Darkness within, darkness without

Every so often I run up against unreasoning fear, and not just the fear that my kid will get locked in a parked car. It’s that gut-clenching fear of supernatural powers that will leave humanity helpless. Remember that when growing up, I was regularly exposed to end-of-the-worlders who had a bunker out in the mountains, where I was taught to fire a gun and where I was supposed to hide with them after the UN took over the United States.

I came across a brief description of the life of Blessed Anna-Maria Taigi, whom I immediately liked for several reasons. But apparently she’s most famous for a prediction of “the three days’ darkness,” which I’d rather not recount in great detail except to say that if they happen, it’ll be because God is truly angry with the world, and it’ll be like bad-bad-bad-bad.

She had a life full of greatness, but whatever I found about her online focused mostly on that prediction, and having the willpower of a magpie in a confetti factory, I started reading all this scary stuff. Some of these writers take her (and other mystics’) prediction and spin it out into this horrifying scenario.

Don’t get me wrong: the possibility of a wrathful God should strike us with horror. But the writers go off the deep end. It’s not just “stock up on food and water” or “make sure you have candles.” One website actually said that if the darkness falls, don’t open your door for anyone. Even if you hear your own children crying, don’t open to let them in because it’s Satan trying to trick you.

First off, if Satan wants to get into my house, we have a chimney and there are vents in the attic. (One site said to have plastic on hand to seal your windows. So you survive the darkness in order to suffocate.) Plus, I’ve never heard that angels or demons are deterred by doors.

But more than that, if surviving the wrath of God requires me to leave my children to die on my doorstep, I don’t want to survive. Life isn’t such an overall good that I need to sacrifice my humanity at the altar of living one day longer. Period. If Satan wants to get me, he can come to my door crying like my children. I’ll open the door. I’d open it for a stranger too.

Why? Because if you posit the idea that God is doing this to punish bad people, then I’m not so awesome myself. But if I’m willing to let other people die, that really ain’t cool. If God is doing this, then God would be in control, no? If it’s really a worldwide cataclysm no one can escape, then I’ll just have to trust that God will look out for me.

Maybe that’s naive. But when that old childhood terror started creeping up, I realized how distorted it is to focus on surviving the end of the world if it means becoming the kind of person who doesn’t deserve to survive.


  1. Amy Deardon

    There was a famous “day of darkness” on May 19, 1780 in New England. Candles were required even at noon. Many of the inhabitants believed this was the darkness predicted in the Bible, and that the world would end momentarily. While no one knows the cause for the darkness, the general consensus (based on growth ring data etc.) is that the darkness was probably caused by forest fires in Ontario. Who knows?

    Wow, powerful thought about what kind of person are you becoming in troubled times! I will think about this. Thank you.

    This world will end, and God will take His rightful place as Sovereign and Lord over all. But we don’t know when or how or why. We do know that the Lord is greater than all principalities and powers, and that nothing can separate us from His love. We may not get through this world OK, but the next world awaits.

    1. philangelus

      I’m honestly of the opinion that if there is a rapture, the Christians won’t want to go. I got a Wittenburg Door piece out of that once, but I think I’m right.

      I’m not saying there’s no such thing as prophecy, but when someone gives one, the thing to do isn’t panic and run around looking out for numero uno.

  2. Wyldkat

    “But if I’m willing to let other people die, that really ain’t cool.”

    As you have done unto the least of these, so you have done unto me.

    1. philangelus

      Thank you — after a while of reading these things, I began to wonder if I were the crazy one.

