One country morning, a pastor and his parochial vicar are out by a sign in front of their parish. The changeable letters were arranged to read, “Turn back now, the end is near!” As a car approaches they wave to try and get the driver’s attention. The driver slows down, reads the sign, then yells at them, “You guys are crazy! Leave me alone you religious nuts!” Then he laughs and speeds off around the bend. A few moments later, the priests hear a squeal of tires followed by a splash. The pastor turns to his vicar and says, “Do you think we should change the sign to read, ‘Bridge out ahead’?”
There have been so many predictions about the end of the world, the subject has literally become a joke. Pope Sylvester II, Pope Innocent III, Martin Luther, Nostradamus, Sir Isaac Newton, Christopher Columbus, Rasputin, and Pat Robertson are just a few who have made failed predictions. The Jehova’s Witnesses have been wrong ten times already. There’s been Y2K, the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012, and now we’re at the end of John Hagee’s tetrad of blood moons while others point to the supposed prophecies of St. Malachy that say that Pope Francis will be the last Pope.
Here’s another one: According to some sources, October 13th, 1884 was the date that Pope Leo XIII had a vision after morning Mass where he overheard a conversation between Satan and Jesus. As the story goes, Satan boasted that if given 100 years he could destroy the Church and Jesus told him he would be given the time. In response to this vision, Pope Leo then wrote the original Prayer to St. Michael and added it to the Leonine Prayers. Since 1984 came and went with the Church still intact, the prediction has been revised to say Satan’s 100 years didn’t start until The Miracle of the Suns in Fatima, which happened on October 13th, 1917. If they’re to be believed, we only have 2 years until the Second Coming. Or the Great Chastisement. Or the Three Days of Darkness. Or… some other great event of Biblical proportions.
People are always looking for signs of the end times, which makes for entertaining conversation fodder. In Matthew 24, Jesus tells us that God will provide signs warning of the last days. If you wake up every day saying “today will be the Second Coming” — assuming you live long enough — some day you’ll be right. But isn’t it more important to focus on the road you travel every day?
As Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:42-44 “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have been alert and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Do not fear the end times. Instead, concentrate on the road you’re on right now. Pray for the Church and those who serve it. And also pray to be observant, so that you may clearly see the “bridge out” signs that God provides us in our everyday lives, warning us of when we’re on the wrong road and need to turn around. So whether it’s the end of days, or just the end of your days, prepare your soul today for whatever might come tomorrow.
Original Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel by Pope Leo XIII
O glorious Archangel St. Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, defend us in battle, and in the struggle which is ours against the principalities and Powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against spirits of evil in high places. Come to the aid of men, whom God created immortal, made in his own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil.
Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in Heaven. But that cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan, who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with all his angels.
Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of man has taken courage, Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of his Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity.
These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions.
In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.
Arise then, O invincible prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and bring them the victory.
The Church venerates thee as protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of this world and of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude.
Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations.