FOR 2000 years, the Church has laboured to draw souls into her bosom. She has endured persecutions and betrayals, heretics and schismatics. She has gone through seasons of glory and growth, decline and division, power and poverty whilst tirelessly proclaiming the Gospel — if only at times through a remnant. But someday, said the Church Fathers, she will enjoy a “Sabbath Rest” — an Era of Peace on earth before the end of the world. But what exactly is this rest, and what brings it about?
THE SEVENTH DAY
St. Paul was actually the first to speak of this coming “sabbath rest”:
And God rested on the seventh day from all his works… So then, there remains a sabbath rest for the people of God; for whoever enters God’s rest also ceases from his labors as God did from his. (Heb 4:4, 9-10)
In order to enter God’s rest, we have to understand what was accomplished on the seventh day. Essentially, the “word” or “Fiat that God spoke set creation into motion in perfect harmony — from the movement of the stars to the very breath of Adam. All was in perfect balance and yet, not complete.
Creation has its own goodness and proper perfection, but it did not spring forth complete from the hands of the Creator. The universe was created “in a state of journeying” (in statu viae) toward an ultimate perfection yet to be attained, to which God has destined it. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 302
What, then, was to complete and perfect creation? In a word: Adam. Created “in the image of God”, the Holy Trinity desired to expand the infinite borders of divine life, light, and love through the progeny of Adam and Eve in “endless generations.” St. Thomas Aquinas said, “Creatures came into existence when the key of love opened His hand.”Sent. 2, Prol. God created all things, said St. Bonaventure, “not to increase His glory but to show it forth and to communicate it,”In II Sent. I, 2, 2, 1. and this would be done primarily through Adam’s participation in that Fiat, the Divine Will. As Jesus said to Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta:
My joy reached its peak in seeing in this man [Adam], the almost endless generations of many other human beings who would provide Me with as many other kingdoms as there would be humans who exist, and in whom I would reign and expand My divine boundaries. And I beheld the bounty of all other kingdoms that would overflow for the glory and honor of the first kingdom [in Adam], which was to serve as the head of all others, and as the prime act of creation.
“Now, to form this kingdom,” states theologian Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi,
Adam being the first of all humans, had to freely unite his will to the eternal operation of the Divine Will that formed in him the divine indwelling (‘abitazione’) of God’s ‘being’.’ —The Gift of Living in the Divine Will in the Writings of Luisa Piccarreta (Kindle Locations 896-907), Kindle Edition
In her teachings to Luisa, Our Lady reveals that in order for creation to enter further into this glorious state of perfection (of endlessly expanding kingdoms of love), Adam needed to pass a test.
[Adam] had command over all creation, and all the elements were obedient to his every nod. By virtue of the Divine Will reigning in him, he too was inseparable from his Creator. After God had bestowed upon him so many blessings in exchange for one act of his fidelity, He commanded him not to touch only one fruit of the many fruits in the terrestrial Eden. This was the proof God had asked of Adam to confirm him in his state of innocence, holiness and happiness, and to give him the right of command over all creation. But Adam was not faithful in the test and, as a result, God could not trust him. So Adam lost his right of command [over himself and creation], and lost his innocence and happiness, whereby one may say that he turned the work of creation upside down. —Our Lady to Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta, The Virgin Mary in the Kingdom of the Divine Will, Day 4
Hence, not only Adam but in a certain sense God lost the “sabbath rest” that He had established on the “seventh day.” And it was this “sabbath rest” that Jesus came to earth as a man to restore…
FORESEEN BY THE FATHERS
According to the “deposit of faith” handed on to them by the Apostles, the Early Church Fathers taught that the “eighth day” or eternity would not come until the seventh day was restored in the order of creation. And this, the Scriptures teach, will come through a great labor and tribulation, since the fallen angels now battle for dominion over man and his willsee The Clash of the Kingdoms. Though claiming many souls, Satan and his legions will ultimately fail, and the seventh day or “sabbath rest” will come after the fall of the Antichrist…
…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
St. Irenaeus, in fact, compares the “six days” of creation to the following six thousand years after Adam was created:
Scripture says: ‘And God rested upon the seventh day from all His works’… And in six days created things were completed; it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year… 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… 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.)
