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Searching Beyond the Seven-Eyed Lambs and Ten-Horned Dragons


God is more honored by a single mass then he could be by all the actions of angels and men together, however fervent and heroic they might be.” ~ Saint Claude de la Colombiere

As the church year winds down, the Daily Mass Readings chosen for these fleeting Liturgical Days afford us the opportunity to revisit the inscrutable and apocalyptic Book of Revelation, perhaps the most intriguing and enigmatic book in all of Scripture. In his book “Saint John and the Apocalypse,” author C.C. Martindale (S.J.) points out that “Saint John (Revelation’s author) often alludes to what might be understood only by his immediate Asiatic environment, and soon ceased to be - or never was - intelligible to men of some other culture like that of the West.” This disclaimer however has not deterred those who are of a more curious nature to search for meaning within its pages, both of the literal and symbolic variety, as to the exact specifics surrounding Jesus’ triumphant and glorious second coming. Not by a long shot.

Recondite and esoteric theories have been offered over the years as to its interpretation and subsequent meaning, a handful even rooted in astronomy (heaven help us...), ominous predictions have been made regarding the end times, and notorious historical figures have even been singled out as being anyone from the Antichrist, who although referenced in Scripture elsewhere (1 John 2:18, 1 John 2:22, 1 John 4:2-3 and 2 John 1:7) is never mentioned by name in the Book of Revelation, to the Whore of Babylon (Rev 17:1-18). When these prognostications fail to pan out ~ as they always do ~ new ones are presented quicker than you can say “Eschatology.”

But the closing words of today’s passage (Rev 4:1-11) offer us words for which there is very little room for debate or misinterpretation. It is here where John, the prolific scribe, Apostle, Revelator, and dear friend of Jesus, speaks of the awesome power of worship. He begins with a resplendent vision, one wherein he glimpses into an open door in Heaven itself. It is here where he goes on to describe in great detail the sights and sounds of this vision, including the throne upon which the One sat whose appearance “sparkled like Jasper and carnelian.” Twenty-four elders clad in dazzling white garments with opulent gold crowns atop their heads were perched upon additional thrones surrounding the throne of God. The four living creatures around the thrones, described as resembling a lion, a calf, a being that had a face like that of a man, and a fourth that looked like an eagle in flight, offered constant prayers and praise, exclaiming “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come!”

We are then told that whenever the living creatures gave glory and honor and thanks to the One upon the throne in such a way, the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lord who sat on the throne and worshipped him, literally throwing their gold crowns before the throne of God and exclaiming “Worthy are you, Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things; because of your will they came to be and were created.”

Could it be that this very scene is re-enacted each and every time that the Holy Mass is celebrated here on Earth? I’ve come to believe that it does. Saint Padre Pio would often say “If we only knew how God regards the sacrifice of the Holy Mass, we would risk our lives to be present at a single Mass.” He also once quipped "It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass." The great Saint Leonard in his book The Hidden Treasure - Holy Mass explains that “During Holy Mass you kneel amid a multitude of holy Angels, who are present at the Adorable Sacrifice with reverential awe.” He goes on to say, and this us both powerful and appropriate in this the month of November wherein the Church prays with particular ardor for the Holy Souls,“you shorten your time in Purgatory with every Mass.

Over the last few days, we’ve witnessed by way of the Gospel two men who sought to encounter Jesus at any cost. On Monday it was the blind man who approached Jesus just outside of Jericho (Luke 18:35-43) wherein he begged the only man who could heal him of his blindness to do just that. Jesus remains the only one who can heal us of our spiritual blindness as well On Tuesday it was the notorious tax collector Zacchaeus, who darted off to the nearest, tallest sycamore tree so that he could scale its trunk just to get a mere glimpse at this man named Jesus He too was healed , in his case of his avarice and his larcenous ways.

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We too must pursue Jesus with the same zeal and tireless passion. Jesus came to bring wholeness and healing to the world and he does so by way of the Holy Eucharist. Seek to encounter Him as often as you can by way of this most precious of Sacraments. Celebrating Holy Mass is without question the most important thing we do. For without the Mass and without the Eucharist, you are merely one of the many “walking dead” among us I urge you to take to heart the words of Pope Pius X, who said “Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven.” Because although I can’t speak for everyone, “short” and “safe” sounds pretty appealing when there’s a seven-headed dragon on the loose.

“Behold, the Bridegroom is coming; come out to meet Christ the Lord.” ~ Matthew 25:6

"It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass." ~ Saint Padre Pio


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