A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Fravardigan. Ancient Parsi festival to 16 August, at the end of the Zoroastrian Shahenshai Parsi year, remembering the immortal souls and fravashis (departed ancestors’ guardian spirits, half man/half bird) that come to reside in the place of worship. With Muktad prayers, the recital of the five Gathas (hymns), cleansing of houses, incense, flowers and daily sacred food sampling during ceremonies. Theologically, Fravardigan is the most important Zoroastrian festival after NoRuz (New Year) and, since it deals with the departed ancestors, many Zoroastrians regard it as their holiest festival, linking the past with the present and the future being typical of much of Zoroastrian life. Celebrated from 11 March in Iran and 7 July in Kadmi religious year. NoRuz is on 16 August (Mah Fravardin Roj Hormuzd). Image: chess.com.
Prayer From all our sins with contrition we turn back. From every evil thought, evil word, evil deed, we have in this existence thought, or said, or done, or has been, or will be. We turn back with repentance to seek the downfall of the destructive spirit, the fulfilment of God’s Will to make the world anew, the honouring of the Law of God, goodness and righteousness for He is the highest and is everlasting peace. Amen
Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. This Christian feast became widespread in the West in the Eleventh Century and was introduced into the Roman calendar in 1457 to commemorate the 1456 victory over Islam at the siege of Belgrade. Before that, the Transfiguration of the Lord was celebrated in the Syrian, Byzantine and Coptic rites. The Transfiguration foretells the glory of the Lord as God and His Ascension into heaven, anticipating the glory of heaven where we shall see God face to face, as through grace we already share in the divine promise of eternal life. Our divine Redeemer was in Galilee about a year before His sacred Passion and, six days after He promised that some among the Disciples would see the kingdom before they tasted death, He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee James and John and led them by night to Mount Tabor in the vast plain of Galilee. Whilst Jesus prayed, His face was altered and shone as the Sun and His garments became as white as snow. Moses and Elias were seen in His company by the three Apostles and were heard speaking with Him of the death He was to suffer in Jerusalem. There came a sudden, bright shining cloud from heaven and God’s voice was heard, saying: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.” The Apostles were seized with a sudden fear and fell to the ground, but Jesus touched them and bade them rise. When they did, they saw Jesus standing in His ordinary state. As they went down the mountain early the next morning, Jesus bade them not to tell anyone what they had seen until He should be risen from the dead. In the Russian Orthodox Church, honey, pears, apples, plums and other fruits are brought to the church for blessing and this feast is referred to as Metamorphosis in the Eastern Church. The Transfiguration is another first fruits harvest feast, particularly of grapes and wheat, and the Roman Ritual has a blessing of grapes and of the harvest for this feast. The Lutheran Festival of the Transfiguration of Our Lord was on 24 January. Image: catholicnewsagency.com.
St James the Syrian (d500). Feast Day for Syrian monk and miracle worker who lived for many years as an Amida (Diyarbakır) Mesopotamia hermit and was greatly revered for his penitential practices and great austerities. Amida was an ancient city in Asian Turkey and in 1531 a Chaldean Diocese was established there that gained territory from the suppressed Chaldean Catholic Diocese of Seert, which is now a titular see. After the 1915 Assyrian genocide (Seyfo, ܣܝܦܐ, sword), it was left vacant and lapsed in 1923 but the size of the diocese increased in 1957 from the suppression of the Chaldean Catholic Diocese of Gazireh and in 1966 it was promoted to an Archeparchy (Eastern Catholic Archdiocese) and a new Archbishop was ordained to fill the rôle, it being the sole Chaldean diocese in Turkey, presiding over all of Turkey’s Chaldeans. Diyarbakır (Amed, Տիգրանակերտ, ܐܡܝܕ) is the largest Kurdish-majority city in Turkey and has been a focal point for the conflict between the Turkish state and various Kurdish separatist groups, it being seen by many Kurds as the de facto capital of Kurdistan. It was intended to become the capital of an independent Kurdistan following the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres (Traité de Sèvres) but this was disregarded following subsequent political developments. Image: bookauthority.org.