Dinner Discussions from the Grace Before Meals movement gives “food for thought” for your family meals, by combining some aspects of faith, food, and family fun. Hopefully this little article will give you something to talk about with your family at the kitchen table – a blessed place that enhances family communion. If you have a comment, a question, or a topic that you would like to discuss, be sure to contact us at www.gracebeforemeals.com.
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Food for Eternal Life
Prior to the date, people asked me about the May 21st prophecy of the “end of the world.” According to the preacher who originally predicted the failed date, the doomsday has now ”moved” to October 21st. A waitress, a gas station attendant, and people sitting next to me waiting for planes, along with a few e-mails I received reflected people wondering just how true the prediction could be. My standard answer was always the same. I quoted Matthew 25: “You know neither the day nor hour when the Son of Man will return.”
(St. Paul’s Basilica “Outside the Walls.” with a mosaic of Christ as Judge who calls the Sheep to “Drink the wellspring of Eternal Life.”)
In other words, I can’t tell you when the end of the world will be. Anyone who believes they do know this exact date and time are usually either mentally disturbed, scheming to make a couple of bucks, or just theologically untrained. In many cases, it’s the combination of all three.
When people ask me about these so-called prophecies, I try to treat them with great respect, but also a fatherly firmness. I treat them as people who are seriously trying to determine God’s will, but at the same time recognize they are simple sheep being fed a spoonful of confusion about Jesus Christ’s message regarding the end of the world.
(Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, Emmitsburg, Maryland – statues of the Three Shepherd Children of Fatima who received private revelations regarding the end times.)
In this Dinner Discussion E-mail Blast, I want to encourage families to talk about this – not to scare anyone, but to prepare people for the reality. God comes to us every day. Do we recognize Him? Do we fear meeting God again? And if so, why?
The hype prior to the May 21st date was sad and odd at best. The news after the date was just discouraging. Atheists and people who enjoy mocking people of faith had a field day, and it seemed to take away the reality of the Scripture’s message about the end of the world: be ready, not just on May 21st, but every day!
(Mount St. Mary’s Campus Mass on Wednesday Evening. These young college students don’t just go to church on Sunday; some go every day (not just on falsely prophesied doomsdays) as a way to “find God.”)
There is a food reference in all of this. It’s called “viaticum.” It’s the Sacrament of the Catholic Church that ensure people who are preparing to make the journey from this life to the next will be accompanied by Jesus Himself, through the Food of the Eucharist. The word viaticum – although seemingly daunting – is a pastoral phrase that means, “via” – “on the way”; “ti”- “you”; and “cum” – with. In other words, the Eucharist is the Food that goes “on the way with you” to the other side.
(Lourdes, France: Statue representing Viaticum and the Sacrament of the Sick.)
Many people who believe in these prophecies of doom have been fed a heavy dose of confusion. They are digesting errant approaches to theology as well as some maliciousness on the part of the people who spread these teachings. I’ve known a few families who struggle because some members have left the True Faith and have joined unhealthy cultic communities that thrive on apocalyptic teachings. The fact that such groups have come and gone, and continue to sprout up, shows that families need to address this topic at a dinner discussion.
I recommend that families talk about this in a way that respects the faith of those who are trying to be attentive and prepared for Christ’s Second Coming. At the same time, families must also teach critical thinking skills to encourage one another to really learn about this topic, either through a trusted Scripture Study or a closer look at the Catechism.
(Image from the Blessed Pope John Paul II Museum in Rome. Image of a young priest studying and praying on while on a kayak trip. Prayer and study are essential to protecting oneself from false teachings, especially the teaching that denies the Second Coming.)
While specific dates and times can never be part of the “conclusion” of this discussion, families can definitely be assured that Christ does come to earth – again and again – through the Eucharistic Food we receive at Mass. The fear, confusion, and anxiety that come whenever anyone brings up the topic of the end of the world can be greatly mitigated when we realize that the end of the world is represented as an invitation to a Banquet. We can certainly be ready to accept Jesus’ invitation to this Eternal Feast, if we are willing to invite Him to our family’s dinner banquet by saying Grace before every meal every day of our life!
(Transitional Deacon Class on their last day of school before their ordination to the priesthood for their home (Arch) Dioceses. Ad Multos Annos!)
God our Father, help us never to fear Your Second Coming, but to welcome You with great joy – not just on one particular date but every day of our lives! Keep our families strong and secure in the food that we receive in the true teachings of Your Church. Help us always to be ready for that great day when our “foretaste of Heaven” through the Eucharist is fulfilled when we hear that invitation, “Come you who are blessed by My Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Mt 25:34).” Amen.
(Dome of St. Peter’s, Vatican City State.)
What did you tell your children or loved ones who wondered about the May 21st prophecy? Do you know anyone who really believed this date would be the end of the world, and how could you help them see otherwise? What were you doing on May 21st that helped you to recognize that God did in fact come to visit with us, just not in the doom and gloom as expected? Has your family ever talked about the end of the world at the dinner table, and what were some of the conclusions you reached? Your feedback is vital encouragement to our movement. Please post your comments and questions below.
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