Wednesday in the First Week of Lent
EMBER WEDNESDAY-FAST Day/MEATBALL DAY-meatless meatballs?
fast and pray for PEACE and PRIESTs and Religious
Isaiah, Chapter 41, verse 5
The coastlands see, and FEAR; the ends of the earth tremble: they approach, they come on.
Even the coastlands will be able to recognize Christ says the prophet, Isaiah. Yet, Christ was rejected by the Jews. Our loving God knew Israel would become full of hubris and haughtiness and forget the commandments that He enjoined them, and they needed a savior.
Let us NOT be like the Angels of God who fell from heaven by an act of pride and rebellion by refusing to honor Mary the Mother of God. Let us be like unto Gabriel who on announcing the conception of Christ said to Mary:
"Hail" "Full of Grace" "The Lord is with you"
One question that comes up repeatedly is why are the Ember Days only Wednesday, Friday and Saturday? Is there any rhyme or reason to these days?
In the days of the early church, Mass was originally only on Sundays. Gradually other days were added, the development can be seen in connection with the Roman Station Churches, as I wrote about last year in Roman Pilgrimage: Station Churches. The Ember Days fall on the days that had assigned stational churches, originally Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Station churches for Thursdays were a much later addition and are not included in the Ember Days.
Unique Character of the Spring or Lent Ember Days
The Lent Ember Days fall on the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday during the first week of Lent. There are four major intentions of the Quarterly Ember Days, but each set of days has a different flavor according to the corresponding liturgical season.
The Lent Ember Days were the last ones added to the liturgical calendar, and they have a slightly different character than the other three. Since the Lenten season already had fasting and abstinence, observing Ember Days in Lent only added a little extra in penance to the already formerly strict laws of Lent.
The focus of the Lenten Ember Days:
1. Consecration of the New Season. The other Ember Days marked thanksgiving for different harvests, but the Lent Ember Days did not. Instead, this was a time of consecrating the new spring to God and asking blessing on the upcoming growing season. This was also a time of thanksgiving for the gift of light. Instead of harvest offerings on Ember Wednesday, flowers were usually presented and blessed. The symbol of the Lenten Ember Days is the Paschal and baptismal candles. (I have not found any evidence, but I conjecture that perhaps the wax harvest from the honeybee might have been featured during these Lenten Ember Days? It would seem to be a logical connection.)
2. Days of Spiritual Renewal. Holy Mother Church provides us so many opportunities to redirect, refresh and renew. The Lenten Ember Days blends with the season of Lent, providing reminders to continue and persevere in the spirit of conversion and penance.
3. Praying for Priests. The Church no longer regularly ordains priests during the Quarterly Ember Days, but this is a special time, particularly Ember Saturday, to pray for priests and for seminarians, particularly the ones who are about to be ordained within the year.
4. Reflecting the Spirit of the Season. Each set of Ember Days reflect the season of the Liturgical Year in which they occur. The Lenten season focuses on our conversion of our hearts, and also a focus on the supernatural life we receive at baptism, whether it be as a catechumen or a renewal of baptismal promises.
Wednesday in the
First Week of Lent
EPISTLE, m. Kings
IN those days came Elias to Bersabee of Juda, and left his servant there, and he went forward one day s journey into the desert. And when he was there, and sat under a junipertree, he requested for his soul that he might die, and said: It is enough for me, Lord, take away my soul: for I am no better than my fathers. And he cast himself down and slept in the shadow of the juniper-tree: and behold an angel of the Lord touched him and said to him: Arise and eat. He looked and behold there was at his head a hearth-cake, and a vessel of water: and he ate and drank, and he fell asleep again. And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said to him: Arise, eat: for thou hast yet a great way to go. And he arose, and ate, and drank, and walked in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights, unto the mount of God, Horeb.
GOSPEL. Matt. xii. 38-50.
that time, some of the scribes and Pharisees answered Jesus, saying: Master, we
would see a sign from Thee. Who answering said to them: An evil and adulterous
generation seeketh a sign: and a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of
Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was in the whale’s belly three days and three
nights: so, shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and
three nights. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation
and shall condemn it: because they did penance at the preaching of Jonas. And behold
a greater than Jonas here. The queen of the south shall rise in judgment with
this generation and shall condemn it: because she came from the ends of the
earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon and behold a greater than Solomon here. And
when an unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places
seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith: I will return into my house from
whence I came out. And coming he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then
he goeth, and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and
they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is made worse
than the first. So, shall it be also to this wicked generation. As He was yet
speaking to the multitudes, behold His Mother and His brethren stood without,
seeking to speak to Him. And one said unto Him: Behold Thy Mother and Thy
brethren stand without, seeking Thee. But He answering him that told Him, said:
Who is My Mother, and who are My brethren? And stretching forth His hand
towards His disciples, He said: Behold My Mother and My brethren. For whosoever
shall do the will of my father, that is in heaven, he is My brother, and
sister, and mother.
Prayer. Mercifully hear our prayers, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and against all our adversaries extend the right hand of Thy majesty. Amen.
What is the Ember-Days?
Days instituted to thank God, each season of the year, for the benefits received during that season, and to remind the faithful, each quarter of the year, of the duty of penance; also, to pray to God for deserving priests, for on those days the ordination of priests usually takes place. (Goffine’s Devout Instructions)
· The Ember Days are four series of Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays which correspond to the natural seasons of the year. Autumn brings the September, or Michaelmas, Embertide; winter, the Advent Embertide; Spring, the Lenten Embertide; and in summer, the Whit Embertide (named after Whitsunday, the Feast of Pentecost).
· The English title for these days, "Ember," is derived from their Latin name: Quatuor Temporum, meaning the "Four Times" or "Four Seasons."
· The Embertides are periods of prayer and fasting, with each day having its own special Mass.
· Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday were days of particularly devotion in the early church: Wednesday, as recalling the betrayal of our Lord, and Friday in memory of His Passion, Saturday was later added to these days of prayer and penance as a continuation of Friday, and as far back as the second century they were set apart as Stational days, that is as days of special religious service and fasting.
· The Ember Days, although the occasion of their institution is uncertain, are a reminder of these ancient days of devotion. Their purpose is to thank God for the fruits of the earth and other gifts of nature, to teach moderation in their use, and to assist the needy. From the time of Pope Gelasius in the fifth century it has been allowed to confer the diaconate and priesthood on the Saturdays of Ember weeks.
Ember Day Prayers
Prayer: Antiphon: Bless the Lord, O my soul, and
never forget all He hath done for thee.
V. Lord, Thou has been our refuge. R. From generation to generation.
Let us Pray: Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that as year by year we devoutly keep these holy observances, we may be pleasing to Thee both in body and soul. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
In Honor of Christ's Betrayal and Passion
O God, Who for the world's Redemption was pleased to be born, circumcised, rejected by the Jews, betrayed by the kiss of traitor Judas, bound with chains, led like an innocent lamb to sacrifice, and shamefully presented before Annas, Caiphas, Pilate, and Herod, accused by false witnesses, beaten with whips, buffeted, insulted, spat upon, crowned with thorns, smitten with a reed, blindfolded, stripped of Thy garments, fastened with nails to the cross and lifted up on high, reputed among thieves, made to drink gall and vinegar and wounded by a lance; oh, by these most sacred sufferings, which, unworthy as I am, I thus commemorate, and by Thy holy cross and death, deliver me, Lord, from the pains of hell, and deign to lead me where Thou didst lead me where Thou didst lead the penitent thief, who was crucified by Thy side. Who, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest, forever and ever. Amen.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc. five times.
Prayer for God's Blessing on our Labors
O Lord, graciously look down upon Thy servants and upon the work of their hands, and do Thou, Who givest food to every creature, bless and preserve the fruits of the earth, that the needy may be filled with good things and that all may praise the glory of Thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
For Vocations to the Priesthood
Antiphon. Why stand ye all the day idle, go
ye into my vineyard.
V. Ask the Lord of the harvest.
R. That He send laborers into His vineyard.
Let us Pray God, who willest not the death of the sinner, but rather that he be converted and live; grant, by the intercession of blessed Mary ever Virgin and of all saints, laborers for Thy Church, fellow laborers with Christ, to spend and consume themselves for souls. Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.
Prayer Source: Blessed Be God: A Complete Catholic Prayer Book by Charles J. Callan, OP, S.T.M, P. J. Kenedy & Sons, 1961
Preparing for Battle
Know Your Commander and Comrades
Our Commander, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Conqueror of hell and death, calls us to battle alongside Him against the Enemy so that we can have a share in His victory. To fight the good fight, however, we must know not only our adversary and his strategies; we must also know the comrades that our great Commander has given to us. Our comrades in arms are our Lady and the Saints. Just as Eve’s yes to the Enemy’s temptation brought death and the Devil’s domination into the world, so Mary’s yes to God opened the door for the ultimate victory of her Son over Satan.
