24 September 2014

September Ember Days

begin today! The Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of the week following the feast of the Triumph of the Cross (September 14) are traditional days of prayer, penance, and fasting/abstinence. Together with the Advent, Lent, and pre-Pentecost ember days they follow the cycle of the year, reminding us of God's unchanging presence throughout the changing seasons.

Today's penance is likely coming in the form of a too-short nap following my harebrained attempt to put Little Bear down for a nap in his own bed, under the blankets—both things he hates, and neither of which has ever worked before. I got him into the bed willingly, though, so I figured I'd better take advantage of the opportunity: He didn't want his pants back on after I changed his diaper before nap time (a normal occurance); I told him that if he got in his bed under the blanket with his head on the pillow, he didn't have to put his pants on; he picked the perceived lesser of the two evils, lay his head down, and started pretending to go to sleep! He's out now, so I have no chance of getting him to sleep on our bed if he does wake up early here, so hopefully he gets a real nap.

The ember days have not been required days of fast and abstinence since the Second Vatican Council, but it's always good to be reminded of God's presence in our lives, isn't it? I try to observe the ember days at least by being conscious of them, by remembering to express gratitude for blessings of the past season and hopes for the coming season in my daily prayers, and by abstaining from meat. 

Today the cooking is easier than usual because Matt has night class, so I really don't have to put a ton of effort into a nice-but-meatless supper. The rest of the week will take a little more effort, but that's okay:

Wednesday: pancakes, eggs, sautéed zucchini and onions
Thursday: noodles with peanut sauce, steamed broccoli (meatless so Matt can take leftovers for lunch on Friday)
Friday: roasted tomato soup, asiago crostini
Saturday: baked tilapia with acorn squash

I don't think Little Bear is old enough to understand ember days yet, because he doesn't know about seasons... Maybe by the Lenten ember days I'll be able to do something with him? I've seen some cute "changing seasons" activities for kids, but it's harder to use those here... The calendar may say that autumn just started, but we had snow flurries yesterday afternoon!

How do you teach your kids about ember days? I'd love ideas!

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