NOTICE: The Apocalypse tapes have now been thoroughly edited, removing annoying coughing and other interference.
I was asked by the Apostolate for Family Consecration (afc.org), back in 1990, to record a series of commentaries on the last book of the Bible, the Apocalypse (or Book of Revelation). The original tapes were with video, but I recently requested permission to post the audio recordings on my site. The AFC generously agreed. The ten audio episodes are available below, followed by a second video format of the 5th episode, designed by my webmaster. The images are taken from the late 14th century Angers Apocalypse Tapestry, on display in the Musée de la Tapisserie, Château d’Angers, France.
I obviously claim no infallibility in my interpretation of this mysterious book. My only hope was to show that the text can be read in harmony with the rest of Scripture and appreciated as a serious part of Biblical revelation. I also wished to show that the symbolic language of the book does not amount to a fictional hallucination, but rather the revelation of a final, terminal dimension of reality lying just beneath the surface of our lives. It sometimes rises closer to consciousness, sometimes retreats. But it is always there, just like the imminence of our own death and final destiny. “In all you do, remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin.” (Sir. 7, 36)
As mysterious as was our beginning, so will be the end toward which we all – whether as individuals or as a race – inexorably advance. The Apocalypse makes that point with unmistakable emphasis. I have more recently addressed this matter here: Protology and Eschatology in Miniature. Genesis and Apocalypse are, quite simply, the indispensable bookends to the Biblical story, and the Alpha and Omega of the meaning of human existence.
In this age of pre- or post-millennialisms, talk of Raptures and imminent world conflagrations, a final comment is called for. Most Protestant, and virtually all Orthodox and Catholic churches happily agree on one principle of Biblical interpretation: namely, that large numbers are normally figurative. Accordingly, they adhere to St. Augustine’s view that the thousand-year reign of Christ (Apoc. 20) is itself symbolic; it merely references the undetermined trajectory of the Church’s history. Through the redemption wrought by Christ, Satan is bound indeed, but not because he has been definitively banished, but in the sense that he no longer blocks the door to heaven. That door is now opened, and the population within is increasing by the day.
With the Church established on Earth, the works of darkness will be checked and their days numbered. No longer Paradise, and not yet the New Jerusalem – but a world in which God’s presence has gained a new foothold. The exact length of this era will depend on the inscrutable interface where divine and human freedom interact. Furthermore, the “second coming” of Christ (not explicitly mentioned in Revelation) is commonly understood to be the mysterious consummation of that history, symbolized by the Holy City, “coming down out of heaven from God.” (Apoc. 21, 2). However, it is an event whose details remain hidden and whose time and date resist all second-guessing. “No one knows the day nor hour.” (Mt. 24, 36) Also unmentioned is the “Anti-Christ,” a figure for any number of the Church’s historical enemies. St. John assures us that “…many antichrists have come….” (1 Jo 2, 18) We can surely expect a few more.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Apocalypse has been traditionally understood to serve as a book of comfort. But to gain that comfort, one does need to read it through to the end. The present meditations are intended to assist us in that rewarding endeavor.
The Seven Churches
The Open Door, the Scroll and the Lamb
The Seven Seals
The Seven Trumpets
The Two Witnesses, the Woman and the Dragon
The Beast, the Lamb, the Eternal Gospel
The Seven Bowls of Wrath, the Fall of Babylon
Chapters 19-20 :
Heaven Opened and the "Millenium"
The New Heaven and the New Earth