A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Niinamesai (新嘗祭, Japanese Labour Thanksgiving Day). Annual New Autumn Harvest Celebration, a festival of new crops with an ancient Shinto ritual offering of newly-cropped rice to the deities, to express deep gratitude for past crops and offer prayers for fruitfulness in the coming year. This is one of the most important Japanese rituals in the Imperial Palace, the Shinto Third-Century Ise Grand Shrine and the ancient Izumo Oyashiro Shrine. The Emperor makes the season’s first offering to the gods in solitude, as the Shinto Priest, and gives thanks for the fruitful harvest on behalf of the Japanese people to Amaterasu-omikami (天照大神) the principal deity, Sun Goddess, Ruler of Heaven and Ancestor of the Emperor who provided the abundant harvest. In order to sustain life for the people of Japan, she gave her grandson rice, representing the spiritual bond connecting people and Heaven. Domo arigatou gozaimasu (どうも 有難う 御座います) is a polite way of saying thank you very much to those who have a higher status or in formal circumstances, and dou itashi mashite (どういたしまして。) is the response. The first Niinamesai for a new emperor is the Daijō-sai (大嘗祭), part of his enthronement ceremonies. In pre-modern Japan, Niinamesai was movable, on the last Day of the Rabbit during the eleventh month of the old Japanese lunar calendar, but in the 1868-1912 Meiji era the date was fixed and it became a national holiday in 1948. As a kigo (季語, season word) the name of the ritual is associated with Winter. Image: slidetodoc.com.
Prayer We reverently speak in the presence of the Great Parent God Who provides us with more than enough substance and supply in life. Great Parent God, we give Thee grateful thanks that Thou hast enabled us to live this day, the whole day, in obedience to the excellent spirit of Thy ways. Amen
St Clement (Clemens Romanus, Pope Clement I, Κλήμης Ῥώμης, St Clement of Rome) (c35-99). Lutheran Commemoration and Catholic Church Feast day for 88 CE Roman Pope who died in modern-day Crimea and is considered to be the first Apostolic Father of the Church, one of three principal ones together with Polycarp and Ignatius of Antioch. Early church lists place Clement as the Bishop of Rome succeeding St Peter, who ordained two Bishops for the priestly service of the community, entrusting the Church as a whole to Clement. In an epistle to the church at Corinth c96 CE, one of the oldest Christian documents outside the New Testament, Clement identified episkopoi (overseers, bishops) or presbyteroi (elders, presbyters) as the upper class of minister, served by the diakonoi (deacons), asserting the authority of the presbyters as rulers of the church on the grounds that the Apostles had appointed them, an early affirmation of the apostolic authority of the clergy. Under the Emperor Trajan, Clement was banished from Rome, imprisoned and set to work in a stone quarry where he led a ministry among fellow prisoners. Finding on his arrival that the prisoners were suffering from lack of water, he knelt down in prayer and, looking up, saw a lamb on a hill. He went to where the lamb had stood and struck the ground with his pickaxe, releasing a gushing stream of clear water. This miracle resulted in the conversion of large numbers of the local Pagans and his fellow prisoners to Christianity. As punishment, Clement was martyred in 99 CE in Chersonesus by being tied to an anchor and thrown from a boat into the Black Sea, legend being that every year a miraculous ebbing of the sea revealed a divinely-built shrine containing his bones. The present Fifteenth-Century Inkerman Cave Monastery (Assumption Monastery of the Caves, Успенский пещерный монастырь) ten miles to the east marks the supposed place of Clement’s original burial in the Crimea but his relics were translated to the Basilica di San Clemente in Rome, other relics including his head being claimed by the 1051 Kyiv Monastery of the Caves (Kyivo-Pechers’ka Lavra, Києво-Печерська лавраin) in the Ukraine. Major shrines Basilica di San Clemente, Rome, St Clement’s Church, Moscow, Diocesan Shrine and Parish of St Clement, Angono, Rizal, The Philippines. Feast Day 24 November in most Byzantine Churches, 25 November in Russian Orthodox Church, 29 Hathor in Oriental Orthodox Churches. Venerated in Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, Lutheran Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Church of the East. Patron of Angono, Rizal, mariners, stone-cutters. Image: catholicnewsagency.com.
Blessed Miguel Pro (José Ramón Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez SJ) (1891-1927). Catholic Feast Day and Lutheran Commemoration of the death of the Mexican martyr killed in odium fidei (in hatred of the faith). He was a Jesuit Catholic priest born into a mining family in Guadalupe and who entered the Jesuit novitiate at twenty. He studied in Mexico until 1914, when a massive wave of governmental anti-Catholicism forced the novitiate to dissolve and the Jesuits to flee to California. Pro went to study in Granada and taught in Nicaragua from 1919 to 1922, before continuing his theological studies in Belgium with exiled French Jesuits. He was ordained a priest at thirty-four and worked for a year with the miners in Charleroi, winning them over and preaching the Gospel to them, before in 1926 returning to Mexico, where there were specific penalties for priests who criticised the government or wore clerical garb in certain situations outside their churches. He celebrated the Eucharist clandestinely and ministered the other sacraments to small groups of Catholics, leading to his arrest with his two brothers. Pro was condemned without trial for a failed assassination attempt and put before a firing squad in Mexico City on 23 November 1927, during the 1926-29 Cristero War. After kneeling and briefly praying with a crucifix in one hand and a rosary in the other, Pro declined a blindfold and held his arms out in imitation of the crucified Christ, shouting: “May God have mercy on you! May God bless you! Lord, Thou knowest that I am innocent! With all my heart I forgive my enemies!. Viva Cristo Rey (Long live Christ the King)”. When the initial shots of the firing squad failed to kill him, a soldier shot him at point-blank range. 40,000 people lined Pro’s funeral procession route and another 20,000 waited at the cemetery where he was buried without a priest present, his father saying the final words. As a result of his murder, the rebels became more animated and fought more enthusiastically, many carrying the newspaper photograph of Pro before the firing squad. Venerated in Roman Catholic and Lutheran Churches. Image: catholicnewsagency.com.