David Gleave, of our East Anglian region has drawn our attention to a statement by the National Justice & Peace Network about the debate on the forthcoming European referendum. Debbie Bool, our national Presence in the World minister, has suggested it be brought to the attention of the national fraternity.
Michael Simmonds (Bedford Fraternity) has followed up on the NJPN’s call to deep prayer on this issue by reminding us that we have six patron saints of Europe to whom we can pray for their powerful intercession. Michael says:
We are blessed by having SIX patron saints of Europe. We can pray for their powerful intercession for the improvement of the European Community, so we should have confidence to pray that the good things of the European Union can improve and the less good things can be diminished.
The main patron saint of Europe is Saint Benedict, [480-547] the father of western monastic life.
Then there are five co-patrons: Saints Cyril & Methodius, [9th century] apostles to the Slavs;
Saint Bridget, Queen of Sweden, [14th century], founder of the Bridgettine nuns;
Saint Catherine of Siena [14th century] who persuaded the Papacy to return to Rome from Avignon;
Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross [Edith Stein], [20th century] of Jewish birth. She became a Catholic and a Carmelite nun. During the Nazi persecution of the Jews, she had the chance to escape to safety, but chose to remain and suffer with her Jewish people and died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.
As a bonus, we can also ask Saint Hedwig [14th century], patron saint of queens and European Unification, to intercede for us.
Saint Benedict, pray for us
Saints Cyril & Methodius, pray for us
Saint Bridget of Sweden, pray for us
St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, pray for us
Saint Hedwig, pray for us.
Leda Aynedjian, of our Clacton fraternity, reminds us that we may also pray to St Francis. We also have St Clare, and all Franciscan saints; and we may pray for the intercession of Our Lady of Europe, a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary as patroness of Gibraltar. The entire European continent was consecrated under the protection of Our Lady of Europe in the early 14th century from the Shrine in Gibraltar where devotion still continues to this day, over 700 years on.
Thank you for these contributions, East Anglia.
Also from Eccleston Square, and at the suggestion of Salvina Bartholomeusz of our South East region, we share with you these comments by Katharina Smith-Müller, Interreligious Adviser to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, regarding the Muslim month of Ramadan. She made these comments to colleagues, as I understand it, but has agreed with Salvina that her comments may be reproduced here:
Just a quick note to remind you that Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, donating and increased prayer, has begun. The Islamic calendar works on lunar months, which is why Ramadan moves through the year, and why many of the celebrations and products linked with it are decorated with a moon – the month begins and ends with a sighting of the new moon. This also means that the fast is exceptionally long this year – practising Muslims (apart from a few exceptions that are made e.g. for pregnant women) will not be consuming drink or food from sunrise to sunset.
There will be a number of fast-breaking meals that are open to all – if you are interested in attending one, see the links below, or come and have a chat with me. They are called “iftar”, and will be around 21:30pm this year. The end of Eid, in a month’s time, will be celebrated with one of the two Eids, the big Muslim festivals of the year – Eid Al-Fitr.
In my experience, Ramadan is a good time to strike up a conversation with Muslims you meet – I have found that “so, are you fasting?” usually leads to an interesting conversation, and I am sure that your Muslim friends and acquaintances would appreciate your good wishes during this month – a simple “Happy Ramadan” is usually very much appreciated (“Ramadan Mubarak” and “Ramadan Karim” mean the same thing). If you have any personal worries that you would appreciate prayer for, now is also a good time to ask Muslims of your acquaintance – after all, there is a renewed focus on prayer life during this month.
If you fancy joining a fast-breaking meal, there are a number of opportunities – the Ramadan Tent project is a good place to start, and you can follow The Big Iftar on facebook or twitter (unfortunately their website doesn’t seem to be working at the moment). There are listings of different iftars taking place across the country. There is also an interfaith iftar organised by the Three Faith Forum.
Katharina Smith-Müller also writes this interreligious blog.
Finally, this report on a Catholic delegation (Bishop Paul Hendricks, Canon John O’Toole, and Ms Katharina Smith-Müller – Interreligious Adviser to the bishops of England and Wales) helping out on 2nd June at Finsbury Park Mosque’s ‘Meal for All’ – a project for the homeless.