Preparing for the End



Dr. Joseph Pelligrino
November 18, 2012
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Hollywood thought it had hit upon a gold mine. The producers, directors, etc had found a way to combine religion and disaster themes into one movie that is came out a few years ago. The movie was titled, 2012. The premise was that the world was going to come to an end in 2012. As Hollywood hoped, a significant number of Americans, believed that there might be some truth to this. Hollywood prayed on the inordinate American fear of death and the tendency of many to live in a state of near panic. This is particularly true regarding those of us who believe the garbage that is passed on as news. So, the swine flu is going to get us all, or climate change is going to get us all, the government is going to get us all, etc. Remember twelve years ago while the rest of the world was celebrating the turn of the century, many Americans stayed home, preparing for the disaster that would be Y2K. The only disaster that happened is that the president at the time, Bill Clinton, spoke on TV for about 55 minutes, and we all almost missed the ball being dropped on Time Square.

We Americans are so gullible and live in such a state of expectant panic that if we hear that something horrible is going to happen and we learn that there is some sort of a religious reference, many of us believe whatever is presented. Then we come to Church on a Sunday at the end of the Church year and hear readings about the end of time. There are always readings about the end of time at this time of the year. Some will put these readings together with the 2012 thing and think there might be something to it. There isn’t. The premise of 2012 is based on a Mayan prophecy. The Mayan’s were pagans. Their world was ending before the Spanish came. The Spanish conquistadors accelerated it by assimilating the Mayan people into the Spanish colonial culture. We should not give credence to the rambling of pagans.

The readings we just heard have nothing to do with the Mayan Prophecies. They speak about the end of time but with a particular emphasis: those who trust in the Lord, and who live His life to the best of their ability have nothing to fear. Daniel says that the archangel Michael is the guardian of God’s people. We usually address this archangel as St. Michael. Daniel calls him, God’s Prince. So, we just heard that when the final days come, Michael will gather God’s people together including those who have died. And, the reading says, the wise will shine brightly. In the Gospel reading Jesus says that on the last day, the angels will gather the elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky. By the way, Jesus also says, that no one knows when the last day will come, not the angels, not even the Son, only the Creator, the Father.

The basic message, though, is, “Do not be afraid. Trust in God. He will care for you.” We need to do our best to get out of the fear mind set and live as people of the faith we profess. God is infinitely stronger than all the forces of the world. And He loves us. He loves us as a people. And He loves us as individuals. He loves us more than we can fathom. If we do everything we can to be open to His Presence, He will take care of us even if we were to be alive on the last day. St. Augustine put it this way, “If we do not resist the first coming of the Lord, then we will have no reason to dread His second coming.” By that he means if we live according to the way He told us to live when He came to be one of us, then we have no reason to fear when He comes again at the end of the world.

Perhaps many of us are not inordinately concerned about the end of the world. But each of us does have certain areas of fear in our lives. Some are afraid due to their health or that of a loved one. Maybe we are going to die sooner than we expect. Everyone dies sooner than she or he expects. Should we live in panic like the pagans, or should we trust in God to care for us? We need to trust in God. Some are afraid that their lives are not going to turn out as they hope. No one knows how our lives will turn out. I never thought I’d be a priest in Florida. I don’t know what is going to happen. I do know that my plans and God’s plans are often quite different. I am certain you can say the same thing. Where will each of us be 10 years from now, or 20 or 30 or 50? Fifty years from now I’ll be 115. I, for one, am hoping to be dead by then. But whatever the future brings, we have no reason to fear. We trust in God. We are Christian. We are people of Hope.

Today’s readings tell us that God is in control. We do our best to give ourselves to Him. He gave Himself to us for that very reason, so that we, in turn, can give ourselves to Him. As people united to the One who brings life through death, united to Jesus Christ, we trust our loving Savior to care for us.

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
November 18, 2012

Hasten the End
The Apocalypse — What does the Bible really teach about the End of the World, Armageddon, the second coming of Jesus Christ and the ultimate defeat of Satan and the Antichrist? The gospels and the book of Revelation raise many apocalyptic questions for Christians that demand reflection.

Whenever I lead a trip to the Holy Land, the question inevitably comes, “Will we visit Armageddon?’ This refers, of course, to the battlefield surrounding the ancient city of Megiddo where some think the final confrontation will take place before the end of the world (Rev 16:16). Catholics and Protestants alike have a fascination with the Scriptural accounts of the cataclysmic events associated with the end.

Jesus knew everything, including the Day of Judgment. Obviously!   
                      3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Mark 13:24-32

But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
The Church teaches that our Savior knew everything, past, present and future, and therefore also knew the day and the hour of the final judgment. In fact, it is a condemned heresy to say that Jesus, in his human intellect, did not know the exact moment of the second coming – this heresy, called “Agnoeticism” was condemned by Pope St. Gregory the Great.
However, very sadly, most Catholics have no idea that they are espousing heresy when they say that our Lord did not know certain created truths, like the time of the judgment.

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus promises his disciples that they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. The angels will gather his elect from the four winds. His coming in glory will be preceded by tribulation. The sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in heaven will be shaken. These will be signs just as fig leaves sprouting are a sign that summer is near. Jesus adds that their generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Though heaven and earth will pass away, his words will not pass away. Then Jesus says: “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

A Simple Plan from God For Church Renewal
As we continue to read the letter of St. Paul to Titus in the reading at daily Mass, we see some important teachings about the “domestic Church,” otherwise known as the family. The insights are important, for if the domestic church is not strong, neither will the parish, diocesan or universal Church be strong. And while there is a tendency today on blogs like this, to often focus on the disrepair that some notice of the parish or diocesan Church, it remains a fact that many of our families are in far greater disrepair.

The Uniqueness of Christianity: 12 Objections Answered
Ronald Knox once quipped that “the study of comparative religions is the best way to become comparatively religious.” The reason, as G. K. Chesterton says, is that, according to most “scholars” of comparative religion, “Christianity and Buddhism are very much alike, especially Buddhism.”
But any Christian who does apologetics must think about comparative religions because the most popular of all objections against the claims of Christianity today comes from this field. The objection is not that Christianity is not true but that it is not the truth; not that it is a false religion but that it is only a religion. The world is a big place, the objector reasons; “different strokes for different folks”. How insufferably narrow-minded to claim that Christianity is the one true religion! God just has to be more open-minded than that.

Christian Valor Amidst Pagan Persecution
Much like our own woeful Republic, the Roman Empire in late antiquity suffered from moral exhaustion and was beginning to show signs of its eventual collapse. Amidst that decay, St. Martin of Tours (c.336-397) embodied the Christian valor necessary to sustain and rebuild authentic Christian culture.

Some thoughts on the five stages of religious persecution
It is rare that a respected segment of American life would become vilified and hated overnight. The usual transformation from respect to vilification goes in stages which grow in intensity. And hereby the Church, once a respected aspect of American life, along with the Protestant denominations has become increasingly marginalized and hated by many. It may help us to review these stages of persecution since it would seem that things are going to get more difficult for the Church in the years ahead. Generally there are distinguished five basic stages of persecution.

The Rosary Explained
Many people are wondering why Catholics hold those beads called the Rosary in their hands and what’s the real inspiration behind them. In this little booklet I’ll attempt to give quick answers to some of the questions and doubts often raised by people.

10 Basic Questions on Creation
Q. 206. What is the difference between making and creating?
      A. “Making” means bringing forth or forming out of some material already
             existing, as workmen do. “Creating” means bringing forth out of
             nothing, as God alone can do.
Q. 207. Has everything that exists been created?
      A. Everything that exists except God Himself has been created.
Q. 208.
Who created heaven and earth, and all things?
      A. God created heaven and earth, and all things.

What Will Our Resurrected Bodies Be Like?
St Paul writes to the Philippians of the glory that our currently lowly bodies will one day enjoy:
He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified Body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself. (Phil 3:19)

I once spoke with an older woman who wasn’t all that pleased to hear that her body was going to rise and be joined again to her soul: “Oh, Father, you don’t mean this old decrepit body?! If this body has to rise I am hoping for an improved model!”

Faith Is Possible Only Through Communion With The Church

The widespread tendency today to relegate the faith to the private sphere contradicts its very nature. We need the Church to confirm our faith and to experience God’s gifts: His Word, the Sacraments, the support of grace and the witness of love. In this way, our “I” taken up into the “we” of the Church – will be able to perceive itself as the recipient of and participant in an event that far surpasses it: the experience of communion with God, who establishes communion among men. – Pope Benedict XVI

Would Jesus Recognize Catholic Worship?
I posted a picture the other day of worship at St Peter’s. There was a crowd of altar servers, robed clergy in procession and clouds of incense.

