November 30, 2003
First Sunday of Advent
vol 14, no. 40

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The Signs of His Coming

Only by discerning the wondrous and ominous signs God presents can we keep before us the Second Coming and be properly prepared with our lamps lit for the Bridegroom.

    "If we are wise we will ponder this picture carefully. If we read the signs of the times wisely we will prepare ourselves for the Lord's coming through prayer, penance, and good works worthy of a disciple of Jesus Christ."

      Editor's Note: In Father Louis Campbell's sermon for the First Sunday of Advent, he hits at what the essence of Advent is: preparation. It has been so ever since God promised Abraham a Savior. That was eons ago, but today the signs which were revealed by Our Lord in His words in today's Gospel of Luke 21: 25-33 and last Sunday's Gospel of Matthew 24: 15-35, are indeed upon us. Father documents how the sun is playing a pivotal role in preparing the world that the Son comes soon. Many saints have foretold of these times as Father shows in words that are meant to haunt your conscience to be prepared. St. Hildegarde prophecied that there would be clergy who would be robbed of all property. Are not the true clergy - the Traditional priests robbed of a living by Novus Ordo bishops and left to fend on their own? Thank God for faithful Catholics who will support these brave men of Faith. She spoke of the heresies and pointed to the constellation as a sign. So should we look to the sky physically and to the innermost chambers of our heart and soul spiritually in preparation for His Coming. [bold and italics below are editor's emphasis.]

       Advent is a time of hope and expectation, but also of serious pondering of the signs of the times. Advent takes us back to the beginnings of human history, to ponder the sad fact of our fall from grace due to the Original Sin of our first parents. But God promised a Redeemer, and those who had faith in God's promises and looked forward in hope to His coming were saved. Looking forward in hope, we unite ourselves in spirit with them - with Abraham and Sarah, with Moses, Isaiah and all the prophets, with St. John the Baptist, St. Joseph, and Mary, who was to become His Holy Mother.

       The Second Coming of Jesus Christ in glory on the clouds of Heaven will be sudden and unexpected so that "all the tribes of the earth shall mourn." Among the signs Jesus told us to look for: signs in the sun, the moon and the stars, a great falling away from the faith, sin, violence, wars, famines, earthquakes, diseases, persecutions, and false christs and prophets who would deceive many, even the elect. He said that as a result of the loss of faith the love of many would grow cold, and that the Gospel would be preached to all nations.

       Some ridicule those who try to interpret the signs of the times, and, in fact, some people do seem to make a career of it, following this seer and that prophet, and seeing ominous signs in everything that happens. But St. Augustine defended those who look for signs, saying that if the Lord comes they will be prepared, and if His coming is delayed, they will have lost nothing for being prepared. To ignore the signs sent by God is to invite disaster.

       Dom Prosper Gueranger tells us why we must contemplate the signs with holy fear for our salvation:

      "For the day of this His last coming… will be a day of terror. The Church frequently trembles at the very thought of that awful judgment, in which all mankind is to be tried. She calls it 'a day of wrath, on which, as David and the Sibyl have foretold, the world will be reduced to ashes; a day of weeping and of fear.' Not that she fears for herself, since she knows that this day will for ever secure for her the crown, as being the bride of Jesus; but her maternal heart is troubled at the thought that, on the same day, so many of her children will be on the left hand of the Judge, and, having no share with the elect, will be bound hand and foot, and cast into the darkness, where there shall be everlasting weeping and gnashing of teeth. This is the reason why the Church, in the liturgy of Advent, so frequently speaks of the coming of Christ as a terrible coming, and selects from the Scriptures those passages which are most calculated to awaken a salutary fear in the mind of such of her children as may be sleeping the sleep of sin" (Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year, v.1, p.31).

       And so we ponder the many signs nature herself is providing these days-storms, hurricanes, tornados, fires, hail, asteroids, and comets. And now - sun storms. A solar flare is defined as a sudden, rapid, and intense variation in brightness that occurs when magnetic energy that has built up in the solar atmosphere is suddenly released. The amount of energy released is the equivalent of millions of 100-megaton hydrogen bombs exploding at the same time! These violent bursts of energy from the sun usually reach a peak every eleven years or so. The unusually powerful ones coming now are out of the normal cycle. Could these be the signs in the sun that Our Lord told us to look for?

       In these past few weeks scientists have reported the most powerful sun storms ever. The BBC reported on November 5th:

      "After 10 days of unprecedented solar activity, the Sun has released the largest solar flare ever recorded. It was rated at X20, but was greater than earlier X20 occurrences since it's power exceeded the range of the measuring devices. Solar flares cause geomagnetic storms on Earth, and can produce fascinating lights in the skies. The blast sent billions of tons of superhot gas into space - some of it directed towards our planet."

       Our Lady at Fatima in 1917 worked a great miracle during which the sun rotated on its axis sending out colored beams of light in all directions, and finally appeared to plunge towards the earth, causing the people to fall to their knees begging for God's mercy. Could Our Lady have been preparing us for these days? Other saints and mystics have also predicted such signs, among them St. Hildegarde, who seems to be speaking directly to this age:

      "Toward the end of the world, mankind will be purified through sufferings. This will be true especially of the clergy, who will be robbed of all property. When the clergy has adopted a simple manner of living, conditions will improve… Many battles and many things contrary to the lawful dispensation will arise, and charity will be extinguished in men. In them also will arise bitterness and harshness and there will be so many heresies that heretics will preach their errors openly and certainly; and there shall be so much doubt and incertitude in the Catholic faith of Christians that men shall be in doubt of what God they invoke, and many signs shall appear in the sun and moon, and in the stars and in the waters, and in other elements and creatures, so that, as it were in a picture, future events shall be foretold in their portents."

       If we are wise we will ponder this picture carefully. If we read the signs of the times wisely we will prepare ourselves for the Lord's coming through prayer, penance, and good works worthy of a disciple of Jesus Christ.

       Dom Gueranger provides us with an appropriate prayer:

      "Thou art to come, then, O Jesus, in all the terror of the last judgment, and when men least expect Thee. In a few days Thou are coming to us to clothe our misery with the garment of Thy mercy; a garment of glory and immortality to us; but Thou are to come again on a future day, and in such dread majesty that men will wither away with fear. O my Savior! Condemn me not on that day of the world's destruction. Visit me now in Thy love and mercy; I am resolved to prepare my soul. I desire that Thou shouldst come and be born within me, so that when the convulsions of nature warn me of Thy coming to judge me, I may lift up my head, as Thou biddest Thy faithful disciples do, who, when the rest of men shall tremble at the thunder of Thy judgment, will have confidence in Thee, because they have Thee in their hearts" (Ibid. p. 131).

    Father Louis J. Campbell

December 2003
vol 14, no. 40
"Qui legit, intelligat"
Father Louis Campbell's Sunday Sermons

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