Saturday, May 20, 2017

Book of Revelation for the Confused and Bemused


Whore of Babylon.jpg
By First upload to en.wikipedia on 5 Sep 2003 by en:User:Ihcoyc as Whorebab.jpg, Public Domain, Link
Much as I love the Easter season, there is one thing I don't mind when it ends: leaving behind the daily readings from the book of Revelation, a.k.a. the Apocalypse.

Because it's absolutely crazy. All those weird, fever dream visions, with no real way of knowing what the degree of symbolism vs. physical reality might be, and whether these are things that have already happened or are still to come in the future. (Or some of each.)

I believe it was St. Jerome (but I could be wrong--maybe another Church Father) who did not want Revelation to be included in the canon of Sacred Scripture because it was so open to misunderstanding. While I accept what the Church decided, I sympathize with his objections.

And before you tell me to read Scott Hahn on the heavenly liturgy--yes, I like that part. But all those beasts and heads and horns and locusts that look like tiny horses with human heads, etc. All that seems just disturbing and not really helpful in any way.

I will say there is a general takeaway for Christians to be ready for, and undismayed by, the seeming triumph of evil, persecution, and martyrdom. It will all come out beautifully in the end. Okay, I get that.

In the interest of getting past my irritation with certain features of Revelation, I just bought the Kindle edition of Coming Soon: Unlocking the Book of Revelation and Applying its Lessons today. Written by Michael Barber of Catholic Answers, I know it will be realiable.   And after only two chapters, I'm already glad I bought it.

As an aside, when we had the reading earlier this week describing all the precious gemstones adorning the temple of the New Jerusalem (Chrysolite, beryl, sardonyx,chrysoprase, etc.) I looked them all up on Google Images and had a pleasant time with that. Showing that I will do anything to help me feel a bit more friendly towards this mysterious book.






17 comments:

  1. A somewhat related Chesterton quote. :-)

    "In one of Stevenson's letters there is a characteristically humorous remark about the appalling impression produced on him in childhood by the beasts with many eyes in the Book of Revelations: 'If that was heaven, what in the name of Davy Jones was hell like?' Now in sober truth there is a magnificent idea in these monsters of the Apocalypse. It is, I suppose, the idea that beings really more beautiful or more universal than we are might appear to us frightful and even confused. Especially they might seem to have senses at once more multiplex and more staring; an idea very imaginatively seized in the multitude of eyes. I like those monsters beneath the throne very much. It is when one of them goes wandering in deserts and finds a throne for himself that evil faiths begin, and there is (literally) the devil to pay-to pay in dancing girls or human sacrifice. As long as those misshapen elemental powers are around the throne, remember that the thing that they worship is the likeness of the appearance of a man."

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    1. I forgot to add the source: It's from his book "Alarms and Discursions" (1910)

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    2. Great quote. As usual, Chesterton for the win.

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  2. Another new book you may find helpful in understanding "Revelation" is by Peter S. Williamson and is just one volume in the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series which I highly recommend.

    https://www.amazon.com/Revelation-Catholic-Commentary-Sacred-Scripture/dp/080103650X/ref=pd_sim_14_3?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=080103650X&pd_rd_r=PSH5MP8PP6SE1BSZAKNN&pd_rd_w=AMtKw&pd_rd_wg=0voQo&psc=1&refRID=PSH5MP8PP6SE1BSZAKNN

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  3. And here I was finding myself REALLY enjoying book of Revelations in the Office of Readings in Eastertide :-O After a few days, I took down Michael Barber's book "Coming Soon" and found it most helpful to read alongside. I found I needed to read each chapter in Barber's book to "get" it all though. I think it's an absolute thrill to be permitted to see a glimpse into the goings on in heaven. (The Revelation passages are certainly making my praying daily the Rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet a little more fervent :-)) I especially like Catholic artwork where you can see happenings on earth going on concurrently with the "breakthrough" into the heavenly realms. I also like that the book of Hebrews is being presented in Evening Prayer.

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  4. With the Acts of the Apostles in Morning Prayer, a wonderful read-along book is Fulton Ourslers "The Greatest Faith Ever Known"

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    1. Been years since I've read Oursler but recall enjoying those books. Also April Oursler Armstrong, his daughter, wrote The Tales that Christ Told about the parables. That was a favorite of mine when I was a teenager. I've always meant to get back to it to see if whatever moved me as a child is still there for me now, but...it's sitting on a shelf somewhere in the house, unread.

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  5. Something else I thought about while reading the passage in the book of Revelation the other day where John goes to bow down and worship the angel and the angel says "Don't do it!" I enjoy seeing the Heavenly happenings through St John's eyes. I have great affection for the Gospel writers for their varied audiences they wrote for, particular St John. For example, Jesus' divinity presented in St John's Gospel was instrumental in my coming to consider Jesus as Lord. Praying the Liturgy of the Hours was instrumental in bringing me into the Catholic faith (from Judaism). The Liturgy of the Hours and particularly the Office of Readings makes me a very happy camper to be a member of the Catholic Church. Doesn't get any better than Mass and the Real Presence :-)

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  6. The Apocalypse of St. John is in the the two year cycle for Year I

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  7. Hi Daria love the post on Revelation. I wanted to know is there a liturgical law that states about the morning office being said at 10.40 ish and mid day prayer 1.30/1.45pm thanks.

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    1. There is no universal law regarding precise times of day.

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    2. Hi Daria, I'm using the Pauline version of Christian Prayer and canot locate a Thursday, Friday or Saturday for week 6, when Ascension is celebrated on Sunday, although there is a Wednesday week 6. I've checked IBreviary, Universalis and Divine Office on-line, so I am able to use those, but do you have any suggestions for the Pauline version? I can't locate the correct antiphon, intercessions or prayer. Thanks for your help! Diane Jones

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    3. Hi Diane, Sorry I did not see this sooner. I use the Pauline 4 volume breviary, but no longer have the single-volume, so this may not be helpful. But for what it's worth:after the end of Evening Prayer for Wednesday, 6th week of Easter, it says in very fine print: In places where the Ascension is celebrated on a Sunday, proper texts for Friday are found on page (XXX). So check your own book at the end of Wednesday, 6th week and see if there is a similar instruction. Otherwise, you'd better stick with your app for today and tomorrow.

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    4. Thanks Daria, will try it. Appreciate the response! Diane

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    5. Thanks Daria, will try it. Appreciate the response! Diane

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  8. Hello could someone tell me if its Psalter week 3 for Today, as in the UK today is the Feast of the Ascension or is it week 1? Thanks.

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    1. I'm late in coming, but yes, you would have used Sunday I this morning.

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