Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Last Sunday after Pentecost—22 November AD 2009
The Abomination of Desolation

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English

We read in Daniel the Prophet:  Armed forces shall move at his command, and defile the sanctuary stronghold, abolishing the daily sacrifice and setting up the horrible abomination.  By his deceit he shall make some who were disloyal to the covenant apostatize; but those who remain loyal to their God shall take strong action.”[1]

    In this morning's Gospel, read to us on this last Sunday of the liturgical year, we hear about the last days of the world.  Our Lord speaks to us about the impending destruction of Jerusalem and the world, and about what the prophet Daniel called the “abomination of desolation.”

    Our Catholic Faith tells us that, as God created the universe at some moment of time in the past, so too will He, one day, bring it to an end.  We know that the world will eventually come to an end.  Yet people tend to be parochial—that is, they expect to see the great events of history being fulfilled in their own time.  No matter when they have lived, Christians have found reason to think that the end of the world was likely to come in their particular time.  However, the only thing we know for certain about the schedule for the end of the world is that we don't know when it will occur.  If we had read just a few verses further along in Saint Matthew's Gospel, we would have heard the familiar quotation: “But of that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven. . . . you must be ready because at an hour that you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.[2]

    As most of you have heard me say, it isn't particularly important when the world will come to an end—be it next week, or hundred centuries from now.  What is important is that the world will come to an end for each of us personally—within the course of a relatively short few years.  At some time, now unknown to us, we shall be called upon to give up our life and to make a rendering to God before the Judgment Seat.

    For the moment, let us think a little more about this “abomination of desolation,” about which Daniel wrote, and which our Lord associates with the end times.  Fairly certainly, Daniel wrote about the invasion of Jerusalem and the desecration of the temple which took place under the Macedonian king, Antiochus IV, in about 170 B.C.  We can read about it for ourselves in the first chapter of First Machabees.  “And he commanded the holy places to be profaned . . . and swine's flesh to be immolated, and [other] unclean beasts.[3]  To the Jews of the time, this was the end of their world; literally for some, and figuratively for all.

    But in Matthew's Gospel, our Lord is clearly talking about an event that would take place after His own time.  This made it possible for successive generations to place the events of the end-times in their own period.  When the Romans sacked Jerusalem and leveled the temple some thirty years later, this was held by many of the Jewish Christians to be the fulfillment of our Lord's words.  When the Moslems invaded Europe and boasted that they would feed their horses on the altar of Saint Peter's, we can be sure that many Christians expected that to signal the end—just as they had when the Huns, the Goths, the Vandals, and the Vikings swarmed the civilized world.

    And certainly in our own time, we have not had any shortage of predictions that our Lord's words were going to be fulfilled through the political situation in the middle east, with the help of nuclear bombs. We have seen tens of millions of unborn babies sacrificed to the devil, by men and women claiming to be “physicians.”   We have even seen our own version of the “abomination of desolation,” as we seemed about to loose the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; to have it replaced with a secular “Communion” service, occasionally profaned by clowns, dogs, and dancing girls—and sometimes much worse.

    Yet the world remains.  The Holy Sacrifice continues.  The Modernists and the Abortionists will some day go the same route as the Macedonians, the Romans, the Huns, and all the other assorted vandals of history.

    Nonetheless, our Lord's words remain true.  The end will come some day; both personally and globally.  Our task is still to be ready.  And that means not to have any “abomination of desolation” within ourselves.  Individually, there is very little that we can do to change the moral and political evils of the world.  But we can do a great deal to ensure that our own souls are in order.  When the day of our individual judgment comes, we can be sure that temple which is our soul has not been left in desolation, without the presence of God and His life-giving graces.

    That's not properly a last minute thing to attend to.  We would be very foolish to think that we can ignore God all of our life, and then, at the last moment, just as we are about to die, we will all-of-a-sudden repent, develop a sincere sense of perfect contrition, or have a priest waiting to administer the Last Sacraments.

    If we are to escape the “abomination of desolation,”  we must live all of our years with God being an important part of our lives.  And when I say important, I mean that we must do more than the grudging minimum.  Prayer, the Mass, the Sacraments, keeping the Commandments, religious reading—must be a regular thing for us—not just something we do for an hour or two on Sundays and most Holy days.

    St. Paul gives us some advice which will prepare us for our end, and preserve us from desolation.  In the words of today's epistle:  “May you be filled with the knowledge of God's will. . . . May you walk worthily of God, and please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.  May you be strengthened through His power unto perfect patience and long-suffering; joyfully rendering thanks to God the Father.”[4]

    Do these things day in and day out, and you will be prepared for any end—and will never die the death of desolation.


[3]   1 Machabees i: 49-50

[4]   Colossians i: 9-12




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