Friday, 9 September 2011

Holy Prophet Daniel

[A new drawing of an Inuit mother and child can be found at the end of this posting]
Icon, Holy Prophet Daniel, drawn by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
Let me apologize for the length of the following description of the Book of Daniel/the life of Daniel.  He is such an important figure in the Jewish apocalyptic tradition -- and so little is known about him by many of today's Catholics -- that I felt it would be helpful to go into detail about his life.

Daniel (Hebrew: דָּנִיֵּאל) meaning "Justice [from] God" or sometimes referred to as "God is my judge" is the protagonist of the Book of Daniel. According to the biblical book, at a young age Daniel was carried off to Babylon where he became famous for interpreting dreams and rose to become one of the most important figures in the court.

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim (BC 606), Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were among the young Jewish nobility carried off to Babylon. The four were chosen for their intellect and beauty to be trained as advisors to the Babylonian court. Daniel was given the name Belteshazzar, i.e., prince of Bel, or Bel protect the king). Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were given the Babylonian names, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, respectively. At the close of his three years of discipline and training in the royal schools, Daniel was brought into public life. He soon became known for his skill in the interpretation of dreams. 

This ability led to one of the most famous scenes of dream interpretation to be found in the Jewish Scriptures.  My friend, Eugene, who has contributed to this blog in the past, was willing to say a few words about this event.

Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin by Eugene SendelweckFrom the O.T. prophetic writings found in the Book of Daniel (chapter 5), this strange title appears as it is written mysteriously on the wall by the fingers of an unattached human hand, apparently for King Belshazzar to read, interpret and apply to himself, something he appears unable to do. (The message comes during a lavish feast given by the king, who has just desecrated the sacred vessels his father had stolen from the temple in Jerusalem, by using them in the drunken celebration!) So, naturally, he is deeply afraid of what might happen to him.
At the queen’s beckoning, he summons a little known holy man in the realm, Daniel, who is offered an impressive reward if he is able to interpret the message for the king. After refusing the reward and, instead, presenting the king with a lengthy homily on humility, Daniel proceeds to interpret the words as follows: Mene=God has numbered your days and your kingdom will fall; Tekel=you have been weighed and found wanting; Parsin=your kingdom will be divided – all of which come true, with the king’s death that very night!
This story reminds us of the truism popular in our day about being able to “read the handwriting on the wall,” in the face of our own sometimes ill-conceived life choices, and is one of a number of similar stories in the Book of Daniel, which also includes “apocalyptic” visions similar to those found in the N.T. Book of Revelation – visions written in a kind of code language, as a guide for those who remain faithful to the divine message, often in times of intense persecution. (You can see these words on the side of my icon above.)

Daniel's fidelity to God exposed him to persecution by jealous rivals within the king's administration. The fact that he had just interpreted the emperors' dream had resulted in his promotion and that of his companions. Being favored by the King, Darius the Mede, Daniel was untouchable. His companions were vulnerable, however, to such accusations.

The Fiery Furnace by
S. Thayer
This led to their being thrown into the “fiery furnace” for refusing to worship the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar as a god, but they were miraculously saved as Daniel would be years later when he was cast into a den of lions (for continuing to practice his faith in God), After this Darius issued a decree enjoining reverence for "the God of Daniel". Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Great, whom he probably greatly influenced in the decree which put an end to the Jewish Captivity (BC 536).

Daniel's ministry as a prophet began late in life and begins the distinctly apocalyptic portion of the Book of Daniel. The visions therein described represent him chiefly as a seer favoured with Divine communications respecting the future punishment of the Gentile powers and the ultimate setting up of the Messianic Kingdom. The time and circumstances of Daniel's death have not been recorded. However, tradition maintains that Daniel was still alive in the third year of Cyrus. He would have been almost 100 years old at that point, having been brought to Babylon when he was in his teens, more than 80 years previously. The Roman martyrology assigns Daniel's feast as a holy prophet to 21 July, and apparently treats Babylon as his burial-place.
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Cats and Technology
I was having a discussion recently about whether cats or dogs are more technologically savvy.  Afterwards, I came across these photos which I feel prove my point that cats are, indeed, the more technologically adept of the two.  See if you don't agree with me after viewing the following!


Suki and Sallie

Suki has just been running around like a creature possessed.  I gave her a big canvas shopping bag to play with and she has had a great time getting in and out of it.  In between, she rushes over to her scratching post which has holes in it, jumping in one hole and coming out the other.  Any walking I try to do is met with the "attack cat".  Suki runs at me like she is going to attack only to swerve at the last moment and land elsewhere.  So I decided that sitting down at the computer was the wisest thing to do.  This seems to have worked as she has just climbed onto her favourite window ledge to observe the people passing by below.  At last, a peaceful quiet returns to the Thayer home.

As for me, I am doing well.  My bruising is almost gone which makes me feel better since I had to be out and about this morning and I did not get nearly as many second looks -- the kind where people are trying not to be obvious but can't help taking a look at my unusually marked face!  Otherwise, I am doing well. 
The worst thing that has happened, however, is the crash of my Microsoft Outlook.  I cannot access anything -- address book, email files, etc.  I took the computer in to my guy at Staples and he was able to retrieve all the information and put it into a file ready for uploading into whatever I get to replace my present Outlook, but, unfortunately, it is all in ones and zeros!  I need to reinstall Outlook, but have no idea where I put the disc which I used 5 years ago.  Woe is me.  If any of you have any suggestions for what I can do in the meantime, please let me know.  Thankfully, I can access my email from the Primus website so I am able to answer things in my inbox; however, I no longer have access to my addresses.  This means that unless you write to me, I cannot write to you as I don't remember peoples' emails.  In fact, if Raquel reads this posting, I would ask her to please call or send me an email as I need to let her know about something.  Thanks.

Oh, I almost forgot, I received a phone call from a company saying that they were receiving error messages from my computer because I had downloaded malicious software!  Fortunately, I had already heard about these people and knew that they were "scam artists".  They offer to help you fix the problem at no charge all they ask is access to the computer so that they can find the "malicious software" and remove it!  Of course, while they are doing that, they manage to steal all your personal information and gain access to your passwords for banking, etc.  Quite the scam.  They are very convincing so don't be fooled.

Inuit Nunavut Madonna

As always, I would appreciate any comments about this particular drawing. Feel free to post them to the blog or send them to my email at

"Nunavut Madonna", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

May the peace of God be with us all.
Holy Daniel, pray for us.

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