A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths

Rohini Vrat. Observed by Jain women for a long, fulfilling life for their husbands and to wish a blessing on immediate family members. Rohini Vrat moon fasting days begin when Rohini Nakshatra (Aldebaran) rises after dawn in the fourth of the twenty-seven lunar mansion small constellations of stars that the moon travels through as it orbits Earth. This happens every 27 days and devotees celebrate this Vrat to rid themselves of all types of sorrow, poverty and obstacles in their lives. Women should observe these days, considered an easy spiritual discipline for learning patience, forbearance and harmony, over 3, 5 or 7 years, the ideal duration being 5 years and 5 months. In some families, all the members observe the Vrat to enhance the quality of life in families and to win the blessings of Vasupujya Bhagavan, the great warrior King who was compassionate and charitable, as was his benevolent Queen who inspired him in charitable activities. Image: desicomments.com.

Special Weekly Parsha: Shemini Atzeret & Simchat Torah

Shemini Atzeret (שְׁמִינִי עֲצֶֽרֶת, Atzeres, the eighth day of Assembly). This Jewish holiday immediately follows the conclusion of the holiday of Sukkot (Tabernacles) and is on 22 Tishrei (תִּשְׁרֵי‎‎) 5782, the first month of the Jewish civil year and the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year that starts on 1 Nisan in the Hebrew lunisolar calendar. It is observed in Judaism and Samaritanism with prayers for rain and includes the celebration of Simchat Torah (שִׂמְחַת תּוֹרָה‎, Rejoicing of the Torah). Sukkot is celebrated for seven days, and thus Shemini Atzeret is literally the eighth day, a separate but connected holy day devoted to the spiritual aspects of the festival of Sukkot. Vayiqra (וַיִּקְרָא‎, Leviticus) 23:39 says: ”Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of Yahweh for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest.” The celebration of Simchat Torah is the most distinctive feature of Shemini Atzeret but is a later rabbinical innovation. In the Land of Israel, Shemini Atzeret ends at nightfall on 28 September but outside Israel there is an additional day added to all Biblical holidays except the 16 September Yom Kippur and so 23 Tishrei is included. In Israel, the celebrations of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are combined on a single day and the names are used interchangeably. In the Diaspora, the celebration of Simchat Torah is deferred to the second day of the holiday and commonly only the first day is referred to as Shemini Atzeret, whilst the second is called Simchat Torah. This holiday completes the annual reading of the Torah, the Five Books of Moses that make up a portion of the Jewish Bible, and the annual reading cycle begins anew as the reading moves from the last words of Deuteronomy to the first ones of Genesis. All the Torah scrolls are paraded around the synagogue, whilst children dance and sing, as do many adults. The 35,000 Karaite Jews (יהדות קראית, Readers) in countries such the Ukraine and USA, who recognise the written Torah alone, and the 840 Samaritans (שומרונים‎, السامريون, Guardians of the Torah) in Israel, who additionally recognise the Book of Joshua, also observe Shemini Atzeret, as they do all Biblical holidays. However, it may occur on a different day from the conventional Jewish celebration due to differences in calendar calculations. Karaites and Samaritans do not include the rabbinical innovation of Simchat Torah in their observance of the day and thus do not observe a second day of any holiday in the Diaspora. Image: jewishjournal.com.

Prayer Abundant G-d, You long to meet us where we are in city, town and village, in the rush of modern life and in the ancient rhythms of the natural world. Fill our hearts today with thanksgiving and hope. Call us back to Your truth, that the world of which we are part and all in it belong to You. Amen

St Vincent de Paul Society England and Wales

Saint Vincent de Paul CM (1581-1660). Catholic Church, Anglican Communion Feast Day commemorating the death of the French peasant and Catholic Priest born in the old French province of Guyenne and Gascony (Guienne et Gascogne) and who dedicated himself to serving the poor. Appointed in 1622 a chaplain to the galleys, after working for some time in Paris among imprisoned galley slaves he returned to be the Superior of what is now known as the Congregation of the Mission (the Vincentians or Lazaristes). These priests, with vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability, were to devote themselves entirely to the people in smaller towns and villages. Vincent was zealous in conducting retreats for clergy at a time when there was great laxity, abuse and ignorance among them. With his experience, he turned his heart and energy to a life of care and compassion. A sullen man by nature, he became a compassionate, gentle, humble, generous and loving servant of the oppressed. He was a pioneer in clerical training, was instrumental in establishing seminaries and founded the Congregation of the Mission and Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul. Vincent died in Paris on 27 September 1660. Venerated in Catholic Church, Anglican Communion. Major shrine Saint Vincent de Paul Chapel, Paris. The 1833 Saint Vincent de Paul Society (SVP), named after him by Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, was founded to help impoverished people living in the Paris slums and carries on his work in many parishes today, including through groups in over 1,000 locations across England and Wales. Patron of charities, horses, hospitals, leprosy, lost articles, Madagascar, prisoners, spiritual help, Saint Vincent de Paul Societies and Vincentian Service Corps volunteers. Image: svp.org.uk.