Subject: DVD on End Times

Dear Susan,


I am currently using your DVD series from the Abundant Life in my classroom on the End of Time. I love it but I am having problems finding similar explanations about the Anti-Christ in Catholic Theology. I know that Saint Therese was a great believer in Father Charles Arminjon's work but is there anyone else who could validate it as being totally in line with the teachings of the Church? All the Catholic footnotes from bibles place the book of Revelation in the time period of the early Church and weigh the Book as a tract which is written primarily for the times of the early Church persecutions. Could you please help me? I am particularly concerned about the heritage of the Anti-Christ as being Jewish. The only reference I can find for this are Protestant sources and Catholic commentaries are so rooted in the time of Nero and mention so little about the End of the world.


In Jesus,
Mike Bolognese


Dear Mike,


Thank you for your note, and thanks also for your heroic patience in waiting for a reply!


Let me do my best to address your comment about the Book of Revelation being written primarily for the times of the early Church persecution. My own personal understanding as a cradle Catholic is that the book of Revelation was very much about the end times. That was the common belief throughout my upbringing, and it was Father Arminjon who opened my eyes about the other possibility – namely, that it could also be about concrete events in John’s own day. Before I delve into this, let me state very clearly that I am simply a lowly translator – I am not a Scripture scholar. I simply brought Father’s Arminjon’s writings back to life for English-speaking readers here in the United States, as bringing forth a historical document which had a great influence on a great Doctor of the Church; I did not study his writings in the way that you are doing now, by researching and validating the statements he made throughout his writings. So you are asking me to do research that is beyond what I would typically do in my line of work, given the schedule that I’m trying to keep and the ministry that I am trying to maintain. That being said, here is what I pulled for you from the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible dealing specifically with the New Testament; this beautiful work has the Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.
Here is what is written concerning the interpretive views of the Book of Revelation. Actually, let me preface these interpretive views by stating this: “Being dominated by apocalyptic and prophetic symbolism, the Book of Revelations is notoriously difficult to interpret. Even Saint Jerome (whom I love!! He is the patron saint of translators! J), the most learned biblical scholar in the early Church, was compelled to admit that the Revelation of John ‘has as many mysteries as words’ (Letters 53, 8). Its visions of hideous beasts and terrifying judgments seem part of a nightmare, while its scenes of worship, victory, and everlasting happiness seem part of a dream come true … The book does not yield its secrets without effort…”
Okay, Mike, here are the various interpretive views: “Interpretations of Revelation usually follow one of 5 approaches that seek to explain the book by placing it within a particular frame of reference. (1) The critical view held by many scholars today situates the book within the cultural and historical context of its original readers. They tend to see in Revelation a reflection of the struggle between Church and State at the end of the first century. Its visions of judgment are often read as a Christian protest against the arrogance of secular Roman power and its pretensions of divine honor. So understood, the book proclaims that God will inevitably triumph over every human institution that opposes Him and uses its authority for evil. (2) The preterist view likewise maintains that much of the book concerns events within the lifetime of its original readers. Scholars of this persuasion often assert that Revelation describes both the beginning of the New Covenant, sealed by the dying and rising of Christ, and the dramatic end of the Old Covenant, attested a generation later by the destruction of Jerusalem and the cessation of its Temple worship. The book is said to proclaim Christianity as the grand fulfillment of Old Testament hopes and the inauguration of salvation history’s final and climatic phase. (3) The historicist view claims that Revelation offers a panorama of the Church’s life as she marches through history. The successive visions of the book are said to correspond to successive stages of the Church’s pilgrimage in the world, and its symbols are taken to represent important figures and institutions that determine the course of that history on a grand scale. In this view, the scope of the book can be said to encompass all of salvation history rather than to focus on a particular point in history. (4) The idealist view asserts that Revelation uses signs and symbols to dramatize the never-ending struggles of the spiritual life. Its visions of war between good and evil, angels and demons, etc., are said to represent the conflict that rages in every Christian’s life. Though some would allow that Revelation refers to concrete events in the author’s day, these are thought to typify the spiritual struggles between the Church and the world more generally. In this interpretation, Revelation offers a timeless message rather than a temporal message restricted to events of either the past or the future. (5) The futurist view, which seems to hold the greatest fascination in the popular mind, interprets the book as a preview of the end of history, the return of Christ, the Last Judgment, and the final demise of evil. Advocates thus claim that Revelation, either in whole or in part (eg. chaps. 4-22), remains a book of prophesy for the Church today, for its many visions and promises still await their fulfillment in the days ahead. In the final analysis, all these perspectives have something to offer and draw attention to important aspects of Revelation. What is needed is an integrative view that recognizes the presence of multiple themes and perspectives that complement one another and add richness and depth to the book. Christianity’s struggle against the mighty Roman Empire is certainly part of the picture, as are the spiritual challenges to faith and fidelity that confront believers bombarded by the claims of the world. So too, one can hardly deny that Revelation offers a message of ultimate hope that looks ahead to the consummation of history and the heavenly glorification of the saints….”
With regard to your concern about the heritage of the Anti-Christ as being Jewish, that too is a pretty common belief and has been for centuries. It strikes me as being a very natural and reasonable belief in the sense that the Jewish people are indeed God’s “chosen people,” and this is carved in stone, and it has always been known and commonly believed by all peoples that the Messiah would come from among God’s chosen people to save us. The Jewish people have been awaiting the Messiah for millennia, and the whole world is aware of this ancient longing which is as old as the hills. I cannot imagine that the Jewish people themselves would believe that anyone other than a Jew would be the true Anointed One of God. Father Arminjon states that “the Fathers and Doctors endeavored to ascertain the origin of the Antichrist, and to discover from what parents and race he will come. They unanimously express the opinion that he will be born of Jewish parents, and some declare that he will be of the tribe of Dan…. What seems beyond doubt is that the Antichrist will be of Jewish birth. Saint Ambrose, in his commentaries on the letter to the Thessalonians, says that he will be circumcised. Sulpicius Severus, in book II of his Dialogues, says that he will compel all his subjects to submit to circumcision…. Is it likely that the Jews would acclaim as Messiah a man who did not belong to their race, and had not been circumcised?” I don’t know what else to tell you about this other than that it is harmonious with what I had always understood as a Catholic, and Father Arminjon seems to be referencing great and learned saints of old regarding this, and it is the most reasonable opinion in my mind.


