Categories
Allen Ink Slingers Perspective from the Head Series You Did It To Me

You Did it To Me: Visiting Christ, Who is Sick

Welcome to the series “You did it to me” where we will be discussing the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. This will be a twice a month series from March to September 2015. We hope you enjoy!Visiting the Sick

Visiting the sick, it sounds easy enough, you visit someone who is sick, keep them company, Hospital, Tuskegee (LOC)bring them some food, take care of their kids, or bring them medicine.  My family has been the recipient of this corporal work of mercy, with each of our nine children.  Our friends and family would rise to the occasion and help us through these times of transition as we welcomed new life into our family and while my wife would recover from her C-Section surgeries.  I can tell you that being on the receiving end of corporal works of mercy is very humbling, and it has inspired us to do the same for others who were in need.  I can’t say I came by visiting the sick naturally.  In fact, I am not a very good sick person, when I get sick I generally don’t want to do anything, just sleep and have someone else wait on me.  When someone is sick in my family, I don’t automatically jump at the opportunity to be of service to them.  In most cases, my wife is much quicker to respond than I am and I am usually pretty happy with that. 

God Had Other Plans

Last year I was unemployed for a number of months, long enough that we were starting to become concerned about our financial situation because we were about half way through our savings and no job was in sight.  The job search story will be the subject of a future blog article, but for our purposes here, it is important to know that through prayer, we decided that I should consider a job opportunity in my hometown which is three hours away from our home.  Almost all our extended family lives in our hometown.  We were the only ones to move away.  I was hired for a position and started my new job within two weeks of the first interview.  I didn’t need to find a new home to live in because I could stay with my Dad during the week.

TouchTEAMPart of the decision making process (in those two weeks before the offer came) was my Father’s health.  We had noticed for a year or so that my Dad was slowing down, having difficulty performing tasks that we would find very easy, and making some poor financial decision.  We knew that he had been diagnosed with an incurable illness that resulted in loss of muscular control, and the early onset of dementia which includes severe short term memory loss, extreme impulsiveness and a belief that there is nothing wrong.  By seeing him on a regular basis I could go to doctor’s appointments with him and see how I might be able to help him and his wife to deal with a gradual loss of ability and independence. 

Unfortunately, these symptoms had a devastating effect on his marriage and this relationship was coming to an end due to the changes in his personality that accompanied the progression of his illness.  I knew God directed me to take this job near my extended family for a reason, but I had no idea that my Father’s situation was so dire. 

Doing the Right Thing

As I mentioned earlier in this article, I always associated visiting the sick with taking care of people who had a temporary illness and were at least welcoming of the assistance being offered.  With my Dad’s illness, he believes that he is perfectly fine even if everyone else knows better.  To help him I had to make very difficult decisions to take away his ability to mismanage his money (which included credit card fraud) and his ability to drive.  As you may imagine, he was not happy about either of these and I am now accustomed to my Father telling me that he hates me and to get out of his home. 

This is where visiting the sick becomes a cross to bear and truly a corporal work of mercy.  Our whole family is united in the actions that we had to take for the protection of my Father and of others who may be impacted by his mental and physical impediments.  It would have been easier to act like everything was okay, but we all knew that it was not fair to him or anyone else that did business with him or was driving on the same road to let things continue as they were. 

As I have shared with others the struggles we have been going through with my Dad, it appears that I am not alone.  Almost everyone relates to me a similar situation that they had to deal with as their parents grew older and were no longer able to care for themselves.  As a son, I have a debt of gratitude to my Dad.  He sacrificed much for me as I was growing up. He coached my little league teams, sent me to the best private schools, gave me a job when I was way too young to work, provided guidance through all my difficult times as a teenager and to think about it, I wasn’t always too happy with what he decided was best for me either.  The roles have definitely reversed, it is now my time to be the not-so-popular one who has to make the best decisions for my Dad’s well being even if doesn’t always like them. 

