The Ember Days are ancient days of fasting and penance in the Church which took place on a Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday around the beginning of each season. The first record of them is attributed to Pope St. Callistus I in 222 AD (Earlier than the celebration of Ash Wednesday, Advent, or even Christmas on December 25th) They were likely a result of the Church taking over pagan festivals marking the harvests of the first fruits of grain (June), the mature grapes (September), and olives (December). These are also the three crops used in the Sacraments. The Church saw an opportunity to set aside time at the beginning of each calendar season to fast and to ask God to forgive their sins. Since they were related to the harvest, they were also times of prayer for vocations and for priests (ordinations usually took place on Ember Saturdays): “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38). The Ember Days were never formally abolished and the current Missal still asks that Bishops Conferences set aside Ember Days in the year. (GIRM 394) We ask you to join the Canons Regular in observing the Lenten Ember Days on February 26th and 27th by observing fasting and abstinence on these days and to pray for vocations. (Ember Wednesday is not observed this Lent because February 24 is the Feast of St. Matthias, the Apostle.)
The Canons Regular use this prayer: Lord, inspired by what you once said, “Pray that the Lord of the harvest may send out workers in the harvest,” we pray for an increase in vocations to the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. Amen.