THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for May 4th, 2016
Liturgical texts here
First, I want to tell you, my dear family of readers, that my wife and I are grateful for the hundreds of notes and letters we’ve received in support of this ministry. I made a brief appeal a few weeks ago that our ministry was in dire need of support to continue (as this is my full-time work), and your response has moved us to tears many times. Many of those “widow’s mites” have come our way; many sacrifices have been made to communicate your support, gratitude, and love. In a word, you have given me a resounding “yes” to continue on this path. It is a leap of faith for us. We have no savings, no retirement funds, no certainty (as do any of us) about tomorrow. But we accept that this is where Jesus wants us. In fact, He wants all of us to be in a place of utter and total abandonment. We are in the process still of writing emails and thank you’s to all of you. But let me say now… thank you for your filial love and support, which has strengthened and moved me deeply. And I am grateful for this encouragement, because I have many serious things to write you in the days ahead, beginning now….
IN one of the more mysterious passages of Scripture, we hear Jesus say to the Apostles:
I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. (Today’s Gospel)
With the death of the last Apostle, the Public Revelation of Jesus was completed, leaving the Church the “deposit of faith” from which she would withdraw wisdom in order to fulfill the Great Commission. However, this is not to say that our understanding is complete. Rather…
…even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 66
Some things, Jesus said, would be too hard to bear. For instance, it wasn’t until toward the end of Peter’s life that the early Church began to grasp that the return of Jesus in glory was not imminent, as first thought. In what is one of the most significant eschatological insights in the New Testament, Peter wrote:
One day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. (2 Pet 3:8-5)
It was this statement, as well as the teachings of St. John in the Apocalypse, that set the stage for the early Church Fathers to develop and “gradually to grasp” the prophetic texts of the Old Testament in light of the new. Suddenly, the “day of the Lord” was no longer to be understood as a 24 hour solar day, but signified a period of judgment that would come upon the earth. Said Church Father Lactantius,
…this day of ours, which is bounded by the rising and the setting of the sun, is a representation of that great day to which the circuit of a thousand years affixes its limits. —Lactantius, Fathers of the Church: The Divine Institutes, Book VII, Chapter 14, Catholic Encyclopedia; www.newadvent.org
And another Father wrote,
Behold, the Day of the Lord shall be a thousand years. —Letter of Barnabas, The Fathers of the Church, Ch. 15
Turning their sights on Revelation Chapter 20, the Church Fathers then interpreted the “thousand year” reign of Jesus and the saints as the “day of the Lord” in which the “sun of justice” would rise, putting to death the Antichrist or “beast”, chaining Satan’s powers, and ushering in a spiritual “Sabbath” or rest for the Church. While firmly rejecting the heresy of millenarianism, cf. Millenarianism — What it is, and is Not St. Augustine confirmed this apostolic teaching:
…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 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.; Church Doctor), De Civitate Dei, Bk. XX, Ch. 7, Catholic University of America Press
Furthermore, as Augustine said, this Sabbath, which was to be “spiritual and consequent on the presence of God,” was considered the ushering in of the Kingdom in its beginning stages before the return of Jesus in glory, when the Kingdom would come definitively. Only now, through the revelations of several mystics, such as Servant of God Martha Robin and Luisa Picarretta, are we beginning to better comprehend the nature of this Kingdom: when God’s will is done on earth “as it is in heaven.” cf. The Coming New and Divine Holiness As Pope Benedict affirms:
…every day in the prayer of the Our Father we ask the Lord: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10)…. we recognize that “heaven” is where the will of God is done, and that “earth” becomes “heaven”—i.e., the place of the presence of love, of goodness, of truth and of divine beauty—only if on earth the will of God is done. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, General Audience, February 1st, 2012, Vatican City
This “blessing” was anticipated by another Church Father:
So, the blessing foretold undoubtedly refers to the time of His Kingdom… 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
The Church of the Millennium must have an increased consciousness of bein g the Kingdom of God in its initial stage. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, L’Osservatore Romano, English Edition, April 25th, 1988
Now, I want to pause for a moment and share with you a letter which came in this morning:
Charlie Johnston on “The Next Right Step” is adamant of a “rescue” [by Our Lady] in late 2017. How does this allow for what I have just read in your writing, Words and Warnings, where you speak of a coming illumination….. time of Evangelization… resuming of the Storm…. then an antichrist… I have just read another article that we are in the minor apostasy before restoration of the Church.
So are we moving towards an illumination or is this many years later…?. Are we preparing for a reign after 2017, or many years later?
