Age of New Beginnings |
Michael Cain, editor
In the three year liturgical cycle, in which the entirety of Sacred Scripture is contained, we begin today with the first Book of Genesis, first chapter, first verse. "In the beginning..." It is the story of Creation and when you begin to realize there really was no beginning to God and no end, well, then you have grasped what mind-boggling means. It is a mystery no finite being will every be able to solve, and no finite being in their right mind should try for it suffices by faith alone to believe and let it be at that.
The only other book that begins with the same words is the Gospel of John - "In the beginning..." which refers to the same Creation and that the Word, the Light, the essence of all Who was, is and will be forever God.
That is why Sacred Scripture is the foundation of Divine Revelation.
With a new millennium and, now, a new president, it is especially important that we recognize beginnings. These fuel hope for what is to come; not the apocalyptical accounts that paint doom and gloom, and seem to be on the minds of so many, heightened by the recent earthquakes, natural disasters and now a movie about the end times "Left Behind" making so much hype. The Holy Father sought to put a damper on the prognosticators of doom and gloom in his weekly catechetical message during his Wednesday General Papal Audience from Paul VI Hall last Wednesday and carried in yesterday's issue. Before packing it in and expecting the worst, His Holiness advised we go to the source - Sacred Scripture for the answers to what it all means. He affirmed that "Sacred Scripture inserts a virtual golden thread in the midst of the weaknesses, miseries, violence and injustice of human history, leading toward a messianic end of liberation and peace." How about that? a "virtual golden thread" - beautiful prose! But it is not only prose, but the poetry of inspiration and powerful.
Many believe we are in the end times and, as Christ's special emissary, His hand-chosen messenger, His very Own Blessed Mother has conveyed so many times, indeed we are; but not in the apocalyptic sense many have misconstrued. When Our Lady said at Fatima and subsequently many other places around the world and to countless messengers, "In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph" she did not mean the end of the world, but an end of an era. The timing of that is up to us. The more we pray, the more we sacrifice, the more we adhere to all her Divine Son asks and what she requests (cf. John 2: 5), the sooner will come the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart which will usher in the Glorious Reign of the Sacred Heart, the Age of the Holy Spirit, the New Advent, yes, a time of New Beginnings. So it is not a time of the consummation of the world, but the threshhold of the consummation of love. We are in the end times of an era that seems to recycle every 2000 years or so. It is a recleansing, where there will be the fulfillment of the beautiful prayer to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity - the Holy Spirit - "Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Thy Love, send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth." A prayer that speaks volumes.
Many have likened this coming age as the "Age of the Holy Spirit." The Old Testament was the era of God the Father, the last two millenniums have rightly focused on God the Son, and therefore it would logically follow that what is to come will be the era of the Sanctifier. However, we can't be sure, we can't say with definitive proof that this is going to happen and when it will occur. To do that is to be presumptive and to ignore Our Lord's warning that "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of Heaven but the Father only" (Matthew 24: 36).
And it is presumptive to assume there will be a "Rapture" as evangelicals promote so vigorously and what is the basis of the movie released this weekend "Left Behind." For the most part they base this on the "interpretation" of that same chapter of Matthew where Jesus says "Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the millstone; one will be taken, and one will be left" (Matthew 24: 40-41).
The problem is that they interpret it rather than discern it. They are taking the Master's words out of context for He is speaking about the coming of the Son of Man, referring to the days before the flood when many refused to hear the warnings, refused to prepare. This same passage is followed by Our Lord's sentinel words in Matthew 24: 42-51 and the entire twenty-fifth chapter in which He speaks in parables of the servant and the Master, of the ten virgins waiting for the Bridegroom, half of whom did not keep their lamps lit with the oil of faithfulness in preparing for the great wedding feast. The Church teaches that these passages refer to our fidelity to God and His Holy Church through frequent reception of the Sacraments, prayer, fasting and always being prepared to meet Him no matter the hour. The Church holds to the discernment that these words of "rapture" - not a Catholic phrase, but one coined by Protestants, refer to Judgment time when we are called before our Maker to account for all that we have done. It is not by faith alone that we will be saved as Protestants stubbornly hold to, but by both faith and good works. Christ's Own Words bear this out, especially in his final words of Chapter 25 (45-46), "'Amen, I say to you, as long as you did not do it for one of these least ones, you did not do it for Me.' And these will go into everlasting punishment, but the just into everlasting life."