I apologize again for my long delay in replying. As you can see, it was not something I could just reply to very quickly, but needed to take some time to do a little research for you. I hope this helps you in some way!


God bless you in your further studies of these very important matters!


Sincerely in Christ,
Susan
Endtimes, Millennium, Rapture

The term "endtimes" applies both to the era of Christ's first coming (Heb 1:2, 1 Cor 10:11, Heb 9:26) and to the events immediately before his return and the end of the ages (Mt 24:13, 2 Tim 2:1, 2 Peter 3:3). The definitive Catholic teaching on the endtimes is contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church under the discussion of the article of the Creed, "From thence He will come again to judge the living and the dead." [CCC 668-682]
As the Creed infallibly teaches, the Second Coming is associated with the end of the world and the Last Judgment. Therefore, it is NOT associated with any earlier time - such as to establish a "Millennium." The Catholic Church specifically condemns "millenarianism," according to which Jesus will establish a throne in this world and reign here for a thousand years [CCC 676]. She teaches instead that Jesus already reigns in eternity (1 Cor. 15:24-27, Rev. 4 & 5) and that in this world His reign, established as a seed, is found already in the Church [CCC 668-669]. This is the 1000 years, which is the Hebrew way of indicating an indefinite long time - in this case, the time between the first and second comings, the era of the Church, in other words the last days in the broadest sense.The Book of Revelation situates this era between the persecutions of the Roman antichrists of the first century and the final unleashing of evil at the end.
Naturally, non-Catholics cannot accept that the Catholic Church represents Christ in this world, so they are forced to look for a personal earthly reign somewhere out in the future. The notion that Jesus will come, reign, and then depart, so that the devil can trick the world again, is incompatible with the incomprehensible dignity of the Lord and His love for His people. Jesus' Coming will be definitive, triumphant and ever-lasting, NOT temporal and limited.

