|Grapes being harvested by peasants and carried into the Chateau de Saumur.|
Now two things have diminished this seasonal celebration. One is, of course, the industrialization and technological advancements of the age. As I said, that separates us from the down and dirty life of a farmer who, contrary to popular beliefs, is not a mere moron, but is one who can appreciate the gifts of the soil. The other was Vatican II. Like so many things Catholic, the good Church's attempts to make a kinder, gentler religion was seen by many as a great excuse to dump all that religious stuff. Vatican II meant never having to say you're Catholic. Since we already lived in a secularized, post-Protestant culture anyway, it took almost no effort to adopt the calendar set by schools, movie releases, and Madison Avenue, rather than anything passed down through the ages by the wisdom of the Church.
So sad to say, there won't be much focus on this year's Ember Days. In fact, one can attend a Catholic Church for many years and not hear of so many things that once defined the yearly life of a devout Catholic. If you wish to follow this custom, check out the always handy Fish Eaters website for some quick information. It's a Catholic site with sympathies aimed more toward the pre-Vatican II days. Still, it's handy for a one-stop-shop location for some of the tidbits of traditional Catholic living. It isn't complete, but it's a good overview. Plus, any website that integrates Catholic traditions with James Whitcomb Riley can't be all bad.