The End of the World As We Know It? Well, Not Yet –

A faithful reader mentioned that one or two of my columns have been a bit dire of late, but one must not wonder, for the times lend themselves to such reflections. The point, however, is not that the end of the world as we know it is around the corner, but, rather, that the world, whose form was already passing away when Saint Paul wrote in the first century, will come to an end at some point, and we must not place our hope in that world, in its pomp, promises and circumstances.

Christ’s warning in today’s Gospel – vigilate, stay awake, be watchful and ready – does not apply primarily to the end of time, but rather to the end of each of our individual times, when we ourselves will cross that threshold into eternity, whether at the end of the world or, far more likely, in some other way in God’s good providence.

Just yesterday was the anniversary of the tragic Air New Zealand flight 901 disaster, on a sightseeing tour across Antarctica, which crashed into Mount Erebus in 1979, killing all 237 passengers and 20 crew. Due to an apparent mix-up in the flight path – about which there is still controversy – the pilots and everyone else on board thought they were cruising over McMurdo Sound, while in reality they were heading straight for the side of the mountain. In the white expanse, even the pilots couldn’t tell the difference until the last moment, with the cockpit recording the final words, ‘Pull up – pull…!’. The passengers likely never knew what hit them, and all 257 souls went in that one instant before their Maker, in that judgement we will all have to face, when our own Mount Erebus arrives.

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Entering Advent

For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Lk. 21: 36).

The first Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of a new liturgical year. Our Lord is also presented to us as the Saviour of the world, the Son of God, the Son of David, the New Moses; He is Emmanuel, God-with-us, now and until the end of the world.

The presence of Our Lord with us now is what ought to engage us as we commemorate the events and mysteries of Our Lord’s life in our Sunday celebrations of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The words of the Psalmist give focus and purpose to our presence here: Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord (Ps. 122). We rejoice in the Lord’s presence and in the gift of salvation. There are fundamental truths that we can deduce simply from our presence here in the House of the Lord: God can be known; and we have a capacity or ability to know Him. For this reason the Prophet Isiah declares: In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains…all nations shall stream towards it….For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Is. 2:1-5). God can be known and He has revealed Himself, that is, He has made Himself known definitively in His Son, Our Saviour Jesus Christ.

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Awaiting Christmas: Advent Musical Selections

With Advent beginning this Sunday, November 29th, I wanted to share some musical selections for this time of waiting. Some will hopefully be familiar, and others will be unfamiliar but enjoyable nonetheless.

The first selection is one that will likely be familiar to all readers. “Veni Veni Emmanuel” is one of the so-called “O Antiphons,” which are traditionally sung each day leading up to Christmas Eve. Each takes its first words from one of Christ’s titles in Scripture, primarily from prophecies, such as “O Oriens,” or (in poetic translation), “O Rising Sun,” which appear in Isaiah and Malachi. Here is a choral arrangement of the chant sung by the King Singers.

 

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