NCFishwrap promotes… wait for it… Ember Days! Yes, you read that correctly.

Over at the National catholic Fishwrap today one Charles Morris has a rather positive piece about Ember Days, which traditionally fall this week.  Readers here know all about Ember Days.  It is nice to see that readers at NCF will have some exposure as well.

Mr. Fr. Morris [I was informed after posting this that the writer is a priest of the Archd. of Detroit... my apologies.] has some good comments and then treads into eco-friendly stuff.  I am not against eco-friendly stuff, so long as it is rational.  Moreover, Pope Benedict has offered some starting points for a theology of ecology.  But I digress.

Let’s have a look at Fr. Morris’ piece, in an irenic eco-friendly spirit, with my emphases and comments.  I edited.

Ember Days in the 21st century
by Charles Morris on Sep. 20, 2011

Once not so long ago, this coming Wednesday (Sept. 21) would be marked as a day of fasting and abstinence. So would Friday, Sept. 23, and Saturday, Sept. 24. The church marks these three days as the fall Ember Days.  [There is something of a confusion of tenses here. No?]

Although the fall Ember Days are marked as the first Wednesday following the Exaltation of the Cross (Sept. 14), they are inextricably tied to the fall equinox.

[...]

I have felt for some time that we as a church, by our recent neglect of Ember Days, have lost an opportunity to connect ritually with those sacred rhythms of creation[Do I hear an "Amen!"? We might have a different emphasis than Fr. Morris, but the idea is properly oriented.]

Given the psychic/spiritual cost of our contemporary era’s alienation from those rhythms, I believe we need a revival of the potential power of Ember Days for the 21st century. Unlike our ancestors, we really don’t ritualize the mysterious changing of the seasons and their relationship to the cycle of life. [Other than in the rest of the Church's liturgical year?  Going to Mass on Sunday is one way to ritualize the changes.]

Given the psychic/spiritual cost of our contemporary era’s alienation from those rhythms, I believe we need a revival of the potential power of Ember Days for the 21st century. Unlike our ancestors, we really don’t ritualize the mysterious changing of the seasons and their relationship to the cycle of life.

About four years ago I gathered some of the folk from the Worship Commission and artists of our parish of St. Elizabeth to brainstorm some practices that we as a parish community could observe to rekindle a sense of the Sacred in terms of the great annual movement of the cosmos.

In addition to the traditional forms of fasting and abstinence, we challenged our community to some of the following methods of reconnection as part of the Ember Day observance. Following are some suggested practices we put out to our parishioners.

[...]

This may surprise you, but I have a few suggestions for them!

Firstly, use the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.   By the traditional Roman calendar, and using the older Missale Romanum, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday actually are the autumnal Ember Days.  There is no “would be” for those days when using the Extraordinary Form.  They are the Ember Days, with the full glory of their texts which “ritualize” quite well the points the writer underlines.  Holy Church has already done the heavy-lifting.

Second, and this is something he seems to be aware of, though doesn’t state explicitly, the Ember Days are still referred to on the calendar of the Ordinary Form.  They are still recommended for observance in the Novus Ordo.  However, as so many traditional things which were made mere options in the Ordinary Form, they have fallen into abeyance. Thus, I am happy Fr. Morris wrote about them for the readership wayyyyyy out there on NCR.

Third, if Fr. Morris wants to really get into this ritualizing the seasons, I suggest they get ready for the Minor Rogation Days in the spring.  They could organize a procession, the “beating of the bounds” with the litanies praying to God for a good season and harvest.  That’s pretty eco-conscious!  No?  And it is all laid out in the old books.  No need to make anything up!

Fourth, I hope they will also do everything they can to “rekindle a sense of the Sacred” not just in terms of the cosmos, but in terms of liturgical worship in church.  After all, “Save The Liturgy – Save The World“.

Lastly,

[CUE MUSIC]

I hope that for their brainstorming sessions, they use my link to order some Mystic Monk Coffee!

Only Mystic Monk Coffee is sure to help them to the very best brainstorming.   And consider the synergy of natural cosmic force vectors were they think about Ember Days while drinking Mystic Monk Coffee, perhaps Fair Trade Decaf, from one of my WDTPRS mugs.  Portentous.  They might even open a pathway for The Vortex.

But a positive, eco-friendly Vortex!

And the alternative-drink-conscious-types can always opt for … okay.. lemme find an eco-friendly sounding option… yes… there…

Monks Wellness Blend Tea!

Mystic Monk Wellness Blend TeaJust think of how they could plan to ritualize the sacred rhythms with this!

The minty fresh Monks Wellness Blend has a delicious scent and taste and is good for you as well! Spearmint, rosemary, lemon balm, linden, eucalyptus, wood betony, blackberry leaf, and eleuthero root combine to give you a pleasant herbal tea with many tremendous health benefits.

Mystic Monk Wellness!

It’s swell!

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Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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23 Responses to NCFishwrap promotes… wait for it… Ember Days! Yes, you read that correctly.

  1. This is fantastic! Maybe this will start a movement to revive Ember Days option in the NO calender. If Morris studies this a little more, he might find that, with regards to ritually connecting with the rhythms of creation, the Church beat him to it, long ago.

    Need I say it? Pope Benedict is the Pope of Christian Unity.

  2. AnAmericanMother says:

    I think Beating the Bounds ought to be reinstituted. No better excuse for a ceremonial procession, a healthful walk, fun for the kids (‘bouncing’ the younger kids on the boundary stones to ‘remember’ them of them, giving the older teenagers official permission to tear down walls or fences blocking the right of way) and a picnic lunch to wind it up. [I would settle for the "Beating of the Bounders."]

  3. contrarian says:

    Great stuff! The Catholic Church is the most eco-friendly institution in the world (should we not notice that the two groups against artificial contraception are Catholics and hippies?).

    “By the traditional Roman calendar, and using the older Missale Romanum, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday actually are the autumnal Ember Days. There is no “would be” for those days when using the Extraordinary Form. They are the Ember Days, with the full glory of their texts which “ritualize” quite well the points the writer underlines. Holy Church has already done the heavy-lifting.”

    Bingo.
    This for me is the great irony of the spirit of Vatican stuff. As much as so many in this milieu like to think of themselves as progressive and ecologically savvy, there’s simply no better way to be in rhythm with nature, and to be truly hippie, than to keep to the traditional liturgical calendar.

    [Perhaps I need another mug: "Hippies unite! Make TLM not NO!]

  4. digdigby says:

    Am I the only one to detect (as Big Daddy says) “The Powerful Odor of Mendacity”? This fishwrap piece reeks of Gaia-Dance-in-a-Ring-Hug a Tree- Pantheism. [Noooo... I take the writer at his word.]

  5. Nathan says:

    With Ember Days (turn, turn, turn)
    There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
    And a feast for every purpose under heaven.

    A time to fast, a time to kneel,
    A time to chant, a time be silent,
    A time to wear the cappa magna, a time to refrain from the Gloria.

    In Christ,

  6. Tradster says:

    didigby: Exactly right!

  7. contrarian says:

    “Gaia-Dance-in-a-Ring-Hug a Tree- Pantheism” is, while spurious, a perfectly natural way to understand nature, and to reconnect with it; there is more truth in such pantheism than alternative disenchanted ways of looking at nature. Such ‘pantheistic’ moves are usually always a reaction to trends that would disenchant nature (Toland (1670-1722), for example, was responding to the then Newtonian zeitgeist that saw matter as ‘dead’ and ‘brute’). The irony, of course, is that contemporary Catholic worship and practice has divorced itself from ‘enchanted’ and traditional forms of worship and the liturgical calendar. As such, these ‘progressive’ forms of worship and practice are, in fact, *disenchanting*. It is no wonder, then, that the very folks who have made the divorce from tradition now look for ways to reconnect with the very nature they have divorced themselves from.

    So yes: the article is quite ironic. This guy is saying, ‘We really should look for ways to connect to nature the way that Ember Days did.’ Meanwhile, traditionalists are like, ‘Uh, well,…’.

    I would love it if the Fishwrap would continue this quest to connect with nature. Before you know it, they’ll be wondering why their tap water is loaded with estrogen. :) Hey! They might even start pushing Catholic positions!

  8. amenamen says:

    The modern “tree-hugging” New Age pagans and hippies are partly wrong, but partly right. They often sense the artificiality and alienation from creation that characterizes our modern industrial society. The desire to get “back to nature” is a kind of reaction against the “puritanical” tendency in the Protestant Reformation. Unfortunately, the pagans make nature into an idol to be worshipped, while the Catholic faith worships the Creator.

    But sometimes, they come closer to the Catholic faith than we, or they, can imagine. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Emi1wf1q6os

  9. Magister Germanicus says:

    I think of myself as some one who knows both forms of the Roman Rite pretty well, and I had no idea that there was an option for keeping the Ember Days withing the OF. I do know that it’s an option in the 1979 BCP/Book of Divine Worship, but the OF? Please, tell me where to find how to keep these options within it? I’ve never seen them mentioned in any of the OF liturgical books.

