A Thief In the NightI Thessalonians 5:1-6:
But of the times and moments, brethren, you need not, that we should write to you; For yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord shall so come, as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, peace and security; then shall sudden destruction come upon them, as the pains upon her that is with child, and they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. For all you are the children of light, and children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do; but let us watch, and be sober.
As the Liturgical Year draws to a close, the readings for Mass as well as for the Divine Office take a very serious turn toward the end of days and the idea that the Lord will return in Glory and that all of humanity will be made to give an account before God of our individual doings in this life. In the above reading, St. Paul reminds us that the coming of the Lord will occur so suddenly that it will catch us off guard. Christ himself alludes to the reality that when He returns, we will be going about life as usual, and many will make the mistake of believing that because nothing dramatic seems to be happening, the Lord does not draw nigh.
The truth of the matter, of course, is that Catholics as a whole are uncomfortable speaking about the End Times or eschatology. Some act as though the notion that Christ will return and that there will be an end of the world as we know it is foreign to Catholic thought or theology, or that it is not Catholic doctrine. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Church does not embrace the idea that we as a people are going to be "raptured" away from tribulation, even the final tribulation. In 2,000 years, the Lord has not sealed the Church from being persecuted-largely because persecution is the greatest test of the purity of one's faith. In the early days of the Church, believers were often said to be genuine after having endured great persecutions and either lived to tell the tale or were martyred as witnesses to their faith. Those who broke under persecution were literally run through the gambit before being accepted back into the fold, because buckling to the enemies of the Church could put the Church in great danger. The false doctrine of the Rapture is a crutch for those believers who do not believe they can endure tribulation, so they place their hope in the notion that they will not be here to endure it.
No one knows the day or the hour of the Lord's return, but we do know that when that return occurs, we shall all stand before God to give an account of our life. One of the reasons that our bishops are so troubled by the outcome of the presidential election is that this country has elected a candidate whose social positions are not only opposite the Church, but whose very mentality about those issues places him at enmity with the Church herself. There is little doubt that Mr. Obama's election is the greatest singular evil that has ever befallen this country-but the die is cast.
All sin is forgivable, save blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and even the sin (and it is a sin) of voting for someone-regardless of political party-who believes it ought to be legal to murder unborn children. However, the worst judgment will fall on those who proclaim themselves believers but by their vote and actions encourage evil without repentance or regret. For just as it is a great mistake to proclaim a moral or ethical issue when there is not one, it is a far worse crime against both God and humanity to fail to confront moral and ethical issues in the public sphere when these issues do actually arise.