JESUS said, “I am the light of the world.” This “Sun” of God became present to the world in three very tangible ways: in person, in Truth, and in the Holy Eucharist. Jesus said it this way:
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
Thus, it should be clear to the reader that’s Satan’s objectives would be to obstruct these three avenues to the Father…
ECLIPSE OF THE WAY
The apostle John writes that Jesus, “was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1) This Word became flesh. In so doing, Jesus gathered all of creation into His being, and in taking His flesh, His body to the Cross, and raising it from the dead, Jesus became the Way. Death became a doorway for all to find hope through faith in Christ:
…it is only from the grain that falls to the ground that the great harvest comes, from the Lord pierced on the Cross comes the universality of his disciples gathered into his body, put to death and risen. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, first session of the special synod on the Middle East, October 10th, 2010
It was against this Way that the first “antichrist” appeared in the person of Judas, whom Jesus refers to as “the son of perdition” (Jn 17:12), a title Paul later uses to refer to the Antichrist (2 Thess 2:3).
Antichrist will enjoy the use of free will on which the devil will operate, as it was said of Judas: `Satan entered into him,’ that is, by instigating him. —St. Thomas Aquinas, Comment in II Thess. II, Lec. 1-III
The Word made flesh was crucified. This was the first Eclipse of God, who no man nor angel can destroy. But by our free will, we can persecute, obscure, and even eliminate His presence with us.
It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. (Luke 23:44-45)
And yet, this very eclipse of Our Lord opened up a new Age of Hope for all creation as the head of Satan began to be crushed.
And so the transformation of the world, the knowledge of the true God, the weakening of the forces that dominate the earth, is a process of suffering. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, from on unscripted talk at the first session of the special synod on the Middle East, October 10th, 2010
ECLIPSE OF THE TRUTH
‘Gathered into His body,’ the Church was born from His side. If Jesus is the light of the world—the lamp—the Church is His lampstand. We are commissioned to carry Jesus into the world as Truth.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. (Matt 28:18-20)
Jesus came to save man from sin, to set them free from its slavery.
…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32)
Thus, the lampstand is the focal point of Satan’s attack. His agenda is, once again, to “crucify” the Body of Christ so as to obscure Truth, and lead men into slavery.
He was a murderer from the beginning… he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)
As I explained in my book, The Final Confrontation, we have gone through a long historical confrontation between the Church— “the woman clothed in the sun”—and the “dragon,” Satan. He lies so as to murder; obscures the Truth so as to bring mankind into slavery; he has sown sophistries so as to reap, in our times, a culture of death. Now, the Eclipse of Truth is reaching its apex.
In seeking the deepest roots of the struggle between the “culture of life” and the “culture of death”… We have to go to the heart of the tragedy being experienced by modern man: the eclipse of the sense of God and of man… [that] inevitably leads to a practical materialism, which breeds individualism, utilitarianism and hedonism. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Evangelium Vitae, n.21, 23
As the rays of the “light of the world” become increasingly obscured, love is growing cold.
…because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold. (Matt 24:12)
The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to All the Bishops of the World, March 10, 2009; Catholic Online
In the prepared text of his homily at World Youth Day in Denver, Colorado in 1993, John Paul II framed this battle in apocalyptic terms, hinting at the operation of the spirit of anti-Christ:
This struggle parallels the apocalyptic combat described in [Rev 11:19-12:1-6, 10 on the battle between” the woman clothed with the sun” and the “dragon”]. Death battles against Life: a “culture of death” seeks to impose itself on our desire to live, and live to the full… Vast sectors of society are confused about what is right and what is wrong, and are at the mercy of those with the power to “create” opinion and impose it on others. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Cherry Creek State Park Homily, Denver, Colorado, 1993
Pope Benedict has recently continued along that theme:
This fight in which we find ourselves… [against] powers that destroy the world, are spoken of in chapter 12 of Revelation… It is said that the dragon directs a great stream of water against the fleeing woman, to sweep her away… I think that it is easy to interpret what the river stands for: it is these currents that dominate everyone, and want to eliminate the faith of the Church, which seems to have nowhere to stand before the power of these currents that impose themselves as the only way of thinking, the only way of life. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, first session of the special synod on the Middle East, October 10th, 2010
Benedict described “these currents… that impose themselves as the only way of thinking” as a “dictatorship of relativism”…
…that recognizes nothing as definite, and which leaves as the ultimate measure only one’s ego and desires… —Cardinal Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI) pre-conclave Homily, April 18th, 2005
Because of this colossal loss of the sense of sin today, that which is wrong is now considered good, and that which is right is often considered backwards or evil. It is the Eclipse of Truth, obscuring the Sun of Justice.
