The Beast Beyond Compare

THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for November 23rd-28th, 2015

Liturgical texts here

 

THE Mass readings this week that address the signs of the “end times” will no doubt evoke the familiar, if not easy dismissal that “everyone thinks their times are the end times.” Right? We’ve all heard that repeated again and again. That was certainly true of the early Church, until Sts. Peter and Paul began to temper expectations:

Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8)

And it is certainly true that, in the past century or two with the industrial and technological revolutions, and the growing separation of Church and State, that many commentators—not the least, popes[1]cf. Why Aren’t the Popes Shouting?—have increasingly warned as Paul VI did, that…

There is a great uneasiness at this time in the world and in the Church, and that which is in question is the faith. It so happens now that I repeat to myself the obscure phrase of Jesus in the Gospel of St. Luke: ‘When the Son of Man returns, will He still find faith on the earth?’…I sometimes read the Gospel passage of the end times and I attest that, at this time, some signs of this end are emerging. —POPE PAUL VI, The Secret Paul VI, Jean Guitton, p. 152-153, Reference (7), p. ix.

The reason for this apprehension now was perfectly expressed by Blessed Cardinal Newman:

I know that all times are perilous, and that in every time serious and anxious minds, alive to the honor of God and the needs of man, are apt to consider no times so perilous as their own… still I think… ours has a darkness different in kind from any that has been before it. The special peril of the time before us is the spread of that plague of infidelity, that the Apostles and our Lord Himself have predicted as the worst calamity of the last times of the Church. And at least a shadow, a typical image of the last times is coming over the world. —Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890 A.D.), sermon at opening of St. Bernard’s Seminary, October 2, 1873, The Infidelity of the Future

Now, I know many of you are “alive” to what is happening around us, and it may seem obvious. Nonetheless, the Church has given us these Mass readings this week, and we would do well to face them with a sober analysis—to do what Christ commanded us: to “watch and pray” and to be aware that…

…when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near. (Friday’s Gospel)

It serves no one to simply throw our hands up in the air and say “Who knows!” when Our Lord actually said you will know by certain signs. This is all to say that as wars and rumours of wars, famines, plagues, and powerful earthquakes increase, so would the apparent possibility that a global power would arise that would force “all the people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave” [2]cf. Rev 13:16 under its dominion.

Is that possible today? Are the buds of the fig tree “bursting open”, as Jesus said? [3]Gospel, Friday

 

THE BEAST NOW?

This week, I’ve been writing about the Global Revolution unfolding at this hour. There are many dimensions to this Revolution: political, economic, social, and religious, and it has ramifications for the entire world. Another term for this Revolution is really “globalization”:

The principal new feature has been the explosion of worldwide interdependence, commonly known as globalization. Paul VI had partially foreseen it, but the ferocious pace at which it has evolved could not have been anticipated. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Caritas in Veritate, n. 33

That is, we are seeing through war, immigration, and national debt, the slow erasure of national sovereignty;[4]cf. Our Lady of the Cab Ride through massive deficits, the imminent collapse of the global economy;[5]cf. 2014 and the Rising Beast through judicial activism, the redefinition of the natural moral law and fundamental social changes;[6]cf. The Hour of Lawlessness and through persecution and intolerance, the squeezing out of religion from the public sphere.[7]cf. Persecution… and the Moral Tsunami It is namely that separation of Church and State, culture from human nature, faith from reason, that carries a certain foreboding:

…cultures can no longer define themselves within a nature that transcends them, and man ends up being reduced to a mere cultural statistic. When this happens, humanity runs new risks of enslavement and manipulation… without the guidance of charity in truth, this global force could cause unprecedented damage and create new divisions within the human family… —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Caritas in Veritate, n. 26, 33

Curiously, at the very same time, we are seeing an exponential growth in technology that is rapidly changing the way we communicate, consume, and bank. What is remarkable is that the way we communicate, consume, and bank are for the first time in history all being funnelled through the same channel: that is, the internet. This is fascinating and alarming at the same time. More and more software companies are moving to make their software available only through the “cloud”—an anonymous computer server, somewhere out there. Likewise, movies, music, and books are increasingly being found only online. And the push toward digital currency and the elimination of cash is clearly on the table. While the world is fascinated by these technological advances and gadgets, few seem to be aware how we are being corralled like cattle into a digital squeeze.

Fascinated, the whole world followed after the beast. (Rev 13:3)

Such a world, where everyone is essentially tethered and subordinate to the “cloud” was unimaginable just a few generations ago. But it wasn’t unimaginable to Daniel.

I saw the fourth beast, different from all the others, terrifying, horrible, and of extraordinary strength; it had great iron teeth with which it devoured and crushed, and what was left it trampled with its feet. (First reading, Friday)

Suddenly, St. John’s vision of this global beast doesn’t seem so far-fetched:

It forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to be given a stamped image on their right hands or their foreheads, so that no one could buy or sell except one who had the stamped image of the beast’s name or the number that stood for its name. (Rev 13:16-17)

One could be “forced” by simply having no alternative: if a bank card is all the bank will give you to do commerce, that’s all you’ll have. Author Emmett O’Regan makes the interesting observation that the number of the beast, 666, when transliterated into the Hebrew alphabet (where letters have a numerical equivalent) produces the letters “www”.[8]Unveiling the Apocalypse, p. 89, Emmett O’Regan Did St. John foresee in some way how the Antichrist would use a “world wide web” to ensnare souls through a single, universal source of transmitting images and sound “in the sight of everyone”, as St. John says?[9]Rev 13:13

Who can compare with the beast or who can fight against it? (Rev 13:4)

Furthermore, Daniel’s vision gives some further clues as to what this kingdom of the beast will look like when it rises:

The feet and toes you saw, partly of potter’s tile and partly of iron, mean that it shall be a divided kingdom, but yet have some of the hardness of iron. As you saw the iron mixed with clay tile, and the toes partly iron and partly tile, the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. The iron mixed with clay tile means that they shall seal their alliances by intermarriage, but they shall not stay united, any more than iron mixes with clay. (First reading, Tuesday)

This sounds like a multicultural kingdom—and precisely the trend today as borders are virtually collapsing from America to Europe while at the same time the world is becoming a virtual online global village. But what has Pope Francis concerned is that this globalization is increasingly forcing everyone into what he calls the “sole thought”,[10]cf. The Masters of Conscience where uniqueness and diversity are eliminated in favor of a new Communist-Socialist agenda. This new aspect of globalization is being introduced under the banner of “tolerance.” And remarkably, as polls increasingly show, it is being embraced as a universal value. Tolerance, inclusivity, equality. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Fascinated, the whole world followed after the beast. (Rev 13:3)

 

OF ANTICHRIST AND THE ROMAN EMPIRE

Notably in Daniel’s vision, he sees a “little horn” emerge from the head of the beast. This has been understood by the Church Fathers to be an antichrist, the “lawless one”, as St. Paul calls him. And so, at the same time this “globalization” takes place, it also prepares the way for this little horn to emerge (see Antichrist in Our Times).

There is another characteristic of this fourth beast in Daniel’s vision that is important. It is generally understood by biblical scholars that the first three “beasts” are the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, and Greek empires. The fourth beast, then, has been ascribed to the Roman Empire. So how, you might ask, can this be a vision of future times?

The Church Fathers were unanimous that the Roman Empire, even after its collapse, had not been utterly destroyed. Summarizing their thought is Blessed Cardinal Newman:

I grant that as Rome, according to the prophet Daniel’s vision, succeeded Greece, so Antichrist succeeds Rome, and our Savior Christ succeeds Antichrist. But it does not hence follow that Antichrist is come; for I do not grant that the Roman empire is gone. Far from it: the Roman empire remains even to this day… And as the horns, or kingdoms, still exist, as a matter of fact, consequently we have not yet seen the end of the Roman empire. —Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890), The Times of Antichrist, Sermon 1

Where the Roman Empire exists, and in what form, is a matter of debate. For when it collapses, it is then that the Church Fathers expected the Antichrist to be revealed. While some bible pundits point towards the European Union as a kind of “revived” Roman Empire, there is another explanation worth considering—that the Christianization of Rome, which essentially curbed its imperialistic endeavors, led to the collapse of its power and a relatively passive existence of the Empire throughout Christendom to this day. The Antichrist will appear, then, when there is a great falling away or “apostasy” from the Church (see Removing the Restrainer).

This revolt or falling off, is generally understood, by the ancient Fathers, of a revolt from the Roman empire, which was first to be destroyed, before the coming of Antichrist. It may, perhaps, be understood also of a revolt of many nations from the Catholic Church which has, in part, happened already, by the means of Mahomet, Luther, etc. and it may be supposed, will be more general in the days of the Antichrist. —footnote on 2 Thess 2:3, Douay-Rheims Holy Bible, Baronius Press Limited, 2003; p. 235

 

THE KINGDOM COMES

The last aspect of meditation on the readings is an often misunderstood and overlooked point:

In the lifetime of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people; rather, it shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and put an end to them, and it shall stand forever. (First reading, Tuesday)

Many have interpreted this to mean the end of the world, when the Kingdom of God is definitively established in a “new heavens and new earth.” However, deferring again to the early Church Fathers, and confirmed today by approved mystics such as Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta, Servant of God Martha Robins, Venerable Conchita and others, there is a coming of the Kingdom when “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Note again what Jesus said of the end times:

…when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near. (Friday’s Gospel)

The Church of the Millennium must have an increased consciousness of being the Kingdom of God in its initial stage. —ST. JOHN PAUL II, L’Osservatore Romano, English Edition, April 25th, 1988

In St. John’s vision, he sees a great battle between St. Michael and the dragon in which Satan’s power is somewhat broken before concentrating it into the beast. At the same time, however, St. John hears a cry from Heaven:

Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. (Rev 12:10)

It is as if, while the beast is rising and the “little horn” is being revealed, the Kingdom of God in its final stages begins to form in the faithful.[11]cf. The Middle Coming Daniel recounts this “judgment of the living”[12]cf. The Last Jud
gments
 that gives way to an “era of peace”:

I watched, then, from the first of the arrogant words which the horn spoke, until the beast was slain and its body thrown into the fire to be burnt up. The other beasts, which also lost their dominion, were granted a prolongation of life for a time and a season. (First reading, Friday)

Note, the first beasts are only lost “for a time and a season.” Indeed, after the death of the Antichrist, St. John foresaw a “thousand year”[13]cf. Millenarianism—What it is, and is Not reign of the Kingdom of God among the saints after which “Gog and Magog” would rise in a last attack upon the Church.[14]cf. Rev 20:1-10 But before then, again, there is the reign of the Divine Will, of the “Kingdom of God” in the Church throughout every nation—a reign that will not end, at least, in a remnant:

He received dominion, glory, and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed… judgment was pronounced in favor of the holy ones of the Most High, and the time came when the holy ones possessed the kingdom. (First reading, Friday; Saturday)

In closing brothers and sisters, Pope Paul VI said:

Are we close to the end? This we will never know. We must always hold ourselves in readiness, but everything could last a very long time yet. —POPE PAUL VI, The Secret Paul VI, Jean Guitton, p. 152-153, Reference (7), p. ix.

But some things, which inaugurate the “end times”, seem to be very, very close… most especially a Revolution Now beyond compare.

 

RELATED READING

The Rising Beast

Image of the Beast

The Numbering

The Last Judgments

The Middle Coming

The Coming New and Divine Holiness

Dear Holy Father… He is Coming!

I am Coming Soon

 

 

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1. cf. Why Aren’t the Popes Shouting?
2. cf. Rev 13:16
3. Gospel, Friday
4. cf. Our Lady of the Cab Ride
5. cf. 2014 and the Rising Beast
6. cf. The Hour of Lawlessness
7. cf. Persecution… and the Moral Tsunami
8. Unveiling the Apocalypse, p. 89, Emmett O’Regan
9. Rev 13:13
10. cf. The Masters of Conscience
11. cf. The Middle Coming
12. cf. The Last Jud
gments
13. cf. Millenarianism—What it is, and is Not
14. cf. Rev 20:1-10
Posted in HOME, MASS READINGS, SIGNS.