A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths

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Yom HaSho’ah (Yom Hazikaron laShoah ve-laG’vurah, יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה‎, Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day, Yizkor). Jewish remembrance of the lives and names of Jewish victims and activists of the Holocaust (Shoah) when, in one of the worst genocides in history, about 6 million Jews, two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population, were systematically murdered during World War II. Cattle wagons were used to transport victims. Normally with special services, recital of the Mourner’s Kaddish and El Maleh Rahamim prayer for the departed, memorial candles and commemorative gatherings. Held on 27 Nisan in the first month of the Jewish calendar, but this falls on a Friday this year and so it was moved back to Thursday.

Prayer Today, we remember the victims of the greatest crime of man against man for committing the crime of being different. We remember what happens when we fail to recognise that those who are not in our image are also in G-d’s image. May the souls of the victims be bound in the bond of everlasting life. Amen.

Hana Matsuri. Annual Mahayana (Great Vehicle) Buddhist Japanese flower festival to celebrate the c623 BCE birth of Buddha Shakyamuni, as in Japan the Gregorian calendar was adopted in the 19th Century. Shrines are erected and an image of the infant Buddha is bathed. Theravada Buddhists in parts of South and East Asia will celebrate Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and passing away on the 19 May full moon day of the Vaisakha month of the Asian lunisolar calendar.

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Sainte Julie Billiart (St Julie Billiart, the saint of Cuvilly) (1751-1816). Feast Day commemorating the death of French Catholic religious leader, social worker and educator of poor children who made her First Communion at 9 instead of 13 and took a vow of chastity at 14. At 22, a nervous shock paralysed her lower limbs and she was incapacitated for 30 years, spending many hours in daily contemplation but making linens and laces for the altar and catechising the village children who gathered around her bed. All of her sufferings and pain she offered up to God and, when the 1789 French Revolution broke out, Julie hid loyal priests in her home, for which she was hunted for 3 years and forced to flee to protect others. She received a vision of the crucified Lord, with an inner voice telling her to begin an institute for the Christian education of young girls. In 1803, the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre-Dame de Namur with religious sisters was founded, Julie becoming the first Mother General. In 1804, Julie was miraculously cured and made her profession, taking her final vows with 3 companions the following year. Julie spent the last 10 years of her life saving more souls by her inner life of union with God than with her outward apostolate. She founded 15 convents, made 120 difficult journeys and carried on a close correspondence with her spiritual daughters. In 1815, Mother Julie nursed the wounded and fed the starving after the Battle of Waterloo. For the last 3 months of her life, she again suffered greatly and died peacefully at the motherhouse of her institute in Namur. Many Notre-Dame schools were founded in the USA and the UK, and many Sisters carry out charitable work, mainly focused on education, following God and teaching children what they need to know for life.