Do we really need to prepare? Yes, indeed ...
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Some are always buzzing about the end of the world, but lately the buzz has gotten louder. Not only is there talk of apocalyptic events happening during the 100th anniversary of the visions of Our Lady of Fatima, NASA has even developed an “early warning system” that detects any asteroids that could deal Earth a deadly blow.
These stories, and the global mood, have prompted entire movement of “apocalypse prepping.” People around the world are amassing supplies and making sure that their home is “apocalypse-proof.” They do this to ensure their own survival when the world explodes in disarray.
What is a Catholic to do amongst all these rumors? Should we start preparations for the end of the world?
In a certain sense, yes, we should live every day as if it could be our last. Jesus said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.… Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (Matt. 24:36, 42). Today could be the end of the world, or at least it could be the end of our own little world.
Additionally, the Catechism foretells of a great tribulation that will occur before Christ comes again: “the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.” The relentless revelations of priestly abuse against minors and the challenge it brings to the church’s moral authority seems to many an apocalyptic-sized trial.
We do need to prepare, though our preparations will look much different from what the world expects. St. Paul gives us the key to our own “apocalypse prepping” in his letter to the Ephesians: “Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day” (Eph. 6:13).
He then proceeds to list seven ways that we can prepare for that “evil day”:
1) “[Gird] your loins with truth”
Jesus said there will be many who claim to be the messiah and who will lead people astray. That is why we must hold fast to the truth as proclaimed by Christ and his Church. If you do not know the faith very well, now would be the time to immerse yourselves in the beauty of two-thousand years of Church teaching.
2) “Put on the breastplate of righteousness”
We must not only know a lot about the faith, we must live it out. Head knowledge is one thing, but being “righteous” means leading a life of virtue. Lead a virtuous life and you will be putting on the “breastplate of righteousness.”
3) “Shod your feet … with the gospel of peace”
After Jesus commissioned his apostles to go out to proclaim the Gospel, He told them, “As you enter the house, salute it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.… And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet” (Matt. 10:12-14).
We are all messengers of the “gospel of peace” and our duty is to proclaim it to all we meet. It is up to the receiver if the peace we wish to give will bear fruit.
4) “Take the shield of faith”
Strong faith in God is a key way that we can prepare for the end times as it will be our faith that helps us persevere through times of trial. As the Catechism says: “Since ‘without faith it is impossible to please [God]’ and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life. ‘But he who endures to the end.’”
5) “Take the helmet of salvation”
One way that we can put on the “helmet of salvation” is to receive, as often as we can, the “sacrament of our salvation,” the Eucharist. By doing so, we rely on God’s saving power to be our daily sustenance.
6) “[Take] the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”
As we go forth into the world, what better “sword” could we have than the “word of God.” Jesus himself used Scripture to defeat the temptations of the devil in the desert, and so we imitate his example and immerse ourselves in God’s word.
7) “Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication”
Above all things we should pray “without ceasing” to prepare ourselves for the world’s end. Prayer is what unites the “armor of God” and gives it life. Without prayer, we will not be able to endure any of the future trials.
So if you want to prepare for the coming apocalypse, put on “the armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day.”