About the Ember Days and the Priesthood

Ember Days are three days--Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday--set aside at the beginning of each of the fours seasons to offer God prayer, fasting, and abstinence.  The focus of Ember Days, which coincide with the seasons of harvest, are placed to offer God thanksgiving for His creation, to ask for a bountiful harvest, and to ask His help in using it well.  The Ember Days were instituted in the first centuries of the Church, although the exact year is unknown, as a way to counteract the pagan harvest feasts.  St. Leo the Great believed they were even of Apostolic origin, although other sources suggest the 3rd or 4th century.  Eventually the Ember Days were set to fall after Ash Wednesday, Whitsunday, the Exaltation of the Cross (specifically during the third week of September), and the feast of St. Lucy.  On Ember Wednesday and Saturday traditionally one fasts and partakes of partial abstinence, and on Ember Friday one fasts and fully abstains.
Pope St. Leo the Great wrote of the Ember Days after Whitsunday, "And so those teachers, who have instructed all the Church's sons by their examples and their traditions, began the rudiments of the Christian warfare with holy fasts, that, having to fight against spiritual wickednesses, they might take the armor of abstinence, wherewith to slay the incentives to vice... The desire to hurt us is indeed ever active in the tempter, but he will be disarmed and powerless, if he find no vantage ground within us from which to attack us... Therefore, after the days of holy gladness, which we have devoted to the honor of the Lord rising from the dead and then ascending into heaven, and after receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, a fast is ordained as a wholesome and needful practice, so that, if perchance through neglect or disorder even amid the joys of the festival any undue licence has broken out, it may be corrected by the remedy of strict abstinence, which must be the more scrupulously carried out in order that what was on this day Divinely bestowed on the Church may abide in us. For being made the Temple of the Holy Ghost, and watered with a greater supply than ever of the Divine Stream, we ought not to be conquered by any lusts nor held in possession by any vices in order that the habitation of Divine power may be stained with no pollution."
In the 5th century Pope Gelasius I prescribed that all ordinations take place on Ember Saturdays, following apostolic tradition.  Then they, fasting and praying, and imposing their hands upon them, sent them away. (Acts 13:3).  Thus, linking ordinations with Ember Days, not only did the candidates fast and pray for a few days before receiving Holy Orders, but all of the faithful joined in as well for the sanctification of the priests.  May we likewise use these upcoming Ember Days to offer prayer and penance to God for our newly ordained priests, deacons, and for all priests.
Thomas A Kempis wrote beautifully of the priest.  "A priest clad in his sacred vestments is Christ's vicegerent, to pray to God for himself, and for all the people, in a suppliant and humble manner; he has before and behind him the sign of the Cross of the Lord, that he may always remember the Passion of Christ; he bears the Cross before him in his vestment, that he may diligently behold the footsteps of Christ, and fervently endeavor to follow them; he is marked with the Cross behind, that he may mildly suffer, for God's sake, whatsoever adversities shall befall him from others; he wears the Cross before him, that he may bewail his own sins; and behind him, that, through compassion, he may lament the sins of others, and know that he is placed as it were, a mediator betwixt God and the sinner; neither ought he to cease from prayer and oblation, till he be favored with the grace and mercy which he implores.  When a priest celebrates, he honors God, he rejoices the Angels, he edifies the Church, he helps the living, he obtains rest for the dead, and makes himself a partaker of all that is good."
A Prayer for Priests

O Jesus, Eternal Priest, keep Thy priests within the shelter of Thy Sacred Heart, where none may touch them. 
Keep unstained their anointed hands, which daily touch Thy Sacred Body. 
Keep unsullied their lips, daily purpled with Thy Precious Blood. 
Keep pure and unworldly their hearts, sealed with the sublime mark of the priesthood. Let Thy Holy Love surround them from the world's contagion. Bless their labors with abundant fruit, and may the souls to whom they minister be their joy and  consolation here and their everlasting crown hereafter. 
Mary, Queen of the Clergy, pray for us: obtain for us numerous and holy priests. Amen.