A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths

Maidyoshahem Gahambar (Midsummer feast). Start of ancient Zoroastrian festival to 3 July, one of 6 Gahambars (proper season 5-day festivals of obligation) during the year, reflecting the 6 primordial creations of Ahura Mazda, the religion’s highest divinity. They are Amesha Spentas, immortal holy, bounteous and furthering the divine entities emanating from Ahura Mazda. They may be celebrated months in advance, depending on which of the Parsi calendars (Shenshai, Kadmi or Fasli) is used. Each Gahambar focusses on worship and those celebrating will perform only necessary work, the last day usually being observed. Worshippers celebrate with a Jashan rite, a Zoroastrian liturgy that can be performed outside the confines of a fire temple. Jashan is derived from the Avestan yasna and denotes a ceremony with offerings for the wellbeing of both the spiritual and physical worlds, with the priestly exchange of flowers symbolising the passage of the soul (urvan) from one life to the next. Rich and poor normally worship together, joyously sharing communal food, forming new friendships and resolving old disputes. Image:youtube.com.

Sts. Peter and Paul

Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. Lutheran Lesser Festival and Eastern Orthodox Church Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (Preeminent Apostles), one of five great feasts not numbered among the Twelve Great Feasts. Traditionally, the celebration of Christian liturgical feasts began on the evening before the Holy Days, as the Early Church continued the Jewish practice of beginning the day at sunset rather than midnight. A vigil (vigilia, wakefulness, παννυχίς) period of purposeful sleeplessness for devotional watching or an observance on the eve of a major religious festival usually includes psalms, prayers, hymns or silent meditation. In the Roman Catholic Church, the celebration of Solemnities such as the 29 June Feast of Saints Peter and Paul in honour of the martyrdom in Rome of the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul begins with a Vigil Mass on the evening of the preceding day if an evening Mass is celebrated. On Sundays and other Holy Days of Obligation, the faithful participate in the Mass either on the feast day itself or in the evening of the preceding day. Peter the Apostle is also celebrated alone without Paul on 29 June. In 1893, on this date the Bishops of England and Wales, in response to the wishes of the Pope, consecrated England to the Mother of God and to St Peter. This took place at the London Brompton Oratory after the Pope had recalled that England had long been known as Our Lady’s Dowry, thereby giving papal approval to what had been a hallowed tradition. A pastoral letter read in Catholic churches throughout England stated that the object and purpose of this solemn consecration of England to the great Mother of God and to Blessed Peter was to obtain an abundant outpouring of blessings upon the whole country, with the blessing of unity in Faith, Hope and Charity, a blessing of such temporal plenty and prosperity as may redound to the glory of God and the salvation of souls. This dedication to Our Blessed Lady was to be remembered each year on the 7 October Feast of the Holy Rosary (Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary) and that to St Peter on the Sunday after 29 June. Image: catholicnewsagency.com.

Prayer Oh, Lord our God, Saints Peter and Paul steered the early Church by Your Power and were leaders who modelled and strengthened the faith of the Church. Therefore we ask Saints Peter and Paul to pray for our faith to grow stronger each day. We plead with them to pray for us to become spiritually mature. Wherever we become infants in our relationship with You, weak and uncertain, help us, O Lord, to increase in faith and trust. Dear Lord, enkindle Your fire that flickers inside us and let it become a flame that brightens other people’s lives. Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us. Amen

Happy Feast Day of St Peter

St Peter (Simon Peter of Cephas, Simeon, Coryphaeus, Σίμων, כֵּיפָא) (d64). Church of England Feast Day for humble native of Bethsaida (בית צידה‎), with his brother Andrew a fisherman. Peter was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus and one of the first leaders of the early Church. He failed to save Jesus from the soldiers who came to take Him to his doom and then fulfilled the Last Supper prophecy that he would disown Jesus three times. Following Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection, it was Peter who first entered the empty tomb and first met the resurrected Jesus. In the time following Christ’s Ascension, Peter stood as the head of the Apostles, went on to appoint the replacement of Judas Iscariot, spoke first to the crowds that had assembled after the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and was the first Apostle to perform miracles in the name of the Lord. Peter was instrumental in taking the Gospel to the Gentiles, thereby permitting the new Church to become universal. He was imprisoned but an angel of the Lord released the chains from his hands and led his escape to resume his apostolate in Jerusalem and start his missionary efforts in the pagan world at Antioch, Corinth and Rome. Jesus having promised Peter a special position in the Church, he was the first Bishop of Rome (Pope‍) ‌and by Eastern Christian tradition the first Patriarch of Antioch. Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches do not recognise the Bishop of Rome as the successor of St Peter. Protestant denominations assert that Peter’s apostolic work in Rome does not imply a connection between him and the papacy. Peter was martyred by inverted crucifixion in Rome in 64. In the early Fourth Century, the Emperor Constantine honoured Peter with a large Basilica over the site of his burial on the slope of the Vatican Hill and in 665 some of Peter’s relics were sent to Eanflæd, Queen of Northumbria and Abbess of Whitby. In the Fifth Century, a Franciscan church was built on the traditional site of Apostle Peter’s house. In 1950, human bones claimed to be Peter’s were discovered beneath the alter of St Peter’s Basilica, although in 1953 an excavation in Jerusalem found what was claimed to be his tomb bearing his name of Simon, along with the tombs of other Apostles, Mary and Jesus. The ancient Christian churches all venerate Peter but differ regarding the authority of his successors. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that Peter was the first leader of the early Christian church and accepts apostolic succession from Peter but rejects papal successors as illegitimate. Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, recorded 1829 revelations in which the resurrected Peter appeared to him to bestow the apostleship and keys of the kingdom as part of a restoration of the priesthood’s authority. Ancient Jewish tradition is that Simon Peter, as a practising Jew, joined the early Christians at the decision of the rabbis to avoid early Christianity being mistaken for a branch of Judaism and to permit him to lead a distinct belief system. Muslims consider Jesus a prophet of God but refer to His disciples as helpers to the prophet of God. Qur’an commentary includes Peter as one of the three disciples sent to preach in Antioch. Twelver Shi’a Muslims see a parallel between Peter and Ali in Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) time, looking upon Ali as the vicegerent to Muhammad (PBUH) the prophet, as Peter was the vicegerent to Jesus the prophet and Masih (Messiah). Peter’s role as the first leader of the Church is also seen by Shi’as as a parallel to their belief in Ali as the first caliph after Muhammad (PBUH). Alternative Feast Days 18 November for the anniversary of the dedication of the two Papal Basilicas of Saint Peter and Saint Paul outside the Walls and 22 February for the Roman Rite feast of the Chair of Saint Peter. In the Orthodox Daily Office, every Thursday throughout the year is dedicated to the Holy Apostles and 16 January is the Veneration of the Precious Chains of the Holy and All-Glorious Apostle Peter. Patron of fishermen, net makers and shipbuilders. Image: worksbyfaith.org.