When I was an evangelical Protestant, I had a very eschatological mind. Like many I saw the news as a progressive revelation that we were in, or nearing, the end-times. In fact, I rarely thought about my own death because it seemed so very likely to me that Christ would come back in my life-time. While I now think that the typical evangelical premillennialism is an untenable position, I do think that there is a particular mindset which comes along with it and which is indispensable at this time in Church history.
The mindset I’m thinking of is the tendency to view almost all things through an eschatological lens. Any time news comes from Israel, you can find people demonstrating how this is bringing us a step closer to the rapture. Any time the government passes a law that restricts Christian religious expression in the public space, count on speculation that this is leading up to the rise of the Antichrist. Though this may seem kooky to some, it would be wrong to disparage those who think this way. That’s because the eschatological mind is a mind of faith. And a mind of faith is just what is needed in the Catholic Church today.
The eschatological mind is especially useful when applied to one’s ecclesiology, or ideas about the Church. When one hears of evil infecting the Church, the correct response is not despair or fear for the fall of the Church, but a calm assurance that God is going to get his way. God’s Church will never fall, and it will be presented to his Son as a pure and spotless bride at the end of days. We know this. The eschatological mind doesn’t speculate about the future of the Church based on current events. It starts at the end predicted by Scripture and then speculates on how we will get there from here.
So what does this look like? It means having faith that God is not done with his Bride. Maintain the belief that the Vicar of Christ will not lead the Church into error, that the Church will continue to prevail against the gates of hell, and that the Church is still the only refuge for sinners. It means having hope that God will bring the best out of all this and then discerning how one might get in on the action. Assume first that the end was figured out a long time ago. Expect God to do great things. It means growing in love for all those affected by the scandal (which is everyone). Become familiar with what the Church says about herself and why she says it, and share that with others. Lastly, remembering that these light and momentary afflictions prepare us for an eternal weight of glory, abandon oneself all the more to the cause of Christ. He wins in the end, after all.