Our Reward is in HeavenPathway to Heaven

Since my Dad’s illness will only get worse, I know he will never realize that these decisions were for the best, he will probably never thank me or the rest of my family for the many hours of work we have done for him and he will most likely continue to be rude and resentful when we make a decision that he doesn’t like.  But we must do it anyway.  I love my Dad, I also have a lot of empathy for him as his brain is overtaken by this illness and he becomes less and less in control of his emotions and his body.  I and the rest of my family, my brother and his family and my Dad’s brother and sister are committed to helping him live out the rest of his days with dignity and love.  We may not be thanked for our work, but we know it is the right thing to do. 

Christ tells us in the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, that when you care for the sick in your life, you are caring for Jesus.  I pray that I see Jesus in my Dad and that I treat him accordingly.  I spend a lot of time in prayer these days, and I should probably spend more, because this work is difficult, but necessary and if I am visiting Christ who is sick, I should give it my best and ask for His help to be the best caregiver in the world.

Visiting-the-Sick-CWOM

Epilogue

My Father in Law was also diagnosed with terminal cancer during our time away from our home and he passed away earlier this year.  Ministering to him was quite a different experience and we wrote several articles about that experience.  Reflections by myself, my wife and one of our daughters can be found at the Your Holy Family website.

Categories
Current Events Fruits of the Holy Spirit Hannah Ink Slingers Year of Faith

Come Holy Spirit, Give Us Goodness

This is the sixth of a 12-part, once-a-month series on the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. This month’s fruit is Goodness. Be sure to see previous posts beginning with CHARITY and check back next month as another contributor explores the fruit of LONG-SUFFERING.

When tragedy strikes, people often ask the question “Where is God?” While God does not cause tragedy – He is after all, all good – He does permit it to happen. I believe He does this that we might see His Goodness.

A tornado touched down in Moore, OK last week and left lasting devastation. At least 24 people died, including 9 children. As with any tragic event, the beauty – the goodness – of God comes through in the aftermath. People will do good things; they will provide clothing and shelter, they will comfort the grieving, and they will care for the sick and wounded. All of these things give us a glimmer of the goodness of God.

Goodness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and it seems like it should be a hard one to pin down. In a world rife with disease, violence and apathy it can be difficult to see goodness, especially goodness of a supernatural sort. Mother Theresa is probably the most widely known figure who embodied this fruit. She cared for the lowest of the low, the sick, weak, and dying. In reality, every EMT, Nurse, Doctor, First Responder and volunteer on-site in Moore is ripe with goodness. Something as simple as bringing a meal to a grieving family is a way to feed the hungry.

Goodness, as a fruit of the Spirit can be seen in the Corporal Acts of Mercy:

To feed the hungry.

To give drink to the thirsty.

To clothe the naked.

To shelter the homeless.

To visit the sick.

To visit the imprisoned (formerly known as “to ransom the captive”)

To bury the dead.

The works of mercy come from Matthew 25:31-40

And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.

Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.

It is easier than we think to share the fruit of goodness. I know that the Acts of Mercy my family received in the days, months and years following our infant daughter’s death were – and are! – glimmering beacons of God’s love for me in a time where my life seemed covered in darkness. While not all of us are able to perform Corporal Acts of Mercy for the suffering in Moore, we can find people in our everyday lives who are in need of goodness and we can always remember the suffering in our prayers as we perform the seventh Spiritual Act of Mercy: Pray for the living and the dead.

Categories
Splendid Sundays

Splendid Sundays: God’s giving and giving to God

Today’s Mass Readings, with a reflection below.

Novena to Christ the King

Recite One Our Father, One Hail Mary and One Glory Be per day followed by the Novena Prayer:

O Lord our God, You alone are the Most Holy King and Ruler of all nations.  We pray to You, Lord, in the great expectation of receiving from You, O Divine King, mercy, peace, justice and all good things.  Protect, O Lord our King, our families and the land of our birth.  Guard us we pray Most Faithful One.  Protect us from our enemies and from Your Just Judgment  Forgive us, O Sovereign King, our sins against you.  Jesus, You are a King of Mercy.  We have deserved Your Just Judgment  Have mercy on us, Lord, and forgive us.  We trust in Your Great Mercy.  O most awe-inspiring King, we bow before You and pray; May Your Reign, Your Kingdom, be recognized on earth.

