Seven years shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules over the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. (Dan 4:22)
During Mass this past Passion Sunday, I sensed the Lord urging me to repost a portion of the Seven Year Trial where it essentially begins with the Passion of the Church. Once again, these meditations are the fruit of prayer in my own attempt to better understand the Church’s teaching that the Body of Christ will follow its Head through its own passion or “final trial,” as the Catechism puts it (CCC, 677). Since the book of Revelation deals in part with this final trial, I have explored here a possible interpretation of St. John’s Apocalypse along the pattern of Christ’s Passion. The reader should keep in mind that these are my own personal reflections and not a definitive interpretation of Revelation, which is a book with several meanings and dimensions, not the least, an eschatological one. Many a good soul has fallen on the sharp cliffs of the Apocalypse. Nonetheless, I have felt the Lord compelling me to walk them in faith through this series, drawing together the Church’s teaching with mystical revelation and the authoritative voice of the Holy Fathers. I encourage the reader to exercise their own discernment, enlightened and guided, of course, by the Magisterium.
The series is based on the book of Daniel’s prophecy that there will be a “week” long trial for God’s people. The Book of Revelation seems to echo this where an antichrist appears for “three and a half years.” Revelation is full of numbers and symbols which most often are symbolic. Seven may indicate perfection, whereas three and a half indicates a shortfall of perfection. It also symbolizes a “short” period of time. So, in reading this series, keep in mind that the numbers and figures used by St. John may only be symbolic.
Rather than send an email to you when the remaining parts of this series are posted, I will just re-post the remaining parts, one per day, for the rest of this week. Simply return to this website each day this week, and watch and pray with me. It seems appropriate that we meditate not only on the Passion of Our Lord, but the coming Passion of His body, which appears to be drawing nearer and nearer…
THIS writing examines the rest of the first half of the Seven Year Trial, which begins at the proximate time of the Illumination.
FOLLOWING OUR MASTER
Lord Jesus, you foretold that we would share in the persecutions that brought you to a violent death. The Church formed at the cost of your precious blood is even now conformed to your Passion; may it be transformed, now and eternally, by the power of your resurrection. —Psalm-prayer, Liturgy of the Hours, Vol III, p. 1213
We have followed Jesus from the Transfiguration to the city of Jerusalem where He is ultimately to be sentenced to death. Comparatively, this is the period we are living in now, where many souls are waking up to the glory that will come in the Era of Peace, but also to the Passion which precedes it.
Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem is analogous to a “universal” awakening, the Great Shaking, when through an Illumination of conscience, all will know that Jesus is the Son of God. Then they must choose to either worship or crucify Him—that is, to follow Him in His Church, or to reject her.
THE CLEANSING OF THE TEMPLE
After Jesus entered Jerusalem, He cleansed the temple.
Each of our bodies is “a temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 6:19). When the light of the Illumination comes into our souls, it will begin to scatter the darkness—a cleansing of our hearts. The Church is also a temple made up of “living stones,” that is, each baptized Christian (1 Pet 2:5) built upon the foundation of the Apostles and the prophets. This corporate temple will be cleansed by Jesus as well:
For it is time for the judgment to begin with the household of God… (1 Peter 4:17)
After He cleansed the temple, Jesus preached so boldly that the people were “amazed” and “astonished at his teaching.” So too will the remnant, led by the Holy Father, attract many souls to Christ through the power and authority of their preaching, which will be invigorated through an outpouring of the Spirit with the Illumination. It will be a time of healing, deliverance, and repentance. But not everyone will be attracted.
There were many authorities whose hearts were hardened and refused to accept Jesus’ teaching. He denounced these scribes and Pharisees, exposing them for the charlatans they were. So too will the Faithful be called upon to expose the lies of the false prophets, those within and without the Church—the New Age prophets and false messiahs—and warn them of the impending Day of Justice if they do not repent during this “silence” of the Seventh Seal:
Silence in the presence of the Lord GOD! for near is the day of the LORD… near and very swiftly coming… a day of trumpet blasts… (Zep 1:7, 14-16)
It is possible that through a definitive statement, action, or response of the Holy Father, a clear line will be drawn in the sand, and those who refuse to stand with Christ and His Church will automatically be excommunicated—cleaned from the House.
I had another vision of the great tribulation… It seems to me that a concession was demanded from the clergy that could not be granted. I saw many older priests, especially one, who wept bitterly. A few younger ones were also weeping… It was as if people were splitting into two camps. —Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774–1824); The Life and Revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich; me ssage from April 12th, 1820.
In Judaic symbolism, “stars” often signified political or religious powers. The Cleansing of the Temple seems to occur during the time the Woman is giving birth to new souls through post-Illumination graces and evangelization:
She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon… Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. (Rev 12:2-4)
This “third of the stars” has been interpreted as a third of the clergy or hierarchy. It is this Cleansing of the Temple which culminates in the Exorcism of the Dragon from the heavens (Rev 12:7).
