Today the church celebrates the feast of Saint Matthew the Evangelist. Tradition tells us that Matthew was a tax collector for the Romans. In the first century, tax collectors were regarded as sinners and they were known for cheating their own people for their own self gain. In today’s gospel, Jesus reminds us that he came to the world, not for the righteous but rather for the sinner. “Those who are well have no need for a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what that means. ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9: 12-13
In the Roman Catholic tradition we observe the Ember Days four times a year, around the changes of the seasons: during Lent, at Pentecost, Exaltation of the Cross, and close to St. Lucy’s Day on December 12 (“Lenty, Penty, Crucy, Lucy”). This year, the Fall Ember Days fall on September 16, 18, and 19.
These days set apart for special prayer and fasting were considered especially suitable for the ordination of clergy. The Ember Days are known in Latin as the quatuor anni tempora (the “four seasons of the year”), or formerly as the jejunia quatuor temporum (“fasts of the four seasons”).
Catholics who lived before Vatican-II would say that Ember Days were one of the most confusing Catholic practices. Ember Days are an extension of our agrarian roots, but were usually seen merely as fast and abstinence days on the calendar. Most Catholics born after 1965 typically have an outlook of: “Ember Days? I never heard of them.” While not universally practiced, Ember Days are still a vital part of the Church’s tradition.
In the 1969 Calendar reform, the observance of Ember Days was left to the discretion of conferences of bishops, and can be adjusted and expanded. In the USA most bishops have chosen to not officially observe Ember Days, but in other countries they are observed. While Ember Days are not part of the calendar of community worship, personal observance at home or small communities is not discouraged.
What rich traditions we have as Catholics!
Yours is the gigantic task of overcoming all evil with good, always trying amidst the problems of life to place your trust in God, knowing that his grace supplies strength to human weakness.
You must oppose every form of hatred with the invincible power of Christ’s love.”
-Pope St. John Paul II
Bishop Edgar da Cunha, S.D.V, Ordinary of the Diocese of Fall River, has graciously appointed Rev. Edward Murphy, Co-Pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle and Annunciation of the Lord parishes in Taunton, MA to assume additional responsibilities as Chaplain to the Preservation Society and St. Anne Shrine.
Fr. Murphy, known throughout the region for his healing ministries and deep devotion to the Blessed Mother, will continue to celebrate his Healing Masses on the third Thursday of each month, and in addition will provide spiritual guidance and support to the Society to ensure our efforts are directed in accordance with God’s Will as we expand our services and offerings to visitors and pilgrims to St. Anne’s.
The Preservation Society is deeply grateful to Bishop da Cunha for this appointment, thankful to Fr. Murphy in assuming this additional burden, and we look forward to an even deeper journey with Our Lord under the patronage of Good St. Anne.
We are selling tickets for our “Take Out” Pasta and and Meatball Fundraiser Dinner that will be held on Saturday October 17, from 3:00-6:00PM at St. Cecilia Band Club, Almond Street, Fall River.
Proceeds from the dinner are earmarked for the restoration of the shrine. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for kids under 12. You can request tickets by calling the shrine at 508-678-1510 or emailing us at St.Anne.Shrine.Liturgy@gmail.com.