ACCORDING to the revelations Jesus gave to St. Faustina, we are on the threshold of the “day of justice”, the Day of the Lord, after this “time of mercy”. The Church Fathers compared the Day of the Lord to a solar day (see Faustina, and the Day of the Lord). A question then is, how close are we to midnight, the darkest part of the Day—the advent of Antichrist? Although the “antichrist” cannot be restricted to one single individual, 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 as St. John taught, cf. 1 John 2:18 Tradition holds that there will indeed come one central character, “the son of perdition,” in the “end times.”  …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, General Audience, “Whether at the end of time or during a tragic lack of peace: Come Lord Jesus!”, L’Osservatore Romano, Nov. 12th, 2008
Of the coming of Antichrist, Scripture tells us to watch for essentially five chief signs:
I. A period of lawlessness or apostasy from the faith.
II. The rise of a global totalitarianism
III. The implementation of a global system of commerce
IV. The rise of false prophets
V. Global persecution of the Church
Jesus warned us not to fall asleep, to watch and to pray—not in fear, but in holy courage as we see the signs of the “end times” emerge. For as the Day of the Lord unfolds, there are many elements that will take people by surprise—some who, in fact, will have lost their opportunity to be in God’s camp because they have hardened their hearts, and fallen asleep.
For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night. When people are saying, peace and security, then sudden disaster comes upon them, like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (1 Thess 5:2-3)
So let’s briefly look at each of the five points, which give us an indication of the proximate time we are living in…
WHAT TIME IS IT?
“Apostasy” means a great falling away from the faith. In fact, St. Paul warns his readers against those who were saying and writing things…
…to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 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 2:2-3)
So, what time is it?
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
Apostasy, the loss of the faith, is spreading throughout the world and into the highest levels within the Church. —POPE PAUL VI, Address on the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Fatima Apparitions, October 13, 1977
Pius X said that in 1903. What would he say if he were alive today? Perhaps what Pius XI said:
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 sin has abounded, the love of many shall grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). —POPE PIUS XI, Miserentissimus Redemptor, Encyclical on Reparation to the Sacred Heart, n. 17
II. Global Totalitarianism
The prophet Daniel, St. John, and the early Church Fathers were unanimous in declaring that there is going to come a global regime that will trample over the sovereignty and rights of many nations and peoples.
After this, in the visions of the night I saw a fourth beast, terrifying, horrible, and of extraordinary strength; it had great iron teeth with which it devoured and crushed, and it trampled with its feet what was left. (Daniel 7:7)
So, what time is it?
With tragic consequences, a long historical process is reaching a turning-point. The process which once led to discovering the idea of “human rights”—rights inherent in every person and prior to any Constitution and State legislation—is today marked by a surprising contradiction… the very right to life is being denied or trampled upon… This is the sinister result of a relativism which reigns unopposed: the “right” ceases to be such, because it is no longer firmly founded on the inviolable dignity of the person, but is made subject to the will of the stronger part. In this way democracy, contradicting its own principles, effectively moves towards a form of totalitarianism. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Evangelium Vitae, “The Gospel of Life”, n. 18, 20
The battle between the culture of life and culture of death today is really a battle between the Gospel and the anti-gospel, the Woman of Revelation vs. the dragon, and eventually, Christ vs. the Antichrist who seeks to impose the culture of death world-wide cf. The Great Culling by an atheisitic and materialistic view of the world.
This struggle parallels the apocalyptic combat described in [Rev 12]. 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… The “dragon” (Rev 12:3), the “ruler of this world” (Jn 12:31) and the “father of lies” (Jn 8:44), relentlessly tries to eradicate from human hearts the sense of gratitude and respect for the original extraordinary and fundamental gift of God: human life itself. Today that struggle has become increasingly direct. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Cherry Creek State Park Homily, Denver, Colorado, 1993
III. Global Economy
St. John’s vision was clear that the “beast” of Revelation would seek to impose a singular means by which peoples could buy and sell through what he called “the mark of the beast.” Rev 13:16 The possibility that the whole world could be funneled through a singular economic system seemed impossible a generation ago. But technology has changed all that in just a few short decades.
So, what time is it?
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)
…the tyranny of mammon […] perverts mankind. No pleasure is ever enough, and the excess of deceiving intoxication becomes a violence that tears whole regions apart – and all this in the name of a fatal misunderstanding of freedom which actually undermines man’s freedom and ultimately destroys it. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, December 20th, 2010
IV. The False Prophets
It is clear from Christ’s warnings in the Gospels and the epistles that dangers would rise up, not only from without, but most especially within the Church “perverting the truth.” cf. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them. So be vigilant… (Acts 20:29-31) That is, such “false prophets” are those who do not want to “rock the
boat,” who water down the Church’s teaching, or ignore it altogether as passé, irrelevant, or outdated. They often see the Liturgy and structure of the Church as oppressive, too pious, and undemocratic. They often replace the natural moral law with a shifting ethic of “tolerance.”
So, what time is it?
…the smoke of Satan is seeping into the Church of God through the cracks in the walls. —POPE PAUL VI, first Homily during the Mass for Sts. Peter & Paul, June 29, 1972
We have arrived at what Pope Benedict called a…
…dictatorship of relativism that recognizes nothing as definite, and which leaves as the ultimate measure only one’s ego and desires. Having a clear faith, according to the credo of the Church, is often labeled as fundamentalism. Yet, relativism, that is, letting oneself be tossed and ‘swept along by every wind of teaching’, appears the sole attitude acceptable to today’s standards. —Cardinal Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI) pre-conclave Homily, April 18th, 2005
The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.—Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 675
I think modern life, including life in the Church, suffers from a phony unwillingness to offend that poses as prudence and good manners, but too often turns out to be cowardice. —Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Rendering Unto Caesar: The Catholic Political Vocation, February 23rd, 2009, Toronto, Canada
Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way. (Luke 6:26)
In a society whose thinking is governed by the ‘tyranny of relativism’ and in which political correctness and human respect are the ultimate criteria of what is to be done and what is to be avoided, the notion of leading someone into moral error makes little sense. What causes wonderment in such a society is the fact that someone fails to observe political correctness and, thereby, seems to be disruptive of the so-called peace of society. —Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, Reflections on the Struggle to Advance the Culture of Life, InsideCatholic Partnership Dinner, Washington, September 18th, 2009
V. Global Persecution
It is a fact that there have been more martyrs this past century than all the other centuries combined as a result of the spread of the “errors of Russia”, as foretold at Fatima—the spread of Marxist ideologies, which propose that man can create a utopia apart from God. cf. Involuntary Dispossession
The persecution that accompanies [the Church’s] pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 675
Two world wars, religious oppression, and other forms of tyranny are the labor pains that are becoming more intense and frequent. Perhaps the greatest “sign of the times” is the moral tsunami that is overturning the natural law, the institution of marriage itself, and our understanding of human sexuality—all accompanied by little to no tolerance with anyone who disagrees.
So, what time is it?
…we do worry indeed about this freedom of religion. Editorials already call for the removal of guarantees of religious liberty, with crusaders calling for people of faith to be coerced to acceptance of this redefinition. If the experience of those few other states and countries where this is already law is any indication, the churches, and believers, will soon be harassed, threatened, and hauled into court for their conviction that marriage is between one man, one woman, forever, bringing children into the world.—from Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s blog, “Some Afterthoughts”, July 7th, 2011; http://blog.archny.org/?p=1349
“…speaking in defense of the life and the rights of the family is becoming, in some societies, a type of crime against the State, a form of disobedience to the Government…” — Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, former President of the Pontifical Council for the Family,Vatican City, June 28, 2006
We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel. 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; August 13, 1976
Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 675
Be prepared to put your life on the line in order to enlighten the world with the truth of Christ; to respond with love to hatred and disregard for life; to proclaim the hope of the risen Christ in every corner of the earth. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Message to the Young People of the World, World Youth Day, 2008
So these are the five primary “signs of the times” that indicate how close we are to “midnight.” Thus, tomorrow, I want to share five ways to “be not afraid” in our times!
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.
…‘the sleepiness’ [of the Apostles in the Garden] 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
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|↑1||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|
|↑2||cf. 1 John 2:18|
|↑3||…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, General Audience, “Whether at the end of time or during a tragic lack of peace: Come Lord Jesus!”, L’Osservatore Romano, Nov. 12th, 2008|
|↑4||cf. The Great Culling|
|↑6||cf. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them. So be vigilant… (Acts 20:29-31)|
|↑7||cf. Involuntary Dispossession|