Hint: the Jubilee year 2000 marked the proximate end of the Sixth Day. The Church Fathers did not calculate this in hard, literal numbers but as a generality. Aquinas writes, “As Augustine says, the last age of the world corresponds to the last stage of a man’s life, which does not last for a fixed number of years as the other stages do, but lasts sometimes as long as the others together, and even longer. Wherefore the last age of the world cannot be assigned a fixed number of years or generations.” —Quaestiones Disputate, Vol. II De Potentia, Q. 5, n.5 This is why St. John Paul II called the youth to become “the watchmen of the morning who announce the coming of the sun who is the Risen Christ!”Message of the Holy Father to the Youth of the World, XVII World Youth Day, n. 3; (cf. Is 21:11-12) — “‘morning watchmen’ at the dawn of the new millennium.”Novo Millennio Inuente, n.9, Jan. 6th, 2001 This is also why the Church Fathers understood St. John’s “thousand year” reign after the death of Antichrist (Rev 20:6) to inaugurate the “seventh day” or “Day of the Lord.”
Behold, the Day of the Lord shall be a thousand years. —Letter of Barnabas, The Fathers of the Church, Ch. 15
…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
St. Augustine would later confirm this early 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
In the last century, nearly all the popes have spoken of this coming “pacification”, “peace”, or “restoration” in Christ that will subdue the world and give relief to the Church, as it were, of her labors:
When it does arrive, it will turn out to be a solemn hour, one big with consequences not only for the restoration of the Kingdom of Christ, but for the pacification of… the world. We pray most fervently, and ask others likewise to pray for this much-desired pacification of society. —POPE PIUS XI, Ubi Arcani dei Consilioi “On the Peace of Christ in his Kingdom”, December 23, 1922
Oh! when in every city and village the law of the Lord is faithfully observed, when respect is shown for sacred things, when the Sacraments are frequented, and the ordinances of Christian life fulfilled, there will certainly be no more need for us to labor further to see all things restored in Christ… All this, Venerable Brethren, We believe and expect with unshakable faith. —POPE PIUS X, E Supremi, Encyclical “On the Restoration of All Things”, n.14, 6-7
You can read more of their prophecies in The Popes and the Dawning Era.
Still, what produces this Sabbath Rest? Is it merely a “time out” from war and strife? Is it simply the absence of violence and oppression, especially that of Satan who will be chained during this period in the abyss (Rev 20:1-3)? No, it’s far more than that: the true Sabbath Rest will be the fruit of the resurrection of the Divine Will in man that Adam forfeited…
Thus is the full action of the original plan of the Creator delineated: a creation in which God and man, man and woman, humanity and nature are in harmony, in dialogue, in communion. This plan, upset by sin, was taken up in a more wondrous way by Christ, Who is carrying it out mysteriously but effectively in the present reality, in the expectation of bringing it to fulfillment…—POPE JOHN PAUL II, General Audience, February 14, 2001
THE TRUE SABBATH REST
In one of the most consoling passages in the New Testament, Jesus says:
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light. (Matt 11:28-30)
What is this yoke that is “easy” and this burden that is “light”? It is the Divine Will.
…my Will alone is celesial rest. —Jesus to Luisa, Volume 17, May 4th, 1925
For it is the human will that produces all the miseries and unrest of the soul.
Fears, doubt and apprehensions are that which dominate you — all miserable rags of your human will. And do you know why? Because the complete life of the Divine Will is not established within you — the life which, putting to flight all the evils of the human will, makes you happy and fills you with all the blessings it possesses. Oh, if with a firm resolution you decide no longer to give life to your human will, you will feel all evils die within you and all goods come back to life. —Our Lady to Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta, The Virgin Mary in the Kingdom of the Divine Will, Day 3
Jesus says, “Take my yoke and learn from me.” For Jesus, the yoke was His Father’s Will.
I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. (John 6:38)
Thus, Christ modeled for us the union of the human will with the Divine Will as the quintessence of interior harmony.
