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Apocalypse: Stat Crux Dum Volvitur Orbis by Fr. George W. Rutler



September 21, 2014
by Fr. George W. Rutler

It is my opinion as I write this on the evening of September 15, that the world will not end tonight. If you are able to read this on the following Sunday, you will know that I was right. If I am wrong, nothing made of matter really matters anymore. That is the whole point to thinking about the end of the world, or “apocalypse.” Every material consideration, concern, obsession and distraction will vanish when all creation is subsumed into the Creator, so that God will be “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Our Lord warned that speculation about the end times is futile. He knew that there would be fanatics and demagogues stirring the crowds with claims that the end is just around the corner. We should not go “running after them” (Luke 17:23). False evangelists find that sort of thing good for business (though I suspect they invest some of their donations in long-term Treasury bonds), but Dr. Billy Graham, a far more estimable representative of the Evangelical school, says it is hard not to think that we may be approaching the end of the world when you see all the terrible portents these days. Pope Francis has not declared the end of the world, but he has said that it seems we are moving piece by piece toward World War III. Given technology, such a conflict could be hard to distinguish from the consummation of all that is, at least on this planet.

Secular thinkers may mock apocalyptic theology, but they have their own version of it in dire predictions about economic disaster (recall the Y2K hysteria of 2000) and global warming/cooling/change—or whatever may be its new nom du jour. There may be substance to some of that, but it is unscientific of scientists to treat an hypothesis as an absolute conclusion. Then ecology becomes its own theology, and anyone who disagrees is a heretic. Even if everything were to be melting or freezing, anticipation of the end of the world would not be a cause of reverence, but of anxiety. Instead of saying “Come, Lord Jesus!” the atheist cannot help but moan, “Oh my God!!”

Jesus says “Be not anxious about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:34), because he is in control. Without him, we are out of control.

As William Butler Yeats wrote in The Second Coming:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

When things seem to be spinning out of control, just look to Jesus on the Cross. There is the love that made the world and that will bring it back to him. Stat crux dum volvitur orbis. “The Cross is steady while the world is turning.”

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