Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ember Days!

Tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday are this season's Ember Days. Rather than create yet another Ember Day easy essay (I think you've seen enough of those for now), here's a prosier essay by Ron Talley of the CatholicCafe listserv:

The Ember Days

A devotional invitation to fasting and abstinence, encouraging moderation in our use of the goods of creation.

One of the ancient traditional devotions of the church that isn't observed much anymore are the "Ember Days." In the fifth century AD, this observance was well known and was described as being of "apostolic origin". Ember Days were observed with prayer and fasting, according to the online edition of the 1908 Catholic Encyclopedia, on "the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after13 December (S. Lucia), after Ash Wednesday, after Whitsunday, and after 14 September (Exaltation of the Cross). The purpose of these days of fasting and abstinence, besides the general one intended by all prayer and fasting, was to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy."

As the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross falls on a Thursday this year (Sept. 14, 2006), the Ember days fall on the following Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, the 20th, 22nd, and 23rd of September.

Given the many complicated crises facing the world, we call upon Christians to observe the September Ember days of prayer and fasting for the traditional intentions.

The Ember Days are a devotion that should be revived. We need regular reminders of the importance of moderation in the use of material goods. We therefore encourage everybody to observe these days with fasting, abstinence, and works of reparation, mercy, justice, and peace.

There is an "anything goes" attitude these days, and that is as true in economics and business as it is in media and entertainment. We say we "need" something, when in reality we only "want" it, and we are disposed to think that our "wants" are mandates. Over consumption of material goods is a manifestation of the cardinal sins of greed and gluttony. It indicates a problem with disordered priorities. It is also fundamental to our economy, and that is one of our big problems. "In (this) God (money) We Trust."

We don't want to think about the costs, so we don't, often we try to ignore them until we are forced by our circumstances to do so. Even then, we will still try to stand apart from our own actions, denying our responsibility, and attempting to evade the consequences (or shift them over on someone else).

There is an ever present and very noisy propaganda crusade preaching that we should "spend, consume, waste", but God is not the author of that confusion, that comes from the demonic spirits that prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. If you buy that agenda, you're not building the Kingdom of God here on Earth "as it is in heaven."

Perhaps this is one reason why Mother Teresa advised the rich to "Live simply, so that others may simply live." Maybe that's also a clue as to what the Ember days can mean for us in these early days of the 21st century. The more abundance of "stuff" we have, the more we need reminders of the importance of moderation in the use of material things.


1 comment:

Mimi said...

What a beautiful tradition. Prayers as you observe the Ember Days.