A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths

Antipascha (in place of Easter, St Thomas Sunday, New Sunday, Renewal Sunday, the Second Sunday). Eastern Christianity Sunday after Pascha (Easter), the 8th day of the paschal celebration and the last day of Bright Week. Only on this day in the early church could newly-baptised Christians remove their robes and enter once again into the life of this world. The services stress the Apostle Thomas’ vision of Christ and the Gospel passage read in the Divine Liturgy records what happened on that 8th day after the Resurrection. Until he could see and feel the wounds received by Jesus on the cross, Thomas would not believe (ou me pisteuso) that the resurrected Jesus had appeared to the other 10 Apostles on the 1st day. On the 8th day, the Disciples were once again in a locked room and Thomas was with them. Jesus again came and stood among them and said: “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas: “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered him: “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:26–29). Image: spro.church.

Dun Ġorġ Preca (St Jorgi Preca TOCarm, Monsignor Franco) (1880-1962). Feast Day for Maltese Catholic priest who at 17 was encouraged towards a religious vocation. Shortly before his 1906 ordination, Preca was diagnosed with an acute illness, attributing his partial recovery to the intercession of St Joseph, patron of the dying. Devoting himself to young people, Preca began to teach the Catholic catechism to labourers along the waterfront and gathered male catechists around him. In 1907, he founded at Ħamrun the Society of Christian Doctrine (MUSEUM) and in 1910 received a powerful religious experience when helping a 12-year-old child to push a cart, seeing the boy as symbolising Christ and the cart as the work of evangelisation. He was a popular figure in some groups, where his pastoral care and religious teaching earned recognition. However, his activities involving many of the low-skilled and uneducated raised suspicions of heresy amongst senior clergy and he was ordered in 1909 to close down his teaching centres. A protest by other parish priests led to the order being rescinded but in 1916 the Bishop opened a formal enquiry. This cleared the movement of any negative behaviour and paved the way for ecclesiastical recognition of the Society in 1932. Preca became a Third Order Carmelite in 1918, and made his profession in 1919 with the new religious name of Franco. Fluent in Italian and English, Preca taught and wrote in Maltese, the language of the common people, so that everyone could understand. He wrote about 150 booklets, pamphlets and leaflets, published by his 1920s printing enterprise, which would become Veritas Press, one of the main Catholic publishing companies in Malta. In the parishes, Preca established Nativity plays at Christmastide, still a custom in most parts of Malta. In the 1950s, Preca sent 6 members of the Society to Australia to serve Maltese immigrants and there are now about 1,200 members serving in 6 countries. In 1957 he composed 5 new mysteries of the Rosary for his followers, referred to as the Mysteries of Light and inspired by John 8:12: “The light of the world”. Preca’s funeral  at the Saint Cajetan church was one of the largest ever held in Malta. His attributed miracles were the 1964 healing of a detached retina and the 2004 healing of an infant that avoided a problematic liver transplant. Venerated in Catholic Church. Patron of Malta, Swatar, Ħoobrooben, Society of Christian Doctrine, catechists. Image: guidememalta.com.

Prayer Father, Everlasting God, we offer You the Divine Wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, that You may deign to protect, bless and sanctify the Society, convert to You all sinners, spread throughout the whole world the teaching of eternal life and fill each one of us with love, humility and meekness. Amen

Isaiah the Prophet (8th-7th Centuries BCE). Feast Day for Israelite prophet after whom the Book of Isaiah is named, which book along with the Book of Jeremiah is distinctive in the Hebrew Bible for its direct portrayal of the wrath of the Lord as presented for example in Isaiah 9:19: “Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire.” The Book of Isaiah includes dramatic prophetic declarations concerning acts to restore the nation of Israel from Babylonian captivity. Isaiah was best known for predicting the coming of Jesus Christ to save mankind from sin: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” The Book of Isaiah is quoted many times by New Testament writers, with 10 references to Our Lord as the Suffering Servant. Allusions in Jewish rabbinic literature to Isaiah include his hearing G-d saying: “Whom shall I send?” and Isaiah saying: “Here am I; send me!” Thereupon G-d said to him: “My children are troublesome and sensitive; if you are ready to be insulted and even beaten by them, you may accept My message; if not, you would better renounce it.” Isaiah accepted the mission and was the most forbearing and patriotic of the prophets, always defending Israel and imploring forgiveness for its sins. When Isaiah said: “I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips”, he was rebuked by God for speaking in such terms of His people. The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates St Isaiah the Prophet and he is venerated in Catholicism and Oriental Orthodoxy. Isaiah (أشعياء) is not mentioned by name in the Qur’an or the Hadith, but appears frequently as a prophet in Islamic sources. According to Muslim scholars, Isaiah predicted the coming of Isa (Jesus) and some say Muhammad (peace be upon him) too. Muslim exegesis recounts that Isaiah was martyred by the Israelites by being sawn in half. The Book of Mormon quotes Isaiah more than any other prophet from the Old Testament and quotes Jesus Christ as stating that great are the words of Isaiah, and that all things prophesied by Isaiah have been and will be fulfilled. Mormons consider the founding of their church by Joseph Smith in the 19th Century to be a fulfilment of Isaiah 11, the translation of the Book of Mormon to be a fulfilment of Isaiah 29, and the building of Latter Day Saint temples as a fulfilment of Isaiah 2:2. Image: the dailybeast.com.