Assumption Grotto celebrates Ember Week four times yearly. Ember Days are the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of Ember Week in the 1962 calendar.This was eliminated in the new calendar which is why we don’t hear about them, unless connected to a “Tridentine” community – online, or in real life.
Ember Week is celebrated four times per year:
- Winter: The week following the Feast of St. Lucy (December 13th)
- Spring: The week after Ash Wednesday (floating date)
- Summer: The week after Pentecost (floating date)
- Fall: The week after the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14th)
This post is being written on Ember Wednesday of the fall Ember Week.
Since Assumption Grotto uses the old calendar for all daily Masses – 7:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on weekdays, and 7:30 a.m. on Saturdays, this spiritual period can be observed in all the fullness once celebrated across the Church.*
These are penitential days where fasting, abstinence, and prayer can be bserved for the good of one’s own soul, and for the good of the Church. There is so much happening in the world today worth praying for, and making reparation for, not to mention ordinary petitions.
Ember Days, within Ember Week, are always Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Catholic site, Aquinas & More has a brief, but fairly concise explanation of Ember Days. This excerpt captures the heart of Ember Days, as celebrated in the extraordinary form of the Mass today:
The term “Ember Days” is derived from the Latin term Quatuor Tempora, which literally means “four times.” There are four sets of Ember Days each calendar year; three days each – Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Ember Days fall at the start of a new season and they are ordered as days of fast and abstinence. The significance of the days of the week are that Wednesday was the day Christ was betrayed, Friday was the day He was crucified, and Saturday was the day He was entombed.
The purpose of their introduction, besides the general one intended by all prayer and fasting, was to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy.
The Catholic Encyclopedia also gets into a deeper history on Ember Week in that same link, looking at the pagan background when the Church first began to celebrate it, and how we came to see it four times yearly, with the season changes.
The color seen in most Ember Weeks is the penitential color, violet. Today is not only Ember Wednesday, but it is the second class feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, so the color red will be used. The other time red is seen is during Ember Days after Pentecost.
*Rarely, a few times yearly, the 7:00 p.m. Mass is moved to 6:00 such as when there is a special rehearsal for altar boys, choir, or ahead of sacraments. If a visiting priest is celebrating, he may not know how to celebrate using the 1962 Missal, but this is something that is not anticipated during Ember Week. Lastly, priest vacations and retreats will result in the postponement of the evening Masses altogether for a period of time. This is most likely to happen in July, and sometimes in all or parts of June, or part of August. These changes are typically announced at Masses, and in the bulletin, so if you are not a regular you may not be aware of these changes. We will try to make these announcements on the web.