We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Ember Days

One of my Big Rocks for this year is being more purposeful in my observance of the church year, especially traditional days for fasting. I'm particularly interested in observing "Ember Days" as a way to spend regular time is prayer and fasting with the Church.

Ember Days are optional for Anglicans, and Roman Catholics are no longer obligated to observe these days of traditional fasting. The Eastern Orthodox church has never observed Ember Days. Even though Ember Day observance is optional, there is no sense in not making use of an ancient tradition.

Wondering what the heck is even up with Ember Days? Here's some info from Wikipedia:

In the liturgical calendar of the Western Christian churches, Ember days are four separate sets of three days within the same week—specifically, the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday—roughly equidistant in the circuit of the year, that were formerly set aside for fasting and prayer.

These days set apart for special prayer and fasting were considered especially suitable for the ordination of clergy. The Ember Days were known in the medieval
church as quatuor tempora (the "four seasons"), or jejunia quatuor temporum ("fasts of the four seasons").

The Ember Weeks—the weeks in which the Ember Days occur—are the week between the third and fourth Sundays of Advent, between the first and second Sundays of Lent, the week between Pentecost and Trinity Sunday, and the calendar week after Holy Cross Day (September 14) (the liturgical Third Week of September).
This week (February 10-16) is the first Ember Week of the year. I will be fasting (one meatless meal) and spending some extra time in prayer each day. Ember Days are traditional time for ordinations, and this website suggests prayer for clergy and Christians in their vocations on Ember Days:

Almighty God, the giver of all good gifts, in your divine providence you have appointed various orders in the Church: Give grace to all who are [now] called to any office and ministry for your people; and so fill them with the truth of your doctrine and clothe them with holiness of life, that they may faithfully serve before you, to the glory of your great Name and for the benefit of your holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

O God, you led your holy apostles to ordain ministers in every place: Grant that your Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may choose suitable persons for the ministry of Word and Sacrament, and may uphold them in their work for the extension of your kingdom; through him who is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before you for all members of your holy Church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Want to read more? Try here. And here. And here, too.

Do you observe Ember Days? Please share!

1 comment:

elephantschild said...

We have started to observe the Ember days in a small way, if only because my Dh and I love participating in a tradition whose origins are lost in the mists of time. Our church (LCMS) doesn't mark the days officially, but nothing stops individuals from doing so.

(... says this confessional Lutheran blogger stumbling out her little corner of the blogosphere and really enjoying finding all these kindred spirits in the conservative Anglican corner of the blogosphere. I keep reading conservative Anglican comments and sermons and thinking: HEY! A Lutheran could've written that! :)