Divine Mercy

Daniel - The last of the four great prophets. Daniel was a statesman in the Chaldean and Persian period of Israel’s exile, an officer in the courts of Nebuchadnezzar and of Cyrus; the hero of the Book of the Bible that bears his name, Daniel was descended from one of the highest families in Judah, probably of royal blood. When twelve to sixteen years of age, he with three other noble youths of Jerusalem, was carried captive to Babylon in the first deportation. During the reign of Joakim Daniel and his three companions were chosen by Nebuchadnezzar to be trained fro court services, and after the completion of the prescribed time Daniel distinguished himself as the interpreter of a perplexing dram by the king. He was advanced to two important offices, the sacerdotal caste. His superior gifts in reading the handwriting on the wall of the King’s palace in the midst of festive revelries, even though this handwriting revealed the fall of time, he was given two remarkable visions which disclosed to him future events and the ultimate fate of the most powerful empires of the world, with particular bearings upon the effect of these events upon the Kingdom of God an the coming of the Messias.

After the conquest of Babylon by the united powers of Media and Persia, Daniel busied himself in the interest of exiled Israel and their anticipated return to Palestine. Although he was thoroughly loyal to the state and faithful to his official duties, his fidelity to the principles of Judaism and his uncompromising loyalty to Jahveh resulted in severe persecutions and wicked devices for his downfall by fellow enemies won a temporary victory when they had him cast into the lion’s den; but he was vindicated and given higher honors as a result of divine intervention by which the lions proved harmless. He lived to see his faith in Israel’s return to Palestine confirmed and accomplished under the beneficent reign of Cyprus.

© Fireside New American Bible



Daniel, The book of - A prophetic book of the Old Testament, in fourteen chapters, among which three languages are represented. The preliminary section (1, 2, and 4) is in Hebrew and describes Daniel's capture and education. The first part of his prophecies (2, 5, and 7), in Aramaic, refers to world power in relation to God's people, notably the dream of the great statue and the vision of the four beasts. The second part of Daniel's prophecies (7 to 12), in Hebrew, describes the fortunes of the Jews with respect to world power. The book concludes with the so called deuterocanonical parts (12 to 14) that are missing in the Jewish Bible but endorsed by the Septuagint Greek translation. In this section are found the narrative of the chaste Susanna, the idol Bel, the dragon destroyed by Daniel, and a second peril in the lions' den. In telling the future the prophet is very precise. Christ quotes from Daniel, foretelling the fall of Jerusalem and the last day (Matthew 24:15-25). The Church has embodied all fourteen chapters of the book in her biblical canon.
© Modern Catholic Dictionary, Eternal Life Publications


David - ‘well beloved’. Among Jews and Christians alike, David is one of the most honored and most loved characters of the Old Testament. As a writer of deeply emotional and highly spiritual psalms, he holds a place of pre-eminence among biblical authors. In vicissitudes, trials, sufferings, and victories, no man in biblical history equals David, except Christ Himself. As king over Israel for forty years he was marked with grievous errors, and sins for which he was deeply penitent, and over which he triumphed gloriously.
David was one of the eight sons of Jesse whose pastoral home was in the vicinity of Bethlehem; his youth was spent as a shepherd lad and trusted worker for his father. Early in life he displayed notable musical talent and became famous for playing the harp. His public career began as a musician of Saul in the melancholia and madness which came upon him with great fury at times. His prowess and childlike faith in God and superb courage were first displayed in the slaying of the Philistine giant, Goliath.

Although Saul’s jealousy toward David was aroused by the acclaim given David for his notable exploit in slaying Goliath, he recognized his military genius and courage and advanced him in his army. David and Saul’s son, Johnathan, did outstanding service in wars against the Philistines, and there depassed in the history of human relations.

Saul’s jealousy toward David, however, soon developed into a violent hatred, and he set out to murder him or have him murdered. David was thus forced to become a fugitive and flee into the neighboring land of Philistines for security. Hundreds of followers joined David, and a strong bond of brotherhood resulted. Immediately upon the death of Saul, the tribe of Juda invited David to become king. He selected Hebron, an ancient city with memorable national associations, and the seat of his government. The scheme of Abner to make Saul’s son, Isboseth, king soon came to an untimely end. Seeking a more desirable site for the capital, David led in the capture of the citadel of Jebusites, known as Sion, and built a great capital city.
The priestly order was fully restored and consolidated; the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem; elaborate forms of worship were established; and prosperity came to the nation.

