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Sunday, June 7, 2020

 

Introduction to Daniel

 


By the time you finish reading Daniel, you'll probably be wondering how all these Babylonian and Persian kings could be so incredibly thick. In the course of the book's opening stories, the kings keep realizing that Daniel's God is, in fact, everybody's God, or the only God—and then they immediately do something entirely disrespectful and ridiculous like drinking booze out of sacred vessels or chucking people into furnaces. But that's part of the problem posed by The Book of Daniel: how do you live under the control of people who just don't get it while still remaining true to yourself? It was an issue that the Israelites happened to be struggling with in a big way at the time the book was written. The Book of Daniel came out of a period when Israel was going through some major problems, like getting invaded, plundered, and totally devastated by different imperial armies while seeing the best-educated Jews carried away into captivity. When the book was actually written, sometime between 300 and 165 BCE, they were dealing with an unusually nasty king by the name of Antiochus IV Epiphanes—one of the Greek generals squabbling over the remains of Alexander the Great's empire. Not only did he try to prevent the Jews from worshipping in their temple and practicing their religion freely, he made owning a copy of the Torah punishable by death. He even attempted to install a statue of Zeus in the Holy of Holies, the very place where God was supposed to reside. (See the Apocryphal Biblical book 2 Maccabees for more details.) Naturally, none of this went down well with the Israelites, and eventually a rebellion led by the heroic warrior, Judah Maccabee, overthrew Antiochus' reign. But before that happened, the Israelites were debating exactly how they should react—whether with violent revolt, or by waiting patiently for God to overthrow Antiochus, just as the Babylonian tyrants had been overthrown by the Persians earlier. The Book of Daniel was evidently written by people from the "Let God Do It" camp. The book keeps telling stories about how Daniel and his friends are saved by God whenever the light seemed like it was about to go out and the wicked kings were about to do something horrible. Daniel fits into the Bible in an interesting way, too. Christians put Dan in with the books by and about the Prophets, but the Hebrew Bible places his book in with the Writings, alongside works like Esther and the Song of Solomon. Both of these ways of placing Daniel make sense. He has prophetic visions of the future and the end of the world and tries to counsel kings toward justice. But the Book of Daniel is similar to the Writings in that it contains plenty of classic short stories. Some of the Bible's best yarns are in here, like the tale of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, and Daniel in the lion's den.

 

Why Should I Care?

 

Ever had a weird dream? We mean, like, classically weird? Like the ol' forgot-to-wear-clothes-to-math-class dream? Well, Daniel, the prophet and seer, would have rushed to your aid and explained—provided you had just threatened the lives of all the wise men in Babylon, that is. We can't suggest what he would've made of the "naked in math class" thing, but we do know that he was an expert on dream interpretation. Of course, he usually interpreted the dreams of kings, and those dreams typically involved some sort of broad historical lesson or a prophecy of personal catastrophe. Like Joseph in Genesis before him, Daniel was an ace dream-analyzer, sort of the Sigmund Freud of his era (except much more religious and probably lacking a cigar). But what the Book of Daniel gives to readers today is much more significant than a glimpse into the slumberous visions of ancient Babylonian royalty. For instance, the entire second half of Daniel offers up a fairly detailed account of the future history and final end of the world; it's not quite as far out as Revelation, but it's some Grade A Head Candy, nonetheless. And as you may have noticed, quite a few people today are way anxious about the world ending and believe that we're living in the last days. That's something Daniel can shed some light on. Perhaps most importantly, Daniel is the story of a guy who stuck to his guns. He had to deal with a succession of thick-headed and unpredictable kings who, on different occasions, try to kill him, his friends, and all the wise men of Babylon. But Daniel never takes the easy way out. He and his friends—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—don't collaborate with things that strike their conscience as being wrong. Somehow, miraculously, this totally works out for them.

 

In a way, Daniel's like Dr. Jennifer Melfi from The Sopranos. She also tries to talk some sense to and interpret the dreams of a bad guy, a ruthless mobster and sociopath (though she's a lot less successful than Daniel). She's trying to "speak truth to power," to the worst kind of power, too: power controlled by evil. But Daniel is dealing with a slightly different kind of villain. The Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar isn't evil. He's just deluded and confused. He's not willfully ignoring the truth or what's right. He just doesn't know any better. And in a lot of ways, it is the patience and honesty of Daniel that help him to recover. That's where the essence of the book lies: the main character's struggle to endure the most horrible trials and terrors out of a desire to demonstrate an act of mercy towards the king. It's an example that can inspire anybody. Although the king has more earthly power than Daniel, it is ultimately Daniel who takes pity on the king because Daniel, at least, can see the truth.

