St. John the Evangelist’s Vision of Heaven by Alonso Cano (Wikimedia Commons). No matter what times we live in, our basic duty as Christians remains the same.

Another friend on Facebook this weekend was bemoaning all the struggles in the world right now. I say another, because this happens often. Something is wrong with the world and many of us sense it.

The other night I watched an interview with the journalist who introduced Edward Snowdon to the world. When she spoke of how the government was watching her every move, trying to force her to reveal her sources, I was eerily reminded of the fight for religious liberty. Priests are being subpoenaed to break the seal of Confession. Pastors in Houston have had their sermons subpoenaed. The Bill of Rights is crumbling.

Isis is beheading Christians in the Middle East. The last week saw terrorist attacks in the US and Canada. There’s an Ebola epidemic, great moral decay, and the scandal over the relatio from the Synod on the Family.

Are we living in the end times?

Are these the end times?

This answer is unequivocally yes.

Since the Ascension God’s plan has entered into its fulfillment. We are already at ‘the last hour.’ ‘Already the final age of the world is with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real but imperfect.'” (CCC 670)

The end times began 2000 years ago.

I don’t have a lot of hope for the long-term future of the United States. But the fall of our country, or of the entire western world, does not necessarily mean the end of the world.

Now, obviously, we are at least 2000 years closer to the literal end of the world than the apostles were. But how far do we have to go? No one knows except God.

Prophets and seers

Private revelations seem to be everywhere. Some seers have been denounced by the Church. Others are under investigation. Still others have not yet come under scrutiny by church authorities.

Here is my response to private revelations that have not yet been approved by the Church:

I ignore them.

Why? To me, they are a distraction. Most of them in the long run will be discredited. A few will be found “worthy of belief.” But even those few will add nothing to the deposit of faith. The faith does not change because of private revelations. Nor does our duty as Christians.

Many people get caught up in following private revelations and end up in despair. Others become convinced that the Church has apostatized and disown their Mother. Many more become anxious and fearful. None of these is God’s will for us.

What does Scripture tell us?

Apocalyptic scriptures–those verses that speak of the end of the world–are notoriously hard to interpret. They can be twisted to fit almost any time or circumstance. But Jesus gives us some clear words.

And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another.  And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.  And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold.  But he who endures to the end will be saved.” (Mt 24:10-12)

Instead of following prophets, we need to stick with Jesus and His Church. He didn’t say that those who interpreted the times rightly will be saved. Or those who stored up food in their basements or fuel in their garages. But those who keep following Christ, who do not let their love grow cold, who endure in their faith, will be saved.

 Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Mt 28:20)

No matter what external circumstances we find ourselves in, Jesus is with us. He will never abandon His Bride. If we remain in the Church and in the state of grace, He will remain with us.

He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.  But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.” (Rev 21:7-8)

Those guilty of mortal sin and unrepentant will be punished forever. But those who conquer the Devil and his wiles will be children of God.

Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done.” (Rev 22:12)

So what are we to do?

The apostles faced this question as well. No one knew how many centuries it would take for Christ to return. Some believed He would return almost at once. St. Paul wrote:

I mean, brethren, the appointed time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away. I want you to be free from anxieties…” (1 Cor 7:29-32)

In other words, we should live as though Heaven is our ultimate destination, not earth. We must be detached from everything and everyone. Not cold towards others, of course, but loving them in light of our love for God, rather than making idols out of them. We must live for nothing but Christ.

True peace comes only from living as God intended. Anxiety shows that we are somehow distracted, that we have lost our focus.

Elsewhere, Paul warns the Thessalonians against giving up working and standing around waiting for the Lord’s return (2 Thes 2:5-14). And when he speaks to the Corinthians about the Second Coming he says:

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Cor 15:58)

In short, whether the Lord comes tomorrow or 2000 years from now, He should find us watching–not by standing around in fear or curiosity–but by prayer and good works. We should live ordered, peaceful lives. We should get rid of everything that keeps us from coming closer to Christ. That includes spurious prophecies and excessive concern about worldly affairs.

For even if the antichrist appears next year, some people who are reading this may no longer be here to see it happen. And if Christ returns in fifty years, many of us will be gone.

The end will come when it comes, whether I foresee it or not. We will not be faulted for not getting anxious. We will not be faulted for focusing on loving God and our neighbor. These are the things that matter. These are the things that will bring us peace. In our era and in every era.

Peace be with you. Come, Lord Jesus.

Connie Rossini

Written by Connie Rossini
Hi, I'm a Catholic writer and homeschool mother of four boys. I practice Carmelite spirituality. Check out my Books page for publications to help your whole family grow in holiness.

    15 Comments

  1. vparisi October 28, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Thank you Connie for this- these times make us all nervous but that is not how God wants us to be. It is for us to be ready- not to know everything that may happen and when. I have given in to too much curiosity at the expense of my first love which is Jesus and Her Church.

    Blessings,

    Val

    • Connie Rossini October 28, 2014 at 8:27 am

      You’re welcome, Val. The temptation to fear and depression is almost universal these days. But God is still God, so we need to just keep placing everything in His hands.

  2. jrlambert2014 October 28, 2014 at 9:19 am

    Connie, I have faithful friends who are more than “bemoaning” the state of the world and the Church. I have been in a position of not just consoling, but of repeating the methods that the saints have always used for staying the course. I am pasting a recent talk to a fretting friend as well as a link to my new and somewhat experimental blog page that is relevant to this topic. Our Plan For Achieving Successful Martyrdom – Achieved Only By Becoming A Saint http://robertalambertblog.wordpress.com/ This topic is pretty much all that is relevant to anyone who is seeking the fulfillment of the only purpose for which we were each created.

    My oft repeated advice to those friends who are overwhelmed by the condition of the World:

    Don’t get the idea that I am pathologically afraid. My fear is no more pathological than what the saints knew was necessary to stay on the path. Salvation is serious business. Taking over any part of the intricate guidance on our own will spell defeat. It is not possible to navigate any step of the narrow path strewn with traps without total abandonment to God. ANY exception to this total trust, TOTAL OBEDIENCE, total fidelity to God’s providence will not do.

    I believe that reading, listening or analyzing the current situations to fit them into prophecy is highly unnecessary and VERY, VERY tempting to nudge you off the path. I am stating that I do believe that it is not good, not required of you and only serves to destabilize your footing on the Narrow Path. Yes, much prophecy could be happening, but it is not your job, nor is it for you or me to read and put together the current condition of the world and Church to connect dots. This is completely unnecessary and only when some decision comes up for you to make that is SPECIFICALLY in your present moment, do you engage or subject yourself to this exercise that puts your faith in danger.

    Do not even look at anything that is unnecessary for you to look or hear or ponder that is not strictly in YOUR present moment. Do not try to figure out why so-and-so bishop said that or Father so-and-so did that. It is only pertinent to you if you have something that you must decide IN THAT MOMENT ONLY. What goes on in Rome is not strictly something that you should ponder. Stop your exposure and definitely do not read OTHER PEOPLES CONNECTING DOTS for our current times, current rumors, and current perceptions of wrong doing.

    I am very concerned that many faithful Catholics in our position of broken heartedness at the seeming betrayal of our leaders to uphold and proclaim the Truth will lose it all. I am very concerned that many will fall off the right side of the Ship and drown. It makes no difference if you fall off the left side of the Catholic Faith or if you fall off the right side of the Catholic Faith; you are off. Talking about prophecy, as Jesus said, “Will there be any faith left on the earth. This phrase has been ringing in my mind: Luke 18:7-9 “Now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? 8 I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

    • Connie Rossini October 28, 2014 at 10:35 am

      Thanks, Robert. I just read your post. You’re right on with your plan.

      One of the problems we face is information overload. If we knew less about what was going on all over the world, we wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed at how bad things are. I think there’s a fine line between sticking one’s head in the sand and falling prey to curiosity. This curiosity can sometimes be a veiled pride–that it is somehow our business to know what everyone else in the world is doing. Other times, it can be an expression of sloth, substituting knowledge for action. Since we live in a connected world, it is helpful to have a basic knowledge about what is going on it. Our children, neighbors, and co-workers will ask us what we think about various events, and we can’t be totally ignorant. But there is far too much worry, hand-wringing, detraction, and gossiping going on. So much of what is posted on Facebook would be better left unsaid. All this leads ourselves and others away from Christ.

      “Only one thing is necessary.”

      • jrlambert2014 October 28, 2014 at 1:58 pm

        To avoid dangerous distractions that undermine and cause disturbance, I have been carefully using the following criteria for the past 5 years in determining what is necessary and what is counter productive.

        I do not read, watch or listen to anything:

        That I already know
        That I already have done all that I can do
        That I already have told/informed all whom I can tell
        That I have already taught/explained the details of what is wrong
        That I have already burnt every bridge to try to change
        That I already know are contradictions that cannot exist side by side because they are mutually exclusive yet do exist side by side
        That have already been rejected when trying to convince others of the obvious insanity, to no avail
        That I have already refused, and continue to refuse to participate or condone as obvious evil.

  3. Christie October 28, 2014 at 10:36 am

    Connie, thank you so much for this post. Your wise words are a comforting and inspiring reminder of the truth.

    • Connie Rossini October 28, 2014 at 10:41 am

      You’re welcome, Christie. It’s a little bit different from what i usually write, but I felt it was needed.

  4. Nancy October 28, 2014 at 11:33 am

    I love this, Connie.

  5. barbaraschoeneberger October 28, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Excellent post. We have to remember that God is in charge and what is necessary to us is that we do His will for us right now. If we are enthusiastically looking toward heaven and living the Two Great Commandments, we can go through all kinds of hardship with joy, even if we are crying. My anxiety is for all the souls who most likely are going to hell, so when I am horrified by certain things, I pray for the sinners involved. I hope that others pray for me, a sinner, too. I turn people over to God because only He has the power to save. Then I have peace.

  6. Melissa October 29, 2014 at 3:33 am

    Amen! I loved your book, Connie. Thank you.

    • Connie Rossini October 29, 2014 at 10:21 am

      Thank YOU, Melissa, for your encouragement this morning.

  7. Michelle M October 29, 2014 at 5:33 am

    I cannot exhaust myself with things that I cannot control or change. Yes, I can do my little part, but that is it.

    As far as the troubles of the world? I am comforted in the truth that, “The law entered in so that transgression might increase but, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more.” Romans 5:20
    Paul declares that grace outmatches the productivity of sin.

    God bless Connie. Excellent post.

    • Connie Rossini October 29, 2014 at 10:22 am

      Good point, Michelle. God’s grace always provides more than we need.