For some good information on the Autumn Ember Days, see the FishEaters page.
The Origin of the Word:
The origin of the word "ember" in "Ember Days" is not obvious, not even to those who know Latin. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "Ember" is a corruption (or we might say, a contraction) of the Latin phrase Quatuor Tempora, which simply means "four times," since the Ember Days are celebrated four times per year.
With the revision of the liturgical calendar in 1969, the Vatican left the celebration of Ember Days up to the discretion of each national conference of bishops. They're commonly celebrated in Europe, particularly in rural areas.
In the United States, the bishops' conference has decided not to celebrate them, but individual Catholics can and many traditional Catholics still do, because it's a nice way to focus our minds on the changing of the liturgical seasons and the seasons of the year. The Ember Days that fall during Lent and Advent are especially useful to remind children of the reasons for those seasons.
Fasting and Abstinence:
The Ember Days are celebrated with fasting (no food between meals) and half-abstinence, meaning that meat is allowed at one meal per day. (If you observe the traditional Friday abstinence from meat, then you would observe complete abstinence on an Ember Friday.)
As always, such fasting and abstinence has a greater purpose. As the Catholic Encyclopedia notes, through these activities, and through prayer, we use the Ember Days to "thank God for the gifts of nature, . . . teach men to make use of them in moderation, and . . . assist the needy."
A list compiled by Dave Armstrong:
Matt. 2:16 - Herod's decree of slaying innocent children was prophesied in Wis. 11:7 - slaying the holy innocents.
Matt. 6:19-20 - Jesus' statement about laying up for yourselves treasure in heaven follows Sirach 29:11 - lay up your treasure.
Matt.. 7:12 - Jesus' golden rule "do unto others" is the converse of Tobit 4:15 - what you hate, do not do to others.
Matt. 7:16,20 - Jesus' statement "you will know them by their fruits" follows Sirach 27:6 - the fruit discloses the cultivation.
Matt. 9:36 - the people were "like sheep without a shepherd" is same as Judith 11:19 - sheep without a shepherd.
Matt. 11:25 - Jesus' description "Lord of heaven and earth" is the same as Tobit 7:18 - Lord of heaven and earth.
Matt. 12:42 - Jesus refers to the wisdom of Solomon which was recorded and made part of the deuterocanonical books.
Matt. 16:18 - Jesus' reference to the "power of death" and "gates of Hades" references Wisdom 16:13. Matt. 22:25; Mark 12:20; Luke 20:29 - Gospel writers refer to the canonicity of Tobit 3:8 and 7:11 regarding the seven brothers.
Matt. 24:15 - the "desolating sacrilege" Jesus refers to is also taken from 1 Macc. 1:54 and 2 Macc. 8:17.
Matt. 24:16 - let those "flee to the mountains" is taken from 1 Macc. 2:28.
Matt. 27:43 - if He is God's Son, let God deliver him from His adversaries follows Wisdom 2:18.
Mark 4:5,16-17 - Jesus' description of seeds falling on rocky ground and having no root follows Sirach 40:15.
Mark 9:48 - description of hell where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched references Judith 16:17.
Luke 1:42 - Elizabeth's declaration of Mary's blessedness above all women follows Uzziah's declaration in Judith 13:18.
Luke 1:52 - Mary's magnificat addressing the mighty falling from their thrones and replaced by lowly follows Sirach 10:14.
Luke 2:29 - Simeon's declaration that he is ready to die after seeing the Child Jesus follows Tobit 11:9.
Luke 13:29 - the Lord's description of men coming from east and west to rejoice in God follows Baruch 4:37.
Luke 21:24 - Jesus' usage of "fall by the edge of the sword" follows Sirach 28:18.
Luke 24:4 and Acts 1:10 - Luke's description of the two men in dazzling apparel reminds us of 2 Macc. 3:26.
John 1:3 - all things were made through Him, the Word, follows Wisdom 9:1.
John 3:13 - who has ascended into heaven but He who descended from heaven references Baruch 3:29.
John 4:48; Acts 5:12; 15:12; 2 Cor. 12:12 - Jesus', Luke's and Paul's usage of "signs and wonders" follows Wisdom 8:8.
John 5:18 - Jesus claiming that God is His Father follows Wisdom 2:16. John 6:35-59 - Jesus' Eucharistic discourse is foreshadowed in Sirach 24:21.
John 10:22 - the identification of the feast of the dedication is taken from 1 Macc. 4:59. John 10:36 – Jesus accepts the inspiration of Maccabees as He analogizes the Hanukkah consecration to His own consecration to the Father in 1 Macc. 4:36.
John 15:6 - branches that don't bear fruit and are cut down follows Wis. 4:5 where branches are broken off.
Acts 1:15 - Luke's reference to the 120 may be a reference to 1 Macc. 3:55 - leaders of tens / restoration of the twelve.
Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11; Gal. 2:6 - Peter's and Paul's statement that God shows no partiality references Sirach 35:12.
Acts 17:29 - description of false gods as like gold and silver made by men follows Wisdom 13:10.
Rom 1:18-25 - Paul's teaching on the knowledge of the Creator and the ignorance and sin of idolatry follows Wis. 13:1-10.
Rom. 1:20 - specifically, God's existence being evident in nature follows Wis. 13:1.
Rom. 1:23 - the sin of worshipping mortal man, birds, animals and reptiles follows Wis. 11:15; 12:24-27; 13:10; 14:8.
Rom. 1:24-27 - this idolatry results in all kinds of sexual perversion which follows Wis. 14:12,24-27.
Rom. 4:17 - Abraham is a father of many nations follows Sirach 44:19.
Rom. 5:12 - description of death and sin entering into the world is similar to Wisdom 2:24.
Rom. 9:21 - usage of the potter and the clay, making two kinds of vessels follows Wisdom 15:7.
1 Cor. 2:16 - Paul's question, "who has known the mind of the Lord?" references Wisdom 9:13.
1 Cor. 6:12-13; 10:23-26 - warning that, while all things are good, beware of gluttony, follows Sirach 36:18 and 37:28-30.
1 Cor. 8:5-6 - Paul acknowledging many "gods" but one Lord follows Wis. 13:3.
1 Cor. 10:1 - Paul's description of our fathers being under the cloud passing through the sea refers to Wisdom 19:7.
1 Cor. 10:20 - what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God refers to Baruch 4:7.
1 Cor. 15:29 - if no expectation of resurrection, it would be foolish to be baptized on their behalf follows 2 Macc. 12:43-45.
Eph. 1:17 - Paul's prayer for a "spirit of wisdom" follows the prayer for the spirit of wisdom in Wisdom 7:7.
Eph. 6:14 - Paul describing the breastplate of righteousness is the same as Wis. 5:18. See also Isaiah 59:17 and 1 Thess. 5:8. Eph. 6:13-17 - in fact, the whole discussion of armor, helmet, breastplate, sword, shield follows Wis. 5:17-20.
1 Tim. 6:15 - Paul's description of God as Sovereign and King of kings is from 2 Macc. 12:15; 13:4.
2 Tim. 4:8 - Paul's description of a crown of righteousness is similar to Wisdom 5:16.
Heb. 4:12 - Paul's description of God's word as a sword is similar to Wisdom 18:15.
Heb. 11:5 - Enoch being taken up is also referenced in Wis 4:10 and Sir 44:16. See also 2 Kings 2:1-13 & Sir 48:9 regarding Elijah.
Heb 11:35 - Paul teaches about the martyrdom of the mother and her sons described in 2 Macc. 7:1-42.
Heb. 12:12 - the description "drooping hands" and "weak knees" comes from Sirach 25:23.
James 1:19 - let every man be quick to hear and slow to respond follows Sirach 5:11.
James 2:23 - it was reckoned to him as righteousness follows 1 Macc. 2:52 - it was reckoned to him as righteousness.
James 3:13 - James' instruction to perform works in meekness follows Sirach 3:17.
James 5:3 - describing silver which rusts and laying up treasure follows Sirach 29:10-11.
James 5:6 - condemning and killing the "righteous man" follows Wisdom 2:10-20.
1 Peter 1:6-7 - Peter teaches about testing faith by purgatorial fire as described in Wisdom 3:5-6 and Sirach 2:5.
1 Peter 1:17 - God judging each one according to his deeds refers to Sirach 16:12 - God judges man according to his deeds.
2 Peter 2:7 - God's rescue of a righteous man (Lot) is also described in Wisdom 10:6.
Rev. 1:4 – the seven spirits who are before his throne is taken from Tobit 12:15 – Raphael is one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints before the Holy One.
Rev. 1:18; Matt. 16:18 - power of life over death and gates of Hades follows Wis. 16:13.
Rev. 2:12 - reference to the two-edged sword is similar to the description of God's Word in Wisdom 18:16.
Rev. 5:7 - God is described as seated on His throne, and this is the same description used in Sirach 1:8.
Rev. 8:3-4 - prayers of the saints presented to God by the hand of an angel follows Tobit 12:12,15.
Rev. 8:7 - raining of hail and fire to the earth follows Wisdom 16:22 and Sirach 39:29.
Rev. 9:3 - raining of locusts on the earth follows Wisdom 16:9.
Rev. 11:19 - the vision of the ark of the covenant (Mary) in a cloud of glory was prophesied in 2 Macc. 2:7.
Rev. 17:14 - description of God as King of kings follows 2 Macc. 13:4.
Rev. 19:1 - the cry "Hallelujah" at the coming of the new Jerusalem follows Tobit 13:18.
Rev. 19:11 - the description of the Lord on a white horse in the heavens follows 2 Macc. 3:25; 11:8.
Rev. 19:16 - description of our Lord as King of kings is taken from 2 Macc. 13:4.
Rev. 21:19 - the description of the new Jerusalem with precious stones is prophesied in Tobit 13:17.