Specific timelines or dates, as we all know, are a very precarious thing—because when they come and go, and things remain as they are, it creates cynicism and a backlash toward authentic prophecy. Where I agree with Charlie is that there is a Storm here and coming—a “word” we and many others have heard in these times, including in the ecclesiastically approved messages of Elizabeth Kindelmann, Fr. Stephano Gobbi, etc. As for the rest of Charlie’s purported revelations—which his archbishop has advised the faithful to approach with “prudence and caution”—I don’t have much to say (see Discernment of the Details). For my part, I constantly defer back to the chronology of the Church Fathers, which is based on St. John’s revelations. Why? Because the matter of the “thousand years” or so-called “era of peace” has never been definitively settled by the Church—but has been firmly expounded on by the Fathers. (When asked if a “a new era of Christian life is imminent?”, The Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith [Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger] replied, “La questione è ancora aperta alla libera discussione, giacchè la Santa Sede non si è ancora pronunciata in modo definitivo”: “The question is still open to free discussion, as the Holy See has not made any definitive pronouncement in this regard.” Il Segno del Soprannauturale, Udine, Italia, n. 30, p. 10, Ott. 1990; Fr. Martino Penasa presented this question of a “millenary reign” to Cardinal Ratzinger )
And since it is an open question, we should turn anew to the Church Fathers:
… 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
And so, here is the chronology of events laid forth by the Church Fathers towards the end of this present era:
• Antichrist arises but is defeated by Christ and thrown into hell. (Rev 19:20)
• Satan is chained for a “thousand years,” while the saints reign after a “first resurrection.” (Rev 20:12)
• After that period of time, Satan is released, who then makes one last assault upon the Church through “Gog and Magog” (a final “antichrist”). (Rev 20:7)
• But fire falls from heaven and consumes the devil who is thrown “into the pool of fire” where “the beast and the false prophet were.” (Rev 20:9-10) The fact that the “beast and false prophet” were already there is the crucial link in St. John’s chronology that places the beast or “lawless one” before the “thousand year” era of peace.
• Jesus returns in glory to receive His Church, the dead are raised and judged according to their deeds, fire falls and a New Heavens and a New Earth are made, inaugurating eternity. (Rev 20:11-21:2)
This chronology is affirmed, for example, in The Letter of Barnabas:
…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
The “eighth” or “everlasting” day is, of course, eternity. St. Justin Martyr testifies to the apostolic link of this chronology:
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
The bottom line is that we should always seek to test, to “fit” private revelation within the Church’s Public Revelation—not the other way around. ‘Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church. Christian faith cannot accept “revelations” that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such “revelations”.’ —CCC, n. 67
In closing, St. Paul says in today’s first reading:
God has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he demands that all people everywhere repent because he has established a day on which he will ‘judge the world with justice….’
Again, the Church Fathers’ teachings show how the “judgement of the living and the dead” is inaugurated with the “day of the Lord”, and thus, not a single event at the very end of time (see The Last Judgments). This is to say that the signs of the times, the apparitions of Our Lady, the approved prophetic words of many saints and mystics, and the signs described in the New Testament, suggest that we are on the threshold of the “judgment of the living.” And so, while I remain open to surprises, I suspect we are still several years from an “era of peace”, and I have already explained why: the Church Fathers clearly place an antichrist (the “lawless one” or “son of perdition”) before the era of peace, that extended period symbolized by a “thousand years”, which is a basic reading of St. John’s apocalypse. In Antichrist in Our Times, I examined some clear and dangerous signs that we are moving toward a global totalitarian system that very much resembles “the beast” of Revelation. But there are likely many things that have yet to unfold and fall into place… But between then, we continue to discern the possibility of many supernatural interventions, such as an “Illumination”, in this “final confrontation” of our times (see The Triumphs in Scripture).
Aside from the Related Reading below, I recommend the solid scholarly writings of Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi who has applied the full breadth of the Church’s theological fields in order to develop a theology of the “end times”, and specifically, the “era of peace.” I list these books below as well.
From theologian Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi:
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|↑1||cf. Millenarianism — What it is, and is Not|
|↑2||cf. The Coming New and Divine Holiness|
|↑3||cf. Living Revelation|
|↑4||Il Segno del Soprannauturale, Udine, Italia, n. 30, p. 10, Ott. 1990; Fr. Martino Penasa presented this question of a “millenary reign” to Cardinal Ratzinger|
|↑5||‘Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church. Christian faith cannot accept “revelations” that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such “revelations”.’ —CCC, n. 67|