"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

DAY I: "The Pricke of Conscience" (July 18)

The eleventh sign: terrified people
come out of the caves praying.
First Rule of the Discernment of Spirits: In the case of those who go from one deadly sin to another, the enemy is ordinarily accustomed to propose apparent pleasures. He fills their imagination with sensual delights and gratifications, the more readily to keep them in their vices and increase the number of their sins. With such persons the good spirit uses a method which is the reverse of the above. Making use of the light of reason, he will rouse the pricks of conscience and fill them with remorse. (SE 314)

Pope Francis said during the Extraordinary Urbi et Orbi on 27 March 2020, "We have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything. Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things, and lured away by haste. We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet.” Pope Francis sees the coronavirus serving as a prick to the globalised and consumeristic conscience of the current affairs of our world, waking us all to the fragility of human aspirations and vanities.

Neither Pope Francis nor we the first to reckon this reality. There is a 600-year-old church window, dubbed as  "The Pricke of Conscience", of the parish of All Saints, in North Street York, England. On it is a stained-glass painting of the last fifteen signs of Doom before the final Judgement of humankind. The storyline is patterned from an anonymous 10,000-line Middle English poem which was a bestseller during its time, even outselling Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

The panels and captions: (Credit: Apollo Stained-glass)
The first sign: the sea rises to the height of mountains up to about sixty feet.
The fourth sign: the fish leap out of the sea roaring.
The seventh sign: earthquakes destroy buildings.
The eighth sign: rocks and stones are consumed by fire.
The eleventh sign: terrified people come out of the caves praying.
The twelfth sign: graves are opened and dead men’s bones be set together and rise all at once.
The thirteenth sign: the stars fall from heaven.
The fourteenth sign: the death of all living things.
The fifteenth sign: the whole cosmos goes up in flames.

This precious fifteenth-century stained-glass painting has a lot of parallels with our twenty-first-century realities that one might even think it was just commissioned yesterday. Pope Francis begs the world not only to look at the horror of the global pandemic but look at it also as a lesson in what to expect when we do not listen to the cries of the poor and the earth, and figure out what we could still do to change while there is time"...to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing… a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not."

There's one caricature of the English language that was used rather than the customary Latin. The author of this literary piece said at the end that he has written it in English, because the English are so useless and lazy about learning other languages. Fr. JM Manzano, SJ

Meditate on the grace to beg for today: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 8:37-39).


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