It’s May 21, 2011, and the mainstream media, as usual, are more than ready to pay attention to those who brandish the name “Christian,” but espouse heretical, if not crazy ideas (see articles here and here. My apologies to those readers in Europe for whom the world ended eight hours ago. I should have sent this earlier).
Is the world ending today, or in 2012? This meditation was first published December 18th, 2008…
FOR the second time in his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI has made a point of saying that Christ’s coming as Judge and the end of the world are not “near” as some suggest; that certain events must come first before He returns for the Final Judgment.
Paul himself, in his Letter to the Thessalonians, tells us that nobody can know the moment of the Lord’s coming and warns us against any alarm that Christ’s return might be at hand. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, December 14th, 2008, Vatican City
So this is where I will start…
END TIMES, NOT THE END OF THE WORLD
Since the Ascension, Christ’s coming in glory has been imminent, even though “it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority.” This eschatological coming could be accomplished at any moment, even if both it and the final trial that will precede it are “delayed”. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 673
In a General audience on November 12th, 2008, the Holy Father explains what exactly is “delaying” this coming:
…before the Lord’s arrival there will be apostasy, and one well described as the “man of lawlessness”, “the son of perdition” must be revealed, who tradition would come to call the Antichrist. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, St. Peter’s Square; his remarks are a reiteration of St. Paul’s warning in 2 Thessalonians 2 on the return of Christ.
The Early Church Fathers—voices who helped reveal and pass on apostolic Tradition, often with teaching which came directly from the Apostles or their direct successors—give us further light as to the sequence of events prior to Christ’s final return. Essentially, it is such:
- This present era ends in a period of lawlessness and apostasy, culminating in the “lawless one”—Antichrist (2 Thess 2:1-4).
- He is destroyed by a manifestation of Christ (2 Thess 2:8), along with those who accepted the mark of the Beast (a judgment of the living; Rev 19:20-21); Satan is then chained for a “thousand years” (Rev 20:2) as God establishes a reign of peace (Isaiah 24:21-23) punctuated by the resurrection of the martyrs (Rev 20:4).
- At the end of this period of peace, Satan is loosed from the abyss for a brief period, a final unleashing against the Bride of Christ through “Gog and Magog,” the nations Satan deceives in a final uprising (Rev 20:7-10).
- Fire falls from heaven to consume them (Rev 20:9); the devil is thrown into the lake of fire where the Antichrist—the Beast—had already been cast (Rev 20:10) ushering in the Final Coming in Glory of Jesus, the resurrection of the dead, and the Final Judgment (Rev 20:11-15), and the consummation of the elements (1 Pt 3:10), making way for a “new heavens and a new earth” (Rev 21:1-4).
This sequence of events prior to Christ’s return as Judge is found in the writings of several early Church Fathers and ecclesiastical writers:
…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
Therefore, the Son of the most high and mighty God… shall have destroyed unrighteousness, and executed His great judgment, and shall have recalled to life the righteous, who… will be engaged among men a thousand years, and will rule them with most just command… Also the prince of devils, who is the contriver of all evils, shall be bound with chains, and shall be imprisoned during the thousand years of the heavenly rule… Before the end of the thousand years the devil shall be loosed afresh and shall assemble all the pagan nations to make war against the holy city… “Then the last anger of God shall come upon the nations, and shall utterly destroy them” and the world shall go down in a great conflagration. —4th century Ecclesiastical writer, Lactantius, “The Divine Institutes”, The ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 7, p. 211
St. Augustine provided four interpretations of the “thousand year” period. The one most commonly quoted today is that it refers to the period since the resurrection of Christ until now. However, that was just one interpretation, likely made popular in countering the heresy of millenarianism at the time. In light of what has been said by several Church Fathers, one of Augustine’s other interpretations is perhaps more suited:
Those who, on the strength of this passage [of Revelation 20:1-6], have suspected that the first resurrection is future and bodily, have been moved, among other things, specially by the number of a thousand years, as if it were a fit thing that the saints should thus enjoy a kind of Sabbath-rest during that period, a holy leisure after the labors of six thousand years since man was created… (and) there should follow on the completion of six thousand years, as of six days, a kind of seventh-day Sabbath in the succeeding thousand years; and that it i s for this purpose the saints rise, viz.; to celebrate the Sabbath. And this opinion would not be objectionable, if it were believed that the joys of the saints in that Sabbath shall be spiritual, and consequent on the presence of God… —De Civitate Dei [The City of God], Catholic University of America Press, Bk XX, Ch. 7
This apostolic tradition is further illuminated by approved private revelation. The “seventh day”, the “thousand years of heavenly rule” was prophesied by the Blessed Virgin in Fatima when she promised that her Immaculate Heart would triumph and the world would be granted a “period of peace.” Thus, Jesus dictated to St. Faustina that the world is now living in an important time of grace:
Let all mankind recognize My unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice. —Diary of St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, n. 848
One of the main streams of thought on this website is the teaching that the Body—the Church—will follow Christ its Head through its own Passion. In this regard, I wrote a series of reflections called The Seven Year Trial which incorporates the above thinking of the Church Fathers with the Catechism, the Book of Revelation, approved private revelation, and the inspirations which came to me through prayer, correlating it all according to the Passion of Our Lord.
WHAT TIME IS IT?
So where is this generation at in this sequence of cosmic events? Jesus instructed us to watch the signs of the times so that we would be better prepared for His coming. But not just His coming: preparation also for the arrival of false prophets, persecution, an Antichrist, and other tribulations. Yes, Jesus commanded us to watch and pray so that we would be able to remain faithful during the “final trial” that would come.
Based on what I’ve mentioned above, but particularly on the words of Pope John Paul II, Paul VI, Leo XIII, Pius X and other pontiffs who’ve all referred to our times in apocalyptic language, our generation is certainly a candidate for the possible arrival of the “lawless one.” This conclusion I have detailed, of course, in a number of writings on this site.
What is my mission? In part, it is to better prepare you for these trials. However, my ultimate goal is to prepare you, not for the Antichrist, but for Jesus Christ! For the Lord is near, and He desires to enter your heart now. If you open wide your heart to Jesus, then you are already beginning to live in the Kingdom of God, and the sufferings of this present time will seem as nothing compared to the glory you will taste now, and which awaits you in eternity.
There are fearful things written in these “blogs”. And should they awaken you and drive you to the feet of Christ, then that is a good thing. I would sooner see you in Heaven with trembling knees than know you went into everlasting flames because you were asleep in sin. But even better if you come to the Lord in trust and hope, recognizing His infinite love and mercy for you. Jesus is not someone “way out there”, a cruel judge hastening to sentence you, but He is near… a Brother and Friend, standing as it were at the door of your heart. If you open it, He will begin to whisper His divine secrets to you, putting this world and all its trappings in their proper context, and bestowing upon you the World to come, in this life, and the next.
Every Christian discussion of the last things, called eschatology, always starts with the event of the Resurrection; in this event the last things have already begun and, in a certain sense, are already present. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, General Audience, November 12th, 2008, Vatican City
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. (Mark 13:31-33)
‘The Lord is near’. This is the reason for our joy. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, December 14th, 2008, Vatican City
- Why Aren’t the Popes Shouting?
- The Popes, and the Dawning Era
- The Second Coming
- Two More Days
- The Last Judgments
- Following in His Footsteps
- The Coming of the Kingdom of God
- Living the Book of Revelation
- The End of this Age
- The Vindication of Wisdom
- The Return of Jesus in Glory
- A Heavenly Map
- The Great Unfolding