Amen.

 

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ The King

Lectionary: 160

Reading 1 Ez 34:11-12, 15-17

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.
As a shepherd tends his flock
when he finds himself among his scattered sheep,
so will I tend my sheep.
I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered
when it was cloudy and dark.
I myself will pasture my sheep;
I myself will give them rest, says the Lord GOD.
The lost I will seek out,
the strayed I will bring back,
the injured I will bind up,
the sick I will heal,
but the sleek and the strong I will destroy,
shepherding them rightly.

As for you, my sheep, says the Lord GOD,
I will judge between one sheep and another,
between rams and goats.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 23:1-2, 2-3, 5-6

R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Reading 2 1 Cor 15:20-26, 28

Brothers and sisters:
Christ has been raised from the dead,
the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
For since death came through man,
the resurrection of the dead came also through man.
For just as in Adam all die,
so too in Christ shall all be brought to life,
but each one in proper order:
Christ the firstfruits;
then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ;
then comes the end,
when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father,
when he has destroyed every sovereignty
and every authority and power.
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
When everything is subjected to him,
then the Son himself will also be subjected
to the one who subjected everything to him,
so that God may be all in all.

Gospel Mt 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left,
‘Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.”

 

“Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.”

Bl. Mother Teresa

Reflection

God provides us everything. Last week we learned in the Parable of Talents that to whom God entrusts much He expects much. This week we learn just how much God gives us. He gives us everything we need, provided we depend solely on Him.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit”

Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5

These passages are about completely casting aside your wants and desires and instead turning completely to God to provide for you. How much are we depending on God for everything? I, for one, am daily guilty of relying upon myself first and often resorting to God when I realize I need His help. I forget to lean on Him first, always first, never second, because when I give all control to Him I will have no need to worry, I won’t need His help, I’ll already have it. But practically speaking, what things do you do differently to lean on God first?

I’m still learning this myself, so if you, our readers and contributors, have suggestions and insight, do leave it in the comments box!

I see leaning on Him for everything manifesting in regularly offering myself to Him during the day, to His work, “Lord, I am yours to do your will.” This prayer in general makes me more aware of my surroundings, it takes me out of my own mind, agenda, and worries and I become more sensitive to the things outside of my mind could be or needs to be done.   Instead of focusing so much on my own needs I might notice  that a friend is struggling and could use a few minutes of my time.  Even praying about everyday decisions, “What is the best way to feed my family today?” might yield in a reminder that I have some leftovers in the freezer I could warm up, when I had really been inclined to go out to eat unnecessarily.

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.”

Jesus to His disciples, John 6:54

God also takes care of me through His Sacraments. God refreshes my soul when I humble myself in the Sacrament of Confession. God tends to me, His sheep, when I worship in Eucharistic Adoration, and He pastures my body with His when I partake in the Blessed Sacrament. He tends to both our body and soul through the Sacraments which gives us eternal life.

“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.”

Jesus to His disciples, John 10:27-28

Finally we hear Jesus say with complete clarity that what separates out those who will live with Him forever is found in what they do with the gifts He bestows upon them. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” says Jesus in the Gospel of John, so it is first by His nourishment that we are able to hear Jesus’ voice cry out to us in the hungry, the thirsty, the poor, all of those in need. And like with the Parable of the Talents, it is not enough for His faithful to accept the gift of faith and keep it for ourselves (burying it to preserve it instead of letting it grow like the third servant), we are called to live our faith, share our faith, double the many talents worth of faith by sharing our faith.

Disclaimer: This post was finished early and scheduled to automatically post on Sunday. The third commandment was not broken in the creation of this edition of Splendid Sundays =D.

Categories
Faith Formation Matrimony Sacraments Sacred Scripture Splendid Sundays

Splendid Sundays: Saving our Spouses

Today’s Mass Readings, with a reflection below.

The marriage of Mary and Joseph.

