Few words on Saint Daniel the Prophet Feast
Many of us today in the world who are baptized and members of the Church or do at least accept the Christian principles deeply routed in most of the Civillized developed workd tend to excuse themselves for not being good and doing the righteous things, thinking it is hard to stand for the christian principles and norms in a general antichristian atmosphere pointing it as a reason to not follow the guidance recommendations of the Church.
However we should not excuse ourselvse with the circumstances or the Church clergy who seems to us to not follow properly the spiritual vows. We should not excuse with time we're living in as it is reflected in perfect examples in the spiritual life of the saints and the practice of monks, who always have the golden rule to not excuse themselves for anything in the world for not following Gods perfect will and predestination in the good.
Lets look at the first Christians who lived, did their life was easier or more favourable than today for confessing the faith ? Even materially if we think at the times back then most people were poor, they have attained everything they had with a hard labour and was busy 24/4 / 7 days a week, there was no medicine for almost nothing except few herbal treatments, there was no dentist, no electricity and no transport. The doctors who can help at times of sickness were few, in the beginning of Christianity, it was prohibited to be Christian and being a Christian was a sure sentence for death sooner or later, not to mention that emperors and the powerful of the day were requesting from people obedience in anything they say and slavery was popular and even many much more than today lived all their live in slavery both physical and spiritual (as most people did not have the chance to hear the Graceful words of the Holy Gospel). Priests were scarce, there was practiculally no education and there was no easy way to produce and keep information, paper was not there. Having a book was only possible for few of the richest people who were the top layer of society. The few knowledgable who can read or knew solution to the innumerable problems of man were considered nobles (Elders / wise men) had been often wanted and scarce as well as kept near the "top management" people who governed society society – kings, emperors, governors or amy man. This is rawly how the world looked back then. Even though that people both Christians and non Christians had been more stronger in spirit and had been unshakable in their decisions for confession their life credo.
- Those old nobles have been divided generally speaking into two categories the fraudants:
Wizards (whose wisdom was received by the demons)
- Second truthful ones
Servants of God the prophets the righteous, the Jewish priests who confessed truely the One True God, the saints and other gifted people by God.
The most likely location of holy relics of Prophet Daniel Tomb of Daniel at Susa, Iran
Among the truthful ones perhaps most significant for elevating the humanity from the worst to perfect are the prophets, who has the revelation from God directly from God, to be leaders and examples for perfection of the religion, moral and political life for the Old Testamental choosen people the Jews and respectively after Christ's crucifix the Christians who has held their place as the true choosen children of God and through them for the gentile.
Today we celebrate the memory of one of the supreme prophets who has lived in world for all ages – Saint Prophet Daniel his name is delivered from Jewish and means "God (El) is my judge".
Daniel and the Stone Slavonic Icon (Bulgarian ?)
Prophet Daniel is the biblical hero of the Book of Daniel who interprets dreams and receives apocalyptic visions. His book is one of the most notable prophetic book in which in a hidden way it is said what is expecting the world until the end of the times.
The Prophet Daniel appears in the Old Testament in the Book of Daniel as a captive carried away to Babylon by order of Nebuchadnezzar after the fall of the kingdom of Judah during the sixth century before Christ. His ministry as a prophet came late in his life. He is commemorated by the Church on the December 17.
While remaining loyal to his faith in the one God, Daniel attained a high position of the court of Nebuchadnezzar and was known for his skill in the interpretation of dreams (Daniel 1:17 and 2:14) and of mysterious handwritings on the wall. He is included in the Septuagint among the prophets and was referred to by Christ as a prophet in Mark 13:14 and in Matthew 24:15. The precise time and circumstances of Daniel's death are not recorded. By tradition his age at death was near 100 years. A number of places have claimed to be his place of burial, including Susa in present day Iran, Daniel's Tomb in Kirkuk in Iraq, as well as Babylon, Egypt, and Tarsus.
He is a descendant of Jude's knee, he was descending of noble rich family, presumably he might have descendent even from king's line an evidence for that is the Chaldean king Nebuchadnezzar II, after the conquest of Jerusalem in (year 607 B.C.) give an order to select the best and most educated and intelligent from the captured jews with the goal to learn the Chaldean language and receive education, and prepare for a government service.
These young man has been put into many temptations as the custom of the chaldean civillizations was pagan and contradicted the jewish.
Four of the chosen ones were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (who as an attempt to change the mindset and are identity of the ones and distant them from their original jewish mindset, were renamed with the Babylonian names of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah even though the babylonization attempts of their identity, have shown severe firmness and continued to follow the Jewish Law of Moses.
As they were part of the kings palace courtiers, they lived surrounded by luxurity, they did not forget God's law diligently they prayed and eat as food only bread and fruits, refusing any food given by the Kings table as this food has been consecrated to the pagan idols the babylonians were worshipping.
The good God seeing the perseverance in goodness of the youngsters and their fortitude in confession of truth and strict follow the Mishrah (the law of the jews) gifted them with amazing abilities to understand visions and dreams.
Catacomb of Priscilla, Rome, late 3rd century/early 4th century.
