This Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (18th, 20th, 21st September) are Ember days.
“For the fourth time in Her year, Holy Church comes claiming from Her children the tribute of penance, which, from the earliest ages of Christianity, was looked upon as a solemn consecration of the seasons. The Quator Tempora (four times) include the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of four separate weeks… We may consider it as one of those practices which the Church took from the Synagogue; for the prophet Zacharias speaks of the fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months (Zach. 8:19). Its introduction into the Christian Church would seem to have been made in the apostolic times; such, at least, is the opinion of St.Leo, of St.Isidore of Seville, of Rabanus Maurus, and of several other ancient Christian writers. …We have already spoken of the necessity of private penance for the Christian who is at all desirous to make progress in the path of salvation. But in this, as in all spiritual exercises, a private work of devotion has neither the merit nor the efficacy of one that is done in company with the Church, and in communion with Her public act; for the Church, as Bride of Christ, communicates an exceptional worth and power to works of penance done, in Her name, in unity with others. …Let us then fast and pray; and how numerous so ever may be the losses sustained in the Christian ranks, of those who once were faithful in practices of penance, let us not lose courage. Few as we may be, let us group ourselves round the Church and implore of Jesus, Her spouse, that He vouchsafe to multiply His gifts in those whom He is calling to the now more than ever dread honour of the Priesthood; that He many infuse into them His divine prudence, whereby they may be able to disconcert the plans of the impious; His untiring zeal for the conversion of ungrateful souls; His perseverance even unto death, in maintaining without reticence or compromise the plenitude of that truth which He has destined for the world, and the inviolate custody of which is to be, on the Last Day, the solemn testimony of the Bride’s fidelity…” (Dom Prosper Gueranger)