The book of Revelation isn't about destruction and hellfire, and "apocalyptic" probably doesn't mean what you think it does.
So says Jeff Cavins, who will lead "Unpack the Mysteries of Revelation," a day-long conference on that final book of the Bible, June 9 at Joseph's/St. Michael's/Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Amsterdam.
"Most people are intrigued because they think [the book of Revelation is] about end times and what will happen," said Mr. Cavins, who's president of The Great Adventure, a popular, interactive Catholic Bible learning system.
But "The book is actually meant to encourage you. The suffering you're going through has meaning - cosmic meaning. In the end, we win."
The speaker noted that the word "apocalyptic" translates to "unveiling" and was originally used in wedding ceremonies. In the Bible, it refers to a bridegroom (Jesus) unveiling a bride (the Church).
That "really gives us insight about heaven and Mass," Mr. Cavins continued. Catholics "need to know the relationship between the bride and the bridegroom, the centrality of worship."
For two years, the Amsterdam parish has used Mr. Cavin's workbook and DVD program, which has a "Bible timeline," to teach salvation history.
"You kind of feel like you know him," said parish faith formation director Cynthia Kuzia of Mr. Cavins. "He brings the Bible to such an understandable storyline. Every time, you just learn so much and pick up so many things."
Mrs. Kuzia said she settled on the book of Revelation for Mr. Cavin's presentation at St. Joseph's/St. Michael's/OLMC because "it's the most difficult and misunderstood book." Readers think it's mysterious and scary and should be avoided.
Mr. Cavins agreed, adding that some Protestants even accuse the Catholic Church of being the "Whore of Babylon" mentioned in the book.
Many Catholics don't realize that Revelation mentions Mass and foreshadows the evolution of the Eucharist. In fact, Catholics have a bad reputation for not reading or understanding the Bible in general, Mr. Cavins and Mrs. Kuzia agreed.
But "we all have an obligation to know our faith," Mrs. Kuzia asserted.
Mr. Cavins said Catholics' grasp of the Bible has been changing. His is one of four or five Catholic Bible programs now available. "There's a new springtime when it comes to Bible study in the Catholic Church," he said.
Three decades ago, Mr. Cavins left the Church because of a perceived lack of focus on the Scriptures. He was a Protestant pastor for 12 years - until he began studying the early Church in Israel and in the U.S.
"The more I studied the roots of Christianity," he recalled, "the more it looked Catholic."
Mr. Cavins, who has also hosted the "Life on the Rock" program on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), now directs the Archbishop Harry Flynn Catechetical Institute in St. Paul, Minn.
Mrs. Kuzia has been busily advertising Mr. Cavins' upcoming presentation in Amsterdam. She said the event ties into the Albany Diocese's "Amazing God" evangelization initiative and the upcoming papal Year of Faith.