“Ask a Priest: What If I’m Scared That the End Is Coming?”

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Q: With all that is going on in the world today, I hear more from those around me that the Book of Revelation is open and the end times are here. I know that we need to be ready at all times for the arrival of Christ, but this also is very depressing. I feel like I haven’t reached the level I need to be saved and now there isn’t enough time. I’m even having a hard time making decisions for the future because it would appear that it doesn’t matter. Should I be preparing by not sending my children to college and sort of retreating from society to a safe haven? I am an avid Mass attender and a father of six children and still I am scared of the end. Is it a sin to be scared of Christ’s arrival? It is getting harder and harder to answer these questions from my children and I don’t know where to turn. – M.D.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It sounds as though you need a dose of hope.

Perhaps the pandemic has taken its toll and worn you down. The world isn’t a paradise, but we Christians should be people of hope and trust in God’s providence.

No one knows when the end is coming, and there is no obvious reason to think it will arrive soon.

The COVID pandemic shouldn’t be read as an end-times indicator. Difficult as it has been, it pales in comparison with the Black Death of the 14th century, when a third to half of the population of Europe perished.

Big calamities can trigger talk of the end times. Such talk shouldn’t paralyze you. It will only cause needless anxiety and distract you from the good that you can do each day.

So, that would be the first piece of advice: Let God worry about the end times, and turn your attention to the things that will give him glory and help others, including prayer and a rich sacramental life and acts of charity.

As Christians we are called to evangelize those around us. It’s prudent to keep a healthy distance from the world, but to try to withdraw totally from it is unrealistic and counterproductive.

Part of our mission as Christians is to bring the Gospel message to the public square. If we don’t do that, others will fill the vacuum, possibly with unsavory substitutes.

So, the better strategy is to prepare your children to push back in the world. Prepare them for a battle, not a bunker.

A separate issue is whether they should go to college and, if so, which college. Given the expense and the academic and moral decay on many campuses, one might want to consider options. Learning a trade such as plumbing or electrical work might make more sense for young people looking for a way to support a family.

You mention that you are an avid Mass attender, which makes it puzzling that you are so scared of the end. And having six children, while no small responsibility, should ideally give you evidence of hope, for they will be the ones helping to shape the future.

A life of prayer and the sacraments should help give us the confidence to meet Our Lord.

Could it be that you are exposing yourself to too much bad news and doom-and-gloom YouTube videos? If so, it might be good to leave them on the side and focus more on prayer. A helpful read could be Benedict XVI’s encyclical on hope, Spe Salvi.

It might be good to speak with someone in case you think depression might be a problem. A bit of counseling might be helpful. Count on my prayers.

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