Friday, April 29, 2011

The End Times

"That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an aeroplane...It's the end of the world as we know it. It's the end of the world as we know it. It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine." ~REM

"Be not afraid." Pope John Paul II














I grew up in a family that was intently focused on the END OF THE WORLD. We knew all about the THREE DAYS OF DARKNESS and were convinced that it would happen in our lifetime. My parents were well prepared with blessed candles, a wood-burning stove and an amply stocked pantry. Even today, a family get-together can rarely be enjoyed without someone commenting matter-of-factly that these are THE END TIMES. Although my childhood was colored with this fear, and believe me, I have had many nightmares about the end of the world, overall my early years were happy and something in me resists believing in a God of wrath and punishment, but instead, favors a God of gentle love and kindness.

I used to think that my family was the only one who believed in an angry God for I had never heard of the THREE DAYS OF DARKNESS from anyone else, even the most holy of people. Then, shortly after 9-11, I went to the public school for a conference with one of the teachers, a sweet young girl who taught first grade. As soon as I walked into her classroom, she confided her fear to me that she was sure that this great tragedy was the beginning sign for the THREE DAYS OF DARKNESS. I was amazed to learn that my family wasn't the only one who believed in the chastisement.

I've tried to sway my family to my point of view, to help them understand that God does not want to chastise the whole world, but rather, He wants to embrace the whole world. I've argued, pleaded and prayed with them. We've even had a visit from a wise and wonderful priest who worked his way step by step through the erroneous prophecies in an effort to release the bondage of fear that tightly holds my family. But, despite my best efforts to convince my relatives that they should put aside worry and fear and focus on the love of God, I have not had any success and they cling to their beliefs like a blanket of gloom, and I am sure that they are not alone as my visit with that first grade teacher, as well as many comments that I have heard from other good and religious people, have confirmed.

We can look to the disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and tornadoes and feel that it is just punishment from God for our sins. Surely for those who are in the midst of it, it is the end of the world, but is it just punishment or simply natural elements? What about all the good and holy people who suffer from these disasters? Are they being punished for their sins or do they just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

I look at the history of the world and see that natural disasters and plagues have always occurred and individuals have always suffered through illnesses and the deaths of loved ones. Governments have always been corrupt and the poor have always struggled. Cancer is a fact of life for many people, innocent children die for no apparent reason, chronic disease plagues many. War has brought about its own horrific plights.

Through all of this pain and suffering, we can choose to dwell on the negative and live in fear, or we can choose to accept the fragility of a human life that includes a generous dose of misery and cling to a God of life and love who is with us through it all, crying tears of sadness right beside us in our grief. And that same God is waiting; waiting for the day when our earthly passage will end and we will be united with Him in eternal joy where death will be no more.

We are meant to suffer here on earth, not because of the just judgment of God for our sins, but because we are meant for something more glorious than what this world contains. These are the end times for each and every one of us individually, not collectively. We can worry and live in fear, or we can embrace the suffering of our own crosses, loving and supporting one another through it all and thereby prepare ourselves for our own individual meeting with our Maker when the time comes for our own personal end of the world. Over two thousand years ago a great prophet, St. John the Baptist, told us to "prepare the way of the Lord." His words still ring true today. We must be prepared for the end of the world, for the second coming of Christ, but that preparation shouldn't leave us trembling in fear, but instead, we should be rejoicing in the greatness of God and his triumphant mercy and love for us all, sinners, each and every one.

Oh God of love and gentleness, stay near to us in our suffering and trials. Hold us close. Cry with us. Steady us in our anguish. And when these days of sorrow are over, hold us even closer in Your eternal glory. Amen.

For more on the Three Days of Darkness visit the notable blogger Jimmy Akin.


10 comments:

  1. Great post Anne. Your prayer at the end is something I needed to hear today.
    God bless!

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  2. One of my favorite Apostolic Letters is Salvifici Doloris (On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering) Pope John Paul II writes:

    "Man suffers on account of evil, which is a certain lack, limitation, or distortion of good. We could say that man suffers because of a good in which he does not share, from which in a certain sense he is cut off, or of which he has deprived himself. He particularly suffers when he 'ought' - in the normal order of things - to have a share in this good, and does not have it."

    He goes on to write that "Suffering has the nature of a test," and that an invitation to God's mercy is included in suffering.

    "Suffering must serve for conversion, that is, for the rebuilding of goodness in the subject, who can recognize the divine mercy in this call to repentance."

    "Human suffering has reached its culmination in the passion of Christ. And at the same time it has entered into a completely new dimension and a new order: it has been linked to love."