…there was a great earthquake; the sun turned as black as dark sackcloth and the whole moon became like blood. (Rev 6:12)
The blood of the Innocents.
…the foundations of the earth are threatened, but they are threatened by our behavior. The outer foundations are shaken because the inner foundations are shaken, the moral and religious foundations, the faith that leads to the right way of life. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, first session of the special synod on the Middle East, October 10th, 2010
If we continue to follow this battle in Revelation, the dragon gives his power and authority over to a “beast”—Antichrist. St. Paul refers to him as “the son of perdition” who is behind an “apostasy” in the Church, that is, a falling away from the Truth. Since the truth sets us free, the chief sign of our times would be that of mankind falling into mass slavery to sin… into a moral relativism in which right and wrong are subjective, and thus, the value of life becomes subject to public debate or to the powers that be.
We think of the great powers of the present day, of the anonymous financial interests which turn men into slaves, which are no longer human things, but are an anonymous power which men serve, by which men are tormented and even slaughtered. They [i.e., anonymous financial interests] are a destructive power, a power that menaces the world. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Reflection after the reading of the office for the Third Hour this morning in the Synod Aula, Vatican City, October 11, 2010
Of these architects of the culture of death, John Paul II wrote:
Their harvest is injustice, discrimination, exploitation, deceit, violence. In every age, a measure of their apparent success is the death of the Innocents. In our own century, as in no other time in history, the culture of death has assumed a social and institutional form of legality to justify the most horrible crimes against humanity: genocide, “final solutions,” “ethnic cleansings,” and the massive taking of lives of human beings even before they are born, or before they reach the natural point of death. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Cherry Creek State Park Homily, Denver, Colorado, 1993
Did St. Hildegard, born in the 11th century, foresee these bloody and lawless times?
At that period when Antichrist shall be born, there will be many wars and right order shall be destroyed on earth. Heresy will be rampant and the heretics will preach their errors openly without restraint. Even among Christians doubt and skepticism will be entertained concerning the beliefs of Catholicism. —St. Hildegard, Details concering the Antichrist, According to Holy Scriptures, Tradition and Private Revelation, Prof. Franz Spirago
And yet, the “beast” will not prevail. This very eclipse of the Body of Christ will open up a new Age of Love as the woman crushes the head of the serpent… and the culture of death.
It is the blood of the martyrs, the suffering, the cry of the Mother Church that knocks them down and so transforms the world. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Reflection after the reading of the office for the Third Hour this morning in the Synod Aula, Vatican City, October 11, 2010
THE ECLIPSE OF THE LIFE
There is a birthing to come, a transformation of the world through the Passion of the Church:
Christ is always being born again through all the generations, and so he takes up, he gathers humanity into himself. And this cosmic birth is realized in the cry of the Cross, in the suffering of the Passion. And the blood of the martyrs belongs to this cry. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Reflection after the reading of the office for the Third Hour this morning in the Synod Aula, Vatican City, October 11, 2010
It is the birthing of new life, Creation Reborn! And its “source and summit” in that Era will be the Holy Eucharist.
Jesus not only said, “I am the life” but “I am the bread of life.” The Age of Love will coincide with the Triumph of the Sacred Heart, which is the Holy Eucharist. Jesus will be loved, glorified, and adored in the Eucharist in every nation to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 66:23). His Eucharistic Presence will transform societies, according to the vision of the popes, as the Sun of Justice shines forth from the altars and monstrances of the world.
And that is why the final anti-Christ will attempt to eclipse Life itself—an ungodly rage against the Bread of Life, the Word made flesh, the daily sacrifice of the Mass sustaining and nurturing a true culture of life.
Without the Holy Mass, what would become of us? All here below would perish, because that alone can hold back God’s arm. —St. Teresa of Avila, Jesus, Our Eucharistic Love, by Fr. Stefano M. Manelli, FI; p. 15
It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do so without the Holy Mass. —St. Pio, Ibid.
…the public sacrifice [of the Mass] shall completely cease… —St. Robert Bellarmine, Tomus Primus, LIber Tertius, p. 431
But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains… But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened… (Mark 13:14, 24)
Toward the end of the Age of Love, this final anti-Christ (Gog) and the nations he deceives (Magog) will attempt to eclipse The Bread of Life itself by attacking the Church who procures the Sacrament through the Holy Mass (see Rev 20:7-8). It is this final assault of Satan that will draw fire down from heaven and bring about the consummation of this present world (20:9-11).
