Friday, January 3, 2014

The Crack of Doom

From Father Angelo:
In medieval English churches a standard architectural/artistic element of the liturgical environment was the Doom painting in the tympanum of the western wall of the Church. This depiction of the Last Judgment was located above the doors of the Church, so that it could be seen by the people as the exited the building.  ”Doom,” in this sense, is a synonym for Judgment Day.  Thus, the Crack of Doom, does not refer to some opening in the earth from which proceeds the apocalyptic judgment, but, the moment in time when the impending judgment is announced by the “crack” of thunder and trumpet blast.

The Doom within the church building, like the Rood, separating the sanctuary from the nave, marks out a place and time toward which the faithful must orient themselves and though which, like a frame, we are able to experience the liturgy.  The apocalyptic moment is the age to come already present in the here and now, especially in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  The faithful, nourished by the Eucharist, are sent forth to face the end of time and the cosmic battle that leads to it.  Christ extends his hands over the entire panorama of space and time, showing the living and the dead the marks of His passion and His victory over death.  The faithful leave the Church with the sense that at any moment He may come.

But our doom is not only an end.  Perhaps it is important that in the Sistine Chapel and other post-medieval Churches, the Doom was transferred from the western wall to the eastern wall over the altar of sacrifice.  Benedict XVI has reminded us that facing East in the liturgy we are led by Christ into eternity.  The heavens open, eternity invades time, and we are taken from this present age into the age to come.  Our doom is victory.

At the end of this time, which is is 2013, we have an opportunity to make an assessment of our own spiritual orientation.  In the context of such an assessment Bob Moynihan, publisher of Inside the Vatican has pointed to the reference Pope Francis made in November to Robert Hugh Benson’s The Lord of the World, which is a novel about what would happen if the principles of Freemasonry were universally adopted, and the effect it would have on those who believe in Christ.   The Holy Father’s statement was a commentary on the persecution of the Jews by the pagans in the Maccabean period and how some believed they could negotiate a peace with the world that would be compatible with the worship of the true God.  But Pope Francis called this “adolescent progressivism” and “the ‘globalization of hegemonic uniformity,’ a uniformity of thought born of worldliness.”  He called such a compromise “apostasy” and “adultery.”  He said that Robert Hugh Benson’s book was prophetic of this kind of apostasy which was to come, and in fact, has come. (Read more.)

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