THE COMING ERA OF PEACE — PART II
PREPARATIONS FOR THE WEDDING
Scripture tells us that God is preparing a “wedding feast” which will occur at the end of time. Christ is the Groom, and His Church, the Bride. But Jesus will not return until the Bride is ready.
Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her… that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish… (Eph 5:25, 27)
Complete perfection of body, soul, and spirit will not come to the Church until after the end of time in Heaven with our resurrected bodies. However, the holiness meant here is one of the spirit in which it is without the stain of sin. Many who are not versed in mystical theology will claim that the blood of Jesus takes away our guilt and makes us that spotless bride. Yes, true, at our Baptism we are made spotless (and subsequently through reception of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation)—but most of us eventually become ensnared by the lure of the flesh, acquiring vices, habits, and desires which are opposed to the order of love. And if God is love, He cannot unite to Himself something which is disordered. There is much to be purified!
Jesus’ sacrifice removes our sins and opens the doors to eternal life, but there remains the process of sanctification, that configuration into the image in which we were created. Says St. Paul to the baptized Christians in Galatia,
I am again in labor until Christ be formed in you. (Gal 4:19)
I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6)
The day of Christ Jesus, or Day of the Lord, culminates when He returns in glory to “judge the living and the dead.” Before then, though, the work of sanctification in each soul must be brought to completion—either on earth, or through the cleansing fires of purgatory.
…so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. (1:9-10)
DARK NIGHT OF THE CHURCH
I want to touch briefly on the wonderful insight gained for our times by the mystics and saints who preceded us. They speak of a normal process (normal insofar as one disposes him or herself to it) by which we are purified and perfected. It generally occurs in stages which are not necessarily linear: purgation, illumination, and union. Essentially, a person is led by the Lord through a process of freeing the soul from the slightest inordinate attachments, illuminating its heart and mind to the love and mysteries of God, and “divinizing” its faculties so as to unite the soul more closely with Him.
One could in a sense compare the tribulation ahead of the Church to a corporate process of purgation—a “dark night of the soul.” During this period, God may grant an “illumination of conscience” whereby we see and perceive our Lord in a profound way. This will also be a “last chance” for repentance for the world. But for the Church, at least those who have prepared in this time of grace, it will be a purifying grace to further prepare the soul for union. The process of purgation would continue through the events which are foretold in scripture, particularly persecution. Part of the purgation of the Church will be the loss not only of her exterior attachments: churches, icons, statues, books etc.—but her interior goods as well: the privation of the Sacraments, public communal prayer, and guiding moral voice (if the clergy and Holy Father are in “exile”). This would serve to purify the Body of Christ, causing her to love and trust God in the darkness of faith, preparing her for the mystical union of the Era of Peace (Note: again, the various stages of sanctification are not strictly linear.)
With the defeat of Antichrist who precedes the “thousand years”, a new era would be ushered in through the unction of the Holy Spirit. This would bring about the unification of the Body of Christ through this same Spirit, and advance the Church further in becoming a spotless Bride.
If before the 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, Burns Oates, and Washbourne
During the entire week before a traditional Jewish wedding, the bride and groom (the “Kallah” and “Chosan”) do not see each other. Rather, the families and friends of the bride and groom hold special celebrations for them in separate locations. On the sabbath before the wedding day, the Chosan (groom) is called up to the Torah to symbolize the importance of being guided by it as a married couple. He then reads the “ten utterances of creation.” The congregation showers the Chosan with raisin and nuts, symbolic of their wishes for a sweet and fruitful marriage. In fact, the Kallah and Chosan are considered royalty during this week, and thus are never seen in public without a personal escort.
In these beautiful traditions, we see an image of the Era of Peace. For neither will the Bride of Christ see her Groom physically accompanying her (except in the Eucharist) until He returns on the clouds with the angels, ushering in the New Heavens and New Earth after the Day of Judgment. On the “sabbath”, that is the “thousand year reign,” the Groom will establish His Word as the guide for all nations. He will utter a word to restore new life over creation; it will be a time of tremendous fruitfulness for mankind and a renewed earth, with creation producing and providing for the remnant Bride. And lastly, it will be a “week” of true royalty as the temporal Kingdom of God will be established to the ends of the earth through His Church. Her escort will be the glory of holiness and a profound communion with the saints.
The Era of Peace is not a pit-stop. It is part of one great motion toward the return of Jesus. It is the marble steps upon which the Bride makes her ascent into the Eternal Cathedral.
I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband. (2 Cor 11:2)
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 food of all kinds from the heaven’s dew and the fertility of the earth, just as the seniors [presbyters] 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
Then I will remove from her mouth the names of the Baals, so that they shall no longer be invoked. I will make a covenant for them on that day, with the beasts of the field, with the birds of the air, and with the things that crawl on the ground. Bow and sword and war I will destroy from the land, and I will let them take their rest in security.
I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy. (Hosea 2:19-22)
- The Era of Peace: The Coming Era of Peace
- An illumination of conscience: Trumpets of Warning — Part V
- A coming persecution: Persecution (Moral Tsunami)