 

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 157

Reading 1      Prv 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31

As a noun, a distaff, also called a rock, is a tool used in spinning. It is designed to hold the unspun fibers, keeping them untangled and thus easing the spinning process. It is most commonly used to hold flax, and sometimes wool, but can be used for any type of fiber. - Wikipedia

When one finds a worthy wife,
her value is far beyond pearls.
Her husband, entrusting his heart to her,
has an unfailing prize.
She brings him good, and not evil,
all the days of her life.
She obtains wool and flax
and works with loving hands.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her fingers ply the spindle.
She reaches out her hands to the poor,
and extends her arms to the needy.
Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting;
the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her a reward for her labors,
and let her works praise her at the city gates.

Responsorial Psalm      Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

R. (cf. 1a) Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants
around your table.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Reading 2      1 Thes 5:1-6

Concerning times and seasons, brothers and sisters,
you have no need for anything to be written to you.
For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come
like a thief at night.
When people are saying, “Peace and security, ”
then sudden disaster comes upon them,
like labor pains upon a pregnant woman,
and they will not escape.But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness,
for that day to overtake you like a thief.
For all of you are children of the light
and children of the day.
We are not of the night or of darkness.
Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do,
but let us stay alert and sober.

Gospel Mt      25:14-30

An ancient Greek amphora. A talent was approximately the mass of the water required to fill an amphora.

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master’s money.After a long time
the master of those servants came back
and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents came forward
bringing the additional five.
He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,
‘Master, you gave me two talents.
See, I have made two more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,
‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person,
harvesting where you did not plant
and gathering where you did not scatter;
so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.’
His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!
So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant
and gather where I did not scatter?
Should you not then have put my money in the bank
so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.
For to everyone who has,
more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'”

or Mt 25:14-15, 19-21

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.

After a long time
the master of those servants came back
and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents came forward
bringing the additional five.
He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.'”

Reflection

The Church teaches that the primary function of marriage is to encourage your spouse in holiness so that God can fill him or her with sanctifying and saving Grace.  We pray that our spouse will one day hear the Master say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” and reside in Heaven forever.

In the Proverbs passage, the man who receives the worthy wife has received a “five talents” wife.  Perhaps this wife sees her husband as five talents given to her by God and she is in turn giving thanks for this gift by fearing the Lord and walking in His ways.  By her obedience to  God she works hard and enjoys what the psalm promises that she will be favored and eat the fruit of her handiwork.  This wife is an example to us for how to be the spouse God designed for the sacrament of marriage.

For reference I tried looking up how much a talent is in today’s terms.  A talent is a measurement of weight, and in this context means a measurement of precious metal, possibly gold.  The best I could find was that one talent is worth 20 year’s wages, and another estimated one talent to be worth over  million dollars.  So we’re not talking nickles here.

For those of us who are married, is our approach to our vocation reflective of the number of talents we see that God has given us in our spouses?  God has entrusted to us another soul.  That soul is worth many talents, worth more than pearls.  How are we helping God double the talents of our spouse for His glory?  Does our prayer life as a couple suffer because of demanding schedules?  Are we making selfless sacrifices to make sure our spouse can get to confession or Adoration?  Are we staying strong amidst the daily toils of running a household remembering that our work reflects our acknowledgement of the talent worth God has given us in our spouses?

We cannot put aside helping our spouses seek holiness because we are too tired or too busy today.  We are aptly warned to “Stay awake and sober” by St. Paul because we simply do not know when it will be our or our spouse’s day of judgement.

“The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church.  It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life.” Catechism of the Catholic Church 1661

Disclaimer: This post was finished early and scheduled to automatically post on Sunday. The third commandment was not broken in the creation of this edition of Splendid Sundays =D.

Categories
Apologetics Faith Formation Offering your suffering Prayer Sacred Scripture Splendid Sundays

Splendid Sundays: Catholics and the Rapture

Today’s Mass Readings, with a reflection below.

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 154

Reading 1           Wis 6:12-16

Resplendent and unfading is wisdom,
and she is readily perceived by those who love her,
and found by those who seek her.
She hastens to make herself known in anticipation of their desire;
Whoever watches for her at dawn shall not be disappointed,
for he shall find her sitting by his gate.
For taking thought of wisdom is the perfection of prudence,
and whoever for her sake keeps vigil
shall quickly be free from care;
because she makes her own rounds, seeking those worthy of her,
and graciously appears to them in the ways,
and meets them with all solicitude.

