The solemn fast of the three days in Ember Week originally peculiar to the Roman Church, was afterwards borrowed by the other Latin dioceses. Pope St. Leo I explains the Ember Days saying that especially at the end of the year it is fitting that we dedicate the first fruits to the Divine Providence.
An ancient tradition reserved the ordinations of priests and deacons to the month of December, and the faithful – following a custom introduced by the Apostles themselves – felt constrained to unite with the bishop in prayer and fasting, in order to call down from God an abundance of priestly gifts upon the heads of those newly chosen to minister at the altar.
Formerly, after assembling, the procession of clergy and people, chanting the Litany, went from St. Peter in Vinculis to St. Mary Major by way of the Suburra, the Viminal and the Esquiline, Today’s station- following the custom for Ember Wednesdays – is at St. Mary Major, in order that the new Levites may be placed under the heavenly patronage of her whom the Fathers of the Church sometimes call the “virgin-priest,” in whose temple the Incarnate Word Himself was anointed priest by the divine Paraclete.
INTROIT Ps 118:151-152
You, O Lord, are near, and all Your ways are truth. Of old I know from Your decrees that You are forever. Ps 118:1 Happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. V. Glory be… Repeat You, O Lord, are near, etc…
Put forth Your power, O Lord, we beseech You, and come; that those who trust in Your goodness may soon be delivered from all harm. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Collect for the Blessed Mother
O God, Who didst will that at the message of an angel Thy word should take flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary: grant that we, Thy suppliants, who believe her to be truly the mother of God, may be helped by her intercession with Thee.
Collect for God’s Holy Church
Graciously hear, O Lord, the prayers of Thy Church that, having overcome all adversity and every error, she may serve Thee in security and freedom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R. Amen.
Lesson Isaias 11:1-5
Lesson from Isaias the Prophet. Thus says the Lord God: A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of knowledge and of piety, and His delight shall be the fear of the Lord. Not by appearance shall He judge, nor by hearsay shall He decide, but He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around His waist, and faithfulness a belt upon His hips.
GRADUAL Psalm 84:8, 2.
Show us, O Lord, Your kindness, and grant us Your salvation. V. You have favoured, O Lord, Your land; You have restored the well-being of Jacob.
GOSPEL Luke 1:39-47
At that time, Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town of Juda. And she entered the house of Zachary and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe in her womb leapt. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how have I deserved that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, the moment that the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who has believed, because the things promised her by the Lord shall be accomplished. And Mary said, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 84: 7-8.
Will You not, O God, give us life; and shall not Your people rejoice in You? Show us, O Lord, Your kindness, and grant us Your salvation.
Accept our offering and prayers, we beseech You, O Lord; cleanse us by this heavenly rite, and in Your mercy hear us. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Secret for the Blessed Virgin Mary
Strengthen in our minds, O Lord, we beseech Thee, the mysteries of the true faith, that, confessing Him Who was conceived of the Virgin to be true God and true man, we may deserve, through the power of His saving resurrection, to attain everlasting joy.
Secret for God’s Holy Church
Protect us, O Lord, who assist at Thy mysteries, that, cleaving to things divine, we may serve Thee both in body and in mind. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R.Amen.
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, and profitable unto salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O Holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God, through Christ, our Lord. Though whom the angels praise thy majesty, the dominions adore it, the powers are in awe. Which the heavens and the hosts of heaven together with the blessed seraphim joyfully do magnify. And do thou command that it be permitted to us join with them in confessing thee, while we say with lowly praise:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Zach 14:5-6
Behold, the Lord shall come, and all His holy ones with Him: and there shall be in that day a great light.
May the devout reception of Your sacrament, O Lord, give us new strength, purge us of our old selves and let us come to share in the mystery of salvation. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Postcommunion for the Blessed Virgin Mary
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may, by His passion and cross, be brought to the glory of His resurrection.
Postcommunion for God’s Holy Church
O Lord our God, we pray Thee that Thou suffer not to succumb to human hazards those whom Thou hast been pleased to make sharers of divine mysteries. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R. Amen.