A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths

Saturday of the Akathist. 5th Saturday of Orthodox Great Lent, dedicated to the Theotokos (Mother of God), with chanting of the Akathist to the Theotokos during Matins for the Laudation of the Virgin with the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, usually anticipated on the Friday evening. In 625, when the Emperor Heraclius was fighting the Persians, the Khan sent forces to attack Constantinople by land and sea but Patriarch Sergius urged the people not to lose heart and to trust in God. A procession was made around the city with the Cross of the Lord, the robe of the Virgin, the Icon of the Saviour not made by hands, and the Hodēgtria (iconographic depiction) of the Mother of God. The Patriarch dipped the Virgin’s robe in the sea and the city’s defenders beat back the Khan’s sea forces, the sea becoming very rough and many boats sinking. The invaders retreated and the people of Constantinople gave thanks to God and to His Most Pure Mother. On 2 other occasions, in 655 and 705, the Theotokos protected the city from Saracen invaders and a Feast Day dedicated to the Laudation of the Virgin was established to commemorate these victories. The Akathist to the Mother of God is believed to originate from this period and its use has spread from Constantinople to other Orthodox lands. The icon before which the Akathist was sung was given to the Dionysiou Monastery on Mount Athos by Emperor Alexius Comnenos. There, it began to flow with myrrh. There were at least 3 wonderworking copies of this icon in Russia before the Revolution, showing the Mother of God seated on a throne and surrounded by Prophets with scrolls. Image: iconreader.wordpress.com.

St Donnán of Eigg and companions (St Donan) (d617). Feast Day commemorating death of Gaelic priest, an Irish monk of Iona who founded a monastery on the Isle of Eigg off the West coast of Scotland in an attempt to introduce Christianity to the Picts of North-western Scotland during the Early Middle Ages. A rich woman who was on Eigg before Donnán had ill-feeling toward him and his community and persuaded bandits to kill him. When the bandits arrived on Eigg, they found Donnán and his companions chanting their psalms in the oratory and they could not kill them there. Donnán however said to his community: “Let us go into the refectory so that these men may be able to kill us there where we do our living according to the demands of the body; since as long as we remain where we have done our all to please God, we cannot die, but where we have served the body, we may pay the price of the body.” Thus, they were martyred by beheading in their refectory on the eve of Easter, 54 companions dying together alongside Donnán. All their names are recorded in a certain book of the old books of Erin. Patron of Eigg.

Her Majesty the Queen. Funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Her Majesty since 1947. In that year, the 3rd creation of the title Duke of Edinburgh by King George VI was to bestow it on his son-in-law Philip Mountbatten when he married Princess Elizabeth, who was styled HRH The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh until her accession to the throne in 1952. The subsidiary titles of the dukedom are Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich, of Greenwich in the County of London. Like the dukedom, these titles are also in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. In 1957, Philip became a Prince of the United Kingdom, having in 1947 renounced his Greek and Danish royal titles from birth as a Prince of Greece and Denmark as a male-line grandson of King George I of the Hellenes and male-line great-grandson of King Christian IX of Denmark, along with his rights to the Greek throne. Upon Philip’s death on 9 April 2021, his eldest son Charles, Prince of Wales, succeeded to all of his hereditary titles and the current heir apparent to the dukedom is Charles’ eldest son Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. In BBC Radio 4’s Prayer for the Day on the eve of the funeral, Bishop David Walker, Anglican Bishop of Manchester, broadcast to the nation the 5:43 am spiritual comment and prayer to begin the day: “Good Morning. Although I come from the very specific tradition of the Church of England, and am deeply embedded in it, I host a regular meeting for religious leaders in Greater Manchester that brings together not only diverse Christian traditions, but also most of the major world faiths. We discovered that we have far more in common than divides us. Our various faiths provide a context for how to live well on this Earth, eschewing evil and working for the common good. Yet each faith and denomination, in its own particular way, sets that teaching in the context of eternity. Faith is both for this life and for beyond the grave. That too is part of what transcends our different traditions, though the details may vary. Since the reign of Henry VIII our monarchs have carried the title “Defender of the Faith”. Our own Queen has sought to embody that role, speaking from her personal Anglican beliefs, yet in words that have offered encouragement and hope to those of all faiths and beliefs. Today we give thanks for her embracement of that responsibility, and we pray that her faith may sustain both her and her family in this time of loss. Image: pinterest.com. Eternal God, You give us meaning and purpose both for this life and eternity. We thank you for the faith traditions of your people, sustaining us in service and in hope, as we remember the many ways the faith of our Queen has been an example to us. We pray that the same faith sustain her and her family now in their time of sorrow and may the affairs of this nation and the Commonwealth ever be ordered in accordance with your will. Amen”

Prayer Heavenly Father, we give thanks for the many years of life granted to the Duke of Edinburgh, even whilst mourning his passing. We remember too, in this time of grief, our own more private bereavements, those with whom we have been close on Earth but see no longer. Strengthen us in hope, that in Your heavenly Kingdom there will be no separation, but a place where all long lost are reunited. Amen