Responsorial Psalm      Ps 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

R. (2b) My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
O God, you are my God whom I seek;
for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary
to see your power and your glory,
For your kindness is a greater good than life;
my lips shall glorify you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus will I bless you while I live;
lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.
As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,
and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
I will remember you upon my couch,
and through the night-watches I will meditate on you:
You are my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Reading 2      1 Thes 4:13-18

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
about those who have fallen asleep,
so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose,
so too will God, through Jesus,
bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord,
that we who are alive,
who are left until the coming of the Lord,
will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord himself, with a word of command,
with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God,
will come down from heaven,
and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive, who are left,
will be caught up together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air.
Thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Therefore, console one another with these words.

or 1 Thes 4:13-14

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
about those who have fallen asleep,
so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose,
so too will God, through Jesus,
bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

Gospel           Mt 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Reflection

Assumption of the Holy Virgin, Peter Paul Rubens 1626

This has been quite a year for end of times predictions.  For some of us, this is the first time we’ve been old enough (or at least aware enough) to observe the degree to which some groups of Christians believe “the rapture” will come in our lifetime.  It may feel like a new phenomenon, however there have literally been people in every generation since Jesus’s First Coming who believed that they would be the ones to receive the honor of being assumed into Heaven before death.

Catholics believe in a “rapture” too, as it is quite clear in the Bible and in Apostolic Teaching.  Whenever Christ returns, those among “the elect” in the Church Militant will be assumed body and soul into Heaven just like the Blessed Virgin.  However, there are two places of distinction between the Catholic view of the end of times (eschatology) and the view of those Christians who devised this year’s billboards.

 

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church…

St. Paul, Colossians 1:24

The first distinction deals with the placement of the “tribulation”; will it be before or after the “rapture”?  Scripture clearly describes a period of great suffering at the end of times.  Some Christians believe that the none of God’s faithful will have to endure the tribulation, and instead they will be raptured before hand such that only the non elect will be left behind to endure the reign of Satan.  However, Catholic theology embraces the role of redemptive suffering and does not shy away from Christians enduring great, great suffering.  We have a 2000 year history filled with saints who endured amazing persecution and martyrdom all for the Truth and the Glory of God.  We fully expect that during the tribulation we will remain here to minister to those who will fall into despair, we will remain to continue spreading the Gospel.  Thankfully, our Lord has already provided mercy for us during this time of tribulation, as Jesus consoles, “And if those days had not been shortened, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect they will be shortened.” (Matthew 24:22)  God clearly knows that His faithful can sustain a tribulation, but He also has recognized their limitations by shortening the time period of desolating abomination.

The second distinction between those in the imminent end of times “camp” (did you catch the joke?), is that we truly heed the words of Jesus:

* Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day you Lord will come. Matt 24:42
* So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. Matt 24:44
* But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son,
but the Father alone.
Matt 24:36
* Stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Matt 25:13

We are commanded to be prepared for Christ’s seconding coming as if it is is to happen in our lifetime, however, even Jesus was too humble to boast when it would be!  Now, don’t get this text wrong, it is not denying the oneness of the Trinity, it is however demonstrating the humility of Jesus’s human nature, a humility we would do well to imitate.  If even Jesus is to be so humble about when He will return, how then, if we are to follow His example, can we boast any approximation for His return?  This is exalting one’s self and knowledge above the example set by Jesus!

So, in the meantime let us be among the five virgins with oil in their lamps, ready for our Master at any time!  Let our souls thirst for our God, and let us bless Him while we live!  Let us stay awake, waiting for Wisdom at dawn, by His gate!  For whenever His coming may be, whether it be tomorrow or many generations from now, we will be basking in His glory, body and soul forever!

Disclaimer: This post was finished early and scheduled to automatically post on Sunday. The third commandment was not broken in the creation of this edition of Splendid Sundays =D.