Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after Gaudete Sunday are known as ‘Advent Embertide’, special penitential days which come near the beginning of the season of Winter. The Ember Day fast, although no longer strictly obligatory, is presumed in the prayers of our liturgy, and so we would encourage you to observe this laudable tradition in a spirit of self-denial and penance (1 full meal only, 2 meatless snacks to keep strength if needed, nothing in between).
Liturgically, the readings follow the general themes of Advent, opening up with Wednesday’s Introit of Isaias 45, concerning the words of the Prophet Isaias, except for the last lesson on Saturday, which comes from Daniel and recounts how Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago are saved from King Nabuchodonosor’s fiery furnace by an Angel. This account, which is followed by a glorious hymn, is common to all Embertide Saturdays except for Whit Embertide. The Gospel readings for the three days concern, respectively, the Annunciation (St. Luke 1: 26-28), Visitation (St. Luke 1: 37-47), and Saint John the Baptist’s exhortation to us to ‘prepare the way of the Lord and make straight His paths’ (St. Luke 3: 1-6), and Psalm 18: 2: ‘Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just: let the earth be opened and bud forth a Saviour. The heavens show forth the glory of God: and the firmament declareth the work of His hands.’