Notable among the achievements of David were the conquest
and subjugation of the Philistines, the Syrians, the Edomites and Ammonites. In a decisive battle, Moab was made tributary to Israel. A spirit of tolerance and consideration was shown by David to all subjugated people and to alien citizens of Israel which added much to the unification and consolidation of the nation.

The closing years of David were marked by internal troubles and civil insurrections. Absalom, a favorite of David, aspired to the throne in his father’s declining years and was slain in the course of his insurrection. Shameful assassinations took place in his official family. A conspiracy by Adonias to seize the throne was thwarted only by the sagacity of Solomon’s mother, Bethsabee and the hasty coronation of Solomon prior to David’s death.

© Fireside New American Bible



Deacon - The Greek term of which deacon is the English equivalent signifies a servant, a ministrant, a waiting man. It appears, however, that the term became identified with a distinct order or office in the ministry of the primitive church. This is indicated in the specific qualifications outlines for deacons, just as they were for bishops, elders, or pastors. It has been contended that they were not appointed to an office, but to a service; but the fact that they were formally ordained points to an official position and to official duties. In some of the Epistles deacons are addressed or referred to as officers just as are bishops. Following the Apostolic era in the history of the early church, the office of deacon became fully established. He performed certain distinct functions as assistant to the bishop or pastor, such as assisting on the ordinances, instructing the laity, receiving the offerings, and caring for the poor. Thus, the ordination of a deacon is a sacrament, identified with Holy Orders.

Today the function of a deacon is being revived as an active role in the Western Church. For centuries in the West it had become a mere stepping stone to the priesthood. Now those studying to be priests may use the year they are ordained deacons as a sort of internship and fulfill the traditional roles of a deacon in a parish (preach, baptize, distribute communion, etc.).

Moreover, a permanent deaconate (men ordained to be deacons but without the intention of going on for the priesthood) is being established. These men may be married. They may administer the parish property (a traditional role they fulfilled in service to the Popes for centuries) or they may administer certain parish organizations as, for example, those that care for the poor (another traditional Roman role). The permanent deacon can baptize, witness marriage, and help prepare the negligent penitent for confession. He cannot, of course, hear the confession or absolve.

© Fireside New American Bible



Dead Sea Scrolls - In the year 1947 and thereafter, a number of scrolls and writings on other media have been found near the ruins of an ancient Essene settlement called Khirbet Qumran, northwest of the Dead Sea. For some reason – possibly the advance of the Roman legions under Titus in his invasion of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. – the people fled the village, and the village was destroyed. Probably in their haste to flee, the Essenes left their valuable scrolls behind, putting them in vases and urns and hiding them in nearby caves and other places of safety. The Essenes never returned, and the caves were covered and lost in antiquity until their recent re-discovery.
Most of the scrolls are fragmentary and in poor condition, but through modern research and technology, they are painstakingly being restored. No complete translation of these scrolls has as yet been made – indeed, new scrolls are still coming to light – and many years will pass before an authentic version will be available. However, it is certain that no information of a startling nature is contained in the scrolls which can substantially alter the traditional knowledge of the early Christian Church and its times that we have already come to know.
The religious sect known and the Essenes is not mentioned in the New Testament, but they are mentioned by Josephus, St. Jerome, and others. They probably numbered several thousand, and they seem to have held themselves apart from the Pharisees, Sadducees, and other Jewish groups. They were a strict group, closely observing the Old Testament laws. The sect originated about 150 B.C. and died out around 100 A.D. Although there is no indication that John the Baptist was himself an Essene, he undoubtedly was influenced by Essene thought. Some have compared the Teacher or Righteousness who figures importantly in the Scrolls with Christ; however, there are some fundamental differences. 1. Christ claimed to by the Missias; the Teacher did not. 2. Christ gave rise to a cult by his followers; the Teacher did not. 3. Christ arose from the dead; there is no claim that the Teacher did likewise. 4. Christ claimed Divine qualities; the Teacher noted the gulf between himself and the Divinity. 5. Christ evidenced no sense of personal sin; the Teacher had a deep sense of sinfulness.

