A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Ashura. From 18 August, Muslim holy days celebrated on the 10th day of Muharram (forbidden), the first month and second holiest of the 622 CE Islamic calendar year. Shi’a and Sufi Muslims mark the climax of the Mourning of Muharram Remembrance Observances, the commemoration rituals for the 680 CE tragic martyrdom by beheading at the Battle of Karbala of Husayn ibn Ali the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Battle took place in modern-day Iraq, between a small group of supporters and relatives of Husayn and the army of the Umayyad Caliph Yazid I. Husayn and his supporters were captured and deprived of food and water for three days, following which he was killed with his 6-year-old son and the women were taken captive. Mourning rituals and plays re-enact his death, while Shi’a men and women dressed in black normally process through the streets slapping their chests and chanting, some flagellating themselves. A popular Shi‘a saying, attributed to a Muslim poet or the sixth Imam Jafar al-Sadiq, is: “Live as if every day is Ashura, every land Kabala!” Kabbalah is an esoteric method, discipline and school of thought in Jewish mysticism. The two holy days are marked by Sunni Muslims with voluntary fasting to commemorate the day Noah left the Ark and the day God saved Moses from the Egyptians. The Sunni fast (sunnah) recalls that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) kept a Roza (fast, the fourth of the five pillars of Islam) on this day for the Prophet Musa (Moses). For Sunni Muslims, Ashura is a minor fast day of mourning for the martyrdom of Imam Husayn. Image: muslim.sg.
Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus. One of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Eastern Orthodox Church, celebrated from early Christian times in the Syrian, Byzantine and Coptic rites and present in various forms by the Ninth Century. The Transfiguration foretells the glory of the Lord as God and His Ascension into heaven and anticipates the glory of heaven, where we shall see God face to face as through grace we already share in the divine promise of eternal life. For many Christians, the Transfiguration confirms the divine nature of Jesus. Our Redeemer was in Galilee about a year before His sacred Passion and took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, and led them by night to Mount Tabor in the vast plain of Galilee. Whilst Jesus prayed, His face was altered and shone as the Sun and His garments became as white as snow. Moses and Elias were seen by the three Apostles in His company and were heard speaking with Him of the death He was to suffer in Jerusalem. There came a sudden, bright shining cloud from heaven and God’s voice was heard, saying: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.” The Apostles were seized with a sudden fear and fell to the ground, but Jesus touched them and bade them rise. When they did, they saw Jesus standing in His ordinary state. As they went down the mountain early the next morning, Jesus bade them not to tell anyone what they had seen until He should be risen from the dead. In the Russian Orthodox Church, honey, pears, apples, plums and other fruits are brought to the church for blessing and this feast is referred to as Metamorphosis in the Eastern church. The Transfiguration is another first fruits harvest feast, particularly of grapes and wheat. In the Syriac and Malankara Orthodox revised Julian calendars within Eastern Orthodoxy and the Catholic, Old Catholic and Anglican churches, the Feast of the Transfiguration was observed on 6 August, rather than the Gregorian calendar 19 August. In the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Feast of the Transfiguration is observed on the fourteenth Sunday after Easter. In some Lutheran traditions preceding the reforms to the liturgy in the 1970s, 6 August was also observed as the Feast of the Transfiguration. In Byzantine Catholicism and Orthodoxy, if the feast falls on a Sunday, its liturgy is not combined with the Sunday liturgy, but completely replaces it. The 6 August Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord became widespread in the West in the Eleventh Century and was introduced into the Roman calendar in 1457. The Transfiguration can also be celebrated at other points in the Christian calendar, sometimes in addition to the Feast itself. In the ancient western lectionary, Ember Saturday of the first week of Lent included the Transfiguration. In the Revised Common Lectionary, followed by some Lutherans, United Methodists, Anglicans and others, the 14 February last Sunday in the Epiphany season, that immediately preceding Ash Wednesday, used the Gospel account, which has led some churches without established festal calendars to refer to this day as Transfiguration Sunday. In the Church of Sweden and the Church of Finland, the story of the Transfiguration was read on the 18 July seventh Sunday after Trinity, the eighth Sunday after Pentecost. Image: daily-prayers.org.
St Louis of Toulouse (Louis of Anjou, Louis le Saint) (1274-97). Feast Day commemorating the death of the young South of France Franciscan Bishop of Toulouse, the second son of Charles II of Naples and Sicily and Mary, daughter of the King of Hungary. As a child, Louis took food from the castle to feed the poor and had a special love for lepers. When his father was taken prisoner in Italy, Louis and his two brothers were taken to Catalonia as hostages and educated by the Franciscan Friars for seven years. When Louis reached his majority in 1295, the pope unsuccessfully attempted to appoint him Archbishop of Lyon and, when his elder brother died of plague that year, Louis became heir-apparent to his father’s kingdom. When he was freed that same year, he went to Rome and gave up all claims to his Angevin inheritance in favour of his younger brother and announced that instead he would take the Franciscan vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. He said: “Jesus Christ is all my riches, he alone is sufficient for me,” and in February 1297 Louis was consecrated Bishop of Toulouse, between his native Provence and Aquitaine. Louis rapidly gained a reputation for serving the poor, feeding the hungry and ignoring his own needs by setting aside three-quarters of his income as Bishop to maintain churches and feed the poor, feeding twenty-five poor people daily at his table. After just six months, exhausted by his labours, he abandoned the position of Bishop and died of typhoid fever at 23 in his birthplace of Brignoles. He was buried in the Franciscan church of the Friars Minor in Marseilles, some of his relics being translated to Naples in 1319. The cult of Saint Louis of Toulouse rapidly spread in Hungary, his nephew Charles I of Hungary in the Fourteenth Century exalting his image and veneration by consecrating churches and the 1325 Lippa monastery in his honour. Louis of Toulouse was not otherwise widely venerated in the rest of Europe, but the Franciscans embraced him, keeping his day in their calendar and translating his relics in 1423 to the 1238 Valencia Cathedral. Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, a 1772 Franciscan mission in California, is named for him as are the surrounding city and county of San Luis Obispo. The 1909 Kolleg St Ludwig in Vlodrop, the Netherlands was dedicated to him. Venerated in Roman Catholic Church. Major shrine Valencia Cathedral. Patron of Valencia, Spain, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, Baler, the Philippines. Image: ofm.org.