Monday, 4 May 2020

End Times

But as to the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need to have anything written to you.  For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When people say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as travail comes upon a woman with child, and there will be no escape.  But you are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.  So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.  For those who sleep sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.  But, since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.  For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,  who died for us so that whether we wake or sleep we might live with him.
1 Thessalonians 5 

Christians have always been fighting a battle against the world the flesh and the devil. This should not be a depressing bit of news , because it is central to the Gospel. Where the world teaches us to doubt, Christ teaches us to have faith, where the world teaches us to despair, Christ gives us hope, where the world teaches to love only self, Christ puts true charity into our hearts so we can love God and neighbour.

We put on the armour of Christ and take up the sword of the spirit and go out into battle. The enemy is both within and without, as Peter and Paul remind us: 

St Peter says "Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

And St Paul says: "Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

As to the method of the fight, it is important as St Paul says above that we 'pray unceasingly' that we do not fall asleep.

But we fight a new and seemingly more dread battle against an enemy who seems implacable in this modern age. One reason for this is that we are living at the end of Christian civilization, at least in Europe. We can no longer rely on the culture around us to share the values we have as Christians. Even the word 'values' itself reveals the relativism which has penetrated to the heart of our thinking. What I value is relative to me and thus cannot be relied on as a universal moral good.

 And as the culture goes, so do we. We who were born after the great revolution of the 1960s are more infected than ever with sensuality, pride, sloth, arrogance and so on, because the world itself has wholeheartedly embraced these things. Individuals can only do so much when the whole community is going in a different direction. It is then that we can learn from the early Church, facing incredible persecution amidst a heathen culture. The new heathenism is worse, as someone once said, because the old heathens had never known Christ, whereas the new ones have knowingly rejected him.

Just as we must carefully guard what we eat in an age when highly processed high-carb food is ubiquitous, so we must also guard what we consume in a spiritual sense from the culture around us. Many of us are rediscovering the importance, especially against the background of the coronavirus, of what Michael Pollen calls "Real food, mainly plants, in sensible portions". So we should also be rediscovering from the treasury of our Christian culture those real staples that nourished us for hundreds of years.

There are so many fronts on which to fight the battle. The enemy is many-headed like the hydra. Padre Pio, said of the demons of the air: "There are so many that if they were capable of assuming a form as tiny as a grain of sand, they would block out the sun. Be attentive – for when the enemy is silent it means he is preparing another plan.’”

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