A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths

Purnima (Vesac). Since the 1950 World Fellowship of Buddhists formalisation, the main Buddhist festival in the UK and the worldwide celebration on this one day of the full moon of the 3rd month (Jyeshtha) in the Hindu calendar of Gautama Buddha’s birth, enlightenment (Nirvana) under the Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya in North India, and passing away (Parinirvana). Normally, it is common in almost all Buddhist traditions to decorate homes with lanterns and garlands, and temples with flags, flowers and diya oil lamps. Devotees are expected to assemble in temples before dawn to hoist the Buddhist flag and bathe the Lord Buddha. Monks chant the hymns of the holy triple gem: The Buddha; The Dharma (his teachings); and The Sangha (his disciples). Lord Buddha said that the only way to pay homage to Him was by truly and sincerely following his teachings and so the aim of Vesac is to practise love, peace and harmony. People generally perform noble deeds by making donations to charity, distributing gifts and food to poor and needy, and releasing captured animals. Many Buddhists also send Vesac cards to their friends. Buddhism is practised in dozens of countries and by around 500 million people across the globe. Vesac is a holiday common to all Buddhists, but is celebrated differently according to local custom. Because it is based on the Asian lunisolar calendar, it usually falls on the full moon in the Gregorian month of May, but this varies widely according to each country’s traditions. Image: ganeshaspeaks.com.

Feast of Mid-Pentecost (Μεσοπεντηκοστή, Преполове́ние Пятидеся́тницы). Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Byzantine Rite Churches’ start of 8-day feast to 2 June at the midpoint of the 50 days following the 2 May Pascha and to the 20 June Feast of Pentecost. This 25th day is always a Wednesday and the theme of the Pentecostarion (Πεντηκοστάριον, Цвѣтнаѧ Трїωдь, Flowery Triodon) liturgical texts for the feast is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit poured out as a gift upon all the faithful who partake of the living water that is Christ Himself. The 2 Sundays that abolished all doubts concerning the Resurrection of Christ, the 9 May Sunday of Saint Thomas and the 16 May Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women, ensured the partaking of the living water that only the risen Lord can give. On the following 3 Sundays, the theme of water becomes more and more central, at the 23 May Sheep’s Pool with the Paralytic, the 30 May Well of Jacob with the Samaritan Woman and the 6 June Pool of Siloam (Σιλωάμ) with the Blind Man. Then, on Pentecost grace is rained on parched souls and bodies so that they may be fruitful and have a great harvest: “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink”. Finally the Pentecostarion concludes with the 27 June Feast of All Saints for those who partook of the waters of piety and harvested the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Because of the theme of water, the Church traditionally celebrates a Lesser Blessing of the Waters on the Feast of Mid-Pentecost, when all of the fields are blessed and there is preferably a procession to a spring, with the Holy Cross. Although it is ranked as a Feast of the Lord and has an Afterfeast, Mid-Pentecost itself is not considered to be one of the Great Feasts of the church year. Image: ww1.antiochian.org.

Prayer When the Feast of the law was half over, O Lord and Creator of all, Thou didst say to the bystanders, O Christ our God: Come and draw the water of immortality, let those who thirst come to Me and drink. Therefore we fall down before Thee and cry with faith: Grant us Thy bounties, for Thou art the Source of our Life. Refresh our thirsty souls with the streams of piety. Amen


San Filippo Neri (St Philip Neri Cong Orat, Second Apostle of Rome after St Peter) (1515-95). Roman Catholic Feast Day and Church of England commemoration of the death of the noble Florentine priest, confessor and spiritual guide. Philip’s early teaching was by the friars at the San Marco Dominican monastery in Florence and at 18 he went to the Neapolitan San Germano (Cassino) to assist his uncle in his business. There, Philip had a religious conversion and immediately decided to live in Rome, and he became a tutor and studied for 3 years under the Augustinians. He then worked among the sick and poor, which gained him the title of Apostle of Rome, and in 1538 started the home mission work for which he became famous, travelling throughout the city, seeking opportunities to enter into conversation with people, and leading them to consider the topics he set before them. For 17 years, Philip lived in Rome as a layman with no thought of becoming a priest but c1544 he made the acquaintance of Ignatius of Loyola. In 1548, Philip founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity of Pilgrims and Convalescents (Santissima Trinita de’ Pellegrini e de’ Convalescenti), with the primary object of ministering to the needs of the thousands of poor pilgrims who flocked to Rome, especially in jubilee years, and also supporting the patients discharged from hospitals who were too weak to work. In 1551, Philip received all the minor orders and was ordained deacon and then priest. In 1556, he started evening meetings in a hall (oratory) and in 1574 the Florentines built a large Oratory (mission-room) to provide a more convenient place of assembly. Philip was ready to meet the needs of the day to an extent and in a manner that even the versatile Jesuits, who wanted to enlist him, could not rival. In 1575, Philip organised a community of secular priests, the Congregation of the Oratory, and he continued in the government of the Oratory until his death. Philip Neri died in Rome on the Feast of Corpus Christi, after having spent the day hearing confessions and receiving visitors, blessing his spiritual sons with the sign of the cross before dying. His body is venerated in the Chiesa Nuova (New Church) in Rome. He was one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, noted for converting to personal holiness many influential people in the Church. The Congregation of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri (Oratorians, Oratorian Fathers) is a pontifical society of apostolic Catholic priests and lay brothers who live together in a community without formal vows. The Oratory movement spread across Italy and in 1611 the French Oratory was founded in Paris, to be revived in 1852 as the Oratory of Jesus and Mary Immaculate. Venerated in Catholic Church, Church of England. Patron of Rome, Candida, Mandaluyong, US Special Forces, Piczon Vill, Catbalogan, laughter, humour, joy. Image: santodelgiorno.it.