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The Rapture

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Michelangelo

I was going through the Search terms used in accessing this site, and I found a search query in the form of a question: “The origin of the word rapture?” Remembering that I already wrote an article on the topic in 1999, I began writing this post. Before I did so, however, I made a search on “Rapture” at Google. To my surprise, the first articles that were shown were all from Catholics! That was to me a consolation since back in 1999 when I made a search on the same topic, only pages from fundamentalists and Rapture-groups were available.

I wrote On Rapture: What A Catholic Thinks About The Topic in response to a question by a Religious Education teacher: What does the Church say about the “Rapture”? At first, that made me wonder. The Catholic Church always has before her eyes the reality of the Lord’s return and we have the Advent season to remind us of that. Yet, we have this Rel-Ed teacher who does not seem to see the connection between our celebration of Advent and what Paul wrote in 1 Thess. 4:16-17

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.

The words in bold in the quote above translates the Greek word harpagesometha. In Jerome’s Vulgate, this Greek word is translated as rapiemur which is actually the origin for the English word “rapture”. It has been noted with irony — it may have been Scott Hahn in one of the segments of Our Father’s Plan — that while Catholics have the version of the Bible which bears the word-origin for “rapture”, it does not speak so much about it as the Lord’s Second Coming. In fact, “rapture” is not part of Catholic Advent vocabulary which is dominated by the verbs “keep watch”, “be alert”, “wait”. For Catholics, it is more important to wait for the coming of the Lord and be prepared for it, rather than the spectacular aspect of the Lord’s coming. (Well, yeah, Michelangelo’s painting of the Second Coming catches the spectacular aspect of the “rapture” but that’s art.)

My article from 1999 is actually divided into sub-sections that lay out what I think was wrong of the Rapture doctrine that I was hearing about at that time, namely

  • that it should be troubling to honest believers
  • that it should make Catholics cease from being Catholics
  • that it will happen NOW (the “now” is sometime between 1999 and 2000; remember the millenial scare of those times?)

In other words, the article reiterates what one already finds in the Catechism: “The Last Judgment shall happen upon the glorious return of Christ. Only the Father knows the hour and the day, only He Himself decides (Christ’s) Advent.” (CCC § 1040). And I back up my explanation with a collection of Scripture passages from the New Testament.

Below are some of the Catholic articles on the “Rapture”, I found through Google.

Originally posted 2008-06-06 03:46:25. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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