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Book Review: "Countdown To Doomsday" By Fr Pat Collins

Author: Kristina Cooper

Picture: Pxfuel

Book Review: "Countdown To Doomsday" By Fr Pat Collins

In the light of COVID-19, Fr Pat Collins' new book, Countdown To Doomsday, is a timely reminder for Catholics about understanding the Second Coming and the end times, says Kristina Cooper.

Countdown to Doomsday  is the provocative title of Fr Pat Collins' latest book (published by New Life, and available from  Goodnews Books, price £11.99). The subject could not be more providential in the light of recent world events, particularly the coronavirus, which has led certain high profile Christian preachers to wonder if we are experiencing the birth pangs of the End Times and the Second Coming. 

Whereas the End Times and Second Coming have been popular topics among Evangelicals, these topics are seldom mentioned in Roman Catholic pulpits. This often leaves Catholics ignorant of Church teaching, and ill equipped to discern when others talk about things like premillennialism, post-millennialism and amillennialism, or the various prophecies currently making the rounds. 

This book is the perfect primer to bring Catholics up to speed.

It gives a solid and comprehensive overview on the subject, drawing on Old Testament and New Testament prophecies, the teaching of the Church from the Catholic Catechism, the teaching of Paul and Peter, and recent popes.  Prophecies from visionaries and Catholic saints old and new, such as St Faustina (1905-1938) and St Vincent Ferrer (1350-1419), are also included.

St Vincent Ferrer And The End Of The World

The chapter I found the most interesting concerns St Vincent Ferrer, one of the Catholic Church's greatest preachers and miracle workers. In 1396, he had a vision of Christ telling him to go forth and preach repentance because the end of the world was coming. He had received other accurate prophetic words, and this one was confirmed by many holy prophetic people he encountered. 

This word impelled him to spend the next 20 years travelling the cities of Europe, preaching the basic gospel message and the necessity of repentance. Known as the Angel of Judgement, his words fell on fertile ground, as many others also felt the end was coming and thousands of conversions occurred wherever he preached.

Looking back, one could see why many might have thought the biblical signs for this had been fulfilled in the terrible famines, the horrific Black Death plague, and the horrific 100 years war (1337-1453). How could mankind survive? Surely this was the end.

Yet it was not the end, and mankind came through. 

A Subject Rarely Addressed By Catholic Preachers

It is probably because of its long experience of these kind of predictions, from very holy and usually accurate prophets, that the Catholic Church has tended to be rather sanguine about the End Times, the Second Coming, and this topic is rarely addressed by Catholic preachers and teachers.

Yet by ignoring this particular dimension of the gospel message, even if it is not going to happen in our lifetime, can mean that we are tempted to forget that, as Christians, we should always live as if the end of the world might be soon.  Our home is heaven, not this world.

Perhaps this is why Jesus insisted on telling us to look for certain signs but did not give dates, so that every generation might feel that theirs was the last and prepare accordingly. 

A Reminder Of The Urgent Need For Catholics To Evangelise

This book also looks briefly at the Church's teaching on heaven and hell, and judgement. Fr. Pat looks particularly at the thorny issue of who is saved, tracing the way the prevailing understanding has changed.

For most of the Church’s history, the general belief was that few would be saved, but in more recent times a more universalist view has developed, so today most people assume that everyone, apart from a few serial killers, will go to heaven.

This view so concerned CCR pioneer Ralph Martin that he made it the subject of his PhD some years ago and wrote the chastening book “Will Many Be Saved? What Vatican II Actually Teaches and its implications for the New Evangelisation.”

Fr. Pat discusses this and looks at the different theological understandings of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI on this subject.

All in all, this is a very helpful and useful book on a difficult topic.

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