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Apocalyptic Messages: How to react

Apocalyptic Messages: How to React

– Answered by Father Johann Roten, S.M.

Q: How should we react to apocalyptic messages of warning, punishment and impending doom?

A: Our attitude toward those messages should be one of faith, hope and charity. We should listen to them with the knowledge that Christ's message is both incarnational and eschatological, meaning that it is a message both for the transformation of this world and its ultimate fulfillment in eternity.

1. Attempts to date and localize the end times have been made all through the centuries. To no avail! So far nobody succeeded in accurately predicting the final days of our world; the many prophecies to that effect did not come to fruition.

2. According to Mk 13,32 and Mt 24,36 nobody is privy to the date of final judgment or parusia, that is "neither the angels in heaven nor the Son, only the Father." One may conclude that Our Lady is included among those who do not know.

3. The Church rejects (see DS 3839) or at least regards critically all forms of millenarism, meaning that after a time of trial Christ returning to earth would reign during thousand years before the reapparition of Satan and the end of times. St. Augustine, after having espoused a moderate millenarism eventually rejected it completely.

4. The End Times began with Jesus Christ. Prophets of the Old Testament foresaw Jesus as the harbinger of creation's new age. Jesus began the new creation and this means that the battle between Antichrists and the Church has already begun. The battle of the end times was engaged when Christ changed our existence by His Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection.

5. It is true that a number of apparitions contain announcements of apocalyptic events, some of them partial, others radical or total. A partial apocalypse predicts impending catastrophes and punishment in the form of warfare, natural disaster, attacks by demons, fire falling from the sky, and persecution of the Church. The radical form of apocalypticism refers to Christ's imminent and second coming and the end of times. Where there is mention of apocalyptic events, the majority of apparitions announce the partial form.

6. There are, however, prophetic elements in most of the known apparitions. Whereas apocalyptic elements influence the message's recipient in the sense of fear, despair or pathological sensationalism, the prophetic elements subordinate warnings and announcements of punishment to faith and hope in God's mercy. They call the present generation to repentance, conversion and charitable action.

7. The Church has been entrusted by Christ to safeguard his message, its understanding and interpretation. All messages of private revelation, if they become of public domain, need to be read in the light of the Church's doctrine and ecclesiastical praxis of past and present. The Church has never condoned apocalyptic agendas. On the contrary, the Church speaks of new evangelization, new Pentecost and a new Christian Millennium. This is not to say that the Church rejects the pressing invitation to prayer, repentance and conversion. They are part of the permanent message of the Gospel.

8. In the face of growing apocalypticism it is important to point out the following:

  • Good and evil, sin and grace, personal responsibility and final judgment are integral aspects of Christian faith and not to be minimized.
  • We are all in need of an attitude of permanent conversion which sometimes should take on the expression of a radical conversion.
  • We need to adopt a critical stance toward much of what is going on in this world: we ought to remind ourselves that we are not of this world and therefore ought to see it with eyes of faith.
  • The urgency of most warnings is to be heeded: now is our best time for conversion; God speaks to us now, he wants us as his sons and daughters now. Here lies the immediate practicality of apocalypticism. Each one of us is confronted with his/her personal apocalypse, meaning the epiphany of God in our life presenting us now with the challenge of a personal decision for or against him.
  • It is not without importance to remember St. Anselm of Canterbury's description of Mary as mater rerum recreatarum (mother of recreated realities). Her role is one of recreating and healing, and not of destruction. Whatever the warnings, whatever the messages of conversion and recreation, Mary's role is always constructive.
  • The reports and stories of Our Lady's re-appearances on earth serve to remind the Church that she has a special mission to help Christians amidst the routine of their daily life in this modern world. Mary is Our Lady of the End Times. She is a caring instrument of the Holy Spirit who constantly intercedes for us before God. By her life, her activities in heaven, and the many reports of her re-appearances today, Mary has given the Church a message of hope and redemption. The key to receiving Mary's message is our disposition and attitude. May we strive to make this time an Age of Mary through devotion to her and by instilling in our lives a passionate dedication of service to God and our fellow man.

All About Mary includes a variety of content, much of which reflects the expertise, interpretations and opinions of the individual authors and not necessarily of the Marian Library or the University of Dayton. Please share feedback or suggestions with


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