A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
The Three Weeks. Day of fasting with no eating or drinking from dawn to dusk on the 17th of Tammuz, the fourth month of the ecclesiastical year in the Hebrew calendar, starting a period of national mourning for the misfortunes and calamities of the Jewish people. Five great catastrophes occurred on the 17th of Tammuz: Moses broke the tablets at Mount Sinai; an idolatrous image was placed in the Sanctuary of the Holy Temple in the Sixth Century BCE; the daily offerings in the First Temple were suspended during the 587 BCE siege of Jerusalem; the Roman general Apostamos burned a Torah scroll in 50 CE; and Jerusalem’s walls were breached prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. At the time of the 18 July Tisha B’Av, both the First and Second Temples were destroyed and these days are referred to as the period of dire straits (Bein ha-Metzarim), in accordance with the verse in Lamentations: “All her oppressors have overtaken her within the straits.” As mourning observed by the entire Jewish nation: joy and celebration are minimised; no weddings are held; no music is listened to; and there are no haircuts or shaving. Agonising over the events of the Three Weeks helps conquer those spiritual deficiencies that brought about the tragedies through teshuva (introspection and a commitment to improve). From the 10 July 1st of the month of Av, Rosh Chodesh Av (the Nine Days) sees the expressions of mourning take on a greater intensity and on Tisha B’Av, the 9th of Av this reaches a peak. Image: calledoutbelievers.org.
The Sunday of All Saints. This 57th day after Pascha and first Sunday after the Feast of Holy Pentecost is observed by the Orthodox Church for all those who partook of the waters of piety and harvested the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The day has been designated to commemorate all of Saints, Righteous, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Shepherds, Teachers and Holy Monastics, both men and women, known and unknown, who have been added to the choirs of the Saints and shall be added, from the time of Adam until the end of the world, and who have been perfected in piety and have glorified God by their holy lives. This commemoration began as the Sunday (Synaxis, σύναξις, собор) of All Martyrs (Μάρτυρες) and to them were added all the ranks of Saints who bore witness to Christ in manifold ways, even without shedding their blood. Many Saints are unknown and this annual Feast celebrates all Saints as the foundation of the Church, the perfection of the Gospel, they who fulfilled the sayings of the Saviour. This celebration honours all the Angels and especially our most holy Lady and Queen, the Ever-virgin Theotokos Mary, as an example of virtue. As the Sunday of the Fathers of All Saints it is celebrated with the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, with Vespers, an Orthros (ὄρθρος, daybreak) office and the Divine Liturgy including Resurrectional hymns. The Pentecostarion (Πεντηκοστάριον, Цвѣтнаѧ Трїωдь, Paschal Triodion, Flowery Triodon, Book of the Fifty Days) covering the period from Pascha to Pentecost, beginning with Bright Week on 2 May concludes with this Feast of All Saints. Image: orthochristian.com.
Prayer Adorned in the blood of Your Martyrs throughout all the world as in purple and fine linen, Your Church through them does cry unto You, O Christ God, “Send down Your compassion upon Your people; grant peace to Your commonwealth, and great mercy to our souls.” As the first fruits of our nature to the Planter of created things, the world presents the God-bearing martyred Saints in offering unto You, O Lord. Through their earnest entreaties, keep Your Church in deep peace and divine tranquillity, through the pure Theotokos, O You Who are most merciful. Amen
Sankashti Chaturthi (संकष्टी चतुर्थी, సంకటహర చతుర్థి, சங்கடஹர சதுர்த்தி, સંકષ્ટી ચતુર્થી). To 28 June, this Hindu vrat (pious observance) is celebrated in both the northern and southern states of India, with special festivities in the state of Maharashtra and in South India. On this holy day, Lord Shiva declared the supremacy of His son, Sankashti (Lord Ganesha) over all other Gods except Vishnu, Lakshmi and Parvati. The vrat is observed during every Hindu Lunar Calendar month on the chaturthi (4th day) of the Krishna Paksha (waning phase of the moon). Sankashti is of Sanskrit origin and implies deliverance from difficult times and the chaturthi 4th day is the day of Lord Ganesha. Thus, this is a propitious day for worshipping Lord Ganesha and for seeking help to overcome all the obstacles in life and to be victorious in every difficult situation. Childless couples observe the vrat so as to be blessed with offspring. Devotees rise early and dedicate the day to worshipping Lord Ganesha, observing a strict fast in his honour, although some keep a partial fast by eating only fruit, vegetables and roots. Tapioca, peanuts, potatoes and herbs are used to make the sabudana khichadi fasting food. A lamp is lit and the statue of Lord Ganesha is decorated with Durva (Bermuda grass) and fresh flowers. Normally, other puja (worship) rituals include burning incense and reciting the Vedic (religious texts) mantras, followed by the reading of the vrat katha (ancient legend) for the month. The fast is broken only after worshipping Lord Ganesha in the evening and sighting the moon. Special puja rituals are dedicated to Chandra (the God of the Moon), with the sprinkling of water, chandan (sandalwood) paste, consecrated rice and flowers towards the moon. In each Lunar month, the God Ganesha is worshipped with different peeta (Lotus petals) and names. Each of the 13 vrats has a specific purpose and legend, its vrat katha. There is also a final katha for the adika extra month in the Hindu calendar that is intercalated about once every 32.5 months to keep the Lunar and Solar calendars aligned. Image: prokerala.com.