Saturday, May 21, 2011

Last Judgment: Attendance Mandatory

Folks seem to have been preoccupied with the return of my Lord for quite a while. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2) I think that's understandable.

As described, it's going to make Shanghai's Word Expo 2010 look like a cozy little rural gathering:
14 '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 15 will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
(Matthew 25:31-32)
(and see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 10381)
Just getting the 6,900,000,000 or so folks alive today together in one place would be spectacular. Add everybody who's lived and died? (John 5:28)

If today is Judgment Day, I'm sure nobody's going to wonder if some 'Biblical' prediction was finally right.

I'm pretty sure today isn't. Judgment Day, that is. I wrote about that yesterday.

End Times: Here We Go Again

You've probably heard or read about Harold Camping and his Family Radio outfit. They've been putting up billboards that say today is Judgment Day.

(Oakland Blog, via SFGate, used w/o permission)

Apart from the billboards, Mr. Camping's efforts sounded like pretty much every other End Times prediction I've run into: A fellow takes a few Bible verses and some assumptions, stirs in a few numbers, and pours out a timetable for my Lord's return.

After decades of this sort of thing, it's gotten to be a sort of routine. The predictions, I mean.

Happily, setting the timetable isn't up to me. Being ready for it is, and I've been over that before:


I grew up in America, in an area where a particularly virulent sort of Christianity was endemic. As a result, I'm moderately familiar with recurring 'End Times' predictions, and ideas about Rapture. Also as a result, I became a Catholic, and that's another topic.

Not so many folks use the word "Parousia," so I think it's time for a definition time:
"PAROUSIA: The glorious return and appearance of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as judge of the living and the dead, at the end of time; the second coming of Christ, when history and all creation will achieve their fulfillment (1001; cf. 668, 673)."
(P, Glossary, Catechism of the Catholic Church)
Please note: That's the definition of Parousia. "The rapture" is an interesting bit of American culture. Since I've got the teaching authority of "some guy with a blog," I've put a quote from a reliable source at the end of this post.2 As I've run into it, the 'rapture' involves:
  • 'Good Christians' being whisked up to Heaven
  • Jesus
    • Coming to Earth
    • Making people who didn't go to the 'right' church suffer
In that order.

It's dramatic, by now it's deeply-rooted in American culture, and it's something that cropped up in the 19th century.2 It's also emphatically not what the Church teaches.

As I've said before, I don't expect to convince a zealot of anything. My job is to say what's so, and move on.

Last Judgment: You Won't Miss It

The current 'End Times' claim encouraged me to see what the Church has to say about the Last Judgment. Turns out, we're told when to expect 'Judgment Day:'
"When? Definitively 'at the last day,' 'at the end of the world.'557 Indeed, the resurrection of the dead is closely associated with Christ's Parousia:
"For the Lord himself will descend from heaven, with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.558
"Risen with Christ

"Christ will raise us up 'on the last day'; but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already risen with Christ. For, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on earth a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ:
"And you were buried with him in Baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. . . . If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.559"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1001-1002)
If that's not what you heard on the radio, I'm not surprised.

As for just when the 'last day' comes? God knows, I don't - and I mentioned Matthew 25:13 yesterday.

I'm not concerned about Judgment Day so much as I am about the minutes, years, or decades I've got left before my particular judgment. (Catechism, 1020-1022, 1051) I've been over that before:
"...Osama bin Laden's death reminds me that I've got a limited span of time to work with. And, although I must rely on my Lord's mercy, it seems pretty obvious that we're supposed to do something with what we've been given. (Catechism, 1422-1473, 1846-1848), I've also read Luke 19:12-27 and Matthew 25:14-21)..."
(May 2, 2011)
The way I see it, until I die or Judgment Day comes, my job isn't to try predicting what God has in mind.

My job is to be ready. (Luke 12:36)

Related posts:

Background (from May 20, 2011):

1 About the Last Judgment:
"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"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1038)
2 "The rapture," and American culture:
"...All three films hinge on a literalist interpretation of certain Scripture passages and are informed by a pessimistic brand of Protestantism known as 'premillennial dispensationalism,' which took root among certain fundamentalist Christians in the early 19th century.

"Central among its tenets is 'the rapture,' here meaning a sudden, unexpected taking up to heaven of those faithful to Christ, in advance of his second coming and presaging a seven-year period of tribulation for those 'left behind.' While Catholic teaching accepts a rapture event at Christ's return in glory, the church rejects the notion of it occurring prior to the second coming as suggested by the films. "
(Left Behind, Media Review Office, Catholic News Service, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.