Advent Doomsday and 2012

Have you ever noticed how humanity longs for an apocalypse? The typical doomsday merchant is the wild-eyed beardy weirdy on the street corner with his ‘the end is nigh’ sandwich board. He’s the stuff of cartoons and comedians. He’s the sort of loony who is only happy when he’s unhappy.

But there are salesmen of the apocalypse everywhere if you only have eyes to see them. Last week I went with the boys to see the movie 2012. It was terrific. Apart from the sophomoric anti-Catholic bits, it was a disaster movie to end all disaster movies, and all of it built on some wonderfully kooky New Age idea that the world will end on December 21, 2012 because the ancient Mayan calendar runs out on that day.

As a child I attended a fundamentalist church, and we used to have regular visits from the evangelist Jack VanImpe. He specialized in foretelling the future with a heady mixture of Dispensationalist theories, Bible prophecies and yesterday’s news clippings. We were told how there was a huge computer in Brussels called ‘The Beast’ which tracked everyone and how the European Community would merge with the Catholic Church to become the head of a New World Order. On top of that we were shown the equivalent of a Christian horror flick called, “Left Behind” in which the Lord Jesus returned and took all the true Christians to heaven in a flash and all the sinners were left behind. You better get saved quick or you’ll be left behind. This was only one of a long series of Protestant prophets who predicted the end of the world in one way or another and at one time or another.

Then there are the secular doomsday prophets. The world was going to crash in the year 2000 when the computers would all go haywire and the system would collapse. At one time there was going to be a population explosion and we were all going to stand shoulder to shoulder and starve together. Now there is going to be a demographic winter in which there will not be enough children to continue our culture. There was going to be a new ice age and we were all going to freeze, now there is global warming and we’re all going to roast and weep as we watch the polar bears drown.

The list could go on, and I expect if you knew more about history you’d find that in every age and in every culture people were expecting the end and predicting how it would come.

The gospel for the first Sunday of Advent is full of the same sort of scenario, so Jesus too was predicting the end. “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”

What is it in human nature that loves a doomsday? Why are we so full of fascination and fear about the end of the world?

Two reasons: First of all, because there will be an end of the world. This world is bound up in the matrix of time. There is an Alpha. There will be an Omega. Time began and time will end. One day it will all happen in a crash in a trumpet’s clash. Deep down we know this and are always watching and waiting.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, we know for sure that one world will end, and that is our world. In other words, one day for each of us the lights will go out. We’ll gasp our last and, if you like, our own sun, moon and stars will be shaken and the dark sea of death will roar and overwhelm us. It is our own end of the world that we fear, and knowing this, yet denying this we project our immanent end on the whole world.

Apocalypticism is a kind of sick obsession. It’s a spiritual disease. It is personal fear projected to a cosmic level. What’s the cure? Momento mori: Remember death.

If we constantly remember that we will die one day, and if we live each day as if is our last, and if we fear even more eternal death and the sin that will separate us forever from God, and if we strive to live each day in his life giving presence then we will be amazed at how we will have no fear.

Apocalyptic worries will dry up and we’ll be able to say with a cheerful abandon–”The end of the world? Bring it on. I’m ready for it!”

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  • shadowlands

    The further I go on, in this world, I see that my preparation must be for a joyful Judgement day. For me, and my family and those I meet and interact with, whilst on earth(that is, to try to help and not hinder another's journey). Oh, don't misunderstand me, I am far from being appropriately prepared, at present. I dread it mostly, due to my past and continuing struggles with my defects of character but that is my ambition, to not dread it, but rather to anticipate it, as Our Lady did, and does. I mean, what else is there, to be considering ultimately for any of us, except that day? I read yesterday, in the meditation on the fourth luminous mystery, that Our Lady, in heaven now, anticipates our entrance into glory.As for heaven, scripture tells me that it is being prepared FOR me, and it is not open to my mind/heart to even try and conceive of it.All this is a hope of course, not a place at which I have yet arrived and can send postcards from.Still, it's a plan and one of my more sensible ones, I trust. I hope this is within Catholic doctrine, to think like this. I just need to get perfected in love. How d'ya reckon I'm doing so far? Don't answer that!

  • Volpius Leonius

    Judgement day will occur within 100 years of been born for most of humanity I predict, which will most like be long before the apocalypse occurs.Preparation for either event is the same. Stay in a state of Grace.

  • 6p00d83451ccd269e2

    Just found your blog today, Father. Know Jack Van Impe and Left Behind well. Though Jesus has never failed me, I'm so glad to now be in the arms of Mother Church.

  • George Weis

    Funny, I remember the "Thief in the Night" Movie… it actually was rather freakish… but I believe it was the 70's creepy sounds and imaging that added to it haha!This kind of talk still pervades Churches like the one you were raised in Father. I know you know this! My folks watch JVI to this day… almost… religiously. And… he is still operating in the same way.For all of the nonesense that goes on, I will agree with a few facts. Jesus Christ Will come again being the first one… and blessings will come to those who wait in anticipation. Also, that the world will be judged. I disagree in so many more ways I couldn't even list them… too long! One major thing though is that Doom and gloom will not be found on my lips. Rather, I will rejoice that at the second coming, Christ in all of His glory will be revealed, and He will bring justice!Even so, Come quickly Lord!

  • shadowlands

    Lots(in fact ALL) of the Catholics I know, forget the prayer after the Our Father, particularly powerful for overcoming fearful end time projection.Deliver us Lordfrom every eviland grant us peace in our days.In your Mercykeep us free from sinand protect us from ALL anxietyas we wait in JOYFUL hopefor the coming of Our Saviour.Hallelujahhhhhhhhhhh!!!