  10. Magister Germanicus says:

    By the way, which takes precedence tomorrow: Ember Wednesday or the feast of St. Matthew? I don’t have an EF ordo with me.

  11. CatholicKnight37 says:

    Oh tenses! All public high schools should offer Latin as a “foreign language” if they’re able!

  12. benedetta says:

    That’s very interesting. This afternoon’s lesson concerned CCC 300 & 301. We discussed the belief that God sustains creation in being, and that “In God we live and move and have our being”, and we concluded that it is not as if God “inhabits”, a rock or a tree or a flower, as glorious as they may be, but that everything is in God. Thus to attempt to worship the earth or a tree is quite a diminishing notion.

  13. APX says:

    Readers here know all about Ember Days.

    I don’t. I was flipping through the upcoming daily Mass propers in my missal when I stumbled upon Embers days and say the word “purple” leaving me wonder, a) what are “Ember Days” and b) why are they purple (ie: a penetential time)???

    Pretty much every day I learn something new.

  14. webpoppy8 says:

    An aside: “National Catholic Fishwrap” never did it for me. It didn’t help me remember who was the naughty NCR and who was the nice NCR. It would provide a lot more name clarification to rip the heretics a new monicker: “National Catholic Distorter.”

  15. Phillip says:

    I’ve gotta say, will all due respect to Fr. Z…”National catholic Distorter” has a nice ring to it.

    I’ve never observed Ember Days before, seeing as they’re not required anymore, but I think I will this time round. I need to do more penance in general. And judging from my dinner tonight, a bit of fasting wouldn’t kill me, either.

  16. Imrahil says:

    On a side-note, today is the feast of St. Matthew, which downgrades Ember Wednesday.

  17. asperges says:

    The old rite Mass I attended this morning strikes the balance: Feast of St Matthew with commemoration (collect, secret and p/comm) for Ember Day.

    Slap up breakfast afterwards to compensate for having to get the train so early to get to Mass, and to honour the feast day, followed by sober meals for the rest of day and jam for tea, respecting Ember Wednesday. Simple. The Catholic way.

  18. Fr. Z. — Just an FYI: “Mr. Morris” is “Fr. Morris” of the archdiocese of Detroit. [Thanks! I'll correct.]

  19. frival says:

    Since I’m easily confused – do the above comments about today’s Feast of St. Matthew mean we are in fact not supposed to be marking this Ember Day with fasting, or would that hold only for a Solemnity occurring on an Ember Day? Just when I thought I had this figured out…

  20. keithp says:

    Hi.

    I have some interest in the order of precedence as several others have too.
    The info I found was thru a SSPX site discussing order of precedence. FWIW, I checked a NO site on CatholicCulture but Ember days were not mentioned.

    I’ll avoid the link to the SSPX. The info shown there refers to the 1962 Missal Romanum. Buit, also notes that the 1962 missal does not state precedence. I have a 1962 Missal and concur.
    “Rule of Precedence for Ember Days
    All Ember days are weekdays of 2nd class which thereby take precedence over all feasts of 2nd class, thereby ensuring their celebration.”

    I’m a bit new to this precedence thing but I believe Feast of St Matthew is a second class feast.

  21. carl b says:

    I’m not sure of the authority of the FSSP wall calendar, but it showed today as the second class feast of St Matthew, with the Ember Wednesday commemorated, but that it is nevertheless a fast day.

  22. Robertus Pittsburghensis says:

    Magister Germanice,

    For the remnant of Ember Days left in the ordinary form, see General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, 46-47. It can also be found in excerpted form in the Vatican’s annual Ordo Missae Celebrandae et Divini Officii persolvendi.

    This link should take you to the Latin text:

    http://www.binetti.ru/collectio/liturgia/missale_files/deanno3ed.htm

  23. JMody says:

    I have felt for some time that we as a church, by our recent neglect of Ember Days, have lost an opportunity to connect ritually with those sacred rhythms of creation.

    Father, is this not true for the whole re-write of the Calendar in the 1969/1970 Missal? When we had everything tied to Septuagesima/Lent/Easter (winter to vernal equinox) and Ascension/Corpus Christi/St. John the Baptist (spring to summer solstice) and to Holy Cross and Michaelmas (autumnal equinox) and to Advent/Christmas (fall receding to winter solstice), wasn’t the calendar far more in tune with the rhythm of God’s creation? Did we not have a stronger sense of season, accentuated even further by the Ember Days? Whereas now, we just get >yawn< ordinary time, that's so … what's the word? Ordinary?!?!?

    Is this not just another admission that the “on the spot fabrication” affected more than just the Mass itself? Maybe a whole lot of things weren’t thought through all the way?