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“It is simple. Either we will die before Christ comes again at the end of the world or we will live to see that day.”

This homily was first delivered in Italian this past Sunday, November 22nd, 2015 at St. Benedict’s Basilica, Norcia, Italy. After Mass I spoke with Father Martin briefly, saying, “Well, end of the world and whatnot, eh? Glad I’m not the only one thinking about it.”



Fr. Martin Bernhard, O.S.B.
Col 1,9-14; Mt 24,15-35
22 Nov 2015
Last after Pentecost

For as lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even into the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be (Mt 24:27)

I suppose there are those in every generation who think that their days are the last days, that they will see the end of the world and the coming of Christ in all His majesty and dreadful power to judge the living and the dead. Today’s haunting Gospel passage has essentially been read in every generation since the first coming of Christ and, when it is interpreted mystically, almost every moment in history since Pentecost could be made to fit this mystifying description of the end of the world. No wonder Christians have always thought the end of the world was near.   Silly Christians, what fools they were; or were they?

If this generation, which we are living in now, is not their generation then it is because they are dead, and in fact, the world has ended to them, at least as they knew it.  So, although the final consummation of the world and coming of Christ did not take place in the previous generations, those Christians have indeed died and left his world. In fact, in a way the world did end for them; and so it will for us who live in this generation. It is simple. Either we will die before Christ comes again at the end of the world or we will live to see that day. Either way we must be prepared. We must be ready. We must be vigilant.

Life is, in fact, short, if we keep the big picture ever before our eyes. Of course, it is difficult to remember that it is relatively short when we are experiencing trials and tribulations. Therefore, we must constantly be reminded that it is in fact short and singular — one time only. A tendency of our fallen nature is to only think of ourselves now in the present moment. However, there is much more to life than the now, there is the past and there is the future. Together these things make up the whole totality of who we are in relation to the eternal God who sees all things at all times as one.

Speaking of this Second Coming and the end of the world the Lord says, But of that day and hour no one knoweth, no not the angels of heaven, but the Father alone (Mt 24:36). Thus, we cannot know for certain when He will come again, nor should we listen to anyone who says, “He is coming right now! Now is the time!” And yet, although we cannot know the exact moment in advance, the Lord does tell us that we can see the signs that His coming is drawing near. Like a fig tree, that of the most scrumptious of fruits, whose branches turn tender and green marking the season of summer, so too the mysterious signs of which our Lord spoke in today’s Gospel will mark the season and the drawing near of the Lord’s second and final coming, the consummation of the world (cf. Mt 24:24).

What are these signs that speak to us like the ripening of a fig tree? They are too many for me to elaborate on now, but they include the abomination of desolation, false Christs and false prophets who deceive “even the elect” (believers), hatred of Christians, wars and rumors of wars, the abundance of iniquity and sin, the growing cold of charity and the Gospel having been preached to the whole world.

The abomination of desolation can have several meanings. According to St. Jerome, it can mean the setting up of an idol in the sanctuary of God, the Holy of holies. Taken this way, it symbolizes a kind of idolatry and destruction of the authentic worship of God. Thus, a sign of the final age is the replacement of a genuine liturgical worship of God with the worship of an image of man. It is also noteworthy to know that such a distortion of worship happened within the Temple of Jerusalem itself when an equestrian statue of the emperor Hadrian stood in the Temple at the time of St. Jerome. Hence, it seems such a falsification or distortion of the worship of God will take place within the Church herself.

Commenting on the abomination of desolations, St. Jerome also says that it signifies false doctrine arising from within the Church herself, which can be linked with false Christs and false prophets. In other words there will be those who claim to have something to say and teach, which in the final analysis perverts the true doctrine, teaching and charity of Christ.

And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world, for a testimony to all nations, and then shall the consummation come (Mt 24:14). This sign seems to imply that in the final age there will be no nation or place in the world that has not yet had the Gospel of Christ preached to it. In other words, it seems to imply that there will be Christians throughout the world in all the nations. Then, there will be the hatred of Christians and the betrayal of the faith by many. Perhaps the most chilling of all these prophecies is the rise of sin and the growing cold of charity, which also implies a lack of faith. The elect, those faithful, will be a small remnant amidst a dark and chaotic world. The truly faithful will be the minority.

