Every now and then I hear of my fellow Christians, my Catholic brethren among them, speaking with great conviction that the Lord may be coming soon, or at least that he will bring a great chastisement upon the world. There is almost a longing for this to occur.

Such a longing is not without biblical precedent. Indeed, the closing words of the New Testament, an hence the whole Bible are these:

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life….He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen. (Rev 22:16-21)

Hence there is an eagerness for Christ’s return. This eagerness is also expressed in the Church’s liturgy in the “embolism” of the Pater Noster:

Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Yes, there is an appropriate eagerness for the Lord’s second coming.

However, there is also a context for that eagerness that we ought not forget. The context is one of repentance and humility, a context of our need to be purified and delivered from sin to be ready for the “Great and Terrible day of the Lord.”

The words of Revelation uttered above occur only after a period of intense purification for the Church expressed in chapter after chapter of purgative sufferings and persecutions experienced by the faithful. And the embolism of the Our Father utters our hope only after mentioning our need for mercy and the grace to be kept always free from sin.

Hence our eagerness for the coming of the Lord ought to framed in great humility, beseeching a prevenient grace of mercy not only upon us, but on the whole world, a grace of readiness for ourselves and all the world before the Lord comes.

The danger to be avoided in our zeal for the Lord’s coming, is a triumphalist notion of “Lord give this world the punishment it deserves.” For in asking God to crush the wicked, we ought not too easily presume we are not among those who will get stomped. God is very Holy and the Lord’s second coming, or even his coming upon the world in “mere” chastisement, might not necessarily include us in his inner circle of the blessed, no matter how highly we think of ourselves. Again, God is very holy, and we have many reasons to not to be too eager to usher in the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord. The prophet Amos warns us in this regard:

Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him. Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light— pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?

Therefore this is what the Lord, the Lord God Almighty, says: “There will be wailing in all the streets and cries of anguish in every public square. The farmers will be summoned to weep and the mourners to wail. There will be wailing in all the vineyards, for I will pass through your midst,” says the Lord. The Day of the Lord. (Amos 5:16-20)

This text ought not be seen to cancel the Christian longing for Christ’s return, but, rather, to frame it carefully in the context of repentance and the need for God’s saving grace to “deliver us from the wrath to come.” (cf 1 Thess 1:10).

No room for triumphalism here, only pleas: “For the sake of thy sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world!” Yes, Lord, do come! But please prepare us for that great and terrible day, that day of awe. What shall I frail man be pleading? Who for me be interceding? When the just are mercy needing! Righteous judge for sin’s pollution, Grant thy gift of absolution, Before the day of retribution. Yes, any call to usher in the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord, should be made in great humility, in a spirit of repentance and recognition of the need for great mercy and grace to precede it. Otherwise, who can be saved? In this light the Second Letter of Peter gives us good advice in this regard:

[The Lord] is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed it coming. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him….Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:6-18)

Yes, do come Lord! Maranatha! But unto that very day Lord, pour forth your mercy and love, send forth your call unto the ends of the earth. Save us from the pride that forgets we need your mercy every day, even as do our enemies and those who have rejected you. Bring all to conversion Lord, and establish us in on-going conversion. For the sake of your sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. Maranatha!

14 Responses

  1. Brian Murphy says:

    I think the Chaplet of Divine Mercy should be spread more by the church as we live in dangerous times which are getting worse. Jesus has warned us what to do, the Church must lead the faithful to be ready for whatever could happen swiftly and without warning It is unlikely that God will allow the world to carry on sinning mortally, abortion and legalised homosexuality ( same sex “marriage”), divorce on demand, immorality and immodesty used as commercial aids for selling goods. No the outlook is bleak and we Catholics especially must pray with an for each other and follow the “survival” warning of Jesus to Saint faustina “while there is time” as Jesus warned,

    • Nick says:

      Every devotion is good to spread, so I agree on that.

      However, your doom-and-gloom attitude is not in accordance with God’s Justice.

      We look forward to Judgment Day because we know the Paschal Mystery.

      We don’t believe in a God of Wrath Who will strike mankind at any moment.

      God is Love, and Love is Patient, Kind, etc.

      Don’t mix up the Divine Justice with unjust anger.

      • Louise says:

        To Nick……

        You said………..”We don’t believe in a God of Wrath Who will strike mankind at any moment……..God is Love, and Love is Patient, Kind, etc…………..Don’t mix up the Divine Justice with unjust anger”.

        This is UNFORTUNATELY the common Catholic thinking.

        I need to say that His “wrath” is His justice, it is NOT unjust anger.

        We Catholics NEED to start realizing that Gods wrath is NOT this horrible/unloving thing that we think it is.

        God’s wrath IS His Love & Mercy. A parent punishes a child to stop them from being bad and/or to protect them from what they were doing that could have harmed them (i.e. riding a bike in the street, etc)….ergo…..punishment IS LOVE !!! At Fatima the Blessed Mother said that war is a “punishment” for sin (always remember that).

        God’s wrath (i.e. constant natural disasters, famine, draught, and other devastations in our life) is ALWAYS meant to WAKE US UP and stop us from doing these bad things, and to PROTECT us from the bad that will happen to us (going to hell) if we don’t stop doing the bad. For the good/holy people in the world that have to go through these bad things, they are suppose to offer their sufferings for the sins of the world.

        His “wrath” is basically His last resort after us not listening to His other more suttle (kinder) ways of trying to stop us from sinning. His wrath is His bending over backwards to stop us stubborn people from losing our souls, or from going into the depths of purgatory, which He also hates to see happen to us.

