Posted: Dec 04 2006 at 8:22pm | IP Logged Quote cathochick

According to the fisheaters.com site, the Advent Embertide days are the successive Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after St. Lucy's, so it would be the 20th, 22nd, and 23rd.

http://fisheaters.com/customs.html (Scroll down a bit for Advent dates)
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Posted: Dec 04 2006 at 11:34pm | IP Logged Quote Erin

Advent used to more a time a little like Lent didn't it? I mean like a general observation of fasting and penitential preparation. Perhaps I'm wrong but I remember my mother being horrified when my dh and I planned being married in Advent (Dec 12th. ) So wasn;t the fasting more than just the Ember days? Isn't this why we should be doing Christmas parties in the Christmastide and not Advent?

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Posted: Dec 04 2006 at 11:51pm | IP Logged Quote kjohnson

Erin wrote:
Advent used to more a time a little like Lent didn't it? I mean like a general observation of fasting and penitential preparation. Perhaps I'm wrong but I remember my mother being horrified when my dh and I planned being married in Advent (Dec 12th. ) So wasn;t the fasting more than just the Ember days? Isn't this why we should be doing Christmas parties in the Christmastide and not Advent?


From what I understand, preparation for the feast of the Nativity has varied throughout the Church in history. In the west the season has varied in length and focus. Here is a good overview of the history of Advent. It had a more penetential tone in the Frankish church and a more joyful tone in the Roman church. The eastern church's preparation for the Nativity is more penetential, but definitely not of the same strictness as Lent. It is referred to by many in the east as "Little Lent."

Unfortunately it seems that the penetential traditions are slowly disappearing from Catholic tradition. I think rediscovering these practices and observing the traditional fasts will help our families to rediscover the joy of the feast (which is sadly 24/7 in our modern culture).

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Posted: Dec 05 2006 at 5:40pm | IP Logged Quote jackiemomof7

yes, it is the 20th, 22nd, and 23rd. My dd birthday is the 22nd so we are having to plan it on another day. She will get her presents that day but we will celebrate the "Feast" (birthday dinner) the day before. And yes Advent is "a little Lent". We are to prepare our hearts for Him. So usually you do some form of extra penance during advent. My children generally give up all sweets during the season. But with so many great Saints to celebrate during this time it gets a little hard.

God bless,

(and sorry I still can't find that book, my "Miracle of St. Nicholas book and a book about icons is missing too, I probably have an Advent pile of books somewhere that I forgot I put there!)

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