Four out of ten Americans believe that recent weather extremes are the result of impending “end times.” Well, what do you expect? The Mayan calendar ends next Friday. 12/12/12 has come and gone. Wake up, Chicken Little, the sky is falling!

No one knows the day or hour of the end of the world, of Christ’s second coming. So it’s fairly easy for me to ignore doomsayers. They think they know; therefore, they must be wrong because no one knows. That’s my attempt at logic, anyway. What I don’t consider is this: While the end will probably not be next Friday, who’s to say it won’t be Saturday? Or Sunday? Or tomorrow?

That’s the scary part of not knowing. It ties in neatly with the subject of Advent, the season of the Church year in which we find ourselves currently immersed. Advent is a time of waiting and preparation for the birth of the Savior. But it’s also about looking forward to His next coming — the big one, the “end of days” one. The one that could be tomorrow…or a million years from now. We’re supposed to be getting ready for that, too.

How? Must we all write out our “Bucket Lists” and quit our jobs in pursuit of checking off its contents? Hedge our bets and hope we have more time? I’ll be honest. I have no idea how to prepare for the Second Coming. I’ve thought about it. If the world were to end, I’d want to be in the company of those I love. I’d like to go out in prayer. Other than that, I’m clueless. I’m sure as heck not ready to stand in the presence of God and be judged. I picture God taking one look at me and pulling a lever that sends me sprawling through a conveniently placed trapdoor. My chances look dicey at best.

It is easy to forget, what with our busy lives, careers, family, TV, ringing phones, honking cars and oh-my-gosh-look-at-that-cute-kitty-on-the-internet…where was I? Oh yeah. With all these distractions, who can keep her mind on such abstract notions as Final Judgments and heaven? And maybe that’s why we let ourselves be distracted, so we don’t have to think about the big topics. Because we’re all afraid to face them.

Thomas Merton (who I paraphrase regularly because I’m a shameless fangirl) believed we are all called to be saints. And certainly, if we live as saints, we will be ready no matter when the end comes. It’s the getting there that’s the trouble. There’s no clear road marked out for sainthood. It’s not like becoming a doctor or a lawyer. There are darned few teachers, and most of them are dead. So? What is there to do?

Until the dark comes, we have light. We have role models, books to read, prayers to say, commandments to follow, clues and hints of all sorts. We have the example of Christ. And we have our consciences and the wisdom of our own souls. It may not be a well-stocked bomb shelter, but it’s something. And we’d better use it now, because, well, it may be later than we think.

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