Since 2000, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais has expressed his opinion on a variety of faith topics. These texts were initially published in the "Ask the Religion Experts" column which appears every Saturday in The Ottawa Citizen. As of June 2005, Msgr. Patrick Powers, Vicar General, will be taking on the responsibility of the weekly articles.

What does your faith believe about the end of the world and what will happen to the faithful? What is the Rapture?

I will answer your second question first. Saint Teresa of Avila defines "rapture" as a sudden, forceful and irresistible manifestation of the tremendous power of the Lord. In "The Collected Works of Saint Teresa of Avila" she refers to it as a mystical favour in which the Lord gathers up the soul and raises it completely out of itself and up to heaven, showing it the things of the kingdom that He prepared for it.

The best expression of our beliefs about the end of the world is found in our liturgy. The Church celebrates the mystery of the Lord "until He comes" when God will be everything to everyone (1Cor. 11:15-28). After the bread and wine have been consecrated and become the body and blood of Christ, the faithful respond by proclaiming their faith, saying or singing: "Christ has died. Christ is Risen. Christ will come again". In this moment, the action of the Holy Spirit hastens the coming of the kingdom and the consummation of the mystery of salvation. As we wait in hope, the Lord causes us to anticipate with joy the fullness of communion with the Holy Trinity.

The Holy Spirit, sent by the Father who hears the prayer of the Church, gives life to those who accept him and is, even now, the guarantee of our inheritance (Eph. 1:14). As a matter of fact, it is in all the sacraments of Christ that the Church already receives the guarantee of her inheritance and even now shares in everlasting life, while awaiting our "blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Christ Jesus" (Titus 2:13). In that sense, one of our our most fervent prayers is taken from the Book of Revelation: "Maranatha" - Come ... Come Lord Jesus, Come!.