        Divine Mercy is DEFINITELY the one particular prayer that needs to be spread. Of course it’s good to spread the others too, but this is the prayer that He gave St Faustina meant for this day & age. Learning many prayers can be overwhelming to some people and that’s why this simple prayer is the one to stick with if they can’t do any other.

  2. Alicia G. Mendiola says:

    Thank you for sharing your latest blog. A fitting reminder that we are never in control of our lives. A reminder that we came to this world because of God and only God can take us out of this world. MARANATHA!

  3. Liam Ronan says:

    “…among those who will get stomped.” ‘Stomped’? I love your choice of that word, Monsignor. Stomping out the grapes of wrath.
    On a more sombre note, I always recall how Our Lady said of little (Blessed) Francisco Marto that she would take him to heaven soon but first he had to say many rosaries. I’m not sure why that was but I’ve always thought that if a little innocent child has to first say many rosaries before going to heaven then it’ll be a tight squeeze through the gates for such as me.
    Pray often and never lose heart.

  4. Lisa says:

    All the more reason to go to confession frequently! Why does the church require us to only go at least once a year? I know you can go as often as you like, but wouldn’t a requirement for say four times a year or more emphasize the importance of this sacrament?
    Great post Monsignor! I often wonder how bad of a mess God will let us get into before the end. I heard about it being possible soon maybe to fuze two female gametes for women to reproduce independently from men. Such a perversion of nature! May the Lord have mercy on all of us!

    • Joseph Q says:

      Hello Lisa,
      I am thinking that in many parts of the world where the Catholic faith is persecuted or there’s a serious lack of priests, a requirement of more then once a year may cause undue hardships. What if a priest can only say Mass in an area once a month because of circumstances and many of those months due to work or persecution confession is not an option. Or to live very remotely and one has to travel at great expense to go to civilization to find a priest. What if you are in a submarine during times of war and only have leave three or four times a year between missions. I wonder if you would be exempt in these cases anyways.
      There seems to be a parallel with how the Jewish nation is required to go to Jerusalem once a year for the temple sacrifices.
      Theses are just my thoughts.

  5. Caroline says:

    It’s an interesting tension. Myself, I would hope that the End Times are far away because I think our times today are quite trying on the Faith. But if I see the signs of the times correctly, I’m not so sure they are that far off. I don’t want to imagine things getting worse than they are. But we are also supposed to long to meet Our Lord, the see the Face of the One Who made us, since this world can only satisfy us for so long…

  6. Nordic Breed says:

    World War II involved the mass destruction of humanity in Europe and Asia. 9/11 showed what low-tech evil intent can accomplish. How many times do we need to be warned that we are on thin ice? I wish for mass conversions. I pray for them. It is my only consolation as I see our country and others around the world hell bent for destruction by their own hands. We still haven’t heeded the Fatima message and it is almost 100 years ago that Jesus sent His mother with urgent requests to pray for the conversion of sinners. God never stops calling. We just aren’t listening.

  7. RichardC says:

    I also thought that ‘stomped’ was a well-chosen word. For some reason, I found it the most terrifying word in the post.

    Concerning the Fr. Martin video: I read once that our virtues are usually in direct proportion to our vices. Suppose, the entire pornographic industry turned to Jesus in a single day, in a single moment, and didn’t turn away from Him again. Wouldn’t that save millions and millions of souls? I suppose how much we would really like to see that happen tell us something about ourselves. I think we should want that to happen,not only for the sake of their souls, but also because the godly things that they would be doing instead would impact all of us to make life more lively, and we ourselves would be compelled to be more lively because we would no longer have that forbidden consolation to turn to, if we could find a way to trade it in for something more gentle and kind.

    I like this somewhat apocalyptic song:

    DANIEL JOHNSTON * FUNERAL HOME * Jad Fair http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDaj6-9r1vY

  8. JohnR says:

    Amen to all you have said Monsignor,

  9. Peter Wolczuk says:

    About the triumphalist notion where one might relish the thought of those who might get stomped. Well, I’m still a work in progress on many things, including the love of my enemies, and sometimes I have to remind myself that God loves those very enemies so … who am I to say that they’re not loveable.
    There will probably come a time when some will have rejected their last chance to repent and a harsh decision has been made but, not by me.
    One thing which seems pretty universal among those who study the health, or lack thereof, of the emotional state is that; if I feel great anger toward someone or members of an affinity group; then that anger is really about some aspect of myself which I have redirected on them instead of facing it.
    It may be that I am really like them, but with enough variations to be in denial about our shared state. It could be a result of being emotionally vulnerable to their negativity in a way that can be resolved, if only I could find the courage to face the source of my weakness(es) and resolve. Other possible reasons.
    This facing and resolving is a thing that I’ve proven to be effective by seeking God’s help through His gift of the Twelve Steps yet, remain a little reluctant to take to the next level.
    Am I ready for the Lord’s Coming? Do Not Know. Tried many things but, was it just a matter of ticking off appropriate boxes and hoping for the best? Again don’t know but thanks for this as it will help.

  10. TeaPot562 says:

    “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof . . .”
    We all need mercy for our own sins, both those we recognize and those we try to sweep under the rug.
    So we need to forgive others, so that we too may obtain forgiveness.
    TeaPot562

  11. [...] hace mucho Monseñor Charles Pope, de la Arquidiócesis de Washington, escribió un magnífico artículo sobre la ambigua psicología y sutiles pretensiones que pueden estar inconscientemente en quienes [...]

Leave a Reply