© Fireside New American Bible



Deuteronomy, The book of - The fifth book of the Old Testament. It is cast in the form of a farewell address given by Moses. Its content is a mixed bag of materials: a tally of events from the time the Hebrews left Sinai until their arrival in the area east of the Jordan, followed by an exhortation to observe the commands and statutes, then a throwback to the Sinai period as the message received by Moses as that time is now communicated to the people (5:29-6:3). There follows a call for loyalty, obedience, and thanksgiving as the people are about to set foot in Canaan. Next comes a rundown of individual legal regulations – rules for worship, the Year of Release, the indenture of debtors, feasts, the responsibilities of kings, priests and prophets. The appointment of Joshua as leader is given, and the book concludes with an account of Moses’ demise on Mt. Nebo (Ch. 34). It is quite possible that many of the texts of Deuteronomy are in fact what they appear to be, liturgical and legal treatises intended to be read to large groupings of people in Israel. The Deuteronomist (literary) source is one of the four widely accepted sources of the Pentateuch. It is to be found exclusively in this book. Traces of the other three sources (Yahwist, Elohist and Priestly) as found in this book are insignificant. In the original Hebrew no name is given to the book. It was referred to with the words of the opening clause. The term “Deuteronomy” stems from the Septuagint, the early Greek translation, with the word occurring in Dt 17:18 of that version.

© Fireside New American Bible



Devil - ‘slander’. 1. The title given to those angels who rebelled against God with Satan or Lucifer. As a result, they lost supernatural grace and were condemned to hell. 2. The designation of the greatest of the fallen spirits, the archenemy of God and of man. St. Thomas teaches that his sin was the sin of pride and an undue desire to be “like to God.” Since the day that God revealed that a Savior would redeem man from sin, Satan’s energies and powers have been engaged in efforts to defeat this Divine purpose and to maintain and perpetuate his power over the souls of humanity.

© Fireside New American Bible


Discernment of Spirits - The ability to distinguish whether a given idea or impulse in the soul comes from the good spirit or from the evil spirit. It may be an act of the virtue of prudence, or a special gift of supernatural grace, or both. In persons who are seriously intent on doing God's will, the good spirit is recognized by the peace of mind and readiness for sacrifice that a given thought or desire produces in the soul. The evil spirit produces disturbance of mind and a tendency to self-indulgence. An opposite effect is produced by both spirits toward sinners.
© Modern Catholic Dictionary, Eternal Life Publications


Divine Mercy - The love of God beyond what humankind deserves. In one sense, every manifestation of God's love is an expression of mercy, since, absolutely speaking, God is not obligated even to create. But more properly, mercy is the exercise of divine charity toward those who have sinned. Mercy, then, is God's continued love of humans although they have sinned, his forgiving love that invites them to be reconciled with the God against whom they have sinned, his condoning love that mitigates and is even willing to remove all the punishment due to sin, and his superabundant love that mysteriously blesses the repentant sinners beyond what they might have received from God had they not sinned.
© Modern Catholic Dictionary, Eternal Life Publications



Divine Office - The group of psalms, hymns, prayers, biblical and spiritual readings formulated by the Church for chant or recitation at stated times every day. Its origins go back to apostolic times, when it consisted almost entirely of psalms and readings from the Scriptures. Priests are obliged to say the full daily office, and religious who are not priests are obligated according to their rule of life. The latest edition of the Divine Office was promulgated by Pope Paul VI by the apostolic constitution Laudis Canticum in 1970. It represents a complete revision of the text and arrangement of the Hours of the Liturgy according to the directives of the Second Vatican Council (Constitution on the Liturgy, IV, 83-101). As contained in the Breviary, the office is divided into the Proper of the Season, with biblical readings and homilies; Solemnities of the Lord as they occur during the year; the Ordinary or normal framework of the office; the Psalter, or psalms assigned to each hour of the day on the basis of four weeks to a month; the Proper of the Saints, as their feasts occur in sequence; Common Offices, corresponding to votive Masses in the Eucharistic liturgy; and the Office of the Dead. A supplement contains canticles and Gospel readings for vigils, brief intercessory prayers, and detailed indices.
© Modern Catholic Dictionary, Eternal Life Publications



Divorce - Although there is only one passage in the Mosaic legislation that deals directly with the subject of divorce, and only a few passages in the Old Testament that relate to the subject indirectly, it appears quite certain that the annulment of the marriage bond was common throughout the history of the Hebrew nation. The one specific reference in the writings of Moses which makes the putting away of a wife by the husband allowable is if she is found guilty of “some uncleanness”’ but it does not make it obligatory. Two distinct schools of thought prevailed among the Jews as to the meaning of the Hebrew words giving the basis for allowable divorcement. One interpretation, that of Shammai, made the words signify “unchastity” or “adultery”; whereas the other, that of Hillel, placed emphasis on the conditional clause “if she find no favor in his eyes” and broadened the grounds to a long list of reasons, some both ridiculous and ludicrous. This liberal interpretation was the one most generally followed, and this made the putting away of a wife by a dissatisfied or discontented husband easy and common.

It is worthy of special note that the Mosaic direction in this matter was not in the form of a command, but an enactment of expediency for the regulation of a practice altogether too common and an effort to prevent husbands from putting their wives for any reason whatsoever. Under the marriage laws and practices Christ recognized the Mosaic provision as an expediency to meet a laxity in this matter, and then affirmed the original principles, whereby marriage was established by God as a permanent monogamous relationship until concluded by the death of one of the parties.

The Catholic Church does not recognize divorce as such. Obviously if a marriage is declared null by the Catholic Church the parties involved should obtain a civil divorce. In some cases a couple may be permitted to obtain a civil divorce to facilitate civil matters, but the couple is still married according to the Church and may not remarry.
© Fireside New American Bible

Legal separation of husband and wife, or the release by civil authority from any one or more of the bonds of matrimony between them. Imperfect divorce is the separation of husband and wife so that the duty of living together, and sometimes the support, is relaxed, but giving them no right to remarry. Also called separation from bed and board, but not the severance of the primary bond of marriage, which is the exclusive lifelong fidelity in the use of marital rights.
© Modern Catholic Dictionary, Eternal Life Publications



Doctrine - Any truth taught by the Church as necessary for acceptance by the faithful. The truth may be either formally revealed (as the Real Presence), or a theological conclusion (as the canonization of a saint), or part of the natural law (as the sinfulness of contraception). In any case, what makes it doctrine is that the Church authority teaches that it is to be believed. This teaching may be done either solemnly in ex cathedra pronouncements or ordinarily in the perennial exercise of the Church's Magisterium or teaching authority. Dogmas are those doctrines which the Church proposes for belief as formally revealed by God.
© Modern Catholic Dictionary, Eternal Life Publications



Dolors, Seven - The seven sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are traditionally identified with the sorrows that Mary experienced in her association with Christ: the prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:34-35), the flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-21), the three-day separation from Jesus in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-50), and the four incidents related to Christ's Passion, as described or implied by the Evangelists; namely, Mary's meeting Jesus on the way to Calvary, the Crucifixion, the removal of Christ's body from the Cross, and the burial in the tomb. There were two feasts in honor of the seven sorrows: the Friday after Passion Sunday, extended to the universal Church by Pope Benedict XIII in 1727; and September 15, first granted to the Servite Order in 1668 and extended in 1814 to the whole Church by Pope Pius VII. Since the revision of the Roman calendar after the Second Vatican Council, only the feast on September 15 is observed, but its name has been changed to Our Lady of Sorrows.
© Modern Catholic Dictionary, Eternal Life Publications



Drunkenness - Overindulgence in alcoholic beverages. On Catholic moral principles, the degree of sinfulness in excessive drinking depends on how this excess is known to affect this particular drinker. It is a grave matter if it is foreseen that this drink will cause one to lose the use of one's senses or will put one in such a state that he or she is no longer able to distinguish right from wrong. It is a venial matter if one has reason for believing that this amount of drinking, though actually excessive, will neither deprive one of the use of one's senses or of the power to distinguish right from wrong.
© Modern Catholic Dictionary, Eternal Life Publications


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