At the beginning the four were not among the famous ones in the babylonian kingsdom, however they became famous as the king has called them to interpret a troubling dream he had – a dream the king immediately forgot. Noone among the wise mand and wizards couldn't neither tell the kings dream nor tell what it meant thus, by God's providence the 4 ones whose fame continuously grow in kingdom were summoned and Daniel could interpret the kings dream and the meaning of it. The king out of amazement decided for future to always council the the 4 God people, as he saw their wisdom exceeded the wisdom of the other liege in the kingdom. Daniel and his 3 friends were tested by the fire, as they have been thrown in fiery furnace fire, as a punishment for their rejection to obey a Golden pagan idol statue as god, breaking the king's decree.
Icon Source: Pinterest
In the burning enormous fire the king was amazed to see not 3 but 4 people (the fourth one was an Angel of God who was protecting them). The fire not only did not damaged them even though it was all throughout their body but did not even burn the clothes or the hairs on them.
Prayer of the Three Holy Youths known in Church as "The Song of Daniel"
The Prayer of the Three Holy Youths is a component of the biblical Book of Daniel. It is a segment of a larger component called The Prayer of Azariah and the Prayer of the Three Holy Youths which. although part of the Septuagint text, is considered by Protestants as part of the Apocrypha rather than a fully canonical part of Scripture, and so appears in most English-language bibles as a seperate section. If included within the larger text of Daniel, it would appear in the third chapter of between verses 23 and 24.
In Orthodox Christian worship, the prayer is the basis of the seventh and eighth biblical canticles sung at Orthros. Although the text of the canticles are generally not read in contemporary practice, the hymns sung as part of the canon reference the theme of the Three HolyYouths. At Vespers of Holy Saturday, the text of the prayer is heard as part of one of the fifteen Old Testament readings prescribed for that day. In Byzantine practice, the closing refrains to each verse "bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever" are chanted elaborately.
The song constitutes a hymn of thanksgiving to God for deliverence from the fiery furnace into which the three young men, Ananias, Azarias and Misael (also known as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) had been cast by the Persian king Nebuchadnezzar. They were cast into the furnace for refusing to worship a golden idol that Nebuchadnezzar had created. However, an Angel of the Lord entered the furnace and protected the three young men. In liturgical practice, the event is seen to presage the Resurrection of Christ, thus its inclusion in the canon.
The Abingdon Bible Handbook (ISBN 0687001692) suggests that the Prayer was based on an earlier composition and was added to the existing text of Daniel sometime in the second or first century B.C.
The Song of the Three Holy Youths
Blessed art thou, O Lord God of our fathers: thy name is worthy to be praised and glorified for evermore:
For thou art righteous in all the things that thou hast done to us: yea, true are all thy works, thy ways are right, and all thy judgments truth.
In all the things that thou hast brought upon us, and upon the holy city of our fathers, even Jerusalem, thou hast executed true judgment: for according to truth and judgment didst thou bring all these things upon us because of our sins.
For we have sinned and committed iniquity, departing from thee. In all things have we trespassed, and not obeyed thy commandments, nor kept them, neither done as thou hast commanded us, that it might go well with us.
Wherefore all that thou hast brought upon us, and every thing that thou hast done to us, thou hast done in true judgment.
And thou didst deliver us into the hands of lawless enemies, most hateful forsakers of God, and to an unjust king, and the most wicked in all the world.
And now we cannot open our mouths, we are become a shame and reproach to thy servants; and to them that worship thee.
Yet deliver us not up wholly, for thy name's sake, neither disannul thou thy covenant:
And cause not thy mercy to depart from us, for thy beloved Abraham's sake, for thy servant Issac's sake, and for thy holy Israel's sake;
To whom thou hast spoken and promised, that thou wouldest multiply their seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that lieth upon the seashore.
For we, O Lord, are become less than any nation, and be kept under this day in all the world because of our sins.
Neither is there at this time prince, or prophet, or leader, or burnt offering, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense, or place to sacrifice before thee, and to find mercy.
Nevertheless in a contrite heart and an humble spirit let us be accepted.
Like as in the burnt offerings of rams and bullocks, and like as in ten thousands of fat lambs: so let our sacrifice be in thy sight this day, and grant that we may wholly go after thee: for they shall not be confounded that put their trust in thee.
And now we follow thee with all our heart, we fear thee, and seek thy face.
Put us not to shame: but deal with us after thy lovingkindness, and according to the multitude of thy mercies.
Deliver us also according to thy marvellous works, and give glory to thy name, O Lord: and let all them that do thy servants hurt be ashamed;
And let them be confounded in all their power and might, and let their strength be broken;
And let them know that thou art God, the only God, and glorious over the whole world.
And the king's servants, that put them in, ceased not to make the oven hot with rosin, pitch, tow, and small wood;
So that the flame streamed forth above the furnace forty and nine cubits.
And it passed through, and burned those Chaldeans it found about the furnace.
But the angel of the Lord came down into the oven together with Azarias and his fellows, and smote the flame of the fire out of the oven;
And made the midst of the furnace as it had been a moist whistling wind, so that the fire touched them not at all, neither hurt nor troubled them.
