Ember Days, Catholics, and Fasting

The Ember Days are upon us!  The what? you ask. The Ember Days.  They are making a comeback in the Catholic Church after a long absence following the changes of the Second Vatican Council in the mid-1960s, which significantly revised a Catholic’s obligation for fasting.

What are the Ember Days?

Ember Days are a period of three days of fasting, abstinence, and prayer over four days that happen approximately every four months.  A Catholic Dictionary in Verbum describes it as follows:

Why are the Ember Days making a comeback?

In light of recent revelations of past sins within the Church, clergy and laity alike feel a strong urge to do something.  The bishop of Pittsburgh, David Zubik, has proposed the revival of the Ember Days accompanied by a Holy Hour for his clergy and seminarians as a means of getting back to the Christian basics of prayer and fasting.  He has invited the laity to join them in this effort.

In a letter to his priests, deacons, and seminarians, taken from a press release from the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Bishop Zubik states:

Faced with the sinful actions of the members of our own ranks of the clergy, who are called to manifest the example of Christ, we feel both shame and sorrow, and are reminded of our own sinfulness and the need for mercy.

He has also asked that the practice of reciting the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel be reinstated after all Masses.

More about the Ember Days

To learn more about the history and meaning of the Ember Days, check out Catholic apologist and catechist Dr. Taylor Marshall’s video:

The #EmberDays hashtag on Twitter is also gaining momentum.  Check it out here.

We’ll have more on the Ember Days the next time they come around in December.

Written by
Craig St. Clair

Craig St. Clair is the Verbum Product Manager at Faithlife. He holds a Master of Arts in Systematic Theology from St. John's University's School of Theology in Collegeville, MN. He is a convert to the Catholic faith and is married with two boys.

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Written by Craig St. Clair