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The liturgy makes use of the Apocalypse, i.e. the Book of Revelation, during the last two weeks of the year just before the first Sunday of Advent starts a new year.

Revelation is addressed to the whole Church, not just to the five churches mentioned at the beginning. It seeks to alert Christians of all times to the grave dangers which threaten faith, while at the same time consoling our harassed and persecuted brothers and sisters.

Revelation is a theological vision of the entire panorama of history, a vision which underlines its transcendental and religious dimension. St. John is describing the situation of the Church in his own time (approx. 95 AD) and surveying the scene of the last times. But for him, and now for us, these last times have already begun: they began with the entry into the world of Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man. The book goes on to depict the cosmic struggle between good and evil knowing that Christ will be the ultimate victor. The Apocalypse therefore is consoling to all who remain faithful to Jesus and his Church, and their suffering and prayers pave their way towards eternal life with God.

The history of the Church shows that the early persecution of Christ's followers, both from dissenters inside the Church and the fury directed against the Church from outside, has continued unabated over 2000 years, though its intensity may differ from time to time and place to place. The 20th century brought the most vehement persecutions of all time, greater in scope and number of victims than all previous centuries together. Under the Nazi and Communist atheist totalitarian regimes--the latter still not ended in China, Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba even today--martyrs are to be counted by the millions.

In current times the cosmic struggle between good and evil has invaded the West in the new form of hedonist atheist culture wars against Christianity. Penetrating the home and school by electronic and visual technology, they destroy the innocence of children, youth, and adults alike. Countries have abandoned traditional family morality by accepting contraceptives, divorce, the killing of pre-born babies, sterilizing women and men, and freeing pornography, drugs, and prostitution from their restraints. Bio-ethical experimentation, the killing of human life, includes in vitro fertilization, embryonic stem cell implantation, and human-animal cloning. Euthanasia is practised, even if not yet legal in most countries.

Most recently, attacks on the family have increased further by dethroning marriage in favour of same-sex so-called marriage, as in Canada since 2005, giving it equal status in the school curriculum, as in British Columbia and Ontario, Great Britain, and several European countries.

The worst aspect of the Culture of Death is its claim that all these vices are really virtues, indeed human rights, they say, to be respected and honoured by all. Thus falsehood becomes the new truth while the old truth has become the new falsehood. No greater disaster can be imagined.

The Book of Revelation tells us that in the last times, even after the woes and plagues have rained down upon earth, killing many, "the rest of mankind ... did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshipping demons and idols of gold and silver ... nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their immorality or their thefts ..."(Rev. 9:20-21).

Similarly, during the pouring out on the earth of "the seven bowls of the wrath of God;' we read: "the fourth angel poured his bowl on the sun and it was allowed to scorch men with fire.... and they did not repent and give him glory" (Rev. 16:8).

The same after the fifth angel. Men cursed God but "did not repent of their deeds" (verse 11).

Is this ill will towards God and the refusal to repent at the end of time not confirmed by Jesus when he says: "when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8)

When truth becomes falsehood and falsehood becomes truth, people who have surrendered themselves to it will be unable to repent; they cannot repent. This is the sin against the Holy Spirit for which there is no forgiveness.

The well of truth has been poisoned and one dies by drinking from it.

For those who remain faithful, however, "the Spirit and the Bride say 'Come' ... let him who desires take the water of life without price" (Rev. 22:17).

Let us pray for courage and strength to practise a Christianity of Resistance against the bewitching culture of death.

Fr. Alphonse de Valk

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Author:de Valk, Alphonse
Publication:Catholic Insight
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Dec 1, 2010
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