“Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen”.
This common part of our daily prayers, like some in the Liturgy of the Hours and elsewhere, contain the phrase “world without end”. What does this imply? We are experiencing the world in space and time and so it may imply “visible creation will never cease to exist” or/and “time will never end”. The scriptures reveal that the world shall end in both space and time. Those words in our prayers do not contradict the scriptures but mean something else, as simply explained by Fr Vincent Serpa OP: ‘ “World without end” is an idiom that means “forever” and is not meant to be taken literally. In Latin, the phrase saecula saeculorum means “ages of ages” (i.e., forever). In the current edition of the Liturgy of the Hours, it is translated “and will be for ages unending.” ’
There is, however, another aspect of what could be called a “world without end”, in terms of space, worth reflecting upon:
It seems to me that visible creation is limitless. No end point, no border. Scientists have been working very hard to find the edge of the universe and determine the size of the universe. I do not think they will ever succeed. They started with an estimate of a radius of 13.8 billion light years. This was later thought to be erroneous and series of subsequent estimates followed, each subsequently invalidating the previous as erroneous. These estimates are: 15.8 billion light-years, , 27.6 billion light-years, 78 billion light-years, 156 billion light-years, and 180 billion light-years.
One light year is approximately 10 trillion kilometers (about 6 trillion miles) and this is the distance that light travels in vacuum in one Julian year. The speed of light is exactly 299792458 meters per second.
The findings will continue to change and it is certain the estimates of the size of the universe will continue to increase ad infinitum.
“That’s a lot of universe that we are missing. So, what *exactly* are we missing? What lies beyond the edge of what we can’t see?” –February 23, 2014
The question I have for the scientists and others who believe that visible creation (the universe) is finite is: when the limit, the edge, of the universe (visible creation) is discovered, what could be next to it? What could be seen beyond the borders of the visible creation? The answer is, definitely, “something invisible”. The universe is about matter and form and, for us living in space and time, “matter and form” does not exist beyond the universe. Think seriously and you will agree that beyond the visible universe exists “nothing”. Yes, “nothing” because you will see nothing. And how does “nothing” look like? If it is ever possible to see the end of visible creation then it is possible to see and describe “nothing” that is next to it; and since it is not possible to see “nothing” it is not possible to see the end of the visible creation, the universe. The visible world, in terms of size, is infinite and has no edge, AND HAS NO END.
Of little or no contention, although not easily demonstrable, is that invisible creation is infinite. There may be a seamless connection between the two worlds, both containing infinite numbers of worlds of infinite sizes in both realms.
This is a mystery that is consistent with the nature of God and His creation: deep, unfathomable mystery.