IT WAS almost beyond belief, but the tragedy did happen.

At around 8:45 a.m. of September 11 (EDT), the world watched in shock as two American Airlines flights successively crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Both towers subsequently collapsed, taking down with them countless innocent lives, including rescuers.

Almost an hour after the two aircraft slammed into the towers, another airplane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington.

After what could be considered as the boldest and worst acts of terrorism on American soil, authorities blamed the attacks on international terrorist Osama Bin Laden, who is known to be against U.S. intervention in Israeli-Palestinian relations.

As sympathy and pledges of support flowed in from around the globe, several people now seek the answer to a question dreaded since the beginning of time. Is the end of the world at hand?

Messages of Sorrow

In a telegram sent the same afternoon to U.S. President George Bush, Pope John Paul II expressed his deepest grief and condemned the senseless loss of human lives.

“Shocked by the unspeakable horror of today’s inhuman terrorist attacks against innocent people in different parts of the United States, I hurry to express to you and your fellow citizens my profound sorrow and my closeness in prayer for the nation at this dark and tragic moment.

With millions of people around the world, the Pope offered a prayer for the terror-stricken country. “Commending the victims to Almighty God’s eternal mercy, I implore His strength upon all involved in rescue efforts and in caring for the survivors. I beg God to sustain you and the American people in this hour of suffering and trial,” the Pope said.

Likewise, the Islamic-Catholic Liaison Committee condemned the recent terrorist attack.

Headed by Dr. Hamid Ahmad Al-Rifaie, president of the International Islamic Forum for Dialogue, and by Bishop Michael L. Fitzgerald, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, its leaders jointly declared:

“As Secretaries of the Committee, speaking in its name, we condemn the horrifying acts of terrorism committed on September 11 in the U.S.A. We express our great sorrow at the number of victims and we offer our condolences to their families.

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In their statement, the committee stressed the essence of global peace.

“Such acts of violence are not the way to bring peace to the world. As religious leaders we wish to emphasize that the true basis for peace is justice and mutual respect.”

Other world leaders have also expressed their deepest sympathies to the U.S. and have pledged support and cooperation to bring the perpetrators of this tragedy to justice.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has considered the tragedy as an attack on the rest of its members as China and Russia, America’s known rivals, have also extended their hands to strike down terrorism in the world.

Apocalyptic Scenarios

In the event of a possible U.S. retaliation, various doomsday predictions have resurfaced, which have brought great concern across the globe. Some parties have also speculated the possible start of the third world war should the U.S. decide to retaliate on Afghanistan, which is harboring Bin Laden.

Among the more popular predictions are those of Nostradamus and the Book of Revelations of the Holy Bible.

Michel de Nostradame, more popularly known as Nostradamus, was a seer that lived in the 16th century at St. Remy in Provence, France to a family of Christianized Jews. He first became famous for his successful treatment of bubonic plague.

In 1550, he published his first almanac of prophecies — 12 four-line poems or quatrains which gave a general prophecy for the coming year. He produced an almanac every year for the rest of his life. His most famous work, The Centuries, was written in 1554. These prophecies consisted of 10 volumes of 100 quatrains each.

Some followers of Nostradamus have linked the September 11 tragedy to two of these quatrains, particularly Century 6, Quatrain 97:

“The sky will burn at forty-five degrees latitude,

Fire approaches the great new city

Immediately a huge, scattered flame leaps up

When they want to have verification from the Normans [French].”

and Century 1, Quatrain 87:

“Earthshaking fire from the center of the Earth

Will cause the towers around the New City to shake:

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Two great rocks will war for a long time,

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It is believed that the new city referred to in these quatrains is the city of New York, which lies between 40-45 degrees latitude. Nostradamus is said to have predicted the coming of the first two anti-Christs Napoleon and Hitler and the coming of a third anti-Christ whom he referred to in his writings as Mabus. Although some of his writings were accurate, the seer has been said to have failed in some of his later predictions such as the end of the world, which was interpreted to have happened sometime between July and August of 1999.

Book of Revelations

Revelations, sometimes called the Apocalypse (from the Greek word apokalypsis), is the last book of the New Testament. Rich in allegory, it continues to be the subject of widely divergent interpretations.

The author of Revelation called himself John and ecclesiastical tradition presumed that he was Saint John the Evangelist.

The book was written to prepare the Church for the last intervention of God in human affairs. The first-century Christians believed the event to be close at hand. They believed that a new age of the world would begin in which Christ and the church would be triumphant.

They referred to the worsening conditions for Christians in the Roman Empire under Domitian as signifying that this catastrophic period had begun. Apparently, he wrote chiefly to encourage the church to endure this terrifying final crisis in the confident expectation of an imminent eternally just age.

In communicating to his fellow Christians “what you see, what is and what is to take place hereafter” (1:19), the author deliberately chose a literary vehicle that would tend to conceal his message from the enemies of the church.

According to some Bible scholars, “end time” warnings range from “end-of-the-world” scenarios to end-time prophesies depicting all kinds of foreboding happenings that could threaten our world.

Some of these warnings are valid and credible, while others are just by people hungry for public attention. Most of these warnings come from the Church. Aside from these, secular movies and videos have also been depicting “end time” themes with warnings that the end of the world could be near.

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The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:21: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” We are not supposed to believe every warning we hear, but rather we are to “prove all things.” These warnings need to be Scripture-based and the motives of the ones who are telling the warnings must be pure and made out of concern for the people. Some people prey on people’s fears to sell them something, while others simply like the attention they receive to satisfy their inflated egos.

As what can be seen from the Holy Bible, God has always given a warning of impending times of trouble and to give his people time to prepare or escape.

In Hebrews 11:7, He warned Noah and his family of the coming flood and directed them how to prepare to survive it. In the book of Genesis (19:14), He also warned Lot and his family of the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and told them to save themselves. The Pharaoh of Egypt, through Joseph, was also warned of the coming famine, which allowed Egypt to prepare (Genesis 41:30-31). In Exodus 12:23, He likewise warned the Israelites of the pass-over of the “angel of death.”

Inhuman mission

The deplorable event that happened on the morning of Sept. 11 was clearly an act of terrorism designed to spread fear and chaos among people. If we are to give in to this fear, then terrorists have indeed succeeded in their inhuman mission.

Jesus Christ said that no one knows the day or hour when the Son of Man will return. It is advisable that we keep our minds open and our hearts clean so that we may not be lost in the confusion that is going around in the world. Since there is yet no person in the world granted with the gift of foreseeing the final hour, it is best that we prepare ourselves for His “second coming.

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