Analysis of my blog stats shows that my most visited post, most linked to post, and the post with the most comments, is Is Pope Francis an imposter? (My answer is no.)

That post, which debunked the now thoroughly discredited ‘Maria Divine Mercy’ hoax, was published in 2013. Three years later, it still attracts new visitors to this blog each week.

It is symptomatic, I think, of widespread millennial fever. In recent weeks, I have received advice from many quarters alerting me to grave prognostications for September 2015. Here’s a few things to watch out for:

  • A European crisis which starts in the Middle East.
  • A global financial crisis which starts in China.
  • A global military crisis which starts in North Korea.
  • A major earthquake which devastates the United States.
  • A deadly comet which devastates the world.

The sources of these prophecies are myriad. Some prophets cite ancient Hebrew calendars; some interpret the dubious verses of Nostradamus; others quote the side research of Sir Isaac Newton of all people; others again claim to have received warning from our Lady.

The sources may be myriad, but still these prophecies and their variants share a lot in common. They’re all feasible, however improbable. No one warns about a military conflict set off by New Zealand, or a financial crisis which starts in Malta. So these prophecies are also very good at alarming people, who are then motivated to pass the warning on.

But what good do they do? None of them lend themselves to preventative preparation. None of them compel prayer and conversion. They just distract and cause anxiety.

There are other prognostications which are better contemplated:

  • This may be the last September in my life.
  • I might die very soon – suddenly, unexpectedly.

I can’t do much to prevent that from happening either, but these ideas are much better for the spiritual life.

Maybe I should call up that estranged friend or relative, and apologise for the injustice I showed them. Or forgive them for the grievance they caused me. Maybe I should join the queue outside the confessional, and reconcile with God. Maybe I should live and love and pray like this is my last week on earth – because maybe it is!

They’re the only what ifs and prophecies I take seriously. Anything else is smoke and mirrors, often deployed by the enemy to distract us from what’s really important. We’ll all live to see our end of the world, when the hour comes for us to die.