That is the true Rapture; when God separates the wheat from the chaff. Not all will be saved for not all hear the word and respond. God has given each a free will and we are free to choose to do good or evil. God allows evil for good, but He does not condone it and neither should we...ever! But we can see this happening everywhere as satan's politically correct legions seek to keep more "left behind forever" in the abyss of gehenna. Jesus said in Matthew 20: 16 that "Even so the last shall be first, and the first last; for many are called, but few are chosen."
Logic also debunks the whole Rapture theory for Our Lord insisted many times that no one can be His disciple, no one is worthy of Him, if they are not willing to take up their cross daily and follow Him without compromise wherever that may lead. Often times it leads to ridicule, persecution and even martyrdom. We have seen this throughout the history of the Church, especially during the first three centuries and during this most recent one, often referred to as"the Century of Martyrs." Do you think they would have given their lives, would have subjected themselves to undo punishment and self-sacrifice if they beleived that they would be lifted up from all this and not have to undergo their cross?
What it all boils down to is exactly what Pat Ludwa writes about in his column today, that love is hard. I urge you to read his excellent, thought-provoking and inspired words. It makes much more sense than the pablum being spread about the rapture, where those who say Jesus is Lord will be preserved from temporal tribulations. It's more than just that. If that's all there is to being "lifted up" into Heavenly bliss, then we have missed the whole essence of the Word; we have missed the true nature of the Most Holy Eucharist, the ultimate unbloody Sacrifice; we have missed what Christ really meant. It would mean that the blood of the martyrs was in vain, that all the saints did and passed on, is for naught. It would mean that the wisdom imparted by Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and Mother Teresa that we need to do the little things with great love, are useless. It would mean that the philosophy of rebellion in the Reformation, the individual interpretation of the Word, and the subsequent diluted doctrines passed down and which have branched out into countless different sects, always pushing the envelope to satisfy ease and accommodate the lukewarm , was right. It would mean that man had a better idea than God. I think not, I know it's not!
Once again, the age of enlightenment has confused rather than enlightened for there is only One Light, One Truth and to believe in any other is anathama. Christ did not teach the Gospel according to Martin Luther, John Calvin or the millions who abandoned Him and His Church to begin their own, while keeping those tenets they wanted and relaxing the rest. Contrary to the anti-Catholic sentiment, those who follow the successor of Peter are the ones who will not be left behind. However, to assure this we need to swim enthusiastically to the Barque of Peter and be caught up in the net of love as fishers of souls. And it is through being on board the Barque of Peter, the boat Christ Himself chose, designated, and never abandoned, that we can confidently sail toward new beginnings. No matter what lies ahead, we will have no fear for we know we're on the right ship and we will enthusiastically endeavor to gather more upon the deck, seeking to fill the galleys with souls young and old. The Ship can never be too full, for the more who sail with us, the more fish we gather for God. There are no limits except when we limit ourselves.
Pope John Paul II has constantly reaffirmed this and encouraged us to carry out the Messiah's call in Mark 16: 15, "Go into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned."
Notice, Our Lord didn't say "He who believes and proclaims Me as the Lord shall be saved." No, He said "is baptized" - the sacramental action first introduced by John the Baptist which makes us children of God and takes away the original sin visited upon us at conception and birth by our first parents Adam and Eve.
It's easy to blame them; it's the nature of man, especially in today's society, to pass the buck, to not take responsibility for our own actions. It seems to be the norm today to take the easy way out and "Left Behind" is more Hollywood than honesty; more form than substance; more spin than Scripture.
While we seek to be one, great care must be exercised in not boarding the wrong boat. Dominus Jesus confirmed a long-standing Catholic doctrine that, since Vatican II, the modernists had succeeded in scuttling. How could they stay in business if they subscribed to the truth, to the truth that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church, the only one with the four authentic marks of One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. We leave you with the final confirmation of this from Matthew 28: 18-20 in Christ's last words on earth - "All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world."
Notice He did not say teach them "some" or "what they want to hear," but all He commanded, not suggested. He did not say if some of the other boats decide to stray, that's okay and that He would be with them. No, He said that He would be with those He had designated to lead His Church as He had commanded. And that admiralship continues unbroken today nearly 2000 years later in the 264th successor of Peter - John Paul the Great, His chosen servant of servants in these trying times. And in this critical period of history the Vicar of Christ is not preaching that the end is near, but rather that the "kingdom of God is among us" (cf. Luke 17: 21) and that we are indeed in an Age of New Beginnings.
For past editorials, see CATHOLIC PewPOINT Archives
February 5, 2001
volume 12, no. 36
CATHOLIC PewPOINT commentary