We beseech thee, O Lord, that thou wouldest graciously hear our prayers: and stretch forth the right hand of thy majesty to be our defence against all adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for Ember Wednesday in Lent, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘The Lenten Ember days are the most recent of the four sets and do not have the same importance as the other three, since the whole of Lent is devoted to spiritual renewal. Doubtlessly the three days, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, formed part of the Lenten liturgy from its very beginning, as can be seen from the formulary content. Wednesday, devoted to our Lady, is a day of reflection and spiritual orientation; Friday emphasises conversion and penance; Saturday, a preview of Easter, marks the renewal of our baptismal covenant.
There may well be a relation between this week’s Ember day liturgy and that of the first Sunday of Lent. Christ fasts forty days and conquers the devil. Moses and Elias, representing the Old Testament, also fast forty days (even the paralytic’s thirty-eight years have an affinity to the number forty). On Ember Saturday, Christ, Moses, and Elias appear together on the Mount of Transfiguration. Thus the Ember days do not fail to contribute their share to the theology of Lent’.
from The Church’s Year of Grace, 1953, by Pius Parsch, 1884-1954
Fr Lee Kenyon