Redpolls, Book Blahs, and Apocalyptic Inklings


It’s monthly Q&A day. For recent newcomers to this blog, that means there is no question or comment about the Liturgy of the Hours, breviaries, psalms, or the liturgical year that is too dumb to put in the comment boxes below. I will endeavor to reply either with Magisterial Truth, or lacking that, an educated guess.

 The Good News:This is just a birdwatcher thing. For the first time in five or six years, there are cute little Common Redpolls frolicking at my bird feeders. This arctic finch takes irregular winter vacations to the northern USA, and this year my little corner of Northwest Pennsylvania has been graced with their cuteness. I am in awe of these tiny but tough little creatures who look upon my snowy backyard as the sunny south.
The Bad News  Something to Offer Up: I’ve just learned that, contrary to what it said on Amazon, my book about the Liturgy of the Hours will not be available on February 2, but instead sometime in April. Oh well, I guess that would have made me way too giddy during Lent. Better to welcome those hot off the press copies after Easter.
The Serious News: Lots of our Protestant siblings in Christ used the word “convicted” to describe how they feel when they read a scripture passage and get hit with how it applies (in a decidedly unflattering manner) to themselves. Did any of you feel this today when reading the Office of Readings passage from Isaiah? I sure felt it with these lines in particular:
Why do you let us wander, O Lord, from our ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?
…Too long have we been like those you do not rule,
who do not bear your name. 
Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, 
with the mountains quaking before you!
I sure felt convicted today when reading this, both on my own, personal behalf, as well as on behalf of the Church in whose name I pray the Divine Office. Not to mention on behalf of the nation in which I live.
 I usually shy away from anyone telling me that these are THE End Times (except in the sense that it’s been the End Times ever since the Incarnation). The only End Time that any of us really ought to–and should–worry about, is the time of our individual deaths, since the result (judgment) will be the same whether we die in a nursing home or get hit by stars falling from  the sky.
On the other hand, it seems right to take to heart any apocalyptic   scripture verses whenever society is going through some major upheaval, for these things certainly portend AN end of time. A shift from an old normal to a very different new normal, with drastic implications for those who believe in the Kingdom of God.  So anyone who read apocalyptic scriptures during the French Revolution, or under Soviet or Asian Communism, or during World War II and felt convicted/encouraged/enlightened/comforted/motivated to pray harder was making very good use of them. A use God intended,  I think.
And given the growing threats to Catholic belief and practice in American society, (not to mention Christian martyrdom that is going on constantly in other nations) maybe it is time for us to dwell on such verses  too. THE end may not be coming for thousands of years, but it looks like AN end might be here soon.
We are supposed to spend Advent and Christmastide to arousing in ourselves a  longing for Christ’s return. This despite the fact that witnessing the Second Coming, with all its antecedent catastrophe, will not be fun, even for believers. We won’t be there snapping pictures and adding cute cut-outs of the 4 Horsemen to an End Times scrap book. Yet, paradoxically, we should be begging the Lord to rend the heavens and quake the mountains.
Anyway, I’m starting to see, this year especially, how it is quite  possible to long for such a thing. To desire that God intervene in a powerful way, no matter the cost to ourselves.
Know what I mean?


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Daria Sockey is a freelance writer from western Pennsylvania. Her articles have appeared in many Catholic publications. She authored several of the original Ignatius Press Faith and Life catechisms in the 1980s, and more recently wrote five study guides for saints' lives DVDs distributed by Ignatius Press. She now writes regularly for the newly revamped Catholic Digest. Her newest book, The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours, will be published by Servant Books this spring. Feel Free to email her at [email protected]

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