Catholics Approaching Apocalypse: A Week Spent in Revelation

by Regina Lehnerz on June 23, 2011

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity welcome guest blogger Regina Lehnerz who reflects on Fr. Jean-Pierre Ruiz’s course “Approaching The  Apocalypse: The Book of Revelation” from the First Century to the Twenty-First at Silver Lake College of the Holy Family, June 17-24, 2011. Read more about Fr. Jean-Pierre Ruiz, S.T.D..

Fr. Jean-Pierre Ruiz, S.T.D., teaches “Approaching The Apocalypse: The Book of Revelation from the First Century to the Twenty-First” June 17-24, 2011 at Silver Lake College of the Holy Family, sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity.

If you’ve ever scratched your head after reading even a verse from the Book of Revelation or wondered why people continue to predict the end of the world in spite of the countless “dooms days” that have come and gone without even a blink from Heaven, you’re in good company. Scholars have devoted their lives– and we, the last week –to the study of the Apocalypse of John, and still we can’t be certain of who or what the number of the beast stands for or which horns on which goat refer to which whatever.

In attempt to cut through the fog in which any apocalyptical reader is almost certainly left in, Fr. Jean-Pierre Ruiz, S.T.D., professor and scripture scholar from St. John’s University in New York, has spent the week with us, unraveling the mystery of “How to Read” the final book of the Canon instead of picking apart the seemingly endless symbolism. We’ve learned the book of Revelation, as any book, can and should be read as a window into the history in which the text was scribbled down, i.e. 96 AD. It can also be examined as a canvas onto which John painted a peculiar and, at times, terrifying dream. And finally, we may also find parts of the book useful for self-examination, as we would a mirror.

This three-fold technique for studying the Apocalypse has given us the go-ahead to accept that the words and warnings within it aren’t a prediction of the future as much as they are an interpretation of space and time and our place within them. Perhaps the book is an interpretation of John’s time and space, or maybe our time or a time in the future. However the book is read and interpreted, we, as Catholics, are blessed to be constantly exposed to the rituals of Revelation in the Divine Office and in our participation in the Holy Mass. What we’ve learned from  these rituals, and what the book says for sure, is this: God is without time, and there is no time without God. He is the Alpha and the Omega, beginning and end, and Holy, Holy, Holy is He.

14 thoughts on “Catholics Approaching Apocalypse: A Week Spent in Revelation”

  1. It is a privilege to take  this course with a scholar of  Fr. Jean-Pierre's expertise! From the many readings, discussions, presentations, questions, and focus papers I have come to a deeper appreciation of this complex book. 

    One insight that continues to challenge me  is from David L. Barr's article, “Towards an Ethical Reading of the Apocalypse” –If one is satisfied thinking that one day God will end injustice in the world one is ignoring one's own duty to change the world we live in. In Paul's words, we are to live in such a way to “share on behalf of His body, the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ's sufferings. (Col.1:24) In other words, be a participant in God's Word!

    Thank you Fr. Jean-Pierre for this unforgettable week of coming closer to Jesus Christ through this amazing book of Revelation!

  2. Sister Kathleen says:

    This class is mind & horizon stretching. Exploring symbolism, literary style & contemporary application of this mysterious book is an adventure!

  3. Sister Natalie says:

    The Book of Revelation holds much symbolism. Unpacking the biblical text, along side interprepations from the viewpoint of various cultures is providing a broadening of understanding.

  4. Sister Monica says:

    This class is helping me to unpack the mystery of the Apocalypse, and I am learning how to respond critically to the beliefs commonly held in our society.

  5. Sister Elena says:

    I've been enjoying this class and learning lots about how important it is to know about the 1st century Roman and the Hellenistic culture to get a better understanding of the Book of Revelation.

  6. Sister Regina Rose says:

    The Book of Revelation has always been a mystery to me and held me no real possibility for application in my life…I thought. I am realizing how closely related the liturgy is related to the writings in Revelation & I am seeing the care with which we are called to read this text & the action we are invited to take as well. Most of all, the class has inspired me to dig a little deeper into this book.

  7. Sister Pamela Catherine says:

    The class on the Book of Revelation has provided further insight into the way this text is written and also the meaning behind the words. It is wonderful to receive a much more solid background on this text offering the ability to counter the worldly opinions. The book we are reading for the class offers as well further insight into different cultural interpretations on the Book of Revelation.

  8. Marilyn says:

    This course has allowed me to view John’s Apocalypse in a whole new light. By studying critics’ interpretations, it has broadened my own insight on how to interpret the text. I am able to approach the book behind the text. It leads me to discover my own understanding of the book and connect it to my relationship with God. I have obtained a new understanding of the Book of Revelation.

  9. Alejandra says:

    This course enlightened me by expanding my mind set, opening a whole new world, and by allowing to interpret text in a completely different manner. I learned a variety of historical and cultural facts along the way, and that there is still so much knowledge for me to attain in the world.

  10. Sister Elizabeth Ann says:

    This course has brought me to a deeper appreciation and understanding of the book of Revelation. It has caused me to realize my responsibility to recognize and speak out on injustices in our world today. It wasn’t for Christians long ago, but a call to Christians today to live out a response to social injustices.

  11. Regina, thanks for your willingness to share your 'week spent in Revelation'! What better way to share the good news of this course than to have a student speak of their teacher and his message. Fr. Jean-Pierre's presence among us was more than the time spent on this one credit course. As Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, we are grateful that both you and Father could 'be' with us.

  12. Sadrianna says:

    I was not able to attend the class, but the summary and insights shared in your article, Regina, I have found very insightful and helpful. Thanks

  13. Sr. Leslie says:

    I am very thankful for this class. It is really as if a whole new world has been opened up for us. The book of Revelation is much more managable now. We have been given a gift. I truely beleive that coming to know the sacred scriptures better help us to become closer to God through His Word.

  14. Marialeelamantia says:

    I just love what you say the Book of Revelation says for sure, is this: “God is without time, and there is no time without God. He is the Alpha and the Omega, Beginning and End, and Holy, Holy, Holy is He.” 
     And after Retreat this summer, I know only God is God who sent His Son who became Man, Jesus,-made in Gods image and likeness. Jesus who lived, danced, prayed, healed, preached, performed miracles, had friends, was betrayed, loved, laughed, went to parties, observed religious services, cried, believed in Truth, in His Father, was obedient, forgave, served his neighbors, accepted others, suffered, died, was buried and rose from the dead for us so that we may live and follow the WAY living in His own Image and Likeness. Believing and becoming a likeness of Him in our time and space, from our beginning to our end, and becoming holy—Praise Him, Thank Him for everything, and just Love Him…now and forever.How good it is to be .
     The Journey is Right Regina,   Gentle blessings along the way,
    One of your sisters, Marialee

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