Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
“God the Father …hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the
saints in light; [and] hath delivered us from the power of darkness,”
The Gospel today certainly smacks of “the power of darkness.” “The sun
shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,” the “abomination
of desolation,” and so forth.
We will read a similar Gospel again next week.
As a priest, I am asked, often
enough, whether or not we are living in the end times described by our Lord
in these two writings. The answer is that I certainly do not know, and that
it is doubtful that anyone will know with certainty prior to the end
itself: “you know not the day nor the hour.”
Without any doubt, Pope Pius XII
seemed to be prophesying the “abomination of desolation” in our time when he
I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to Lucy
of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace
the Church is a Divine warning against the suicide of altering the
Faith, in Her liturgy, Her theology and Her soul…I hear all around
me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the
universal flame of the true Faith of the Church, reject Her
ornaments and make Her feel remorse for Her historical past.
A day will come when the civilized
world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter
doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God. In
our churches, Christians will search in vain for the red lamp where
God awaits them. Like Mary Magdalene, weeping before the empty tomb,
they will ask, “Where have they taken Him?”
But Pope Pius was not the first to
describe an “abomination of desolation.” In the first book of Machabees we
read about “King Antiochus [who] set up the abominable idol of desolation
upon the altar of God, [in the Temple at Jerusalem, about two hundred years
before Christ] and they built altars throughout all the cities of Juda round
The idol was probably a statue of the false “god” Zeus.
Even to Christians, the destruction
of the Temple by the Romans in AD 70 had to be an “abomination of
desolation.” Even more so, the attempt of the Emperor Hadrian to place an
idol of Jupiter Capitolinus in the midst of the Temple ruins.
The Barbarian invasions from the
north, the Islamic invasions from Arabia, and the Huns from Asia must have,
once again, seemed to portend the end of times. The building of the Dome of
the Rock on the grounds of the Jerusalem Temple to honor Mohammad’s
pretended “ascension into heaven” was “déjà vu all over again,” with
its renewed desecration of the Temple grounds.
It must have been frightening to
watch the sand run out of the hour glass on the last hour of the last day of
the first millennium—just as it was to see Protestantism disrupt the unity
and defensive resources of Christendom against the Moslem resurgence around
the Mediterranean in the sixteenth century.
The fact that the end of the world
could have happened at all of these times should remind
us that no matter how strange the times in which we live, we still cannot
“know the day nor the hour.” Indeed, that warning is really intended for us
as individuals. At a time that we do not know—but in
the relatively near future—our own personal end of the
world is sure to come, and we must be prepared for it.
Quite likely, this is the reason why
the Church has us read Saint Paul’s words to the Colossians as today’s
epistle. Saint Paul prayed for his converts to the Faith, as we should pray
for ourselves and for those around us—for all of our friends, relatives, and
What could be more important than
that we “be filled with the knowledge of the will of God”? Well only “that
[we] may walk worthy of God”—in other words that, knowing God’s will, we
live our lives according to God’s will. And that we live according to God’s
will not grudgingly, but “in all patience and long-suffering with joy.”
What could be better, when our own
personal “end of the world” comes, then for God to find us doing precisely
what He created us to do? All men and women were created with human nature,
and it is our responsibility to reflect upon the purposes of our creation,
and to conform ourselves to those purposes.
For those who do not know Jesus
Christ, those purposes may be difficult to fathom. But even in their case,
the faithful application of human reason to life in this world will allow
them to know God’s will. Yet, we should include them in our prayers—that
they may be faithful in their efforts.
Even more, along with Saint Paul, we
should pray that “God the Father” will make all of those around us “worthy
to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light.” We should pray that
when the end comes, no one will be subject to “the power of darkness,” and
that everyone will be taken into “the kingdom of the Son of his love, in
whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins.”