Heaven is the Church which in the night of this present life, the while it possesses in itself the countless virtues of the saints, shines like the radiant heavenly stars; but the dragon’s tail sweeps the stars down to the earth… The stars which fall from heaven are those who have lost hope in heavenly things and covet, under the devil’s guidance, the sphere of earthly glory. —St. Gregory the Great, Moralia, 32, 13
THE FIG TREE
In Scripture, the fig tree is a symbol of Israel (or figuratively the Christian Church which is the new Israel.) In the Gospel of Matthew, immediately after cleansing the temple, Jesus cursed a fig tree which had leaves but no fruit:
May no fruit ever come from you again. (Matt 21:19)
With that, the tree began to wither.
My Father… takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15:1-2, 6)
The Cleansing of the Temple is the removal of all unfruitful, unrepentant, deceptive, and compromising branches in the Church (cf. Rev 3:16). They will be sifted, removed, and counted as one of the Beast’s own. They will fall under the curse which belongs to all those who have rejected the Truth:
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him. (John 3:36)
Therefore, God is sending them a deceiving power so that they may believe the lie, that all who have not believed the truth but have approved wrongdoing may be condemned. (2 Thess 2:11-12)
THE TIME OF THE MEASURING
St. John speaks directly of this sifting of the weeds from the wheat, which seems to take place particularly during the first half of the Seven Year Trial. It is also The Time of The Measuring, followed by the latter period when Antichrist will reign for 42 months.
Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told: “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there; but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months. (Rev 11:1-2)
St. John is called to measure, not a building, but souls—those who worship at God’s altar in “spirit and truth,” leaving aside those who don’t—the “outer court.” We see this precise measuring alluded to elsewhere when the angels finish sealing “the foreheads of the servants of God” before judgment begins to fall:
I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the Israelites. (Rev 7:4)
Again, “Israel” is a symbol of the Church. It is significant that St. John leaves out the tribe of Dan, presumably because it fell into idolatry (Judges 17-18). For those who reject Jesus in this Time of Mercy, and instead put their trust in the New World Order and its pagan idolatry, will forfeit the seal of Christ. They will be stamped with the name or mark of the Beast “on their right hands or their foreheads” (Rev 13:16).
It follows then that the number “144, 000” may be a reference to the “full number of Gentiles” since the measuring is to be precise:
a hardening has come upon Israel in part, until the full number of the Gentiles comes in, and thus all Israel will be saved… (Romans 11:25-26)
THE SEALING OF THE JEWS
This measuring and marking likely includes the Jewish people as well. The reason being that they are a people who already belong to God, destined to receive His promise of a “time of refreshment.” In his address to the Jews, St. Peter says:
Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, and that the Lord may grant you times of refreshment and send you the Messiah already appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the times of universal restoration –- of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old. (Acts 3:1-21)
During the Seven Year Trial, God will preserve a remnant of the Jewish people destined for the “universal restoration” which begins, according to the Church Fathers, with an Era of Peace:
I have left for myself seven thousand men who have not knelt to Baal. So also at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. (Rom 11:4-5)
After seeing the 144, 000, St. John has a vision of a much greater multitude which could not be counted (cf. Rev 7:9). It is a vision of Heaven, and all those who repented and believed the Gospel, Jews and Gentiles. The key point here is to recognize that God is marking souls now and for a short time after the Illumination. Those who feel they can leave their lamps half-empty risk forfeiting their seat at the banquet table.
But wicked people and charlatans will go from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. (2 Tim 3:13)
THE FIRST 1260 DAYS
I believe that the Church will be both embraced and persecuted during the first half of the Trial, though the persecution will not become outright bloody until Antichrist takes his throne. Many will be angry and hate the Church for standing her ground in the Truth, while others will love her for proclaiming the Truth which sets them free:
Although they were attempting to arrest him, they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet. (Matt 21:46)
Just as they could not seem to arrest Him, so too the Church will not be conquered by the Dragon during the first 1260 days of the Seven Year Trial.
When the dragon saw that it had been thrown down to the earth, it pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly to her pl ace in the desert, where, far from the serpent, she was taken care of for a year, two years, and a half-year. (Rev 12:13-14)
But with the Great Apostasy in full bloom and the lines clearly drawn between God’s order and the New World Order which began with a peace agreement or “strong covenant” with the ten kings of Daniel whom Revelation also calls “the beast”, the way will be prepared for the “man of lawlessness.”
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet him… Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition… (2 Thess 2: 1-3)
It is then that the Dragon gives his authority to the Beast, the Antichrist.
To it the dragon gave its own power and throne, along with great authority. (Rev 13:2)
The beast that rises up is the epitome of evil and falsehood, so that the full force of apostasy which it embodies can be cast into the fiery furnace. —St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Church Father (140–202 A.D.); Adversus Haereses, 5, 29
When all this is considered there is good reason to fear… that there may be already in the world the “Son of Perdition” of whom the Apostle speaks. —POPE ST. PIUS X, Encylical, E Supremi, n.5
Thus will begin the final confrontation of the Church in this age, and the last half of the Seven Year Trial.
First published June 19th, 2008.