Whenever the Enemy’s assaults on us seem to multiply, we should call on Mary not just as our Blessed Mother, but as a mighty warrior before whom the demon’s tremble. St. Bonaventure once put it: “Men do not fear a powerful, hostile army as much as the powers of hell fear the name and protection of Mary.”
We also have the aid of St. Michael and the Angels. “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and delivers them” (Ps 34: 7).
We also have our fellow Christians. We must not focus
so much on heavenly warriors that we forget our earthly comrades-in-arms. Our
brother and sister soldiers in the battles of this life need our support, and
we need theirs. We should be praying daily with them and for them, spiritual
soldiers “vigilant in all perseverance and supplication for all” our fellow
combatants (Eph 6: 18). We should be offering them encouragement and counsel
when we find them weary or confused, tempted by the Devil’s lies, accusations,
doubts, enticements, and provocations. Roman soldiers were taught to fight
alongside comrades with their backs toward one another. That way, as they
battled the enemy, they were protecting one another’s backs. One man’s sword
was another man’s shield. If they didn’t fight in this way, they were exposed
to mortal danger. The same is true in spiritual warfare. Wherever a fellow
soldier is vulnerable to the Enemy’s onslaught, we must make up the difference
with the shield of our faith. This is one important reason why Our Lord
established the Church. His grace to conquer the Enemy comes to us through her
worship, her sacraments, and her teaching.
National Meatball Day
Just the word meatball is enough to bring to mind great family meals for most people. These little balls of various meats can be found throughout the world in almost every culture. Most people may associate them with Italian cuisine, though spaghetti and meatballs are an American dish. No matter your background, you can jump in and enjoy Meatball Day! There are many times in history that meatballs have been recorded in culinary records. In Turkey, there is a dish called kofte which has many different variations. In China, there is a record of a recipe that can date back to 221 BC! Ancient Rome can add a claim to meatballs as there is a surviving cookbook that holds a variety of recipes with balls of meat. It is easy to see that people have been enjoying meatballs for a very long time. Meatballs are made by taking ground or minced meat that has been mixed with spices, breadcrumbs, eggs or other ingredients and then rolled into a ball to be cooked. Cooking methods vary and include frying, braising, or baking. There is no wrong way to choose to make your version of the meatball. Just remember to make a large enough batch so that all your friends and family will get to try them!
How to Celebrate Meatball Day
· Meatball day, like other culinary holidays should be enjoyed with family or friends gathered around. The most difficult part of preparing for Meatball Day is going to be picking what nation’s recipe you will use. Lucky for you, this is a yearly occurrence, so you can pick a new nation each year to try if you like. Or you could be truly adventurous and try more than one at a time!
· Meatballs can be an appetizer, a side dish or the star of the meal. To celebrate, you and your friends who like to cook can have a playful evening by letting each person bring their own dish and then you can select a favorite! Think if it as the home version of Iron Chef! With a little craftiness, a prize could even be offered to grace the winner’s mantle.
· What is your favorite way to enjoy meatballs? There are so many ways to make them. Have you added them added to your pizza or on a sandwich? Do you prefer to stick to the traditions of your family or try to create something new? This is the time to shine! An entire day devoted to meatball goodness.
· It doesn’t matter if you are a chef or a first-time cook. Making a meal with meatballs is easy but has the wonderful side effect of making you look like the star of your kitchen. Just do a search with your favorite search engine for meatball recipes and pick the one that sounds yummy (that might be all of them!). Don’t forget to record your adventure by taking a few pictures and use #meatballday on social media to share!
Every Wednesday is Dedicated to St. Joseph
The Italian culture has always had a close association with St. Joseph perhaps you could make Wednesdays centered around Jesus’s Papa. Plan an Italian dinner of pizza or spaghetti after attending Mass as most parishes have a Wednesday evening Mass. You could even do carry out to help restaurants. If you are adventurous, you could do the Universal Man Plan: St. Joseph style. Make the evening a family night perhaps it could be a game night. Whatever you do make the day special.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
13 The plan of this catechism is inspired by the great tradition of catechisms, which articulate catechesis around four "pillars": the profession of baptismal faith (the Symbol), the sacraments of faith, the life of faith (the Commandments), the believer's prayer (the Our Father).
· Total Consecration to St. Joseph Day 22
Goffine’s Devout Instructions
Thigpen, Paul. Manual for Spiritual Warfare. TAN Books.