As for the Rapture, the meaning of 1 Thes 4:15-17 is that at the return of Christ (v.15) and the General Resurrection of the Dead (v.16), those who survive the persecution of the Antichrist will have no advantage in being resurrected over those who died before His Coming [CCC 1001]. All will go to meet Him and be with Him forever (v.17; cf. Rev 20:17-21:27).
The Catechism provides us with a general order of events at the End [CCC 673-677]. Chronologically they are,
  • 1. the full number of the Gentiles come into the Church
  • 2. the "full inclusion of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of the full number of the Gentiles" (#2 will follow quickly on, in the wake of, #1)
  • 3. a final trial of the Church "in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth." The supreme deception is that of the Antichrist.
  • 4. Christ's victory over this final unleashing of evil through a cosmic upheaval of this passing world and the Last Judgment.


As Cardinal Ratzinger recently pointed out (in the context of the message of Fátima), we are not at the end of the world. In fact, the Second Coming (understood as the physical return of Christ) cannot occur until the full number of the Gentiles are converted, followed by "all Israel."


Approved Catholic mystics (Venerables, Blessed and Saints, approved apparitions) throw considerable light on this order, by prophesying a minor apostasy and tribulation toward the end of the world, after which will occur the reunion of Christians. Only later will the entire world fall away from Christ (the great apostasy) and the personal Antichrist arise and the Tribulation of the End occur.
Although this is not Catholic doctrine, arising as it does from private revelation, it conforms to what is occurring in our time, especially in light of Our Lady of Fátima's promise of an "Era of Peace." This "Triumph of the Immaculate Heart" (other saints have spoken of a social reign of Jesus Christ when Jesus will reign in the hearts of men) would seem to occur prior to the rise of the Antichrist. The optimism of the Pope for the "New Evangelization" and a "Civilization of Love" in the Third Millennium of Christianity fits here, as well. This would place us, therefore, in the period just before the events spoken of in the Catechism, that is, on the verge of the evangelization of the entire world. Other interpretations are possible, but none seem to fit the facts as well, especially when approved mystics are studied, instead of merely alleged ones.




Here are some additional links to aid you in your study.

1) http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/seriessearchprog.asp?seriesID=7043&T1=donovan
Here is a series on the End Times by Colin Donovan and Desmond Birch of EWTN
2) http://ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/seriessearchprog.asp?seriesID=7043&T1=colin
3) http://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/lastmenu.htm

END-TIMES PROPHECIES: WHAT IS THE SPIRIT SAYING? By Ralph Martin

There seems to be two major prophetic streams flowing in the Catholic Church today that call for our attention. The main spokesperson for the first is Pope John Paul II. Some major themes of this prophetic voice are the imminence of a "new springtime", a "new Pentecost" a "Jubilee" that consists of an encounter with God, a manifestation of Christ, an outpouring of the Spirit.
The main spokesperson for the second is Mary, the mother of Jesus, speaking through a multitude of approved and "still under discernment" apparitions and signs. Some major themes of this prophetic voice are the urgency of the times, the imminence of a coming warning, followed by a chastisement or judgment possibly involving war and natural disaster, and the importance of turning to God.People who are trying to be open to hear what the Spirit might be speaking to the Church today are sometimes puzzled by what appears to be different, even contradictory, themes or emphases in these two major prophetic currents. Of course the Pope also speaks of the dangers of the times, the culture of death, and other negative features but his emphasis is in another direction. And Mary of course speaks often of God's mercy, goodness, grace and love, but in a context of urgency, and a framework of heaven and hell, of temporal and eternal consequences for neglecting the mercy of God.
Pope John Paul II's Prophetic Announcement of a "New Springtime"

