Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
we have reached the end of the Church's year—the last Sunday after Pentecost.
And no matter how many Sundays there are after Pentecost—it can be between 23
and 28—this particular Mass formulary is always used at the very end. Of
course, that is only appropriate, for it speaks to us about the end of time; the
end of the world.
most of us the idea of the end of the world is a pretty frightening notion.
I know that it upset me pretty badly when I first became old enough to pay
attention and to understand what the priest was saying as he read this Gospel.
But the Church isn't trying to frighten us each year as we read it—but It does
want to prepare us for two eventualities—the end of the world in general—but
more specifically, and really more important, our own personal end.
we read this passage, and the other passages of Sacred Scripture which deal with
the end of things, it appears that there will be a period of severe tribulation,
followed by a period of peace during which the world is ruled by Christ the
King, and in the end the universe as we know it will return to the nothingness
out of which it was created -- to be replaced by the kingdom of heaven.
particular passage deals with the first part, the tribulation. And we see
that it will be difficult indeed. Our Lord speaks of “tribulation such
as has not been seen from the beginning of the world....” There will be
“wars and rumors of war.” There will be famine, and plague, and
natural disaster—“the sun will be darkened and the moon will give no
Lord speaks of what the Old Testament prophet Daniel calls the “abomination of
desolation.” This probably refers to a time so chaotic and filled with
persecution and apostasy that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will cease to be
offered. Think of that desolation—entire cities, even countries without
the Real Presence of the Blessed Sacrament—of no priest to hear Confessions,
anoint the sick, or bury the dead—at a time when these things will seem more
necessary than ever before.
Lord speaks of “false Christs and false prophets, who will show great signs
and wonders, and try to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”
Elsewhere we read that their will be an “Antichrist,” a being so possessed
by the devil that he will seem to be as evil as the True Christ is holy—and
having great powers of deception.
we see also, that even in the midst of all these difficulties, our Lord will be
looking out for His elect—for those who are faithful to Him and keep His
Commandments. “For the sake of the elect those days will be
shortened.” and “His angels will gather His elect from the four winds,
from one end of the heavens to the other.”
course, we don't know just when this will all come to pass. We
live in a time of world political instability; a time of decreasing moral value,
increasing sacrilegious behavior, and a positive disregard for the rights of
God. The abomination of desolation seems to be coming upon us, as in more
and more churches what passes for the Mass becomes less and less reverent—and
becomes more and more distorted, perhaps already to the point of not being Mass
at all. Someone quipped the other night that “the Antichrist had been
elected President.” We seem to have a lot of earthquakes and hurricanes
even with all of these things and more, we still don't know. Certainly the
early Christians expected the End in their own time, as our Lord said, “this
generation will not pass away until all of these things have been
accomplished.” And can you imagine the fear which engulfed Christendom
on New Year's Eve, December 31st, in the year of our Lord 1000, as the clock
struck 12 and ushered in the new millennium? Indeed, the only thing we
know for sure is that we don't know. Our Lord tells us that we “know
neither the day nor the hour.” In spite of all the symptoms, the End may
not come this year, nor for centuries to come—or it may come today, even as
this uncertainty really shouldn't bother us. As I have told many of you,
and told you many times, the precise date of the End of the world should have
absolutely no bearing on our behavior. Our own personal end may very well
come long before the general End. And the things that we must do to
prepare for the one are identical with what we must do to prepare for the other.
We would be wrong to quit our jobs and hide in the cellar until the End comes to
either event, we need to keep the Commandments. And to keep them because
we love God—not just because we fear Him.
either event, we want to have developed a personal relationship with God, long
before our time comes, so prayer, and fasting, and spiritual reading are all
either event, we need to make maximum use of the Mass and Sacraments whenever
and as long as they are available to us.
we ought to make use of the sacramentals too—the crucifix, holy water,
blessed candles, the scapular, and certainly the Rosary. Those things may
be our only consolation if we are around at the End. But they are also
essential to forming a Catholic spiritual life under normal circumstances of
peace and prosperity. There shouldn't be a Catholic home without a
crucifix—better yet one in each room. And we really can't claim to be
Catholics without some form of devotion to our Blessed Mother. And
sometimes our spiritual darkness can seem to require those candles every much as
though the sun had stopped shining and the moon no longer gave its light.
this is the end of the Church's year. The Mass reminds us to prepare for
our own end—every bit as much as for The End. We have to get our lives
in order in precisely the same ways.
closing, let me remind and encourage you. Our Lord is looking out for His
elect. As He says in the Opening Psalm of this Mass: “I think
thoughts of peace, and not of affliction. You shall call upon Me, and I
will hear you, and bring you back from your captivity.”