Then the three, as out of one mouth, praised, glorified, and blessed, God in the furnace, saying,
Blessed art thou, O Lord God of our fathers: and to be praised and exalted above all for ever.
And blessed is thy glorious and holy name: and to be praised and exalted above all for ever.
Blessed art thou in the temple of thine holy glory: and to be praised and glorified above all for ever.
Blessed art thou that beholdest the depths, and sittest upon the cherubims: and to be praised and exalted above all for ever.
Blessed art thou on the glorious throne of thy kingdom: and to be praised and glorified above all for ever.
Blessed art thou in the firmament of heaven: and above ail to be praised and glorified for ever.
O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever,
O ye heavens, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye angels of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O all ye waters that be above the heaven, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O all ye powers of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye sun and moon, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye stars of heaven, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O every shower and dew, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O all ye winds, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever,
O ye fire and heat, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye winter and summer, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye dews and storms of snow, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye nights and days, bless ye the Lord: bless and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye light and darkness, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye ice and cold, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye frost and snow, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye lightnings and clouds, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O let the earth bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye mountains and little hills, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O all ye things that grow in the earth, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye mountains, bless ye the Lord: Praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye seas and rivers, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye whales, and all that move in the waters, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O all ye fowls of the air, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O all ye beasts and cattle, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye children of men, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O Israel, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye priests of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye servants of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye spirits and souls of the righteous, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye holy and humble men of heart, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever: far he hath delivered us from hell, and saved us from the hand of death, and delivered us out of the midst of the furnace and burning flame: even out of the midst of the fire hath he delivered us.
O give thanks unto the Lord, because he is gracious: for his mercy endureth for ever.
O all ye that worship the Lord, bless the God of gods, praise him, and give him thanks: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Daniel and the Lions Den
Daniel was also thrown at another time in a Den hole with Hungry Lions (a typical fun for Romans usually the victim was a very dangerous criminal), however in adverse to the well known natural laws instead of cutting him into pieces eating him the Lions started licking the legs of Saint Prophet Daniel.
The Grace of God in Holy Prophet Daniel restoring the original Lions nature of grass-feeding animals as they were.
The abundance of Grace of the Holy spirit of the Lions turned them to treat the prophet as Cats would their beloved master.
Daniel and the Lions (Book of Daniel 6:16-24)fresco of catacomb of Saint Marcellinus and Peter in Rome
Daniel and his friends, even though the paganism has followe their faith and establishment of the fathers, even though the hardship. How sad it is that today many of us are excusing with the time and the situation or encirclement as a reason to not follow the prescription spiritual cures of the Church (The holy mysteries, Confession, Repentance, Fasting and Holy Communion).
No ! We should not excuse ourselves with the situation and time of living. Are the first Christians lived in more benevolent world and did this stopped them from following Christ's teachings strictly and go for a martyrdom to them following the bright examples of the prophets ?
Church Troparion sung on Church service (Tone 2)
Great are the accomplishments of faith,
for the Three Holy Youths rejoiced in the fountain of flames as though in the waters of rest;
and the prophet Daniel appeared,
a shepherd to the lions as though they were sheep.
So by their prayers, O Christ God, save our souls!
Kontakion sung on Church service (Tone 6)
You did not worship the graven image,
O thrice-blessed ones,
but armed with the immaterial Essence of God, you were glorified in a trial by fire.
From the midst of unbearable flames you called on God, crying:
Hasten, O compassionate One!
Speedily come to our aid,
for You are merciful and able to do as You will.
Troparion of Saint Daniel and the three Jewish Youths Feast sung in Church (Church Slavonic)
Today 17 of December, we celebrate prophet Daniel and the the three Jewish youths Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were chosen to serve the worldly emperor, but they preferred ofthe One God and be God's choosen people than to choose the temporary world glory.
Let us also follow the example of saint Daniel and the three Youths, and follow the Gods revelations, the divine revelation moral law nevertheless of the environment and the circumstances, because God shows mercy to those who love him and his laws.
Let by the Holy Prophets Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah God have mercy on us all the sinners ! Amen!
Text Translated from Bulgarian from Father's Karamihailev Preach (A Priest in Bankia's Church Saint Cyric and Julita) with inclusions
Historical and other references used:
1. The Holy Bible also briefly mentions three other individuals of this name: The Book of Ezekiel (14:14, 14:20 and 28:3) refers to a legendary Daniel famed for wisdom and righteousness. In verse 14:14, Ezekiel says of the sinful land of Israel that "even if these three, Noah, Daniel and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness."
2. In chapter 28, Ezekiel taunts the king of Tyre, asking rhetorically, "art thou wiser than Daniel?" The author of the Book of Daniel appears to have taken this legendary figure, renowned for his wisdom, to serve as his central human character.
3. The Book of Ezra (8:2) mentions a priest named Daniel who went from Babylon to Jerusalem with Ezra.
4. The First Book of Chronicles (3:1) mentions a son of David called Daniel.
7. Orthodox Church Service Liturgical Books (Chasoslov)