It seems to me to be a fundamental mistake to say or think that as time progresses through history things will inevitably get better. The notion that all progress is good and that the world and man will inevitably be perfected with time seems to me to be utterly false and opposed to the teaching and words of Christ. This is all the more reason we should live more faithfully and full of charity now while there is still time. Every moment is one moment closer to the end. After each and every second, we are closer to either our death or the consummation of the world. In the words of St. Benedict, “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Run while you have the light of life, lest the darkness of death overtake you.” (Prologue, Rule of St. Benedict) And remember, he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved (Mt 24:13).

12 thoughts on ““It is simple. Either we will die before Christ comes again at the end of the world or we will live to see that day.””

  1. Linda Clerkin says:
  2. Guest says:

    Speaking of abomination of desolation, we must not have any illusions about the papal claimants before Bergoglio (unfortunately the writer calls these enemies of Christ “pope”; she also mentions the whore of baby long but doesn’t realise that God is calling his people out of it):

    If Francis is an abomination, so are his predecessors.

  3. Ad Orientem says:

    It seems like he knows that he does not need to say it so explicitly. I shuddered when I was reading the sermon – I was thinking the very same thing. The Novus Ordo is, or is at least a type of, the Abomination of Desolation. Horrible! Horrible!

  4. Remnant Clergy says:

    The Second Coming is very close. Francis is the second beast of Revelation chapter 13.

  5. Hilary White says:

    It’s still here.

  6. Guest says:

    Pope Paul IV, Bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, Feb. 15,
    1559: “1… Remembering also that, where danger is greater, it must more fully
    and more diligently be counteracted, We have been concerned lest false prophets
    or others, even if they have only secular jurisdiction, should wretchedly
    ensnare the souls of the simple, and drag with them into perdition, destruction
    and damnation countless peoples committed to their care and rule, either in
    spiritual or in temporal matters; and *****We have been concerned also lest it
    may befall Us to see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by the
    prophet Daniel, in the holy place. ***** In view of this, Our desire has been
    to fulfill our Pastoral duty, insofar as, with the help of God, We are able, so
    as to arrest the foxes who are occupying themselves in the destruction of the
    vineyard of the Lord and to keep the wolves from the sheepfolds, lest We seem
    to be dumb watchdogs that cannot bark and lest We perish with the wicked
    husbandman and be compared with the hireling…

    6. In addition, [by this Our
    Constitution, which is to remain valid in perpetuity We enact, determine,
    decree and define:-] that if ever at any time it shall appear that any Bishop,
    even if he be acting as an Archbishop, Patriarch or Primate; or any Cardinal of
    the aforesaid Roman Church, or, as has already been mentioned, any legate, or
    even the Roman Pontiff, prior to his promotion or his elevation as Cardinal or
    Roman Pontiff, has deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy:

    (i) the promotion or elevation, even if it shall have been uncontested and by
    the unanimous assent of all the Cardinals, shall be null, void and worthless;
    (ii) it shall not be possible for it to acquire validity (nor for it to be said
    that it has thus acquired validity) through the acceptance of the office, of
    consecration, of subsequent authority, nor through possession of
    administration, nor through the putative enthronement of a Roman Pontiff, or
    Veneration, or obedience accorded to such by all, nor through the lapse of any
    period of time in the foregoing situation; (iii) it shall not be held as
    partially legitimate in any way… (vi) those thus promoted or elevated shall be
    deprived automatically, and without need for any further declaration, of all
    dignity, position, honour, title, authority, office and power…

    10. No one at
    all, therefore, may infringe this document of our approbation, reintroduction,
    sanction, statute and derogation of wills and decrees, or by rash presumption
    contradict it. If anyone, however, should presume to attempt this, let him know
    that he is destined to incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the blessed
    Apostles, Peter and Paul.”

  7. Aloysius Gonzaga says:

    He is probably too diplomatic to say so, but the abomination he describes sounds a lot like the Novus Ordo religion that puts man “at the centre” of everything.

  8. Linda Clerkin says:

    I kinda hope the world don’t end before I can go back to Norcia.
    Is that selfish?
    Yeah, prolly.
    I think every day of going back there.
    I want to be in Norcia, Hilary.

  9. Barbara says:

    Try Divinum Officium. That site has a missal as well as the Divine Office. I’m not sure what year their missal is, but their site is pretty neat.

  10. Sur Veilled says:

    Thanks for sharing the translation of this sermon.

    And, thanks very much for the link you provided in “Today’s haunting Gospel passage”,
    “Tridentine Latin Rite Missal Project” at is a great resource for the ’63 Mass.
    Does anyone know of comparable internet sources for earlier missals?
    Or, even an annotated, descriptive list of the missals prior to the ’63 describing the changes and the given rationals for those changes?

  11. A. Christian says:

    Pretty damn good.

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