Looking for a reminder that Advent is a period of self examination, penance and reflection leading up to the feast of Christmas? Read on;
“Four times a year, the Church sets aside three days to focus on God through His marvelous creation. These quarterly periods take place around the beginnings of the four natural seasons 1 that "like some virgins dancing in a circle, succeed one another with the happiest harmony," as St. John Chrysostom wrote (see Readings below). These four times are each kept on a successive Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday and are known as "Ember Days," or Quatuor Tempora, in Latin. The first of these four times comes in Winter, after the Feast of St. Lucy; the second comes in Spring, the week after Ash Wednesday; the third comes in Summer, after Pentecost Sunday; and the last comes in Autumn, after Holy Cross Day. Their dates can be remembered by this old mnemonic:
Sant Crux, Lucia, Cineres, Charismata Dia Ut sit in angaria quarta sequens feria.
Holy Cross, Lucy, Ash Wednesday, Pentecost, are when the quarter holidays follow.
For non-Latinists, it might be easier to just remember "Lucy, Ashes, Dove, and Cross."
These times are spent fasting and partially abstaining (voluntary since the new Code of Canon Law) in penance and with the intentions of thanking God for the gifts He gives us in nature and beseeching Him for the discipline to use them in moderation.”
Sounds perfect. Moreover, even though the observance is voluntary the exercise of the option is encouraged by the UCCB.
“The church in the United States recommends setting aside the three days before Thanksgiving as unofficial “Ember Days” particularly for the practice of deeds of charity, penance and economic justice. Go to pp 188-189 in Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers for information.”
So, I figure instead of making up our own dates, our family will revive a previously established tradition.
Since tomorrow is the Feast of St Lucy, a very big day in the Germanicus household as she is my oldest daughters patroness, the Advent embertides would be observed next Wednesday (19), Friday (21) and Saturday (22). This allows plenty of time before the Christmas vigil.
Today and tomorrow however, we feast! This year we are going to be as observant of feast days as we are about fast days. So, tonight we feast to commemorate Our Lady of Guadalupe and tomorrow St Lucy.