First published January 8th, 2015…
SEVERAL weeks ago, I wrote that it is time for me ‘to speak directly, boldly, and without apology to the “remnant” who are listening. It is only a remnant of readers now, not because they are special, but chosen; it is a remnant, not because all are not invited, but few respond….’ cf. The Convergence and the Blessing That is, I have spent ten years writing about the times we live in, constantly referencing Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium so as to bring balance to a discussion that perhaps too frequently relies only on private revelation. Nonetheless, there are some who simply feel any discussion of the “end times” or the crises we face is too gloomy, negative, or fanatical—and so they simply delete and unsubscribe. So be it. Pope Benedict was pretty straightforward about such souls:
It’s our very sleepiness to the presence of God that renders us insensitive to evil: we don’t hear God because we don’t want to be disturbed, and so we remain indifferent to evil.”…those of us who do not want to see the full force of evil and do not want to enter into his Passion. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Catholic News Agency, Vatican City, Apr 20, 2011, General Audience
One of the most consistent things people tell me in their letters is that this writing apostolate gives them hope. But not a false hope. We cannot speak of the Coming of Jesus Christ without acknowledging what He actually said about it: that His return will be accompanied by great distress, persecution and upheaval, and most notably, deception. Therefore, discussion of the “signs of the times” isn’t about curiosity; it’s about saving souls; it’s about our children and grandchildren who are being carried away in a virtual Spiritual Tsunami of deception in these times. How often have you heard homilists, speakers, and authors say “We’re all going to die and meet Christ at any time, so it doesn’t really matter whether He’s coming in our lifetime or not”? Then why did Jesus command us to “watch and pray”? Because the deception would be so subtle and enticing that it would cause a mass apostasy of believers from the faith.
I was recently included in an email discussion led by theologian Peter Bannister, the translator for Countdown to the Kingdom, who has studied both the early Church Fathers and some 15,000 pages of credible private revelation since 1970. Noting that many theologians today reject the notion of an “era of peace” as described in Revelation 20:1-6 and instead prefer Augustine’s symbolic explanation of the “thousand years” (amillennialism), he nonetheless states…
…like Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi and Mark Mallett, I am now thoroughly convinced that amillennialism is not only not dogmatically binding but actually a huge mistake (like most attempts throughout history to sustain theological arguments, however sophisticated, that fly in the face of a plain reading of Scripture, in this case Revelation 19 and 20). Perhaps the question really didn’t matter all that much in previous centuries, but it certainly does now…
Referring to his vast research, Bannister ads:
I cannot point to a single credible source that upholds Augustine’s eschatology. Everywhere it is rather affirmed that what we are facing sooner rather than later is the Coming of the Lord (understood in the sense of a dramatic manifestation of Christ, not in the condemned millenarian sense of a physical return of Jesus to rule bodily over a temporal kingdom) for the world’s renewal—not for the Final Judgment/end of the planet…. The logical implication on the basis of Scripture of stating that the Coming of the Lord is ‘imminent’ is that, so too, is the coming of the Son of Perdition. I don’t see any way whatsoever around this. Again, this is confirmed in an impressive number of heavyweight prophetic sources…
With that in mind, I want to present again a calm and balanced approach to the subject in a writing below called: Antichrist in our Times. I do so, not because I am interested in the futility of calculating the timing of his manifestation. Rather again, because his coming is preceded and accompanied by a deception so great, that “even the elect” may be deceived. cf. Mat 24:24 As you’ll see, many of the popes of the last century believe this deception is well underway…
CAN WE HAVE THIS DISCUSSION?
Those are the words I heard rising in my heart before this past Advent began. I sensed the Lord urging me to write about this—about Revelation 13—and have been further encouraged by my spiritual director in this regard. And why not, for the text itself says:
Whoever has ears ought to hear these words. (Rev 13:9)
But here is the question to you and I: do we have ears to hear these words? Are we able to enter into a discussion of the Antichrist and the signs of the times, which are part of our Catholic Faith, part of our mandate given by Christ to “watch and pray”? cf. Mark 14:38 Or do we immediately roll our eyes and dismiss any discussion as paranoia and fear-mongering? Are we able to set aside our pre-conceived notions and prejudices and listen to the voice of the Church, to what the Popes and Church Fathers have said and are saying? For they speak with the mind of Christ who said to His first bishops, and hence to their successors:
Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. (Luke 10:16)
Before I delve into any discussion of the Black Ship, that rising false church, let’s first look at the nagging question of when the Antichrist is expected. It is an important question because Scripture tells us that his coming will be accompanied by tremendous deception. Arguably, this is already happening, especially in the Western world…
THE SON OF PERDITION
Sacred Tradition affirms that, near the end of time, a certain man whom St. Paul calls “the lawless one” is expected to rise as a false Christ in the world, setting himself as an object of worship. To be certain, he is indeed a literal man.
…that Antichrist is one individual man, not a power—not a mere ethical spirit, or a political system, not a dynasty, or succession of rulers—was the universal tradition of the early Church. —St. John Henry Newman, “The Times of Antichrist”, Lecture 1
His timing was revealed to Paul as before the “day of the Lord”:
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 2:3)
The early Church Fathers have unanimously confirmed that the “son of perdition” is a human being, a single person. However, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI made the important point:
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
That is a viewpoint consonant with Sacred Scripture:
Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. Thus we know this is the last hour… Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist. (1 John 2:18, 22)
That is simply to say that there are many antichrists throughout human history. But Scripture points especially to one, chief among many, who accompanies a great rebellion or apostasy toward the end of time. The Church Fathers refer to him as the “son of perdition”, the “lawless one”, a “king”, an “apostate and robber” whose origin is likely from the Middle East, possibly of Jewish heritage.
But when will he arrive?
THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE DECEIVER
There are essentially two camps on this, but as I will point out, they are not necessarily in opposition to one another.
The first camp, and the most prevalent one today, is that the Antichrist appears at the very end of time, immediately before the final return of Jesus in glory inaugurating the universal judgment and end of the world.
The other camp is the one that is most prevalent among the early Church Fathers and which, notably, follows the chronology of St. John the Apostle in Revelation. And that is that the coming of the lawless one is followed by an “era of peace”, what the Church Fathers called a “sabbath rest”, the “seventh day”, “the times of the kingdom” or “the day of the Lord.” cf. Two More Days This would also be the most common viewpoint in modern prophetic revelations. I have taken the time to explain the theology of the Church Fathers in this regard in two writings: How the Era was Lost and Millenarianism: What it is, and is Not. Summarizing the collective thought of the Magisterium, Fr. Charles Arminjon wrote:
The most authoritative view, and the one that appears to be most in harmony with Holy Scripture, is that, after the fall of the Antichrist, the Catholic Church will once again enter upon a period of prosperity and triumph. —The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life, Fr. Charles Arminjon (1824-1885), p. 56-57; Sophia Institute Press
This chronology is clear in the Book of Revelation where St. John writes of:
I. The rise of a dragon against the People of God (the “woman”) cf. Rev 12:1-6
II. The dragon gives his authority to a “beast” who dominates the whole world for a brief time. Another beast, a “false prophet”, rises forcing all to worship the first beast and accept a uniform economy, which one participates in through the “mark of the beast”. cf. Rev 13
III. Jesus manifests His power accompanied by a heavenly army, destroying Antichrist, casting the beast and the false prophet into hell. cf. Rev 19:20; 2 Thess 2:8 This is clearly not the end of the world in St. John’s chronology, nor the Second Coming at the end of time. Fr. Charles explains:
St. Thomas and St. John Chrysostom explain the words quem Dominus Jesus destruet illustratione adventus sui (“whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the brightness of His coming”) in the sense that Christ will strike the Antichrist by dazzling him with a brightness that will be like an omen and sign of His Second Coming… —The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life, Fr. Charles Arminjon (1824-1885), p. 56-57; Sophia Institute Press
IV. Satan is chained in the “abyss” as the Church reigns in peace for an extended period, symbolized by the number a “thousand years”. cf. Rev 20:12
V. Afterward, there is a final uprising after Satan is released, what St. John calls “Gog and Magog.” But fire falls from heaven and consumes them as they surround the camp of the saints. Of note in St. John’s chronology is the fact that “The Devil who had led them astray was thrown into the pool of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were.” cf. Rev 20:10
VI. Human history ends as the Final Judgment commences. cf. Rev 20:11-15
VII. God creates a New Heavens and New Earth as the Church is united for eternity to her Divine Spouse. cf. Rev 21:1-3
In this regard, following Benedict XVI’s teaching, the beast and false prophet compromise the coming of an antichrist, and Gog and Magog the coming of perhaps what Augustine calls the “last Antichrist.” And we find this delineation also in the writings of the early Church Fathers.
But when The Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from Heaven in the clouds… sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire; but bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom, that is, the rest, the hallowed seventh day… These are to take place in the times of the kingdom, that is, upon the seventh day… the true Sabbath of the righteous. —St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Church Father (140–202 A.D.); Adversus Haereses, Irenaeus of Lyons, V.33.3.4, The Fathers of the Church, CIMA Publishing Co.
Tertullian outlines that the “times of the kingdom” are an intermediate stage before the end of the world:
We do confess that a kingdom is promised to us upon the earth, although before heaven, only in another state of existence; inasmuch as it will be after the resurrection for a thousand years in the divinely-built city of Jerusalem… —Tertullian (155–240 A.D.), Nicene Church Father; Adversus Marcion, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Henrickson Publishers, 1995, Vol. 3, pp. 342-343)
The author of the Letter of Barnabas, considered a voice among the Church Fathers, speaks of a time…
…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
But before the eighth day, St. Augustine writes:
We shall indeed be able to interpret the words, “The priest of God and of Christ shall reign with Him a thousand years; and when the thousand years shall be finished, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison;” for thus they signify that the reign of the saints and the bondage of the devil shall cease simultaneously… so in the end they shall go out who do not belong to Christ, but to that last Antichrist… —St. Augustine, The Anti-Nicene Fathers, City of God, Book XX, Chap. 13, 19
This is all to say that there is indeed the possibility that the “lawless one” could be revealed in our times, before an “era of peace.” We will know his nearness by some key factors:
A. There must be an apostasy.
…worldliness is the root of evil and it can lead us to abandon our traditions and negotiate our loyalty to God who is always faithful. This… is called apostasy, which… is a form of “adultery” which takes place when we negotiate the essence of our being: loyalty to the Lord. —POPE FRANCIS from a homily, Vatican Radio, November 18th, 2013
The Popes have watched the Church in a steady decline of loyalty to the Lord now for over a century.
Who can fail to see that society is at the present time, more than in any past age, suffering from a terrible and deep-rooted malady which, developing every day and eating into its inmost being, is dragging it to destruction? You understand, Venerable Brethren, what this disease is—apostasy from God… When all this is considered there is good reason to fear lest this great perversity may be as it were a foretaste, and perhaps the beginning of those evils which are reserved for the last days; and that there may be already in the world the “Son of Perdition” of whom the Apostle speaks. —POPE ST. PIUS X, E Supremi, Encyclical On the Restoration of All Things in Christ, n. 3, 5; October 4th, 1903
Noting the outbreak of contempt toward Christianity throughout the world, Pope Pius XI wrote:
…the whole Christian people, sadly disheartened and disrupted, are continually in danger of falling away from the faith, or of suffering the most cruel death. These things in truth are so sad that you might say that such events foreshadow and portend the “beginning of sorrows,” that is to say of those that shall be brought by the man of sin, “who is lifted up above all that is called God or is worshipped” (2 Thess 2:4). —Miserentissimus Redemptor, Encyclical Letter on Reparation to the Sacred Heart, n. 15, May 8th, 1928; www.vatican.va
While I could refer to several more pontiffs who speak along this same line of growing infidelity, let me quote once more Paul VI:
There is a great uneasiness at this time in the world and in the Church, and that which is in question is the faith… 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.
Apostasy, the loss of the faith, is spreading throughout the world and into the highest levels within the Church. —Address on the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Fatima Apparitions, October 13, 1977
B. Before the beast arrives, there must be evidence of the “great sign” of the “woman clothed in the sun” and the “sign” of the dragon appearing (cf. Rev 12:1-4).
I have treated this subject in great detail in my book The Final Confrontation, and published the section dealing with this Woman and the dragon here. cf. The Woman and the Dragon The identity of the Woman is explained by Benedict XVI:
This Woman represents Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer, but she represents at the same time the whole Church, the People of God of all times, the Church that at all times, with great pain, again gives birth to Christ. —Castel Gondolfo, Italy, Aug. 23, 2006; Zenit
The identity of the dragon is also fairly straightforward. He is:
The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world. (Rev 12:9)
Jesus calls Satan a “liar” and a “murderer”. cf. John 8:44 The dragon lures souls into his lies in order to destroy them.
Now the dragon, we are told, deceives “the whole world.” It would be fair to say that a program of global deception was begun in the 16th century when two things happened: the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment. see Mystery Babylon In the ecclesiastically approved messages of Fr. Stefano Gobbi, an excellent explanation of this “sign” of the dragon appearing, the spirit of antichrist, is given:
…the Antichrist is manifested through a radical attack on faith in the word of God. Through the philosophers who begin to give exclusive value to science and then to reason, there is a gradual tendency to constitute human intelligence alone as the sole criterion of truth. There come to birth the great philosophical errors which continue through the centuries down to your days… with the Protestant Reformation, Tradition is rejected as a source of divine revelation, and only Sacred Scripture is accepted. But even this must be interpreted by means of reason, and the authentic Magisterium of the hierarchical Church, to which Christ has entrusted the guardianship of the deposit of faith, is obstinately rejected. —Our Lady allegedly to Fr. Stefano Gobbi, To the Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Priests, n. 407, “The Number of the Beast: 666”, p. 612, 18th Edition; with Imprimatur
Of course, in this same time period, were and are significant apparitions of Our Lady, “the woman clothed in the sun,” countering these philosophical errors.
C. Possibility for a uniform global economy
Since the Antichrist imposes a single uniform economic system upon the whole world, the conditions for the emergence of a global economy would most certainly be a harbinger of some kind. It is arguable that this was not even possible until this past century. Benedict XVI pointed out 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
But globalization, in and of itself is not an evil. Rather, it is the underlying forces behind it that have raised papal alarms.
…without the guidance of charity in truth, this global force could cause unprecedented damage and create new divisions within the human family. —ibid. n. 33
Anyone can clearly see that nations are being tied into a global banking system, inter-connected by technology, which is slowly eliminating hard currency (cash). The benefits are many, but so are the perils and potential for centralized control. Pope Francis was blunt about these growing dangers in his an address to the European Parliament.
The true strength of our democracies – understood as expressions of the political will of the people – must not be allowed to collapse under the pressure of multinational interests which are not universal, which weaken them and turn them into uniform systems of economic power at the service of unseen empires. —POPE FRANCIS, Address to European Parliament, Strasbourg, France, Nov. 25th, 2014, Zenit
“Unseen empires…” Indeed, the first beast that rises in Revelation 13, who forces the entire world into a single, uniform economic system, is a beast of empires, namely “ten”:
Then I saw a beast come out of the sea with ten horns and seven heads; on its horns were ten diadems, and on its heads blasphemous names. (Rev 13:1)
A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power… In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenceless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule. —POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 56
It is from the “beast”, from these “horns”, that an antichrist rises…
I was considering the ten horns it had, when suddenly another, a little horn, sprang out of their midst, and three of the previous horns were torn away to make room for it. This horn had eyes like human eyes, and a mouth that spoke arrogantly… The beast was given a mouth uttering proud boasts and blasphemies. (Daniel 7:8; Rev 13:5)
…and imposes a “mark” upon all without which they cannot buy nor sell.
The Apocalypse speaks about God’s antagonist, the beast. This animal does not have a name, but a number. In [the horror of the concentration camps], they cancel faces and history, transforming man into a number, reducing him to a cog in an enormous machine. Man is no more than a function. In our days, we should not forget that they prefigured the destiny of a world that runs the risk of adopting the same structure of the concentration camps, if the universal law of the machine is accepted. The machines that have been constructed impose the same law. According to this logic, man must be interpreted by a computer and this is only possible if translated into numbers. The beast is a number and transforms into numbers. God, however, has a name and calls by name. He is a person and looks for the person. —Cardinal Ratzinger, (POPE BENEDICT XVI) Palermo, March 15th, 2000 (italics added)
D. The “labour pains” of the Gospels and Rev Ch. 6
St. Paul, St. John, and Christ himself speak of great upheavals that precede and accompany the coming of Antichrist: war, economic collapse, wide-spread earthquakes, plagues, famine and persecution on what would appear to be a global scale. cf. The Seven Seals of Revolution
Certainly those days would seem to have come upon us of which Christ Our Lord foretold: “You shall hear of wars and rumours of wars—for nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” (Matt 24:6-7). —POPE BENEDICT XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, Encyclical Letter, n. 3, November 1, 1914; www.vatican.va
The general outbreak of lawlessness leads to a hardening of hearts when Jesus points out, as another sign of the “end times”, that “the love of many will grow cold.” Matt 24:12; cf. 2 Tim 3:1-5 The Popes have understood this as not only a loss of religious fervor but a general laxity toward evil itself.
But all these evils as it were culminate in the cowardice and the sloth of those who, after the manner of the sleeping and fleeing disciples, wavering in their faith, miserably forsake Christ… who following the example of the traitor Judas, either partake of the holy table rashly and sacrilegiously, or go over to the camp of the enemy. And thus, even against our will, the thought rises in the mind that now those days draw near of which Our Lord prophesied: “And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). —POPE PIUS XI, Miserentissimus Redemptor, Encyclical on Reparation to the Sacred Heart, n. 17, www.vatican.va
…‘the sleepiness’ is ours, of those of us who do not want to see the full force of evil and do not want to enter into his Passion. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Catholic News Agency, Vatican City, Apr 20, 2011, General Audience
PREPARING FOR CHRIST
As I have said before, as Christians we are preparing for Christ, not Antichrist. Nonetheless, even Our Lord warned us to “watch and pray” lest we too fall asleep. In fact, in Luke’s Gospel, the “Our Father” ends with the petition:
…and do not subject us to the final test. (Luke 11:4)
Brothers and sisters, while the timing of the appearance of the “lawless one” is unknown to us, I feel compelled to continue writing about some rapidly emerging signs that the times of Antichrist may be drawing nearer, and sooner than many think. Among them, the rise of aggressive Islamism, more and more obtrusive technologies, a rising false church, and the attack on human life and health. In fact, John Paul II stated that this “final confrontation” is upon us:
We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the Gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the antichrist. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine Providence; it is a trial which the whole Church, and the Polish Church in particular, must take up. It is a trial of not only our nation and the Church, but in a sense a test of 2,000 years of culture and Christian civilization, with all of its consequences for human dignity, individual rights, human rights and the rights of nations. —Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (JOHN PAUL II), at the Eucharistic Congress, Philadelphia, PA for the bicentennial celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence; some citations of this passage include the words “Christ and the antichrist” as above. Deacon Keith Fournier, an attendee, reports it as above; cf. Catholic Online; August 13, 1976
Let me conclude then with the words of Church Father Hippolytus who, echoing recent apparitions and messages of Our Lady, gives us the keys on how to be prepared for and overcome the deceptions of Antichrist:
Blessed shall they be who overcome the tyrant then. For they shall be set forth as more illustrious and loftier than the first witnesses; for the former witnesses overcame his minions only, but these overthrow and conquer the accuser himself, the son of perdition. With what eulogies and crowns, therefore, will they not be adorned by our King, Jesus Christ!… You see in what manner of fasting and prayer the saints will exercise themselves at that time. —St. Hippolytus, On the End of the World,n. 30, 33, newadvent.org
The Church now charges you before the Living God; she declares to you the things concerning Antichrist before they arrive. Whether they will happen in your time we know not, or whether they will happen after you we know not; but it is well that, knowing these things, you should make yourself secure beforehand. —St. Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 315-386) Doctor of the Church, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture XV, n.9
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|↑1||cf. The Convergence and the Blessing|
|↑2||cf. Mat 24:24|
|↑3||cf. Mark 14:38|
|↑4||cf. Two More Days|
|↑5||cf. Rev 12:1-6|
|↑6||cf. Rev 13|
|↑7||cf. Rev 19:20; 2 Thess 2:8|
|↑8||cf. Rev 20:12|
|↑9||cf. Rev 20:10|
|↑10||cf. Rev 20:11-15|
|↑11||cf. Rev 21:1-3|
|↑12||cf. The Woman and the Dragon|
|↑13||cf. John 8:44|
|↑14||see Mystery Babylon|
|↑15||cf. The Seven Seals of Revolution|
|↑16||Matt 24:12; cf. 2 Tim 3:1-5|