…in Christ is realized the right order of all things, the union of heaven and earth, as God the Father intended from the beginning. It is the obedience of God the Son Incarnate which reestablishes, restores, the original communion of man with God and, therefore, peace in the world. His obedience unites once again all things, ‘things in heaven and things on earth.’ —Cardinal Raymond Burke, speech in Rome; May 18th, 2018; lifesitnews.com
If planet Earth were to go out of its orbit by even one degree, it would throw the entire balance of life into chaos. So too, when we do anything in our human will apart from the Divine Will, our interior life is thrown into imbalance — we lose our interior peace or “rest”. Jesus is the “perfect man” precisely because everything He did was always in the Divine Will. What Adam lost in disobedience, Jesus repaired in His obedience. And thus, the mysterious plan of God being carried out “in this present reality” is that, through Baptism, every human is invited to be incorporated into the “Body of Christ” in order that the life of Jesus may be lived in them — that is, through the union of the human with the Divine in one Single Will.
In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model. He is “the perfect man”… Christ enables us to live in him all that he himself lived, and he lives it in us. By his Incarnation, he, the Son of God, has in a certain way united himself with each man. We are called only to become one with him, for he enables us as the members of his Body to share in what he lived for us in his flesh as our model: We must continue to accomplish in ourselves the stages of Jesus’ life and his mysteries and often to beg him to perfect and realize them in us and in his whole Church… This is his plan for fulfilling his mysteries in us. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 520-521
…until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ… (Ephesians 4:13)
In short, the Sabbath Rest will be given to the Church when True Sonship is restored to her such that the original harmony of creation is returned. I believe this will ultimately come through a “second Pentecost,” as the popes have been imploring for over a century — when the Spirit will “renew the face of the earth.”cf. The Coming Descent of the Divine Will Through the revelations of Jesus to Luisa Piccarreta, we understand that this “full stature” is essentially the restoration of the “gift of living in the Divine Will” that Adam forfeited. The Lord has called this “the crown and the fulfillment of all the other sanctities” April 8, 1918; Vol. 12 that He has bestowed upon His People throughout the centuries, beginning with the “Fiats” of Creation and Redemption, and now coming to completion through the “Fiat of Sanctification” in the last era.
The generations will not end until my Will reigns upon earth… The third FIAT will give such grace to the creature as to make him return almost to the state of origin; and only then, when I see man just as he came out from Me, will my Work be complete, and I will take my perpetual rest in the last FIAT. —Jesus to Luisa, February 22, 1921, Volume 12
Indeed, not only will man find his Sabbath Rest in the Divine Will, but astonishingly, God, too, will resume His rest in us. This is the divine union Jesus willed when He said, “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love… so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (John 15:10-11).
…in this love I find My true Love, I find My true rest. My Intelligence rests in the intelligence of the one who loves Me; My Heart, My desire, My hands and My feet rest in the heart that loves Me, in the desires that love Me, desiring only Me, in the hands that work for Me, and in the feet that walk only for Me. Therefore, bit by bit, I go resting within the soul who loves Me; while the soul, with her love, finds Me everywhere and in every place, resting completely in Me. —Ibid., May 30, 1912; Volume 11
In this way, the words of the “Our Father” will at last find their fulfillment as the final stage of the Church before the end of the world…
…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
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|↑1||Sent. 2, Prol.|
|↑2||In II Sent. I, 2, 2, 1.|
|↑3||see The Clash of the Kingdoms|
|↑4||The Church Fathers did not calculate this in hard, literal numbers but as a generality. Aquinas writes, “As Augustine says, the last age of the world corresponds to the last stage of a man’s life, which does not last for a fixed number of years as the other stages do, but lasts sometimes as long as the others together, and even longer. Wherefore the last age of the world cannot be assigned a fixed number of years or generations.” —Quaestiones Disputate, Vol. II De Potentia, Q. 5, n.5|
|↑5||Message of the Holy Father to the Youth of the World, XVII World Youth Day, n. 3; (cf. Is 21:11-12)|
|↑6||Novo Millennio Inuente, n.9, Jan. 6th, 2001|
|↑7||cf. The Coming Descent of the Divine Will|
|↑8||April 8, 1918; Vol. 12|