Page 18 of the Book of Common Prayer states that “The Ember Days, (are)
traditionally observed on the Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays after the First
Sunday in Lent, Holy Cross Day (September 14), December 13 (St. Lucy’s Day -
tomorrow), and the Day of Pentecost.” The name is a corruption of the Latin, quattuor
tempora (meaning “four times”). In third century Italy, the times were associated with
sowing, harvest, and vintage, for which the faithful prayed, fasted, and gave alms.
However, beginning in the twelve century, the days became occasions for the ordination
of priests and deacons for whom the Christian community prayed, and the candidates
for ordination prepared themselves by prayer and retreat. Our Book of Common Prayer
lists prayers “For the Ministry (Ember Days)” on pages 205-206. These prayers are
divided into “For those to be ordained”, “For the choice of fit persons for the ministry”,
and “For all Christians in their vocation”. Three lectionaries for these days are listed on
page 929. In recent times, Roman Catholics and Anglicans have been far less strict in
linking “Ember Days” and the ordinations with which they are associated with specific
days of the church’s year.
~Dr. Gil Haas, Saint Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Various Clergy and members of St. Augustine contribute to authoring the blog on a variety of topics.