“The Spirit and the Bride say ‘Come’. Let the hearer say ‘Come’.
Let the one who thirsts come forward,
and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water.”
– Revelation 22:17
The temptation to know the details of the End Times are simply that – a temptation. And like all temptations, it should be shunned, for the failure to do so has led to the downfall of many. The Lord Himself tells us this –
“So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.” (Matt.25:13)
The Catechism echoes this – “The Last Judgment will come when Christ returns in glory. Only the Father knows the day and the hour; only He determines the moment of its coming” (Catechism, para.1040). And so, when supposed prophets declare that they know more detail than this, our guard should be raised immediately.
That said, we should have the good sense to be aware of the signs of the times and to read something within them. The Lord comments on this in Saint Matthew’s Gospel (cf. Ch.24). Here, the Lord warns us against being deceived and says something of what will come to pass. In trying to read these signs of the times, it may be that we reach the conclusion that our present age is not doing so well, and that – generally speaking – we have moved farther away from the Lord. But perhaps it is the case that each generation, looking carefully at it’s own situation and era, might reach a similar conclusion.
When Pope Francis began his Petrine ministry, he spoke to Priests and he said this –
“Listen to the voice of the spirit that speaks to the whole church in this our time, which is in fact the time of mercy. I am certain of this. We have been living in the time of mercy for the last 30 or more years up to now. It is the time of mercy in the whole church. It was instituted by St. John Paul II. He had an intuition that this was the time of mercy.”
Taking this sense forward the Holy Father called the Holy Year of Mercy, saying –
“To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them. This will be a year in which we grow ever more convinced of God’s mercy.”
And in that Year, millions of people not only listened to the words of the Holy Father but responded to what he said. Vast crowds passed through the Holy Door and I had the great privilege of being one of them – a moment (and a year) I will never forget.
Something about this message of Mercy touched hearts and souls in a great many people, and they responded deeply. It was as though a spark had been lit within them. This is as it should be, for the Lord, speaking to Saint Faustina and recorded in her Diary, spoke about “the spark that will prepare the world for My final coming” (Diary, para.1732).
Throughout the Diary of Saint Faustina, the Lord is clear on many occasions that this devotion to His Divine Mercy has a key role in the ultimate End Times. He tells our Saint –
“Secretary of My Mercy, write, tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My justice, is near.” (Diary, para.965)
The Lord is at pains to associate this devotion with the End Times. Earlier in the Diary, the Lord tells Faustina this –
“Speak to the world about My mercy; let all mankind recognise My unfathgomable mercy. It is a sign for the End Times; after it will come the day of justice. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the Fount of My Mercy.” (Diary, para.848)
Pope Francis seems to be accutely aware of this sense of something to come. And while none of us know the detail – neither the hour nor the day – still we know, because the Church tells us, that it is always approaching.
But we know something else, too – the Divine Mercy devotion is given to us in preparation for those times. If the Pope is right, then we are indeed living in a ‘time of mercy’. But the Lord reminds us repeatedly that after mercy comes justice.