A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). From the evening of 15 September to the evening of 16 September on 10 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. This is the last of the 10 Days of Awe (Days of Repentance) and this Sabbath of Sabbaths is the holiest day of the Jewish year, the day on which we are closest to G‑d and to the quintessence of our own souls. It is a day to thank G-d for being Abraham’s Jehovah-Jireh (Yahweh (YHWH) Yireh) who knows and sees our needs and makes sure that they are met in his perfect timing. Traditional Judaism regards the Holy of Holies (קֹדֶשׁ הַקֳּדָשִׁים, HaDvir, הדְּבִיר, The Sanctuary, inner sanctum) in the Temple as the place where the presence of G-d dwelt and where once a year, on Yom Kippur, the High Priest was permitted to enter the square, windowless enclosure to burn incense and sprinkle sacrificial animal blood. By this act, the most solemn of the religious year, the high priest atoned for his own sins and those of the priesthood. No work is permitted on this day, which is marked by afflicting the soul, expressed through a total fast for 25 hours. Jews spend the eve and most of the day in prayer, asking for forgiveness for past wrongs and resolving to improve in future. According to tradition, on Yom Kippur God decides each person’s fate. The Book of Jonah is read on this Day of Atonement, Leviticus 16:30 being: “For on this day He will forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before G‑d”. Yizkor (may he (G-d) remember) is the opening word of the memorial prayer recited for the dead by Ashkenazic (German-rite) Jews during synagogue services on Yom Kippur. On 10 Tishrei c1313 BCE, Moses returned from a final visit to Mount Sinai, bearing a second set of tablets and a message of forgiveness for the Golden Calf. On 10 Tishrei 1973 CE, the armies of Egypt, Syria and other Arab states attacked Israeli positions in the Sinai and Golan Heights, beginning the Yom Kippur War. This year, in Park Row Orthodox Synagogue in Bristol, the 1871 historic home of the Bristol Hebrew Congregation, after a pre-fast meal and prayer services, there was a breakfast buffet. This holy day is solemn and reflective and one does not wish someone a happy Yom Kippur. Instead, the best way to greet someone observing the holiday is Gut Yuntif or Yom Tov, the first being Yiddish whilst the second is Hebrew, translated as Have a Good Holy Day. If one wishes to greet someone more traditionally, Gmar hatimah tovah or Gmar tov roughly translate as a Good Seal, specific to Yom Kippur. Before Yom Kippur, it is also common to wish people an Easy Fast. Since Yom Kippur comes close after Rosh Hashanah, one can also say Shana Tova or Happy New Year. Image: jewish voice.org.
Prayer We praise You, Adonai our G-d, Sovereign of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth. We praise You, Adonai our G-d, Sovereign of the universe, who hallows us with mitzvot, and commands us to kindle the light of Shabbat and Yom Kippur. We Remember, Bare Our Souls and Return
St Euphemia the Great Martyr (Ευφημία, well-spoken of, the All-praised in the Orthodox Church) (d303). Eastern and Western Christian Feast of the martyrdom of the daughter of a senator in Chalcedon, across the Bosporus from Byzantium (Istanbul) who from her youth was consecrated to virginity. The governor of Chalcedon decreed that all inhabitants take part in sacrifices to the deity Ares. Euphemia was discovered with forty-nine other Christians hiding in a house and worshipping God, in defiance of the governor’s orders. Because of their refusal to sacrifice, they were tortured for days, and then all but Euphemia were sent to the Emperor for trial. Euphemia, the youngest of them, was separated from her companions and subjected to particularly harsh torments, including the wheel, in the hope of breaking her spirit. She was placed in the arena, where lions were sent out to kill her, but they instead licked her wounds. However, she died of wounds from a wild bear in the arena on 16 September 303. This was in the first year of the Great Persecution under the Roman emperor Diocletian and, when the persecution of Diocletian ended, the Christians laid St Euphemia’s relics in a golden sarcophagus, placed within a church that was dedicated to her and where they attracted crowds of pilgrims for centuries. Around 620, in the wake of the conquest of Chalcedon by the Persians, the relics were translated to a new church in Constantinople (Istanbul). Her reliquary was later thrown into the sea, recovered, and given to the Archbishop to hide in a secret crypt. The relics were afterwards taken to the island of Lemnos and in 796 returned to Constantinople, the majority still being in the Patriarchal Church of St George in Istanbul. Stories about her became the Golden Legend, a collection of hagiographies from c1260, including an account of her martyrdom. Venerated in Catholic and Orthodox Churches, Church of England. At the 451 Fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon, in the church of Saint Euphemia, the Chalcedonian Creed described the full humanity and full divinity of Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. No decisive consensus could be reached, so the opponents wrote down their confessions of faith on separate scrolls, opened the tomb of the saint and placed both scrolls upon her bosom for three days. When the tomb was re-opened, the scroll with the Orthodox confession was held by St Euphemia in her right hand, but the scroll of the heretics lay at her feet. St Euphemia, as though alive, raised her hand and gave the Orthodox scroll to the Patriarch. Many heretics accepted the Orthodox confession, those remaining obstinate being consigned to a Council condemnation and excommunication. Eastern Orthodox Christians commemorate her Council of Chalcedon miracle on 11 July. Image: geometropolis.org.
St Cornelius (battle horn) (c180-253). Catholic Church Feast Day for the priest born in Rome and elected Pope during the lull in the persecution under Emperor Decius, who was killed in battle with the Goths. With Western Orthodox and Lutheran Churches’ veneration of his Berber friend St Cyprian, the Bishop of Carthage who was martyred on 14 September 258. After a 14-month vacancy in the papacy, Cornelius was Pope for two important years “by the judgment of God and of Christ, by the testimony of most of the clergy, by the vote of the people, with the consent of aged priests and of good men”. Cornelius died in June 253 in Civitavecchia, 70 km northwest of Rome. Some of his relics were taken to Germany during the Middle Ages and in the Rhineland he was a patron saint of lovers. A legend associated with Cornelius tells of a young artist who was commissioned to decorate the Corneliuskapelle in the Selikum quarter of Neuss. A girl fell in love with the artist and her father forbade the marriage, saying that he would only consent if the Pope did. The statue of Cornelius leaned forward from the altar to bless the pair and the two lovers were thus married. Cornelius, along with St Quirinus of Neuss, St Hubertus and St Anthony the Great, was venerated as one of the Four Holy Marshals in the Rhineland during the late Middle Ages. His Saint’s Day was originally 14 September, the date on which Cyprian was martyred. Cornelius is also patron against earache, epilepsy, fever, twitching, and of cattle, domestic animals, and Kornelimünster, where his head is enshrined. Image: catholicnewsagency.com.