There has been some debate as to whether or not the Antichrist comes before or after the Era of Peace. The answer seems to be both, according to Tradition and the Apocalypse of St. John. Keep in mind the words of that same Apostle:
Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. (1 John 2:18)
As far as the antichrist is concerned, we have seen that in the New Testament he always assumes the lineaments of contemporary history. He cannot be restricted to any single individual. One and the same he wears many masks in each generation. —Cardinal Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI), Dogmatic Theology, Eschatology 9, Johann Auer and Joseph Ratzinger, 1988, p. 199-200; cf (1 Jn 2:18; 4:3)
Throughout the history of the persecution of the Church, we have seen various elements of the apocalyptic Scriptures fulfilled: the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, the abomination in the temple, the martyrdom of Christians, etc. But Scripture is like a spiral that, as time moves on, is fulfilled on different levels and in greater intensities—like labor pains that increase in frequency and severity. Since the birth of the Church, the persecution against her has always involved an attack on the persons of the Body of Christ, the truth, and the Mass, to one greater degree or another, depending on the era. There have been many “partial,” more localized “eclipses” throughout the centuries.
Many of the Church Fathers recognized the Antichrist to be the “beast” or “false prophet” of Revelation 12. But toward the last days of earth—after the “thousand years”—there arises another force against the Church: “Gog and Magog.” When Gog and Magog are destroyed, they are thrown with Satan into the lake of fire “where the beast and the false prophet were” (Rev 10:10). That is to say that the beast and false prophet, Gog and Magog, are different entities at different times that together form the final assault against the Church. While most of my writings focus on the rise of the beast through our present culture of death, one cannot ignore those other doctors and voices in the Church that point toward an anti-Christ shortly before the end of the world.
…he who is to come at the consummation of the world is Antichrist. So, it is first necessary for the Gospel to have been preached to all the Gentiles, as the Lord said, and then he shall come unto conviction of the impious Jews. —St. John Damascene, De Fide Orthodoxa, The Fathers of the Church, p. 398
Many men will then begin to doubt if the Christian Catholic Faith is really the only sanctifying faith and will think that perhaps the Jews are right because they are yet awaiting the Messiah. —attributed to St. Methodius, 6th century, Life of Antichrist, Dionysius of Luetzenburg
And so, what we may see toward the end of the Era of Peace—because Christ does not reign with the saints in His human body on earth (but only in the Eucharist)—is that there may be a final apostasy, particularly among the Jews, who begin to expect again a secular messiah… preparing the way for a final anti-Christ.
As therefore there went out from the Church many heretics, whom John calls “many antichrists,” at that time prior to the end, and which John calls “the last time,” so in the end they shall go out who do not belong to Christ, but to that last Antichrist, and then he shall be revealed… For then shall Satan be loosed, and by means of that Antichrist shall work with all power in a lying through a wonderful manner… They shall be judged in that last and manifest judgment administered by Jesus Christ… —St. Augustine, The Anti-Nicene Fathers, City of God, Book XX, Ch. 13, 19
For Antichrist shall come a short time before the end of the world... after Antichrist at once comes the last judgment. —St. Robert Bellarmine, Oera Omnia, Disputationum Roberti Bellarmini, De Controversiis;, Vol. 3
And yet, there is the tradition in which the lawless one appears before the “thousand years” or “seventh day”, what is commonly called the “era of peace”:
…when His Son will come and destroy the time of the lawless one and judge the godless, and change the sun and the moon and the stars—then He shall indeed rest on the seventh day… after giving rest to all things, I will make the beginning of the eighth day, that is, the beginning of another world. —Letter of Barnabas (70-79 A.D.), written by a second century Apostolic Father
Again, we must continue in humility before the Sacred Word, careful to read the Scriptures in the context in which they were written and according to the interpretation that Tradition gives them. What is clear is that even the Church Fathers were not completely unanimous in perceiving the highly symbolic and conflated visions of Christ, Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, St. John, and other prophets. But then one can safely say that the Church Fathers were all correct in that, as a single voice, they did not restrict anti-Christ to one single epoch. Unfortunately, many modern commentaries and footnotes in biblical translations tend to view the apocalyptic texts from a solely historical or liturgical context, as if they have already been fulfilled, ignoring the eschatological interpretations given by the Church Fathers. I suppose this is also part of the crisis of truth in our times.
The point of this discussion is that all generations at all times are called to “watch and pray.” For the deceiver and “father of all lies” is constantly prowling like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour… to eclipse the Son of God in the souls of the sleeping.
Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!'” (Mark 13:35-37)
- On the shaking of the foundations of the earth: Great Awakening, Great Shaking
- On those ‘anonymous financial interests’: We Were Warned