“There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues,” purgatory, new books, apps, and more

INTRO

Aside from a handful of the 866 previous posts on this blog, all have had to do specifically with Scripture. Today, I begin to broaden my horizons with occasional posts on all sorts of Catholic things that interest me (while not neglecting the Bible): books, apps, videos, podcasts, current events, etc. I hope you will be in conversation with me and, if you find something worth sharing, that you will do so with friends and colleagues. This is a wordpress blog but also posts to Facebook (which I now only use for Messenger when necessary) and LinkedIn. Let’s go!

BOOKS

I was excited to receive two recently released books in the mail today. Scott Hahn’s latest, It is Right and Just: Why the Future of Religion Depends on True Religion which I will begin devouring today and Purgatory is for Real by Karlo Broussard from Catholic Answers which I purchased for a friend.

It seems to me that we don’t hear much about purgatory these days — a real shame. Not only is this doctrine one of great hope (God willing, I will be spending plenty of time, if that is the way to think of it, there) but it should be of great comfort to us in regards to those friends and loved ones who have gone before us to the Lord. It is not uncommon to hear folks bemoan the fact that an untimely death did not provide them a chance to say goodbye or that it left unresolved serious issues. These are not reasons for anyone to torture himself. The reality of the communion of saints is a great blessing and comfort. Whatever we feel we have neglected here can be made up in spades by never ceasing to pray for the dead. They can no longer help themselves so it is up to us to help them. Praying for the dead is a spiritual work of mercy and it is promoted in the Bible (2 Mac 12:42-46). And never assume that someone is in heaven (no matter how long since he died) unless canonized by the Church (heaven preserve us from eulogies that presume eternal bliss for Aunt Emma — this does no one any favors, particularly poor Emma). We leave judgment up to Jesus; meanwhile, our prayers for the dear departed never go to waste: if it so happens that someone for whom we intercede has already made it home you can be assured that the Lord will apply our supplications elsewhere where they are most needed.

Something I discovered fairly recently (better late than never) is the Gregorian Series of Masses for the dead (see page 2 here). I recently arranged for these for my parents and would strongly encourage everyone, as they are financially able, to do this wonderful thing for a departed loved one. Imagine the greeting you’ll get when you meet again!

APPS

There are plenty of Catholic apps on the market — and I’ve checked out a number of them — but three have become indispensable: Laudate, iBreviary, and St. Paul Center (all free!). The latter has recently been completely revamped and is a treasure trove of audio and video from Scott Hahn and the crew at SPC. Get this on your phone and you will never want for something edifying to listen to (I stream these on my bike rides). I’m all for purchasing books and other resources to enhance my love and knowledge of the Faith, but there is so much out there among apps, YouTube, and the internet. that you could fill your mind and heart with faithful content for years without spending a penny. Spread the word!

SCRIPTURE

Last but not least we get to the Bible. I try to get in one chapter a day along with associated commentary. I just finished working through Wisdom and Sirach and now pick up with Joshua, one of my favorite Old Testament figures, whose name graces the sixth book of the Bible. Joshua is such a valiant figure: one of only two faithful Israelites coming out of Egypt in the Exodus (the other was Caleb) who actually was permitted to enter the Promised Land. I will be using the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible for this reading.

Moving on to today’s Gospel (Lk 21:5-11), I was struck by the words in the headline of this post, as the pandemic (or “plague”) is affecting all of our lives. Jesus prompts the discussion of the destruction of the Temple by countering the people’s admiration of that structure. While it is true that the actual Temple will be destroyed by Rome in forty years time, it seems quite clear that Jesus is speaking of something even bigger here: the end of time itself. We have come off of a century of unprecedented casualties due to war. Now, devastating earthquakes, catastrophic weather events, massive hunger and famine, and our current deadly pandemic, all might seem to bode ill for the long-term existence of humanity. But I have long deferred to these words of Christ:

But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Mk 13:32)

While we don’t know the “day or hour” of the end of time, and we shouldn’t spend time worrying about it, we should be very aware that our personal day and hour is inevitable. The Knights of Columbus (of which I am a Fourth Degree member) has as its fraternal motto: “Tempus Fugit, Memento Mori” (“Time Flies, Remember Death”). Good advice.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Triumph of Death, c. 1562, Museo del Prado, Madrid.
Triumph of Death (detail) (c. 1562) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Museo del Prado, Madrid)

God bless.

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