  3. Normandie

    Wonderful discussion, Jane. Good comments as well from Amy and Wyldkat. It’s all about trusting the Lord, isn’t it? If we look around at the messes happening now, one could liken the cataclysmic flooding and earthquakes and fires of the last months — and the messes in the Middle East — to the beginnings of those birth-pangs. But as Amy said, we aren’t to know the whens or the hows, are we? We must be ready spiritually, no matter the day or the hour. I remember back in the mid-seventies, soon after I’d become a Christian, when so many bumper stickers announced that the car ahead would be driverless after the “Rapture.” I used to wonder about such a God and so did a rather in-depth study on this subject. The non-Rapture-ites were buying the beans and rice and flour, enough to carrying them for all those black days. Of course, either they’ve now eaten all those beans, or the weevils have. The church seemed divided between the ones who believed they’d escape sorrow and wave good-bye to the rest of us, and the ones who believed they could prepare in the physical and it wouldn’t be so bad. Neither group seemed to talk about drawing closer to the Lord and biding in Him.

    I find enough to make me afraid in just living — my children’s well-being, my husband’s as he sails without me — that I don’t want to tackle the end-of-days fears. It seems to me that we must trust God with it all, with those everyday real concerns as well as with the fill-up-your-oil-lamp worries. We must draw close to Him, and then be the kind of person we’d like to be, as Wyldkat said, ministering to others.

    And, Jane, if you could keep demons out with plastic, you’d have to completely revamp your stories…can’t you picture it now?

    1. philangelus

      Yeah, that would be cool.

      Satan: I’m here for your soul.
      Human: Dude, my underwear is made of Saran Wrap.
      Satan: Darn. I hate that.
      Angel: What a bummer being you.
      Satan: Yeah. Oh well–I’ll just go find that guy with the tin foil hat. I can usually get past that.

    2. philangelus

      I forgot to add, Catholics don’t believe in a rapture at all. Catholic escathology only involves four things, which I believe are a time of tribulation with an antiChrist, Jesus returning to make things right, a final judgment, and Heaven/Hell. No specifics, no timelines.

      Like you said, since we don’t know whether this will happen before we die — and tomorrow is never a promise — we’re always supposed to be prepared to open the books and get that final spiritual audit.

  4. cricketB

    The reason Satan can’t get in unless you open the door is he’s a vampire.

    Supplies of water and food, and a jump kit, within reason, are just good planning. Floods, snowstorms, and blown transformers happen. Many years ago, a train of chlorine gas derailed near my grandparents. When they tore down the old grain buildings near downtown something suspicious was stirred up from the grain that had fallen under the floor. Nothing evil. Perhaps a bit incompetent, but not evil.

    People once thought disease was caused by evil spirits. So, yes, blocking the gaps with plastic made sense. These days we call them microbes and toxins and poison gas. They might be tools of evil, we don’t believe they have enough free will to be good or evil.

    Back to the topic. If survival requires us to treat others unfairly, what sort of society will grow from the survivors?

    Having said that, though, I’ll be generous to those who make bad decisions under extreme stress, but not to those who plan to save only their own family.

    1. philangelus

      It’s the plan-ahead part that leaves me speechless. Should I never let my kids play in the yard, just in case darkness falls and I don’t want to let them back in the house?

      I laughed about Satan being a vampire. So I also need a moat of running water and then he really can’t get in, although last year when we had the flooding it didn’t seem to deter evil.

      We do try to keep supplies on hand for non-supernatural disasters. Remember the time last year when I got really sick the day after I’d gone grocery shopping? While at the store, I’d gotten a really strong compulsion to buy canned pears for the soup kitchen, so I’d bought an eight-pack. When I got sick, what did I crave? Canned pears. They were right there in the house. (And later on, I gave other canned pears to the soup kitchen.)

      So yeah, I believe God looks out for us. If God knows when He’s going to drop a cataclysm on our heads and if it’s important for God that I survive, maybe God will give me a strong urge in the grocery store that hey, we need more bottled water?

      1. cricketB

        One Christian group keeps 2 years of supplies, as required by their … not sure what they call it. The book written by their founder, which they consider as important as the Bible. They also print book of how to do it, which isn’t part of their scripture. How to calculate how much you need, how to build shelves that will hold that much, how to rotate stock, how long to keep cans. Very practical. FlyLady recommends the book to people who hoard out of fear and end up with rusty, unsorted mountains of whatever was on sale. The book reassures them that if they buy what’s in the book, and rotate the stock properly, they have enough. I know that wasn’t the intent of the authors, but He works in strange ways.

