Still, I'm a practicing Catholic: and I try to stay informed.
Our parish priest brought up an important point this Sunday. It's a simple series of statements. Here's what a pope said about the idea, a few decades back:
"...The essential mission of the priesthood is found in the Eucharist. Your identity and mine are fixed forever in the Eucharistic celebration, that action of Jesus which in turn is the fullest and most effective proclamation of his whole Gospel message: Christ has died! Christ is risen! Christ will come again!..."I think that bears repeating:
("Address of John Paul II to a Group of Priests from the United States of America," John Paul II speeches, vatican.va (May 7, 1982)
"Christ has died! Christ is risen! Christ will come again!"
1021-1022), and the Last Judgment. (1038-1041)
I gather that the Last Judgment will be an event that'll be impossible to miss:
"The resurrection of all the dead, 'of both the just and the unjust,'623 will precede the Last Judgment. This will be 'the hour when all who are in the tombs will hear [the Son of man's] voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.'624 Then Christ will come "in his glory, and all the angels with him. . . . Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. . . . And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.'625"I've mentioned the - interesting - version of Christianity that was endemic to the area I grew up in. (February 2, 2010, and lots of other times)
As my youth merged into early adulthood, I noticed a pattern. Quite a few of these Scripture/Numerology/End Times chaps had a book to sell: proving (Biblically speaking) that The End Was Nigh - four or five years after their book's publication date.
Maybe I'm being too cynical here: but that'd be a pretty good choice from a marketing point of view. Put the End Times too close to the publication date, and book sales might still be brisk when the deadline hit. Put the fireworks too far off in the future, and whipping up enthusiasm for buying the thing might be a trifle difficult.
Four or five years after going on the radio about the latest 'end-times prophecy' strikes a nice balance, in my opinion.
Revelation with the Washington, DC zip code and Stalin's shoe size - or whatever I decided would get folks excited enough to shell out $19.95 - or whatever thick paperback books are going for these days.
Much more to the point, I don't think my Lord would appreciate my efforts to cash in on a cultural quirk. We're told that "Only the Father knows the day and the hour" (Catechism, 1040; Matthew 24:4-27, Matthew 24:36)(and see Matthew 24 footnote 9 in the NAB)
I'm inclined to take Jesus seriously. Folks with a book to sell? Not so much.
I couldn't help but notice, though, that a Catechism reference number I used is 1040 - which is the number of IRS form 1040. With a little work I could probably work that into a diatribe about Elijah, 2 Kings 1:10, 1 Kings 18:40, Revelation 11:5 and flamethrowers. Or maybe one of the new laser weapon systems.
That's not gonna happen.
I'm quite willing to assume that God knows what He's doing, and doesn't need me second-guessing His timetable. Besides, there's that Matthew 24:36 thing: looks to me like trying to work out when my Lord is coming back is a waste of time.
That Jesus is returning, literally and unmistakably? I've got His word on that.