‘Lenty, Penty, Crucy, Lucy” is the mnemonic doggerel by which we remember the Ember. The Ember Day observances of the traditional liturgical calendar of the Roman Church fall in Lent, and near Pentecost, the feasts of the Exaltation of the Cross and of St Lucy. These are special days of penance.

The Pentecost Ember Days blend penitential fasting with joy, for they fall during the Octave of Pentecost. This Octave, retained in the traditional calendar, was foolishly eliminated in the Ordinary Form.

Why would we do penance during such a happy time? We fasted especially for the sake of the new priests who were traditionally ordained in this fitting season.

Speaking of new priests, we must pray diligently that many men will respond to God’s call with courage and generosity. Vocations to the priesthood are the responsibility of every member of the Church, not just of bishops and vocations directors. All of us must ask God to bring forth candidates even out of our own homes. What a blessing to a family it is to foster priestly vocations.

May I be so bold as to make a suggestion to the bishops and parish priests of your blessed plot, your scepter’d isle? During all Sunday and Holy Day Masses at my home parish, the congregation knelt after the Gospel and recited a prayer for vocations composed in 1963 by Archbishop William Brady. In the 33 years of one pastorate we had 30 First Masses.

Where I am now, we have initiated this same practice, using the same prayer printed on cards and placed in all the pews. Perhaps this practice might be established at your parishes:

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection