Archive for July 22nd, 2008

Apocalypse Now

July 22, 2008

I am a “child” of the 60’s, which means I was born in the early 50’s and spent my youth and late adolescence in the thrall of all that was swirling around in our culture in the late 60’s and early 70’s. My experience is probably similar to that of many of my generation – the parents of many of my younger readers.

Things of note from that time:

  • A sense that something was “changing” and that young people were part of the force that was bringing about the “change.”
  • An apocalyptic sense of time – we thought a new world was about to be born.
  • A dissatisfaction with what had gone before. All institutions were questionable.
  • An idealization of the ability of human beings to make a difference.
  • A narcissism with our own generation. We were wiser than our forebears.
  • An impatience with everything.

There was a host of supporting characters – from the military-industrial complex to a parental generation who had endured the Great Depression and World War II and thus could not begin to understand the dissatisfaction with the world around us. How could we be so ungrateful?

The years of the 60’s became a decade in which everything of significance was universally available on the television: each political assasination as well as the upheaval in the South during the Civil Rights Movement was captured on the screen. Everything from rioting to war was an image – not just a story.

Part of the legacy of those years is a latent apocalypticism – a sense of the “end” of things that remains to this day. When the Soviet Empire came to an end, Francis Fukuyama asked whether we had reached the “end of history.” His was an apocalyptic vision of global consumerism.

There is a deeper meaning of the word “apocalypse” and its variations – its original meaning – the revealing of something that has before been hidden. Thus the Revelation to St. John also goes by the name of the “Apocalypse.” What, of course, was hidden and being revealed to St. John was the end of all things. Not a mere moment in history. As strange as the symbols of the book are, there is a very clear conclusion: what is revealed is the triumph of Christ over all things. “The Kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdoms of Our Lord and His Christ and He shall reign forever” (Rev. 11:15). It affirms that the victory of Christ’s Pascha is an eternal Pascha – the true end of history and thus the meaning of all things.

This very “apocalypse” is revealed in every Liturgy, every assemblying of the Church for the marriage supper of the Lamb, the Holy Eucharist. There the “Lamb Who was slain,” is made manifest to us and feeds us in the eternal victory of His Body and His Blood. The great revelation – the true apocalypse – is not to be found in the ephemeral images of beasts and plagues, but in their utter eradication and the resurrection of the world. “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Rev. 7:17). And so it is. For those who have the eyes to see, the apocalypse, the true revelation, is now.

This is not to say that history will have no end. It will and it already has.

In The Last Days

July 22, 2008

Abba Ischyrion was asked, “What have we done in our life?”

He replied, “We have done the half of what our Fathers did.”

When asked, “What will the ones who come after us do?”

He replied, “They will do the half of what we are doing now.”

And to the question, “What will the Christians of the last times do?”

He replied, “They will not be able to do any spiritual exploits, but those who keep the faith will be glorified in heaven more than our Fathers who raised the dead.”

From the Sayings of the Desert Fathers

The Voice of the Lord

July 22, 2008


Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones, Give unto the LORD glory and strength.

Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters; The God of glory thunders; The LORD is over many waters.

The voice of the LORD is powerful; The voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars, Yes, the LORD splinters the cedars of Lebanon.

He makes them also skip like a calf, Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the LORD divides the flames of fire.

The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; The LORD shakes the Wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth, And strips the forests bare; And in His temple everyone says, “Glory!”

The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood, And the LORD sits as King forever.

The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace.