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.
MAY 20 Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter
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.
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)
Veneremur Cernui – Down in Adoration Falling
of The Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of
to Priests, Deacons, Religious and the Lay Faithful of the Diocese of Phoenix
on the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist
My beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
7. Like the People of Israel, we too are heading into difficult waters. Today we find ourselves in a crisis; many anxieties, uncertainties and doubts assail us from every side. As I said in my pastoral letter “O Sacred Feast,” the Church at large is experiencing a grave crisis of faith in the Eucharist. This crisis has inflicted additional significant implications for authentic Christian discipleship; namely, abysmal Mass attendance, declining vocations to marriage, priesthood, and religious life, waning Catholic influence in society. As a nation we are experiencing a torrent of assaults upon the truth. The Gospel message has been watered down or replaced with ambiguous worldly values. Many Christians have abandoned Christ and His Gospel and turned to a secular culture for meaning that it cannot provide and to satiate a hunger that it can never satisfy.
8. In such troubled waters, our greatest anchor in these storms is Christ Himself, found in the Holy Eucharist. Though the instruction of Joshua was intended for the People of Israel facing formidable enemies as they crossed into the Promised Land, his words remain crucial for us: “Follow the Ark of the Lord, for we have never been this way before”.
9. As God’s People today, we are also on a journey to a promised inheritance, a journey also filled with dangers, challenges, and suffering. We do not have a column of cloud by day nor a pillar of fire by night reminding us of God’s presence ever guiding and protecting us as He did for the People of Israel. We do not have the Ark of the Covenant in our midst. Instead, we have not something but Someone much greater! Someone greater than the Ark who goes before us and is always with us. We have Jesus Christ truly present in the Eucharist to guide, comfort, and strengthen us. In times like these, echoing the instruction of Joshua, we must fix our gaze on the Lord and draw near to Him more than ever in the Eucharist. The more the Lord in the Eucharist is our central focus, the more surely, He will bring us through these dark and turbulent waters. On this day when we commemorate the Institution of the Eucharist, I as your shepherd implore each of you to seek out Jesus in the Eucharist to be strengthened and renewed in your faith.
“Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.”
To be continued…
Fitness Friday the Daniel Fast
The Daniel Fast, in Christianity, is a partial fast that, in which meat, lacticinia, wine, and other rich foods are avoided in favor of vegetables and water in order to be more sensitive to God. The fast is based on the lifelong kosher diet of the Jewish hero Daniel in the biblical Book of Daniel and the three-week mourning fast in which Daniel abstained from all meat and wine.
Among Catholic and Mainline Protestant Christians, the Daniel Fast has been practiced by some during the 40-day season of Lent, though the Daniel Fast can variously be set at three weeks, or even ten days. As such, evangelical Christian churches such as those of the Baptist tradition, have partaken in the fast at various times of the year. The passage in Chapter 1 refers to a 10-day test wherein Daniel and others with him were permitted to eat vegetables and water to avoid the Babylonian king's food and wine. After remaining healthy at the end of the 10-day period, they continued the vegetable diet for the three years of their education. The passage in Chapter 10 refers to a three-week fast of no meat, wine, or rich food. In addition to the practices of fasting and abstinence undertaken during the Daniel Fast, Christians may also add spiritual disciplines such as daily church attendance, increased prayer, as well as the reading of Sacred Scripture and a daily devotional.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
PART ONE: THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
SECTION TWO I. THE CREEDS
CHAPTER TWO-I BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST, THE ONLY SON OF GOD
Article 7 "FROM THENCE HE WILL COME AGAlN TO JUDGE THE LIVING AND THE DEAD"
I. He Will Come Again in Glory
Christ already reigns through the Church. . .
668 "Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living." Christ's Ascension into heaven signifies his participation, in his humanity, in God's power and authority. Jesus Christ is Lord: he possesses all power in heaven and on earth. He is "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion", for the Father "has put all things under his feet." Christ is Lord of the cosmos and of history. In him human history and indeed all creation are "set forth" and transcendently fulfilled.
669 As Lord, Christ is also head of the Church, which is his Body. Taken up to heaven and glorified after he had thus fully accomplished his mission, Christ dwells on earth in his Church. the redemption is the source of the authority that Christ, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, exercises over the Church. "The kingdom of Christ (is) already present in mystery", "on earth, the seed and the beginning of the kingdom".
Since the Ascension God's plan has entered into its fulfilment. We are already
at "the last hour". "Already the final age of the world is
with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now
anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already
with a sanctity that is real but imperfect." Christ's kingdom already
manifests its presence through the miraculous signs that attend its
proclamation by the Church.
. . . until all things are subjected to him
671 Though already present in his Church, Christ's reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled "with power and great glory" by the King's return to earth. This reign is still under attack by the evil powers, even though they have been defeated definitively by Christ's Passover. Until everything is subject to him, "until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of this world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God." That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist, to hasten Christ's return by saying to him: Maranatha! "Our Lord, come!"
672 Before his Ascension Christ affirmed that the hour had not yet come for the glorious establishment of the messianic kingdom awaited by Israel which, according to the prophets, was to bring all men the definitive order of justice, love and peace. According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by "distress" and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching.
The glorious advent of Christ, the hope of Israel
673 Since the Ascension Christ's coming in glory has been imminent, even though "it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority." This eschatological coming could be accomplished at any moment, even if both it and the final trial that will precede it are "delayed".
674 The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel", for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus. St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old." St. Paul echoes him: "For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?" The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of "the full number of the Gentiles", will enable the People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ", in which "God may be all in all".
The Church's ultimate trial
675 Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. the supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.
676 The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgement. the Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.
677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgement after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.
· Unite in the work of the Porters of St. Joseph by joining them in fasting: Reparations for offenses and blasphemies against God and the Blessed Virgin Mary
· Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus