Today, for our first readings, we begin ten days of passages from the prophet Ezekiel, a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah. Both were priests, that is, they were from the tribe of Levi, ad their families lived in towns set aside for Levites.
The year 597 was catastrophic for both Jeremiah and Ezekiel. That was when Nebuchadnezzar’s army of Babylon conquered Jerusalem. However, the fate of Jeremiah and Ezekiel differed from then on. The Babylonians left Jeremiah in Jerusalem to witness the city’s complete destruction in 587 B.C., while Ezekiel was with King Jehoiachin and those other carried off to Babylon in 597.
In today’s reading Ezekiel tells how his family had been settled by the river Chebar, which was a tributary of the Tigris River in southern Babylon. In the fifth year of their exile, which was 592 B.C., he saw huge cloud coming from the north, which he took to be the abode of God. And, he witnessed four Cherubim emerging from the cloud. In tomorrow’s reading God will establish Ezekiel as a major prophet, selected to purify his people.
Today is the feast of St. Dominic who was born in 1170 A.D. He was a twenty-year-old seminary student on northern Spain in 1190 A.D. when a wide spread famine brought him to sell his books and belongings to feed the poor.
He was a fifty-year-old priest in northern Spain in 1220 when he heard of an unfortunate situation in the southern France countryside around the town of Albi. What happened there was that a large number of local men who had gone as crusaders to Persia returned from there practicing a weird combination of Christianity and Persian Zoroasterism. Called the Cathars, they abstained from eating all flesh products, and from sexual activity except for a few couples who were deputized for giving birth to young Cathars.
Now, the French throne was anxious to annex the countryside around Albi, so they attacked the Cathars, pretending that they were conducting a religious crusade against heretics. The Cathars, who had sworn off fighting allowed half their numbers to be slaughtered.