Have you heard of Ember Days? I'm guessing not. But, while these days of fasting, prayer, and abstinence may be completely unknown to you, they are an important part of Catholic Tradition. So, let's explore the origins and significance of Ember Days and why they are important.
Ember Days are four sets of three days observed in the Catholic Church that fall on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday following the third Sunday of Advent, the first Sunday of Lent, Pentecost Sunday and after the third Sunday in September. This ancient tradition dates back to 4th century Rome, when they were established as days of fasting and prayer to seek God's blessing on the crops and to give thanks for their bounty.
Over time, the observance of Ember Days evolved, with different customs developing in different parts of the world. Regardless of these variations, the importance of Ember Days has remained constant; Through fasting and abstinence, we are reminded of our dependence on God, encouraged to live lives of humility and gratitude, and of our dependence upon Him for all our needs.
However, in 1969, after the Second Vatican Council, the obligation to observe Ember Days as days of fasting and abstinence was lifted, but their importance as a time for reflection, prayer and charity remains.
While the observance is no longer bound under canon law, the importance cannot be denied. Ember Days can guide all of us in living more fulfilling lives, bringing us closer to God and give us a better appreciation for the bounty that He bring forth.
If you've never of, or observed Ember Days before now, this is the perfect time to begin!
Below are some links with more history about Ember days. PAX+