In the combox someone observed, “Would Jesus recognize this as worship?” I don’t know the commenter and his background, but it sounds like the comment is based on a common misunderstanding of the roots of Catholic worship and the nature of Jewish worship in Jesus’ time. I’ll be writing more on this subject later in the week as I begin reviewing Evangelical-Frank Viola’s book Theography.

I Choose Love
My life changed while I was lying on the roof of a beat up Chevy van looking up at the stars and drinking beer. I’d been living as an atheist for years though I would’ve denied the title. I preferred the term agnostic. I thought shrugging off truth as impossible to know was the intellectually superior position.
You see, while many atheists may look down on Christians, agnostics look down on all Christians and atheists. Poor Christians, on the other hand, have nobody to look down on but it seems to me that may perhaps be the point after all.

Does Mass Have to be Said in a Church?
Q: Does a priest have to say Mass in a church? –Paula
A: Now this is a simple question with an answer that is perhaps more complex than one would think!

O Radiant Dawn – Preparing for Advent
Every year over at Catholic Spiritual Direction, I am asked about ways to better prepare for the upcoming seasons of worship. I always appreciate the opportunity to find refreshing water in our deep well of tradition. One of the many delights of converting to the Catholic faith has been learning the dance of the liturgical seasons. The beauty of the rhythmic worship of the Church is really something to behold and a joy to be a part of. Every year our family works to reach into the heart of the tradition of the Church only to find new ways that it unfolds into blessings in our home. Sometimes the answers are very simple but beautiful. For advent, this is the case this year. Here’s a simple way to draw the hearts and minds of your family into the rhythm of Advent.

Why is Fish Allowed on Meatless Fridays?
Yesterday, Cardinal Dolan gave his Presidential Address to the USCCB about the need for penance, and the possibility of re-instituting meatless Fridays year-round:

​What an irony that despite the call of the Second Vatican Council for a renewal of the Sacrament of Penance, what we got instead was its near disappearance.

Can a Priest Ever Reveal What is Said in Confession?
Q: I know that a priest who hears confessions is forbidden to reveal their contents to others. But does that hold if someone admits in the confessional that he’s sexually molesting children? Isn’t the priest breaking the law if he fails to inform the authorities that he knows So-and-so is a child molester? –Patrick

A: This is an extremely good question, since it pits the inviolability of the seal of confession against the need to protect innocent children. Naturally the Church wants to defend both at the same time. So what happens when a priest has to choose between the two?

Did St. Thomas Aquinas Believe in Ghosts
Here at Dominicana we have been waxing poetically on death as the Church remembers the Holy Souls during the month of November. As Christians, we know by faith that when we die, when our immortal souls are separated from our bodies, we will immediately undergo the particular judgment for our entire life’s blood, sweat, and tears. Our soul will then be consigned to one of three “places”: everlasting heaven, purgatory (as a period of purification for heaven), or unending hell. At the resurrection of the dead, all will be raised bodily and experience the Final Judgment. The righteous will share in the bodily glory of the Risen Christ, and the damned will experience bodily suffering due to their sins. The Church will thus enjoy the inexpressible “new heavens and a new earth” (2 Pt 3:13).

My mother’s dignified, holy death
My mother died on Sunday, 28th of October. She was 90, and had been completely dependent for 18 months. By progressive standards, her life was completely useless. During that year and a half, she was only vaguely conscious of her surroundings, lying in a hospital bed, incapable of any autonomous action whatsoever. She could hardly see or hear us. She could not eat or drink alone. Everything had to be done for her. But in those blessed 18 months, she taught us the extraordinary value and dignity of human life, and her death was such an example to us I would like to share it with you.

The Knox Bible
For the first time in over 50 years, the Knox translation of the Bible is being reprinted through Baronius Press. But, what is the Knox Bible?
The Knox Bible is an approved Catholic translation whose aim is to produce a translation of the Bible which reads in a fluid and eloquent English. This nine-year effort was undertaken solely by Monsignor Ronald Knox, an Anglican-turned-Catholic-priest, at the request of the Bishops of England and Wales prior to World War II. Motivating the project was a desire to replace the Douay-Rheims Bible. Although the Douay-Rheims had been a Catholic staple since the reformation, many felt the archaic language made the translation difficult to understand in a number of passages. The result of Msgr. Knox’s efforts was a translation that received wide praise and was approved for liturgical use in many English-speaking areas in the decade preceeding Vatican II. Even Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen preferred the Knox Bible, often using it as a reference when quoting verses.

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