article: "Retrieving Ember Days"
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,181
    An informative journal article from 2014 explains the purpose of ember days and their state under current Church law.

    Direct link:

    The norms for the calendar of the Church year delegate the task of appointing ember days to the episcopal conferences. The USCCB leaves the choice of days to local ordinaries. This article cites the two (count 'em, two!) U.S. dioceses in which ember days are appointed.
    Thanked by 2Vilyanor eft94530
  • BenBen
    Posts: 3,114
    What a shame they weren't just left on the general calendar...
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,409
    Both the US and English Ordinariates have the Ember Days in the calendar.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 2,068
    But, they are in the first week so as not to conflict with the O antiphons, and it seems that stems from the inability to have commemorations.
  • My family observed Ember Days growing up, but it always felt like a personal, family, thing, not a church thing. I've never heard them mentioned in any church.

    As for the responsibility of bishops, I'm confused. The article cites a 2004 NCCB document as saying that appointment of Ember Days is left to local bishops. However, in the 2010-approved US-adapted GIRM, we find two apparently relevant passages.

    373. Masses for Various Needs and Occasions are used in certain situations either as occasion arises or at fixed times.

    Days or periods of prayer for the fruits of the earth, prayer for human rights and equality, prayer for world justice and peace, and penitential observances outside Lent are to be observed in the Dioceses of the United States of America at times to be designated by the Diocesan Bishop.

    (It goes on to specify one such day that is to be observed in all dioceses.) The 2004 document to which the article refers seems to be a precursor to this statement, and if nothing more were said on the matter, one would assume that Ember Days were included in #373, just not mentioned explicitly, and that it really is, still, just up to local bishops.

    But then, later, we get this:

    394. Each diocese should have its own Calendar and Proper of Masses. For its part, the Conference of Bishops should draw up a proper Calendar for the nation or, together with other Conferences, a Calendar for a wider territory, to be approved by the Apostolic See.[152]


    In the drawing up of the Calendar of a nation, the Rogation Days and Ember Days should be indicated (cf. no. 373), as well as the forms and texts for their celebration,[154] and other special measures should also be kept in mind.

    (The omitted part refers to the Lord's Day.) So the Conference draws up a "Calendar for the nation" and "In the drawing up of the Calendar of a nation" the Ember Days "should be indicated."

    That sounds to me like the Conference itself is supposed to indicate the Ember Days, or, at the very least, ensure that they are indicated.

    (I searched the USCCB web site high and low and found nothing indicating Ember Days. Did I miss it?)
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,465
    We were blessed to have an EF Missa Cantata last night for Ember Wednesday in Advent, the Missa Aurea, or Golden Mass, which was celebrated as a Rorate Mass by candlelight.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 2,068
    Now that the Ordinariate Missal messed up the placement, I say use the older form and be done with it.
  • I've never heard them mentioned in any church.

    We got a whole homily on them on Sunday!
  • That makes me happy! (Our priests are both actually very good homilists. But to date, nothing on this matter.)
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    I've never heard them mentioned in any church.

    Maybe not recently--but I was in grade school in the late '50's, and of course the Ember Days were mentioned; the priest wore purple, (etc.) Was church-wide back then.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,181
    The Sacred Music Colloquium in 2011 included a Saturday Ember Day Mass at the Church of the Epiphany in Pittsburgh. Recordings are at
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen