[I just noticed that I forgot to post this in MAY! I still think it might be fun to post, even if it is a bit late. Just a little reflection on Bieb-…eh…Rapture Fever. ]
I have been informed by those who morbidly follow such things that some radical evangelical Protestants believe that the “Rapture” will occur this Saturday [fat chance]. To clarify upfront, as a Catholic I do not believe in either “the Rapture” with a capital “r” (we certainly believe St. Paul’s statements about being “caught up,” but they certainly refer to something other than a “pre-millenial rapture”)
nor do I believe that any human being has special insight into the specific date of the end of the world. But I am going to take a somewhat controversial position RE: “the Rapture May 21st, 2011” – I’m going to get ready.
Now, what does that mean?
Do I endorse setting your AIM away message to “Sorry, I’ve been Raptured”? No.
Do I endorse liquidating your portfolio? Not necessarily, although that might not be so bad an idea.
I definitely endorse disposing of your stash of 70s-esque rainbow stoles, sending them into the outer darkness where there shall be much weeping and gnashing of chas-albs.
But, more importantly, I endorse following the Gospel today. St. Simeon the New Theologian often counted it as heresy to say that “The Gospel is too hard! We’ve got to make it relevant to today; we can’t keep the Gospel teachings as Jesus intended them!” That is heresy. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is eternally relevant and it applies to you and to me, personally.
When we read the Gospel in Church, have you ever considered why we read it with two torches on either side (at most parishes)? Or why it is incensed at High Mass? Or why it is kissed? Or why it is often bound with precious metals?
The other books of the Bible (ie, the Lectionary) are not treated in so great a fashion, despite the fact that they are equally the Word of God. I think it is to highlight one point that we do so: the Church gives us so many aids to considering a central truth – in the Gospel, as opposed to other books of Scripture, Jesus is speaking directly to us. St. Anthony the Great left everything to become a hermit in the desert when, one day, he really considered this truth. The Gospel should affect our lives in just the same, deep way.
One of the classical goals of religious life – that is, monastic life – is to prepare for death. Our vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience are eschatological – we Dominicans (and all monks, friars, or religious) are already living like its the end of the world (pace Brittany Spears, I don’t think it’s going to occur as she envisions). Jesus said that those who rise again at the final day are not given in marriage (Matt 22:30), and so neither are we. Jesus said that, to be perfect, we should give what we have entirely to the poor and then follow Him (Matt 19:21) – and so we do. Jesus’ call to follow Him was unconditional obedience to the will of God, so that those who looked back were lost (Lk 9:62) – and so we profess obedience according to the rule of Gospel perfection, making a public promise to give up our own wills and follow the Rule, the Constitutions, and our superiors.
Even in monastic spirituality, the famous memento mori is a motto of religious life; we are to remember death at all times.
While religious do have a distinct vocation from the layperson, we are all called to embrace this remembrance of death. “We were therefore buried with Christ in baptism” (Rom. 6:4).
How are you going to prepare for the Rapture?
The best way to prepare is to live every moment in complete and total abandonment to the will of God, obeying His divine call:
“Come, follow me”
Yours in Christ,
Br. James Dominic, OP