30 October 2008

Even the Ember Days...

...yup. See TDP page 21 as days of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. Sweet!!!

8 comments:

Chris said...

Growing up Lutheran, I never heard of Ember days. It's my loss, really. How does the TDP assign ember days? Are they rooted in the traditions of the Western Rite or are they just made up for this particular publication?

Reformator said...

I thought this was how they got the Ablaze! program into the book.

Past Elder said...

Ember Days are an entirely Western thing, not found in the Eastern church, and have a history extending back to the church at Rome during the Empire.

In the Imperial religion, there were three times of offerings (feria, still the name in the church!) to the agricultural gods; for good harvests in July and September (not all crops harvest at the same time) and good planting (December). The Roman church (meaning the church in Rome) appropriated these and used them as times of preparation for the major feasts of Christianity, which required adding a fourth one in Spring, in turn meaning there is a set of Ember Days for each season, which is exactly their name in Latin, quatuor anni tempora, the four seasons of the year. "Ember" as a word itself appears to derive from an old Anglo Saxon word for cycle -- the seasonal cycle.

The Ember Days then are four sets of three days, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, of prayer and fasting. The weeks in which they happen are called Ember Weeks, one in Advent, one in Lent, one between Pentecost and Trinity Sunday, and one the Sunday after 14 September, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Somewhere still in Roman Imperial times, Ember Weeks also came to be the times when ordination to the clergy happened.

All of this, along with pretty much everything else, was blown out of the water by Paul VI and Vatican II. Ember Days are no longer part of the general Roman observance, and their nature and times are left to the local ordinaries (generally bishops or national bishops conferences).

Past Elder said...

How could I forget -- as an RC kid in the 50s (mandatory fasts then!) there was also a regional restaurant chain called The Embers, with the slogan "Remember The Embers", which struck me as ironic to remember food on a fasting day!

Christine said...

Ember days also appear in the Book of Common Prayer and the Lutheran Book of Worship.

elephantschild said...

I first learned of the Ember Days in my 1928 BCP. I was thrilled that they got mention in the TDP!

William Weedon said...

Chris,

TDP gives the background of the days (like Past Elder did) and then adds that at the time of the Reformation they were retained and used as special weeks for "seeding" the Catechism, if you will. Seeking not only God's blessings upon the fruits of the earth in the food sense, but also in the Church sense. They were the basis for what flowed into Lutheran practice as "Days of Penitence and Prayer."

Anonymous said...

I grew up German Lutheran in farming country. The Germans knew Ember days although I don't remember that the church observed them in any special way.
My mother's generation spoke of them as related to the seasons.

Helen