        As for not letting the kids play in the yard, there’s balance. I plan for them to grow into adults who played in the yard.

        1. Jane

          !! That is awesome! I know someone who hoards, and that kind of thing would have saved so much hardship and waste.

          1. cricketB

            I’m finally tackling my newsletter backlog. Ugh.

            Found this line:
            I had grown up in a severely impoverished family and we often went hungry. The scared, hungry little girl in me hoarded food as a way to feel safe. I knew from my Bible that my food hoarding was a sign that I did not trust the Lord to provide all my needs in the future.

            So one denomination says keep 2 years worth and another says don’t hoard at all.

            Guess I’ll pick something in between that works for me.

          2. philangelus

            The Mormons are drawing from an extra book. You won’t find a directive to retain two years of food in the Bible.

            Jesus says not to store up wealth for yourself here, but the example he uses is someone who builds huge grain silos to store his grain. I think because to some extent, the act of hoarding food means (in many places and times) that someone else is doing without.

            If the hoarding arises from fear, then what’s needed is trust. If the storage of extra food arises from the knowledge that you live in an area prone to blizzards where you might have to survive without getting to the grocery store for a week, that’s common sense.

    2. PonyPam

      The train accident sounds like something that happened a few years ago in Minot.

      And, I think below, you’re talking about the Mormons, aren’t you? Their extra-biblical scriptures are the Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrines and Covenants.

      1. cricketB

        Yes, I think it’s the Mormons, but haven’t checked my facts.

        I think at one time the Swiss were required to have three months provisions for their immediate household, including weapons, in case they were invaded. Tiny neutral country surrounded by steam-rollers. Don’t quote me, though — I haven’t checked the facts.

        Early cultures had to store for the entire winter, and longer if spring was late.

  5. Normandie

    I’m with the Catholic (and I think Anglican) preaching on the issue of eschatology. And we always keep extra food stuffs because we live so far in the country. On board Sea Venture, we plan for weeks at sea with enough staples to last. That’s just good seamanship–and, on land, good planning. I love your story of pears. God speaks, for which I’m very grateful.

    I love the tinfoil cap reference. That’s exactly what I was thinking about — but vampires and water? I must not know my vampire mythology.

  6. PonyPam

    Actually, as long as you don’t invite the vampires in, it’s okay to open the door to them. At least that’s how it is in the Buffy-verse. 🙂

    And the Four Last Things are, individually: death, judgement, heaven and hell; or cosmically: the end of the world, the resurrection of the body, the final judgement, and the consummation of all things. At least that’s according to New Advent.

    1. philangelus

      I meant the cosmic quarto, not the individual one, although the individual one doesn’t make sense because the same person wouldn’t do both Heaven and Hell. 🙂

      1. PonyPam

        Well, no, one person wouldn’t do BOTH heaven and hell, but taken all together, at the end, there are death, judgement, and either heaven OR hell — so that’s four, right?

        Hey, what do I know? I’m not an escatolgist!

  7. The Sojourner

    This post and its comments are amazing in too many ways to list.

    Also, you NEED to watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Le33lZaMOI

    I promise that’s not spam or a virus or anything.

    1. The Sojourner

      And it’s kid-friendly, too.

  8. Mary333

    Oh, you mean when all the demons in hell will be let loose for three days and anyone caught ouside will die of fright? Meanwhile, the rest of humanity is barricaded inside their houses listening while demons pretending to be their loved ones pound on the doors pleading to be let in?

    Yep, I’ve heard of it 🙂 And to think that I used to think that the movie “The Exorcist” was scary.

    1. philangelus

      I don’t think the demons let loose was a part of Taigi’s prophecy. The way she described it was actually more in keeping with what would happen if a comet hit the Earth. But yes, anyone outside would be dead at the moment of impact.