 

 

JUNE 7 Trinity Sunday


 

Daniel, Chapter 1, Verse 9-10

9 Though God had given Daniel the favor and sympathy of the chief chamberlain, 10 he said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who allotted your food and drink. If he sees that you look thinner in comparison to the other young men of your age, you will endanger my life with the king.”

 

The chamberlain was afraid because the king had taken Daniel and other sharp, young Hebrews (as well as other defeated nations youth) to groom them as leaders to ensure the subservience of those defeated nations by developing them as devoted protégés of the king and should the Daniel and the others appear sickly the chamberlain would suffer disgrace. The king's reasoning was sound but good treatment by the king would not dislodge Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah's faith and trust in the God of Abraham. They refused to eat the rich food which most likely included pork and other banned foods noted in the Torah. Daniel proposed a test to reduce the chamberlain’s fear which was to let them eat just vegetables and water for ten days. After the ten days Daniel and his friends features appeared healthier than those who ate rich fair. Daniel and his friends never lost their faith and trust in their God.

 

Men are fickled things for when faith and trust in God leave; fear and pride enter. We see this type of response of the Jew’s to Pilate’s plea for Christ.

 

When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out and seated him on the judge’s bench in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha. It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your king!” They cried out, “Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your king?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:13-15)

 

Again, in the Acts of the Apostles we see the same lack of faith and trust in God’s fullness through Christ by the Jews in their martyring of Stephen.

 

“Stephen said to the people, the elders, and the scribes: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the Holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it.” (Acts 7:51-53)

 

·         Fast doing the Daniel fast.

 

Trinity Sunday[1]



Sunday is dedicated to the worship of the Triune God, and is called accordingly the Lord s day; but the first Sunday after Pentecost is appointed by the Church a special feast of the Most Holy Trinity, because this mystery, as the fundamental doctrine of the Christian religion, began at once to be preached by the apostles, as soon as they had been enlightened and strengthened by the descent of the Holy Ghost.

What thoughts and affections should occupy our minds on this feast? Although the mystery of the Trinity is incomprehensible to us, we must consider:

1. That God would cease to be God, if our limited understanding were capable of penetrating the substance of His nature.

2. The mystery of the Blessed Trinity, though incomprehensible to our intellect, is yet not without fruit in our hearts. The records of revelation show us God the Father as our Creator, God the Son as our Redeemer, God the Holy Ghost as our Sanctifier; and should not this move us to a child-like gratitude towards the blessed Trinity?

In praise of the Most Holy Trinity, the Church sings at the Introit of the Mass, Blessed be the Holy Trinity and undivided Unity; we will give glory to Him, because He hath shown His mercy to us. O Lord, our Lord, how wonderful is Thy name in all the earth.

Prayer. O almighty and eternal God, Who hast created Thy servant to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, in the confession of the true faith, and to adore the unity in the power of Thy majesty, we beseech Thee, that by firmness in the same faith, we may be ever protected from all adversities.

EPISTLE. Rom. xi. 33-36.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are His judgments, and how unsearchable His ways! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been His counsellor? Or who hath first given to Him, and recompense shall be made Him? For of Him, and by Him, and in Him, are all things: to Him be glory forever. Amen.

Explanation. The ground of St. Paul s admiration in this epistle is the un fathomable wisdom and love of God, by which He permitted the Jews and heathen to fall into unbelief, that He might have mercy on all, and make all perceive that they were justified, not through their merits, but only through His grace. But the Church makes use of these words to express her reverent admiration for the greatness of the mystery of the all Holy Trinity. Though we can neither measure nor comprehend this mystery, yet no man of sound reason will hesitate to believe it, if he considers that it is most plainly revealed by God; that as God, the Infinite, cannot be comprehended by the spirit of man, so also He can reveal more than we can understand; and that, finally, there are many things in man himself, and in nature, which we acknowledge as true, but cannot comprehend. Besides, does not our holy religion assure us, that one day we shall behold face to face the Infinite Whose image is now reflected dimly in the mirror of nature? Let us add hope, therefore, to our faith, and if true and sincere love be based upon these two, our understanding and heart will have abundant consolation in regard to this great mystery.

