Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

EMBER DAYS - this Wednesday, Friday and Saturday

Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of this week are the Lenten Ember Days: days of fasting and abstinence, and days of prayer.
Shadrach, Michach and Abednego saved from the Fiery Furnace by an Angel.
This story is commemorated each Saturday of the Ember days (except for Whitsun).
The word 'Ember' is a corruption of the Latin Quatuor Tempora, via the Medieval German Quatember, and thence by easy corruption of dropping the first syllable by our Germanic antecedents into 'Ember'.  It has nothing to do with embers or ashes.  Quatuor Tempora, of course, come from the simple fact that other are four such sets of three days within the year, in Lent, in Advent, between Whitsun and Trinity, and the week after Holy Cross Day in September. So these days begin, sanctify, and prepare us for, the four seasons of the calendar year. They remind us of our humanity, that it is by living our lives in the physical world and the flowing seasons that we shall attain our salvation. In our material and deracinated age this is all the more immediately needful.

On these three days Catholics traditionally refrain from all flesh, and have only one full simple meal. It is also highly desirable to make every effort to attend Holy Mass on each of these three days if possible. It is also a good time to get around to making our Lenten confession if we have not yet done so. We are also, by ancient tradition, enjoined to pray especially for our priests on these days.

These days, and this holy season of Lent, are given to us for our sanctification, let us use them wisely!  We know neither the day nor the hour.  
All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under heaven. 
A time to be born and a time to die. 
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted. 
A time to kill, and a time to heal. 
A time to destroy, and a time to build. 
A time to weep, and a time to laugh. 
A time to mourn, and a time to dance. 
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather. 
A time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces. 
A time to get, and a time to lose. 
A time to keep, and a time to cast away. 
A time to rend, and a time to sew. 
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak. 
A time of war, and a time of peace. 
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
ADDENDUM
This Ember Friday of course coincides with the traditional Passion feast (which post will appear in due time) of the Holy Lance and Nails. Liturgically, where celebrated, this feast would 'trump' the Ember day (which would be only commemorated) in both Office and Mass, though not, of course, affect the fast. The feast is by its nature sorrowful in character, so this represent no inconsistency. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that today these are only private devotions, however laudable, especially within the Tradition of the Order of St John, with its great emphasis on Our Lord's Passion. The calendar and office of the Church in both Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms have lost these pious observances, even in those few places where they were once solemnly observed. In the Extraordinary form the Ember Days continue, of course with their implicit obligations; in the Ordinary form they are at the direction of the local Bishop's conference.