A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths

Ninth Day of Ridván. The day to 29 April upon which in 1863 the family of Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í  faith, joined Him in the Garden of Ridván on 2 Jamál (جمال, Beauty) in the 19-day 3rd month of 19 in the Bahá’í calendar. Both the Persian and Ottoman governments opposed and feared the rapid spread of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings and they reacted with violence against his followers, at least 20,000 innocent people dying as a result. However, the Ottoman government was unable to slow the spread of the faith and so they banished Bahá’u’lláh and his followers who arrived at the eastern bank of the Tigris River in the Garden of Ridván. On their 9th day in the garden, the flooding Tigris receded enough for His family to cross to join Him, the reunification inspiring the symbolic commemoration of the day. It is a Holy Day on which Bahá’ís must abstain from work and school to celebrate with prayers and readings from the Bahá’í writings. Around the world, the Ninth of the 12 Days of Ridván is a festival of joy and unity for Bahá’ís and their guests of all faiths or none. Image: prezi.com.

Prayer This is the Paradise on whose foliage is imprinted the testimony: “He that was hidden from the eyes of men is revealed, girded with sovereignty and power!” This is the Paradise, the rustling of whose leaves proclaims: “O ye that inhabit the heavens and the earth! There hath appeared what hath never previously appeared.” Bahá’u’lláh

Holy Wednesday. The Orthodox Great and Holy Wednesday begins with the celebration of the Presanctified Liturgy on Tuesday afternoon and later that evening or early on the Wednesday morning Matins once again follows the special Holy Week Bridegroom Service, with the bridal chamber being used as a symbol not only of the Tomb of Christ, but also of the blessed state of the saved on the Day of Judgement. During Holy Wednesday for the last 2 centuries, as in the Byzantine Rite the theme is the commemoration of the sinful woman who anointed Jesus before his Crucifixion and Burial, sick Orthodox Christians have been able to receive the Sacrament of Holy Unction (Anointing), which honours the moment when Mary Magdalene anointed Jesus with myrrh and a costly oil of spikenard. In Greece and elsewhere all members of the church receive Holy Unction on the Wednesday evening. The theme commemorates Jesus being in Bethany on the Wednesday before his death, at the supper table with his Disciples in the house of Simon the Leper, when Mary anointed Jesus’ head and feet. The Disciples were indignant, asking why the oil was not instead sold and the money given to the poor, Judas Iscariot wanting to keep the money for himself. A second theme in the Byzantine Rite is the agreement to betray Jesus made by Judas Iscariot, who as the clandestine spy (ambush, snare) among the Disciples then went to the elders (rabbis) of the Sanhedrin (סַנְהֶדְרִין, Συνέδριον, council, chief priests) who were appointed to sit as a tribunal, and offered to deliver Jesus to them in exchange for money. It is on account of the agreement made by Judas to betray Jesus on this day that Orthodox Christians fast on Wednesdays as well as Fridays. Image: pinterest.com.

Saint Pierre Chanel (St Peter Chanel, Père Chanel) (1803-41). Feast Day and Optional Memorial commemorating death of French priest and Protomartyr of the South Seas who from about age 7 to 12 worked as a shepherd, was ordained at 24 to work as parish priest, and at 28 joined the newly-formed missionary Society of Mary (Marists). In 1836, the Society was given the Pacific New Hebrides for evangelisation and Peter was appointed Superior of a band of 7 missionaries sent to proclaim the faith to inhabitants, accompanied by Jean Baptiste Pompallier who was to become the first Roman Catholic Bishop of New Zealand. After a 10-month journey via the Canary Islands, Chile, the Gambier Islands, Tahiti and Wallis, Chanel arrived at Vava’u with a French lay brother and an English Protestant layman from Tonga but they were not welcome and continued to the island of Futuna. At first, they were well-received by the pagans, who had only recently been forbidden cannibalism, but when they learned the local language the King became jealous of losing his prerogatives as high priest. When his own son expressed a desire to be baptised, the King dispatched a group of his warriors to set upon the head of the missionaries and, 3 years after his arrival, Peter was seized and axed to death by those he had come to save. His death however brought his work to completion and within 5 months the entire island had been converted to Christianity. The Cathedral of Poi now stands on the site on which he was martyred and became Polynesia’s only Catholic saint. Chanel’s remains were embalmed and taken to New Zealand in 1842, to Sydney in 1849 and to the motherhouse of the Society of Mary in Lyon in 1850. The relics were returned to Futuna between 1977 and 1985. As a form of penitence, a special stick dance known as the eke was created by the people of Futuna shortly after Chanel’s death and is still performed in Tonga. Marist priests and brothers working in Oceania cover a territory as big as Western Europe, including 6 independent nations and 2 French territories, and the Marist Oceania province is the largest in the Society of Mary. Peter is remembered in the Church of England with a commemoration on 27 April. Patron of Oceania. Image: colnect.com.