A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Paitishahem Gahambar (feast of bringing in the harvest, harvest festival). Start of Zoroastrian seasonal festival to 16 September with gathering in worship to celebrate the Jashan Ceremony, which is one of the Zoroastrian liturgies that can be performed outside the confines of a fire temple. Jashan is derived from the Avestan word yasna and denotes a ceremony with offerings and a Jashan Ceremony is enacted for the wellbeing of both the spiritual and physical worlds, with the priestly exchange of flowers symbolising the passage of the soul (urvan) from one life to the next and joyous fellowship over food. The seasonal gahambars (proper seasons), occur 6 times a year and each of these festivals is celebrated over five days, the last day being usually observed. Due to the peculiarities of the Shahenshahi and Kadmi variants of the Zoroastrian calendar, in those variants the seasonal festivals are actually celebrated many months in advance and are therefore said to reflect the six primordial creations of Ahura Mazda, the highest divinity of the religion. These festivals are known as the Amesha Spentas, immortal holy, bounteous, furthering class of divine entities emanating from Ahura Mazda. Later Middle Persian variations of the term include the contraction Ameshaspand and the specifically Zoroastrian Mahraspand and Amahraspand. The other gahambars or gahanbars are: Maidyozarem Gahambar (mid-spring feast) 30 April-4 May; Maidyoshahem Gahambar (mid-summer feast) 29 June-3 July; Ayathrem Gahambar (bringing home the herds) 12-16 October; Maidyarem Gahambar (mid-year or winter feast) 31 December-4 January; Hamaspathmaidyem Gahambar (feast of all souls, literally coming of the whole group) 16-20 March. The gahambars are joyous occasions at which rich and poor assemble to worship and eat and share food communally, when new friendships are formed and old disputes resolved. Image: multi-faithcalendar.org.
St Eanswythe of Folkestone (Eanswiþ, St Eanswida) (c630-50). Western Christianity Feast for nun and Anglo-Saxon princess, granddaughter of King Ethelbert of Kent. Near the fishing port of Folkestone on the south coast of England, she founded Folkestone Priory, the first convent in England and one of the first Christian monastic communities for women in Britain, later destroyed by invading Danes. Last year, osteoarchaeologists were given the opportunity to examine the remains of a skeleton long thought to be her remains and concluded that the remains were of a young female. Radiocarbon dating confirmed that they were from the mid-Seventh Century. DNA and isotope analysis results are pending but these may be the earliest remains yet discovered of an English saint and relative of a British monarch. Venerated in Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism. Eastern Orthodoxy, the latter with the Feast on 31 August. Image: facebook.com.
Feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Optional Catholic Church memorial for the beautiful wreath of interpretation that has grown around this name, which goes back to Egyptian times. The sister of Moses and Aaron, born in Egypt like her brothers, is the only woman with the name Miriam (Myriam) mentioned in the Old Testament, derived from the Egyptian mir and jam (beloved of God) and this became Mary (Maria) for the seven women mentioned in the New Testament. “The name of Mary”, said St Anthony of Padua, “is sweeter to the lips than the honeycomb, more delightful to the ear than a sweet song, more entrancing to the heart than the purest joy”. “Surely,” said St Bernard of Clairvaux, “the Mother of God could not have been given a name more appropriate, nor one more impressive of her high dignity. Mary is in fact the beautiful and brilliant star which shines upon the vast and stormy sea of the world.”. To honour this holy name, we should always invoke God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, through this name. Tenderly must Jesus have spoken the name of His Mother. How His Sacred Heart was moved when He was called the Son of Mary. Never cease to plead with her Son through His Mother’s holy name. Ever call on God the Father for pity and help in the name of His perfectly created Mary, pray to the Holy Spirit in the name of His beloved to strengthen, guide and bless. Yours is a beautiful name in Heaven, a beautiful name on earth, your name is that of Queen and of Mother. Image: americaneedsfatima.org.
Prayer Mary, how sweetly falls thy name on the enraptured ear, oft do we say in holy love thy name when none are near. We sing and loudly proclaim, oh Mary, our Mother, how sweet is thy name. Sweet it is as a mother’s voice, so sweet to us is thy dear name it makes our souls rejoice. Amen