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“.
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…
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