Finally, the week after Pentecost constitutes the concluding stage of the Easter season, which quietly ends on the following Saturday afternoon.
One distinctive feature of this week that bears special mention are the Ember Days. It no doubt strikes us as odd that three days of the jubilant Octave of Pentecost are reserved for fasting. This befuddlement has much to do with a common misconception about fasting, which tends to see the practice as a sign of contrition and sorrow. As is clear from the Mosaic Law, however, fasting can be joyous as well as penitential. In fact, it can express a variety of moods and serve a number of purposes. In the case of the Whitsundaytide Ember Days (as Pope St. Leo the Great once explained), the Apostles were commissioned by the Spirit to embark on a great mission, but before doing so they readied themselves with a holy fast by which they could more effectively wage war against the forces of evil.
This was not a fast of mourning, but a fast of gladsome training and preparation. By following the example of the Apostles, St. Leo tells us, we too are joyfully preparing ourselves for our mission as witnesses of Christ to an unbelieving world. Having undergone the purgation of Lent and the sanctification of Paschaltide, we too are poised to burst out of the closed doors and speak the Good News of salvation.
These texts on the liturgical year are reproduced from the: Holy Trinity Latin Mass Website.