GOSPEL. Matt, xxviii. 18-20.

At that time Jesus said to His disciples: All power is given to Me in heaven and in earth; going therefore teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

What command does Our Savior give in this gospel? He commands His apostles to teach all nations, and to baptize them.

Is Baptism a sacrament? Yes, for by it we receive the grace of God, through an outward sign instituted by Christ.

What is the outward sign? Pouring water on the head of the person to be baptized and pronouncing at the same time the words: “I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

What is the effect of the grace of Baptism? Through water and the Holy Ghost, the baptized person is cleansed from original sin, and from all actual sins, if he has committed such; is spiritually new-born, and made a child of God and a joint heir with Christ (John iii. 6; Rom. viii. 17).

What is the use of sponsors?

1. In the name of the child, they express the desire to be baptized, and make the profession of faith, together with the promise to live according to the doctrine of Christ.

2. In case the parents should die, or neglect their duty, the godparents may provide for the instruction of the children.

3. They are witnesses that such a person has been baptized.

Who is God? God is an infinite being, of all possible perfections, the most sublime and excellent of all goods, existing from all eternity, and containing within Himself the principle of His own being and substance; from Whom all other things have received their existence and life, “for of Him, and by Him, and in Him are all things” (Rom. xi. 36).

What is the blessed Trinity? It is this one God, Who is one in nature and threefold in person, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Is each of these persons God? Yes, for each possesses the divine nature and substance.

Is any of these three persons older, more powerful, or greater than another? No; they are all three, from eternity, equal in power, sublimity, and majesty, and must therefore be equally adored.

From Whom is the Father? From Himself, before all eternity.

From Whom is God the Son? The Son is begotten of the Father before all ages.

From Whom is God the Holy Ghost? He proceeds from the Father and the Son.

Holy Sunshine and Rain[2]

After the Son revealed His relation to the Father through Good Friday and Easter, and the Spirit revealed Himself at Pentecost, the most Holy Trinity can now be fully worshipped.

Though the mystery of the Holy Trinity is the greatest dogma of the Christian faith and the Feast of the Holy Trinity one of the beloved annual feasts of Christianity, there are not many customs or rituals quintessentially associated with this day. It has always been the custom, however, to keep this day with great reverence and solemnity. Festivals after Mass featuring thunderous preachers and thunderous bands aroused their listeners to joyful heights, while Holy Trinity Confraternities (which were once very influential) would sponsor special events and devotions on this their name day. Superstition also ascribed great powers to the weather on Holy Trinity Sunday, regardless of what it was: "Trinity rain" was considered as healthy as "Trinity sunshine."

Trinity Sunday Facts[3]

·         The Nicene Creed and similar Apostle's Creed often recited during mass for many denominations affirms the Trinity.  The creeds are a profession of faith.  The Catholic version of The Apostle's Creed is:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.  He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.  Amen.

·         The Trinity does not explicitly appear in the Bible.  The interpretation and belief in the three-in-one God came out of several councils in the early church that wrestled with the question of the divinity of God the Creator, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

·         St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, taught non-Christians the Trinity with a shamrock.

·         The Orthodox Church celebrates the Trinity in its Feast of the Pentecost.  Pentecost Sunday is sometimes even called Trinity Day.

Trinity Sunday Top Events and Things to Do

·         The Trinity is often described as a holy mystery beyond complete human understanding.  To mark Trinity Sunday, consider other things that are beyond human understanding, like the universe, or the concept of time never ending.

·         Listen to a sermon on Trinity Sunday to see what examples the pastor uses to illustrate the concept of God in three persons.

·         Johann Sebastian Bach wrote music to celebrate the Trinity.  Listen to one of his Trinity Sunday cantatas on YouTube.

·         Experience the Trinity in art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  One painting that depicts this is The Trinity by Italian painter Angulo Gaddi.

Daily Devotions


 

·         Today in honor of the Holy Trinity do the Divine Office giving your day to God. To honor God REST: no shopping after SUNSET ON SATURDAY till Monday. Don’t forget the internet.

·         Bear with yourself with great patience.

·         Offering to the sacred heart of Jesus

·         Drops of Christ’s Blood

·         Universal Man Plan

·         Rosary


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