NOT long after we were married, my wife planted our first garden. She took me for a tour pointing out the potatoes, beans, cucumbers, lettuce, corn, etc. After she finished showing me the rows, I turned to her and said, “But where’s the pickles?” She looked at me, pointed to a row and said, “The cucumbers are there.”
“I know,” I said. “But where are the pickles?” My wife gave me a blank stare, slowly raised her finger and said, “The cucumbers are there.”
I looked at her like she was crazy. I glanced down again at the row she was pointing to… and suddenly, it dawned on me. Pickles-are-cucumbers-that-are pickled. My whole life, my Baba always referred to the cucumbers as “the pickle patch” (and, oy yoy yoy, those pickles were good!).
Sometimes, there are truths that are right in front of our noses, and yet, we don’t see them because of previous conditioning or a lack of knowledge. Or because we don’t want to see the truth.
Like the young lady in her twenties who wrote me yesterday. Her mother used to speak of the writings here, but this girl wanted nothing to do with them. In fact, they made her angry. She was a partier who left her faith, living a lifestyle contrary to the Gospel. But one day she went to Mass with her mother, and when she returned, decided to read some of my writings. She read for hours. So she asked God if there was any truth to the things written here. She had an experience of the Lord that was so profound, she said that words could do it no justice. She began to go to Mass and confession regularly and now prays daily. She says, “Over the past year, I feel the Lord has been teaching me so much! I feel a closeness with him and our Heavenly Mother that I have never experienced.”
Some things are hiding in plain sight, and it takes an experience, new knowledge, wisdom, understanding and especially willingness to discover them.
MAYBE NOT SO CRYTPIC AFTER ALL…
So it is with the discussions here this week on the Book of Revelation. Some of you might wonder if I am presenting a novel teaching regarding the coming of the Lord to establish His Eucharistic Reign to the ends of the earth. Or that this might be some kind of heresy. The fact is that this teaching has been from the very beginning, from the Apostles themselves. The early Church Fathers—those first disciples of the Church to expound on the Apostolic teaching—took the Book of Revelation at its face value. They didn’t enter into the kind of mental gymnastics many do today to arrive at a symbolic interpretation that leaves more questions asked than answered.
Though many aspects of St. John’s Apocalypse are symbolic, he also gave a straightforward chronology of the last phases of the world:
1. The nations would rebel in apostasy;
2. They would get the leader they deserve: the “beast”, an Antichrist;
3. Christ would return to judge the beast and the nations (judgment of the living), establishing His reign in His saints—a veritable triumph of the Church—while Satan would be temporarily chained for a period of time (symbolically, a “thousand years”).
4. After this period of peace, Satan would be loosed in one last rebellion against the saints, but fire would destroy God’s enemies and bring history to its dramatic conclusion with the judgment of the dead and beginning of a New Heavens and a New Earth.
Now, the early Church Fathers taught this chronology as an apostolic truth, that the “times of the kingdom”, a special time of “blessing” was coming.
So, the blessing foretold undoubtedly refers to the time of His Kingdom, when the just will rule on rising from the dead; when creation, reborn and freed from bondage, will yield an abundance of foods of all kinds from the heaven’s dew and the fertility of the earth, just as the seniors recall. Those who saw John, the Lord’s disciple , [tell us] that they heard from him how the Lord taught and spoke about these times… —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.; (St. Irenaeus was a student of St. Polycarp, who knew and learned from the Apostle John and was later consecrated bishop of Smyrna by John.)
But many of the early Jewish converts believed that Jesus Himself would come in glory to reign on earth in the flesh before the end of time for a literal “thousand years” (Rev 20:1-6), establishing a political kingdom amidst banquets and feasts. But this was condemned as a heresy (cf. Millenarianism—What it is and is Not). It is for this reason that centuries later, St. Augustine among others, in trying to avoid this heresy, gave the “thousand years” a symbolic interpretation. He offered this opinion:
…so far as occurs to me… [St. John] used the thousand years as an equivalent for the whole duration of this world, employing the number of perfection to mark the fullness of time. —St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) A.D., De Civitate Dei “City of God”, Book 20, Ch. 7
So, that is the position several Catholic bible scholars have held to this day without examining more carefully the allegorical language of the Church Fathers and Old Testament prophecies related to a coming “era of peace.” However, they may not realize that St. Augustine also gave an interpretation of Revelation 20 that was consistent with:
—a plain reading of St. John’s chronology;
—St. Peter’s teaching that “with the Lord, one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day,” (2 Pet 3:8);
—and with what the early Church Fathers also taught, marking human history from 4000 B.C., and that…
…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 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… —St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D),City of God, Bk. XX, Ch. 7
This was precisely the conclusion of a Theological Commission in 1952 that published The Teachings of the Catholic Church, the…
…hope in some mighty triumph of Christ here on earth before the final consummation of all things. Such an occurrence is not excluded, is not impossible, it is not all certain that there will not be a prolonged period of triumphant Christianity before the end… If before that final end there is to be a period, more or less prolonged, of triumphant sanctity, such a result will be brought about not by the apparition of the person of Christ in Majesty but by the operation of those powers of sanctification which are now at work, the Holy Ghost and the Sacraments of the Church. —The Teaching of the Catholic Church: A Summary of Catholic Doctrine, The MacMillan Company, 1952), p. 1140
I won’t go any further into how and why this coming of the kingdom of Christ “on earth as it is in heaven” was obscured and misunderstood. You can read about that in How the Era was Lost. But I will conclude by asking a question: if the teaching of a coming “era of peace” before the consummation of all things is a heresy taught by the Church Fathers—a teaching they say came straight from the Apostle John—then what else should we now call into question that also came from John? The Real Presence of the Eucharist? The incarnation of the Word made flesh? I think you get my point. The reason the Catholic Church is what it is today is precisely because it has been faithful to the early Church Fathers and the “deposit of faith.”
… if some new question should arise on which no such decision has been given, they should then have recourse to the opinions of the holy Fathers, of those at least, who, each in his own time and place, remaining in the unity of communion and of the faith, were accepted as approved masters; and whatsoever these may be found to have held, with one mind and with one consent, this ought to be accounted the true and Catholic doctrine of the Church, without any doubt or scruple. —St. Vincent of Lerins, Commonitory of 434 A.D., “For the Antiquity and Universality of the Catholic Faith Against the Profane Novelties of All Heresies”, Ch. 29, n. 77
Perhaps it is time that we re-examine the apocalyptic Scriptures in light of the fact that Our Lady is herself teaching what is already in front of our noses.
Yes, a miracle was promised at Fatima, the greatest miracle in the history of the world, second only to the Resurrection. And that miracle will be an era of peace which has never really been granted before to the world. —Cardinal Mario Luigi Ciappi, papal theologian for Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II; October 9th, 1994; Family Catechism; p. 35
The more noteworthy of the prophecies bearing upon “latter times” seem to have one common end, to announce great calamities impending over mankind, the triumph of the Church, and the renovation of the world. —Catholic Encyclopedia, Prophecy, www.newadvent.org
I and every other orthodox Christian feel certain that there will be a resurrection of the flesh followed by a thousand years in a rebuilt, embellished, and enlarged city of Jerusalem, as was announced by the Prophets Ezekiel, Isaias and others… A man among us named John, one of Christ’s Apostles, received and foretold that the followers of Christ would dwell in Jerusalem for a thousand years, and that afterwards the universal and, in short, everlasting resurrection and judgment would take place. —St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Ch. 81, The Fathers of the Church, Christian Heritage
Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi has done an immense service to the Church in presenting a systematic theology of the “era of peace.” See his books The Splendor of Creation and The Triumph of God’s Kingdom in the Millennium and End Times, available on Amazon
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