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Another aspect of concern - pastoral concern - is the very real "off course" venue adopted by folks who become obsessed with messages. Often they enter the dark world of conspiracy theories and attribute it all to an apocalyptic revelation of impending divine punishment. The daily assignment of Jesus - to deliberately practice love of God and neighbor and to walk in his Gospel Commands gets sidelined by messages, dire warnings and a kind of self-induced paranoia. I have seen it all the years of my priestly ministry. It is tempting to attribute it all to the devil because it very effectively derails some faithful, setting up a smokescreen that obscures right daily practice. It is almost impossible to talk them out of it. The need to know the future in order to feel in control in uncertain times is part of it, but so is the need to blame someone, namely all of THEM - the ones who have angered God and brought on all of these impending consequences. To someone caught up in all of this, the insanity of such thinking does not occur to them, and worse, the ugly, disfigured face of God it presents is accepted with no hesitation. Is there an end of the present world and a new creation coming? Yes, as the Faith teaches us. Is there judgment some day? Yes, by the Merciful One. When is that happening? ABSOLUTELY NOT ONE PERSON KNOWS!

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