And some OT references: Exodus 23:7 - do not slay the innocent and righteous - Dan. 13:53 - do not put to death an innocent and righteous person.
1 Sam. 28:7-20 – the intercessory mediation of deceased Samuel for Saul follows Sirach 46:20.
2 Kings 2:1-13 – Elijah being taken up into heaven follows Sirach 48:9.
“Mass Facing the People”
Bishop Slattery on Mass Ad Orientem
By John Vennari
The September 2009 issue of Eastern Oklahoma Catholic featured a brief article by Bishop Edward J. Slattery, Ordinary of the Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Bishop explains why he has ceased the practice of Mass facing the people, and now celebrates Mass facing the altar (ad orientem).
Though the article does not specify whether the Bishop will celebrate Old Latin Mass or the Novus Ordo ad orientem, it is said Bishop Slattery is well disposed toward the Tridentine Mass. The fact that a United States Bishop displays a clear understanding of why Mass should be celebrated ad orientem is one of the few rays of hope in the Church in America. His words deserve to be widely known.
Bishop Slattery opens by explaining the Mass as “Christ’s sacrifice under the sacramental signs of bread and wine”, and goes on to explain that the people share in this offering, which is done through the priest.
“From ancient times, the position of the priest and the people reflected this understanding of the Mass,” writes Bishop Slattery, “since the people prayed, standing or kneeling, in the place that visibly corresponded to Our Lord’s Body, while the priest at the altar stood at the head as the Head, We formed the whole Christ – Head and members – both sacramentally by Baptism and visibly by our position and posture. Just as importantly, everyone – celebrant and congregation – faced the same direction, since they were united with Christ in offering to the Father Christ’s unique, unrepeatable and acceptable sacrifice.”
He points out that when we study the most ancient liturgical practices of the Church, “we find that the priest and the people faced in the same direction, toward the east, in the expectation that when Christ returns, He will return ‘from the East’. At Mass, the Church keeps vigil, waiting for that return. This single position is called ad orientem, which simply means ‘toward the East’.”
He then speaks of the multiple advantages of Mass ad orientem:
The Bishop says, “Having the priest and people celebrate Mass ad orientem was the liturgical norm for nearly 18 centuries. There must have been solid reasons for the Church to have held on to this posture for so long. And there were! First of all, the Catholic liturgy has always maintained a marvelous adherence to the Apostolic Tradition. We see the Mass, indeed the whole liturgical expression of the Church’s life, as something which we have received from the Apostles and which we, in turn, are expected to hand on intact. (1 Corinthians 11:23).”
Secondly, the Bishop continues, “the Church held on to this single eastward position because of the sublime way it reveals the nature of the Mass. Even someone unfamiliar with the Mass who reflected upon the celebrant and the faithful being oriented in the same direction would recognize that the priest stands at the head of the people, sharing in one and the same action, which was – he would note with a moment’s longer reflection – an act of worship.”
He then makes the point: “In the last 40 years, however, this shared orientation was lost; now the priest and the people have become accustomed to facing in opposite directions. The priest faces the people while the people face the priest, even though the Eucharistic Prayer is directed to the Father and not to the people.”
Bishop Slattery never refers to Mass facing the people as some sort of recovery of an ancient tradition, but clearly speaks of it as an “innovation” that took place after Vatican II – an innovation with negative consequences.
The introduction of this novelty, he says, was ”partly to help the people understand the liturgical action of the Mass by allowing them to see what was going on, and partly as an accommodation to contemporary culture where people who exercise authority are expected to face directly the people they serve, like a teacher sitting behind her desk.”
He then sums up in three quick points the negative consequences of this innovation: “First of all, it was a serious rupture with the Church’s ancient tradition. Secondly, it can give the appearance that the priest and the people were engaged in a conversation about God, rather than the worship of God. Thirdly, it places an inordinate importance on the personality of the celebrant by placing him on a kind of liturgical stage.”
The Bishop goes on to note that Pope Benedict, even as Cardinal Ratzinger, urged a recovery of more authentic Catholic worship based on the ancient liturgical practice, “For that reason,” says Bishop Slattery, “I have restored the venerable ad orientem position when I celebrate Mass at the Cathedral. This change ought not to be misconstrued as the Bishop ‘turning his back on the faithful,’ as if I am being inconsiderate or hostile. Such an interpretation misses the point that, by facing in the same direction, the posture of the celebrant and the congregation make explicit the fact that we journey together to God.”
We may hope the Bishop’s words and example help to lead not simply to a “ reform of the reform” of the Novus Ordo, but ultimately to greater numbers of priests abandoning the New Rite, and celebrating exclusively the Latin Tridentine Mass. May more priests and prelates come to realize what Cardinal Ottaviani recognized, and what he wrote to Pope Paul VI on September 25, 1969: “The Novus Ordo Missae … represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session 22 of the Council of Trent.”
Original article may be found on John's website:
PDF of Bishop's Slattery's article at:
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