Confessions of a Cynical Catholic: “Was that a Trumpet?”

michelangelos-last-judgment-2      As Catholics, we don’t put a lot of stock into creepy Apocalyptic tales found near the end of the Bible. It’s not that we don’t “believe” in it per se, but we tend to think that the Book of Revelation is largely symbolic and written for a first or second century audience. So you can imagine my surprise when my softball coach “enlightened” me about this unique book and told me all about the battle that would get underway shortly after the rapture and what would happen to those who were “left behind.”

I’m not a big fan of scary stories as a general rule, but this one took the cake. During an end-of-season slumber party, my coach told me and a friend all about how the end of the world would come like a thief in the night. She told us that it was entirely possible that Jesus would send his signal,  grab everyone who he wanted regardless of what they were doing at the time and leave the rest of the poor fools standing there with no clue as to what happened. Babies would be spared of course, but when we pressed about what would happen to ordinary grade school kids like us, she wasn’t reassuring. It appeared that one wrong move would cause us to be stuck here on Earth without a prayer, branded with some number and thrown into a fiery pit. Nightmares, anyone?

“Do you believe that?” I asked my friend who like me, was a bit of a night owl and heard the same story.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I know Revelation is kind of creepy, but I’ve never heard any of that.”

“Me either. Do you think she could be wrong?

She shrugged. “I don’t know. She seemed pretty specific about how many people would be taken. I don’t think she could have made that up.”

“What about that movie?” I asked, referring to the hideously made 1970’s A Thief in the Night that churches showed to scare the crap out of their young congregants, including our coach. “Do you think it will happen like that?

“I’m not sure, but I’m here to tell you, I am going to start listening for trumpets,” she told me.

“Me too.”

And  I did. For the next two weeks, I strained to hear Gabriel sound out the beginning of the end and I prayed like never before. I freaked if I came home to an empty house out of fear that my parents had been taken to the Lord while I was left behind with the godless heathens. (Which seemed to include a phenomenal amount of good people! ha ha) Finally, when I lost enough sleep over the whole thing, I told my mother everything and asked her thoughts on the subject.

“Julie, quit listening to that crap,” she said, matter-of-factly.

“But Mom,” I protested. “It’s in the Bible.”

“So is ‘Don’t have sex with goats,'” she mumbled.

“Huh?” I asked, confused.

“Nothing,” she amended. “The point is that you simply can’t worry about all of that stuff. No one knows how the world is going to end or what Jesus will do when He comes back any time soon, but it is a pretty safe bet that you could not have done anything so bad as to keep you out of Heaven.”

I felt a lot better. After all, I trusted my mom’s assessment of Armageddon better than a coach and my father, who was Baptist, just like my coach certainly had never mentioned anything about a rapture so I assumed she was just trying to scare me. It certainly worked, but after talking to my mom, I was over it…

Or so I thought…not long after this event, I would experience something that would convince me that perhaps my softball coach knew more than my mother did. But that’s a story for next week!

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