First snow

“But pray that your flight be not in the winter …”

First snow in Parkdale, today, though not enough to gather. The temperature dropped, the winds rose, telling us that winter is coming.

To church, for the last Sunday of the ecclesiastical year; for the Old Mass.

In the New Mass, they celebrated Christ the King today, as the feast now stands, transferred from its proper place in the calendar to this, where it takes on a different colouration: more abstract, more diffused, more glib; more accessible to the thoughtless. Christ is presented as “king of the universe,” where the point was originally that He is King of us; Lord over every earthly lord; commanding our loyalty even unto death.

Viva Cristo Rey! was what the Mexican martyrs shouted, as they were done in by their progressive, secular lords in the 1920s. And likewise as they were shot in Albania, by the progressives there. And elsewhere: not “long live the master of the universe,” but, “Long Live Christ the King.” There is a subtle difference.

In the Old Mass, before the Bugnini desecrations, the Last Sunday turns our attention instead to the end of our world; to the abomination of desolation; to rescue and redemption and the coming of Christ in Glory. The Gospel for this day is the extraordinary apocalyptic passage from Saint Matthew, in Christ’s own words concluding: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”

Orate autem, ut non fiat fuga vestra in hieme …

For many years, I have been haunted by this phrase, coming back to me in the least likely moments: “But pray that your flight be not in the winter …”

Scenes from the apocalypse, echoed from the prophet Daniel, with this warning:

“Then if any man shall say to you: ‘Lo, here is Christ’, or ‘there’; do not believe him. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. Behold, I have told it to you beforehand: if therefore they shall say to you: ‘Behold, He is in the desert’, go ye not out; ‘behold, He is in the closets’, believe it not.”

As the lightning out of the east into the west, He will come. The sun, out. The moonlight, gone. The stars, falling. I cannot imagine such things, in waking; I cannot even in dreams. Yet futurity is not constrained by my imagination.

Only let us grasp that in the end of the world, there will be no room for interpretation. There will be no media that we need to consult.

Yet I can imagine the humble pilgrim, at the end of days, setting forth. Him for whom the universe was made, and in which he yearns for the protection of his Maker. Or, every man and woman ever born, in the time of trial, as we run from evil.

“But pray that your flight be not in the winter …”