Ring Around the Y2K
by Father Bob Papi (c) 1999
Recently I was asked by a woman who works with home schoolers for advice on how to deal with the issue of the 'Y2K' hype which has many teenagers (and I suspect younger children, not to mention adults) pretty fearful of the future.
Praying about such matters; such as fear in the human heart, and the coming millennium, I recalled a wonderful pamphlet by Fr. Brian E. Daly, S.J. His pamphlet is called: The Millennium: Judgement Day or Jubilee? It is perhaps the most mature and balanced meditation and teaching about the whole matter I have read with the exception, of course, of the apostolic letter of Pope John Paul II: Tertio Millio Adveniente. The Pope's document is the teaching which should be the mainstay of all believers as we approach the great jubilee,
When I was a small child one of the games we would often play was the old rhyme about 'Ring around the Rosie.' We would spin ourselves silly until we were so dizzy we all fell down!
Our little game illustrates that human beings have an almost innate ability for various forms of self-destruction and at least self-terror. This flows from the original sin of Adam and Eve and its consequences. Here again the wisdom and compassion, the truth-speaking and teaching of Pope John Paul, this time from his encyclical letter: Dominum et Vivificantum shines forth.
The document is titled in English: On the Holy Spirit: The Lord and Giver of Life. Pope John Paul, in writing about original sin and its consequences notes that;
"...In spite of all the witness of creation and of the salvific economy inherent in it, the spirit of darkness is capable of showing God as an enemy of his own creature, and in the first place as an enemy of man, as a source of danger and threat to man."
A horrific result of this Original Sin is experienced (as the pope notes above) in human beings seeing God as the enemy. This is a dimension of the satanic lie implicit in the original temptation, itself a lie:
"...You will not die! God knows, in fact, that on the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.."(Gen.3 :4)
This is what can be called 'the wound of original sin.' We become filled with distrust and fear.
Before Original Sin Adam and Eve did not know evil, because they had never experienced evil. How could they? They existed because of the goodness of the loving Father, and were sustained in existence because of the goodness of the loving Father. Only evil himself could so seductively lie to them that they would even consider evil. And once they sinned, how dramatically evil became a known experience!
"..Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized they were naked....The man and his wife heard the sound of Almighty God walking in the garden 1n the cool of the day and they hid. God called to the man: 'Where are you?' And the man answered, 'I heard the sound of you in the garden,' he replied, ' and I was afraid...'"(Gen.3:7-9)
It is this original fear of naked vulnerability which we experience still, in spite of the gifts of Christ; redemption, sacramental life, sanctifying grace and the holy spirit himself. Fear of the millennium, end times, Y2K and all the other nonsense is spewed about in contradiction to Divine Revelation, Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the teachings of Pope John Paul about the millennium and the future … and we are afraid.
All of this is because we listen to the satanic lie, just like Adam and Eve, rather than to Christ:
"....There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your father to give you the kingdom." (Lk.12:32) and,
"God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end of time. In the eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the church implores the mercy of God, who does not want any to perish but all to come to repentance. Father, accept this offering from your whole family. Grant us your peace in this life, save us from final damnation, and count us among those you have chosen." ( Catechism of the Catholic Church# 1037)
Y2K may disrupt our lives somewhat. But it certainly will have nothing to do with God and his divine mercy. Y2K hype is a mere human folly because, frankly, we're still those little kids spinning around until we make ourselves dizzy. Y2K, wars, pollution. Scaring ourselves half to death by repeating satanic lies about the 'end times'. We're doing this to ourselves and it is a serious sin to lay these causes of fear upon our heavenly, loving, Father.
"The apocalyptic perspective belongs above all to believers who see themselves as aliens in the world, swimming against the mainstream of their culture … In their mind-set they can make no positive sense of their time … They are people for whom history has become an impenetrable riddle … Whose indomitable faith in the God of history leads them to turn to him alone for meaning. They expect him to solve history's problems by nothing short of annihilation and re-creation, and long precisely for that drastic solution." ( From the above noted pamphlet by Fr. Daly).
So then are we to go to the other extreme and totally deny the possibility of Y2K chaos? Or should be refuse that perhaps indeed the 'end times are upon us'?
"We do not know the time for the consummation of the earth and of humanity. Nor do we know how things will be transformed. As deformed by sin, the shape of this world will eventually pass away. But we are taught that God is preparing a new dwelling place and a new earth where justice will abide...We are warned that it profits us nothing if we gain the whole world and lose ourselves; (Vatican Council II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, # 39)
Between now and then our baptismal vocation is to be lived in faith. Our faith should be especially in his divine providential care of us, in hope that we will receive the fullness of divine mercy, and in charity, especially through loving and forgiveness towards each other and humble service of the poor to restore all things to Christ.
Fr. Daly then quotes from Pope John Paul's letter for the Jubilee noted above, from the Pope's great teaching on the mystery of time, a quotation I include here in full because we have such a fear of time.
"It is in God that man finds full self-realization: this is the truth revealed by Christ. Man fulfills himself in God, who comes to meet him through his eternal Son. Thanks to God's coming on earth, human time, which began at creation, has reached its fullness.
'The fullness of time' is in fact eternity; indeed, it is the one who is eternal, God himself. Thus to enter to 'the fullness of time' means to reach the end of time and to transcend its limits, in order to find time's fulfillment in the eternity of God.
In Christianity time has a fundamental importance. Within the dimension of time the world was created; within it the history of salvation unfolds, finding its culmination in the 'fullness of time' of the incarnation and its goal in the glorious return of the son of God at the end of time. In Jesus Christ, the word made flesh, time becomes a dimension of God, who is himself eternal." ( Tertio Millennium Adveniente #9-10)
Fr. Daly writes this in his pamphlet:
"...Both an apocalyptic sense of the fragility of this temporal order of things and an incarnational sense of the presence of the redeeming Christ within that fragility are central to the message of the Gospels and the whole New Testament. The challenge of Christian faith and Christian preaching is always to keep them in a healthy balance that can nourish Christian prayer and Christian action..The key to keeping that balance always lies..In keeping our whole religious life focused on the person and the work of Christ. Remember that Jesus is struggling with us. He promises to come again in glory, but is calling us to share now in his labour of loving and healing this fragile and sinful world."
If we as adults speak lies rather than truth, if we as adults live in that original sin wound of fear, then our children will be terrified of life itself, will see no future and will doubt that God is our loving father.
Either we believe he is the Lord of History, either we believe nothing happens outside of his tender, merciful and loving Will or we don't.
We need to preach to each other and to our children the Gospel truth and remind ourselves and them of his divine promise: "...Know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time." (Mt.28:20).
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