    John Paul II just has that way of putting things beautifully. His words have transformed the concept of suffering in my mind to be associated with love instead of fear.

    End times, shmend times. Not one of us knows if today would be our last day on earth, anyway, so it's better to be mindful of living every moment as if it were our last, in complete trust of God's divine will and His merciful love.

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  3. Anne~You summed things up so well. What a blessing that you have seen the light. Those of us who have suffered deeply can testify to the glorious LOVE and grace that emerges from the depths of our pain and sorrow. We are triumphant after our trials because He loves us, not because he punished us. We can be a witness for others that we are closer to Christ than ever before. The timing of our life's end on earth suddenly is no longer an issue if we are planted at the foot of the Cross. I am praying that my roots grow stronger there with each passing day. Thank you for spreading the message of Easter hope!

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  4. I suggest you read this:

    http://padrepioandchiesaviva.com/Karol_Wojtyla_Beatified_.html

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  5. I read your post at the suggestion of Theresa at Carmelitemom. I agree with you, and I disagree with you. How's that for being wishy-washy LOL?

    There have been enough warnings from Our Lady at both Fatima and Akita that I cannot summarily dismiss talk of chastisements as something concocted to scare people into believing in God. I don't think it's a healthy thing to live in fear, nor do I think God wishes to pull us closer to Him by scaring us to death. However, with that said, Our Lady has said many times that if the world does not convert and turn to her Immaculate Heart, she will be unable to restrain her Son's arm any longer. She was also very clear that the good will suffer along with the bad.

    The faithful know that God may ask them to suffer. The faithless dismiss God entirely. That's why I don't think it's so incongruous to believe in the chastisements Our Lady warned about. I don't know much about the Three Days Darkness but the little I have read makes me fearful not for myself but those members of my family and friends who refuse to turn to God. But then again, the knowledge that a soul may be condemned eternally to Hell is enough for me.

    We do not know at what hour we will be called and we should not need fear of chastisements to want to keep ourselves ready to meet our Creator at all times. It's true there have always been natural and man-made disasters, but I think what we are seeing now is unprecedented. Those of us who wish to grow more and more in faith with each passing day are more fearful of being separated from God and of offending Him than we are of any punishment He might or might not inflict. Since His gifts to the faithless are so easily and casually dismissed or misused, I don't think it's too far-fetched to think He may use disasters as a wake-up call to all of us.

    Thanks for the great post.

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  6. Anne,
    I don't think this is the end of the world either but I DO think we live in critical times. As TLW mentioned above I think that what we are seeing now is unprecedented and may get worse before it gets better if people don't turn toward God. God does "allow" certain events to occur and uses these things to purify and correct our hearts. It happens every day on an individual level and it certainly happens on a larger scale too. The thing is: God brings good out of everything and we can certainly trust Him.

    The Popes we've had recently have all expressed concern about the times we are living in and there have been numerous apparitions of Jesus, Mary, and the saints, warning us that the world is going astray and that there will be a "divine correction" if things don't change. Though some of these apparitions may be false they surely can't all be. What is far more worrisome than going through purifications and such is the spiritual welfare of so many souls who are being led astray by a world that has lost its bearings and has largely turned away from God. We have seen in the past that a society that is not based on God doesn't last.

    I've heard of the Three Days of Darkness. This happened in Egypt in the Old Testament and there have been many prophesies that say it is going to happen again. I'm not sure what to think about this.

    As for me, I believe that we are living in a "preparation period" for the "new springtime of hope" that Pope John Paul spoke about. Wouldn't that be awesome :) Not "the end" but, rather, a "new beginning".

    Thanks Anne! Great post!

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  7. John Paul II that is! And with his beatification this Sunday he would be a great intercessor for these days :)

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  8. Anne
    I echo all the above - great post.

    I find myself wondering if God uses events like these as a wake up call. Part of me thinks maybe, and the other part recalls God telling Abraham that he would spare Sodom if he found just 10 righteous people there.

    I don't know the answer, but I know that the world has to get its act together because we are surely headed in the wrong direction.

    God Bless.

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  9. Anne, Amen and amen!

    The Holy Spirit assures each Believer in Christ the Final Victory - listen to what St. Paul says in the 8th Chapter of the Epistle of Romans, verses 31-39,"What shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?..Who [or what] shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or naked-ness, or peril, or sword? ..Nay, in all these things we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."v.39.

    You are right Anne, can earthquakes, or tsunami's or kingdoms separate us from the love of God? The Holy Word of God speaks to us and says, 'nothing.'-

    Always live as IF it is the end times. Always live as if Christ is coming. But don't live in fear-as you said in your excellent article.

    In His Grace,
    TFTR

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