The Demanding Glory of Advent’s Ember Saturday, by Peter Kwasniewski, PhD

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Above: Greek icon depicting Christ with the Winnowing Fan from an Orthodox monastery in Arizona, United States. Photo by Fr. Lawrence, OP. 

By Peter Kwasniewski, PhD, OnePeterFive, December 14, 2022

Dr. Peter Kwasniewski is a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College and The Catholic University of America who taught at the International Theological Institute in Austria, the Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Austria Program, and Wyoming Catholic College, which he helped establish in 2006. …

Peter Kwasniewski, PhDThis coming Saturday will be the third of the Advent Ember Days in the Roman Rite. (As always, the Ember Days come in threes: Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, the ancient penitential rhythm.)

The proponents of the liturgical reform can hardly write or say one paragraph without mentioning the new lectionary with its “far vaster selection of Scripture.” Here is not the place to go into the new lectionary’s prodigious deficiencies—something I have done in many lectures and articles over the years (see here for a partial list, and here for a more recent talk). But one basic point we might want to note is that a regimented march through giant portions of Scripture in the Eucharistic liturgy was never a desideratum or a practice in any liturgical tradition known to man. In contrast to the Divine Office, the readings for the Mass were chosen for their suitability for times and seasons and feasts of the year, and the number, length, and nature of them varied accordingly.

The Ember Saturdays are among those rare days when the traditional Latin Mass has a far greater number of readings than the Novus Ordo ever has, apart from the Easter Vigil. The very “leanness” of the usual Epistle/Gospel combination (with a pithy Gradual/Alleluia in between) makes the Ember Saturday readings and prayers appear like a lavish banquet. And when they are sung in the ancient chant tones, then all the glory shines forth! …