A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Greater Heat (Da Shu, Dàshǔ, Taisho, Daeseo, Đại thử, 大暑, 대서). The traditional Chinese lunar calendar divides the year into 24 solar terms and Greater Heat is the twelfth. It begins when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 120° and ends when it reaches 135°, in the Gregorian calendar from around 22 July to around 7 August. Da Shu is the period when South China receives maximum sunlight and has the highest temperatures at the hottest time of the year when most parts of China also enter their hottest season. In China, solar terms date back to the Sixteenth Century BCE and were perfected in their present form during the First Century BCE Western Han (漢) Dynasty to guide agricultural production. They are still useful today in guiding people’s lives through special foods, cultural ceremonies and healthy living during each term. Da Shu is a season of harvesting and planting, with sunshine, high temperatures and heavy rainfall. Like the June Minor Heat eleventh solar term, many natural calamities such as floods, droughts and typhoons may occur during Greater Heat and so it is important to harvest and plant at the correct times. An ancient folk tradition in Taizhou (Thecieu), Zhejiang province was to fill a ship with animals for sacrifice, with over fifty fishermen marching it through the streets to the tune of drums and fireworks with the people praying for blessings, good harvests and health before it was burned at sea. On the first day of Greater Heat, the custom is to eat litchi (lychee) soaked in cold well water and mizao fermented rice is also prepared, whilst in southern Shandong province people drink mutton soup, in Guangdong (Canton) province xiancaodong grass herb jelly is prepared and in Taiwan pineapples are eaten. The Beginning of Autumn (Li Qiu) is the thirteenth solar term and signifies the end of Summer. Image: chinaplus.cri.cn.
Sixth day of Hajj. Optional day of Hajj and optional fourth day of Eid al-Adha on 13 Dhul al-Hijjah in the Islamic lunar calendar. Pilgrims still in Mina after sunset on 12 Dhul al-Hijjah are required to carry out the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual again, after which they can leave for Makkah and the Tawaf counter-clockwise walking around the Kaaba (الكعبة, Cube) at the centre of the Masjid al-Haram Sacred Mosque to express the devotion of Muslims praying to one God. Normal dress is permitted for this Tawaf, which is the last ritual of Hajj and at this stage all the obligatory rituals are completed and pilgrims are congratulated on completing the Hajj. Females who are in their menses are excused. Differences in moon sightings mean that Muslims in different parts of the world celebrate these Islamic events on different days. ʿUmrah (عُمْرَة, to visit a populated place), the lesser pilgrimage to Mecca, in the Hejazi region of Saudi Arabia, can then be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to the Hajj pilgrimage that has specific dates. Eid al-Adha may continue and ends in the UK on the evening of 23 July. Image: english.alarabiya.net.
Prayer Celebrate the praises of Allah during the Appointed Days. But if anyone hastens to leave in two days, there is no blame on him, and if he stays on, there is no blame on him, if his aim is to do right. Then fear Allah and know that ye will surely be gathered unto Him. Glory be to Allah, and praise be to Allah, and there is no God but Allah, and Allah is the Most High. It is only by the assistance, help and power of Allah the Most Great that we give up rebelling and turn to obeying Allah the Lord. Al-ḥamdu li-llah الحمد لله
St Mary Magdalene (Mary of Magdala, the Magdalene, Μαγδαληνή, Madeleine, the Holy Myrrh-bearer, Apostle to the Apostles). Feast Day for the wealthy First-Century Jewish follower of Jesus from the ancient fishing community of Magdala Nunayya on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus miraculously cured her of an infirmity and she accompanied Him on His preaching journeys as His closest and most beloved Disciple, the only one who truly understood his teachings. Her closeness to Jesus caused tension for Peter, due to her sex and Peter’s jealousy of the special teachings given to her. Wealthy women were major donors to the synagogue and Mary played an active and important rôle in Jesus’s evangelism. His ministry brought women greater liberation than was typical in mainstream Jewish society and He taught that, in the forthcoming kingdom of God, there would be a reversal of rôles, with those who had been oppressed being exalted. The Second-Century Gospel of Mary is the only surviving apocryphal text named after a woman, has information on the rôle of women in the early Church and survives in part as a Coptic Fifth-Century manuscript (Berolinensis Gnosticus) discovered in Cairo in 1896. Mary is mentioned in the Canonical Gospels more than most Apostles and more than any other woman other than Jesus’s family but is not named in the Qur’an. Mary the mother of Jesus and her sister Mary the wife of Clopas were witnesses to the Crucifixion, with Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph in the distance. When Jesus’s Body was taken down from the Cross, the latter two saw His entombment by Joseph of Arimathea and they, either alone or as members of a larger group of women that included Jesus’s mother, were the first to witness the empty tomb. Mary Magdalene is considered to be the first to witness Jesus’s Resurrection. John the Evangelist was the youngest Apostle and one of the pillars of the Jerusalem church after Jesus’ death. John evangelised widely and, according to Eastern tradition, Mary Magdalene accompanied him to Ephesus (Ἔφεσος, Efes) near Selçuk, Turkey, where he died of natural causes at 98 and where Mary also died and was buried. Mary Magdalene’s cult flourished in the West and French tradition spuriously claims that she evangelised Provence and spent her last thirty years in an Alpine cavern. The 1888 Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem (كنيسة القديسة مريم المجدلية, Церковь Святой Марии Магдалины) is on the Mount of Olives, directly across the Kidron Valley from the Temple Mount and near the Garden of Gethsemane. It is part of the Convent of St Mary Magdalene, since the 1920s under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and saw the burials of Sts Elizabeth Grand Duchess of Russia and her fellow nun Varvara Yakovleva, who were martyred in 1918. Since 1981, they are venerated as new martyrs by the Orthodox Church in Exile at St Mary Magdalene, Gethsemane. A 1998 statue of Elizabeth is among those of the Twentieth-Century martyrs above the West Door of Westminster Abbey. In the 1930s, Princess Alice of Battenberg, mother of the Duke of Edinburgh, visited the church and asked to be buried near her aunt Ella, the Grand-Duchess Elizabeth. She died at Buckingham Palace in 1969 and her remains were transferred to a crypt below the church in 1988. Mary Magdalene is venerated in the Roman and Eastern Catholic, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, Baháʼí Faith, Anglican Communion and Lutheranism, with other Protestant churches honouring her as a heroine of the faith. The Eastern Orthodox churches also commemorate her on the Third Sunday of Holy Pascha, the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, the Orthodox equivalent of one of the Western Three Marys traditions commemorating three of the Marys present at the Crucifixion. Patron of apothecaries, Arahal, Spain, Atrani, Italy, Casamicciola Terme, Ischia, the contemplative life, converts, ex-prostitutes, glove makers, hairdressers, Kawit, Cavite, Amadeo, Cavite, Magdalena, Laguna, Order of Preachers, perfumeries, people ridiculed for their piety, pharmacists, Pililla, Rizal, Provence, penitent sinners, tanners, women, against sexual temptation. Image: catholicnewsagency.com.