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Pentecost: Ember Days

ORDO: Personal Ordinariate of The Chair of Saint Peter

Ember Days and Rogation Days have the status of Obligatory Memorials (p.5).

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How observing the Ember Days can enhance your spiritual life by Joseph Shaw.

Since the earliest centuries, the Church in Rome has celebrated special days of fasting spread over the year, the ‘Ember Days’. They are today a feature of the calendar of the Extraordinary Form, although they are not found in the Universal Calendar of the Ordinary Form.

They are also found in the Calendar of the Ordinariate(.)

The origin of the term English term ‘ember’ is unclear; it may derive from the Old English ‘ymbren’, meaning a circuit or revolution. Other European languages use some version of the Latin term, ‘Quatuor tempora’, ‘four times’. These celebrations may have been brought to England by St Augustine of Canterbury, and seem to have become established here before they spread from Rome to France and elsewhere.

The days consist of Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of a particular week. The weeks are the last full week of Advent (associated with St Lucy’s feastday, 13th December), the first full week of Lent (that is, after Ash Wednesday), the week following Pentecost, and a week after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (14th September). (This was adjusted to fall slightly later in 1960: since then the Ember Wednesday falls between 18th to 24th September.)

Their dates can be remembered by this old mnemonic:

Sant Crux, Lucia, Cineres, Charismata Dia
Ut sit in angaria quarta sequens feria.

Which means:

Holy Cross, Lucy, Ash Wednesday, Pentecost,
are when the quarter holidays follow.

[See also: Fr. James Bradley's Article]