A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Second day of Eid. The optional fourth day of Hajj and second of Eid al-Adha on 11 Dhul al-Hijjah in the Islamic lunar calendar. Pilgrims still in Mina pray at sunrise and re-enact the pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca) of Ibrahim (Abraham) with 49 to 70 pebbles the size of date stones for the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual. For the stoning, they go to where Shaytan (Satan) tried to dissuade Ibrahim from carrying out the divine instruction that he had received. Three pillars mark the places where Ibrahim was tested by the whisperings of Shaytan: Jamarah al-Aqaba (the big pillar); Jamarah al-Wusta (middle pillar); and Jamarah al-Ula (small pillar), about 150 m and 120 m apart. In 2005, the pillars were rebuilt as large wall structures to provide bigger targets. After a moment of silence, the first seven stones are thrown at the Jamarah al-Aqabah pillar, reciting ‘Allah u Akbar’ (الله اكبر, Allah is Greatest) with every throw, stoning the wall of Satan being a reminder of the faith that one should have in Allah (God). This is repeated for the other two pillars. After completing the stoning, pilgrims may again stay in Mina to complete the fourth day of Hajj. Differences in moon sightings mean that Muslims in different parts of the world celebrate these Islamic events on different days. Image: bbc.co.uk.
The Glorious Prophet Elias (אליהו, Hλίας, Elijah, Zealot, Yahweh is my God) (c900-849 BCE). Commemoration of the North Jordan sojourner, a solitary prophet and miracle worker of ascetic character, who was clothed in a mantle of sheepskin and fed by an Angel and ravens when in hiding. He brought down fire from Heaven on Mount Carmel to burn up the sacrifice offered to God before all the people of Israel and defended the worship of the Hebrew God over that of the Canaanite deity Baal. At the end of his earthly life, Elijah was taken up to Heaven in a fiery chariot. Venerated in Judaism, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran Churches and Islam. Image: picclick.co.uk.
Prayer Out of the depths we cry to You, O Lord. You carried Elias the Tishbite away from the earth in a chariot of fire. O blessed Elias, you encountered God not in an earthquake but in the coolness of a gentle breeze. Through his intercession save us who faithfully glorify You and who joyously commemorate his feast. If You mark iniquities, Lord, who can stand? But with You forgiveness is that You may be revered. Praise the Lord, all the nations, proclaim His glory, all you people. Strong is the love of the Lord for us, eternally will His truth endure. Amen
Dýrlingur Þorlákur Þórhallsson (St Thorlak Thorhallsson) (1133-93). Feast on Translation of Relics Icelandic Mass Day for Icelandic agrarian Bishop of Skálholt (Skálaholt) ordained deacon at 14 and priest by 18. He studied in the medieval monastic school at the Augustinian abbey of St Victor in Paris, where he learned the Rule of Saint Augustine, and then studied Canon Law at the Augustinian Priory in Lincoln. In Iceland at 32, Thorlak founded the monastery of Canons Regular at Þykkvabær, after refusing to marry a rich widow although many other Icelandic priests were married. He devoted himself to a strictly religious life, reciting the Our Father, the Creed and a hymn, as well as fifty Psalms. Consecrated Bishop, he worked until his death to regulate the Augustinian Rule in Iceland and eradicate simony, lay patronage and clerical incontinency. His relics were translated in 1198 to the Cathedral of Skálholt, after his successor as Bishop, Páll Jónsson, had announced in the 930 Althing (Alþingi, national parliament of Iceland, the oldest legislature in the world that still exists) that vows could be made to Thorlak. The sacred reliquary of St Thorlak was kept in the Diocese of Skálholt until it was destroyed in the Reformation and his mortal remains were strewn about the Cathedral grounds. The only known remaining relic is a bone fragment contained with other saints’ relics in a lead box in the sanctuary’s Golden Locker of St Magnus Cathedral, Faroe Islands. Thorlak’s life and dozens of his miracles are described in great detail in the Icelandic saga Þorláks Saga Helga (Saga of Saint Thorlak), republished in Icelandic in 1989. In 2018, a Novena (9-day devotional prayer) in honour of St Thorlak was approved by the Bishop of Reykjavik for use by all the faithful. A St Thorlak’s Mass is celebrated in Iceland on 23 December, as it is considered that that was the date of his death. St Thorlac’s Day (Þorláksmessa), the last day of the Catholic Christmas fast, is when preparations for Christmas start, houses being cleaned and preparing the Christmas meal begun. Cured skate with boiled or mashed potatoes was eaten in the west fjords of Iceland, with a shot of brennivín (clear, unsweetened schnapps, Iceland’s signature distilled beverage), and the custom spread to the whole of Iceland. Venerated in Roman Catholic Church. Patron of Iceland, fishermen, Catholics of Scandinavia. Image: etsy.com.