Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 3, 2005
Yes, we are living in the end times
But a Catholic artist says not to look for a combat journal to save yourself
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
End times predictions have become a wildly successful commercial enterprise, spawning the bestselling Left Behind series and a spate of books comparing recent historical events with prophecies in the Book of Revelation and other parts of the Bible.
Most of these predictions, while juicy, are a form of "baptized fortune telling" that may end up harming Christian believers, Catholic artist and writer Michael O'Brien warned a crowd of about 300 people at Ottawa's St. Patrick's Basilica Sept. 20.
It's already begun
Speaking to the question "Are We Living in Apocalyptic Times?" O'Brien answered a qualified "yes," pointing out that the Church teaches the end times began with the Ascension of Jesus Christ.
Quoting from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Scripture and various papal encyclicals, O'Brien told the audience the Church would face a final trial where religious deception would rule. But the Lord has said only the Father knows when the final cataclysm will come.
O'Brien pointed, however, to the institutionalization of evil in the present age and various other signs of the times.
"Each generation experiences its own times as ordinary," he said, pointing out that the present generation sees problems, but believes they are "nothing a little knowledge can't fix."
Christ can save us
Knowledge cannot save us, he said, only Christ can.
"Will we be like Lot's wife, looking back to the security of Sodom?" O'Brien said. "There are always reasonable arguments for compromise," for not wholeheartedly following Christ.
O'Brien said that even if we are not living in the times leading up to the final Apocalypse, every human being faces a personal small "a" apocalypse and the judgment of God. He said "each of us will face the Beast - the devil."
The Church and Scripture have exhorted every generation to "be awake, to be vigilant to the very nature of reality," he said.
O'Brien said that any approach to the end times "not rooted in profound reverence to God" and "obedience and docility to the Holy Spirit," runs the risk of courting the very anti-Christ spirit Scripture warns about.
He noted that the anti-Christ spirit is "to deny Jesus is the Lord of my life" and to say instead: "I'm in charge here. I will decide what Scriptures mean. I will not submit to any Church which tells me what they mean."
He criticized the rush of believers, Catholic and Protestant, to read up on various scenarios so they might have "blueprints, survival manuals and backpacks full of survival gear."
"We want a combat journal, a technique, knowledge to save us," O'Brien said. "This is not good for us."
Just as Scripture tells about the people of Noah's time eating and drinking and living as if everything was normal until the flood washed them away, Jesus has foretold that those living in the end times will have that same lack of awareness.
Believing in the Gospel is not enough, O'Brien said. "Our faith is about union with Jesus Christ, living in communion with him."
He warned against self-deception and trying to create security for ourselves apart from God.
He said that our attempts to find security through knowledge lead us to a form of idol worship.
If we place our hope in things instead of him, we can become confused, wander off from the flock, and become vulnerable to discouragement and despair and our faith will not help us anymore, O'Brien warned.
O'Brien is an artist and author of several novels, among them the bestselling apocalyptic literary thriller Father Elijah, and its recently released prequel, Sophia House.