Pope John Paul II has said that the interpretive key to his entire pontificate is to understand how everything is oriented to the Great Jubilee of the year 2000 and preparing the Church for the next phase of her existence. He even sees the second Vatican Council as the beginning of this important preparation for the Jubilee. In the very first encyclical of his pontificate he had already begun to speak of importance of the coming Great Jubilee. The whole last third of his important encyclical on the Holy Spirit (Dominum et Vivificantem) published in 1986 is devoted to preparation for the Great Jubilee of the year 2000 and gives some of the clearest indications of what the Pope is expecting.
The Pope has made clear, as far back as 1986, that preparation for the Great Jubilee of the year 2000 needs to involve a fundamental encounter with God. He speaks of this time of preparation for the Great Jubilee as a "new time of advent, at the end of which, like two thousand years ago, 'every man will see the salvation of God' (Lk 3:6, Cf.Is 40:5)."The Pope also makes clear that there is a great need for the Church in this new encounter with the Lord to remember what truly belongs to her yet has perhaps been forgotten or not appreciated adequately.The Pope has frequently spoken of "that new springtime of Christian life which will be revealed by the Great Jubilee, if Christians are docile to the action of the Holy Spirit" (On Preparation for the Jubilee of the Year 2000, 18). The Pope has made clear that one of the most striking of these first signs of the new springtime is the growth of the many renewal movements and new communities in the Church. A high point of this sign of springtime, in the Pope's evaluation, was the gathering of more than fifty of these movements and communities to celebrate the 1998 Vigil of Pentecost in Rome with the Pope. The Vatican estimated that more than 500,000 attended the Pentecost meeting with the Pope, one of the largest crowds ever to gather in Rome for such an eventThe Pope's words to this vast multitude were extremely significant but beyond the scope of this article. Inside the Vatican, in the editorial for its June-July 1998 issue, declared that "what happened in May in Rome was so important we believe future historians of the Church will have to distinguish between 'before' and 'after' Pentecost 1998." But as significant as this meeting was, the Pope saw it in the wider context as "this extraordinary event which launches us towards the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000".
Mary's Urgent Call to Conversion
It appears that Mary is being sent as a special prophetic/evangelistic messenger to help the Church through this difficult and dangerous time before the ultimate "triumph of her Immaculate Heart". Beginning at Fatima in 1917 and continuing throughout the century Mary has come to warn of great dangers that are affecting the whole world, and the urgent need to take seriously the gospel, believe and repent.

At Fatima she warned of the spread of communism and the coming of Second World War if there wasn't sufficient response of the call to conversion. But along with the warnings of suffering and chastisement, in the absence of sufficient repentance, there was also the promise of the ultimate conversion of Russia, the triumph of her Immaculate Heart, at which point "a certain period of grace will be granted to the world." She also showed the children a vision of hell, which underlined the importance of what's at stake in responding or not responding to the Father's offer of mercy and pardon of His Son Jesus.

These themes of warning of imminent danger, the call to conversion, but a promise of ultimate triumph are characteristic of most of the significant apparitions, locutions and special signs connected with the ongoing mission of Mary throughout the rest of the century. A number of these Marian interventions have been judged worthy of belief by the local bishop after a time of investigation. Others are still being investigated with a final judgment not possible until the apparitions or locutions cease and the events that are prophesied either come to pass or not. Some have been investigated and have been found wanting.

I believe that two scripture passages provide us a key for understanding the different emphases of these important messengers of the Lord. Both, I believe, are playing a very important "John the Baptist role" in helping prepare us for a coming encounter with the Lord, in judgement and great mercy.The first passage is Luke 7:29-35: "What comparison can I use for the men of today? What are they like? They are like children squatting in the city squares and calling to their playmates, 'We piped you a tune but you did not dance, we sang you a dirge but you did not wail.' I mean that John the Baptizer came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' God's wisdom is vindicated by all who accept it".

Pope John Paul II is piping a tune of "new springtime" of "new Pentecost" of "Great Jubilee" - and there are many refusing to dance, to undergo the preparation "in the Holy Spirit" to become "docile to the Holy Spirit" which are preconditions for the coming of the new springtime.Mary is weeping, is singing a dirge, weeping for her children who are in danger of being swept away by the immense and proximate danger, the closeness of chastisement and judgment, the danger of eternal death, of hell. And there are many who are refusing to have their hearts broken by her tears, there are many who are refusing to respond to the profound simplicity of her repeated calls to conversion.

Another passage also sheds light on these two prophetic emphases, Luke 19:37-45. "Coming within sight of the city, he wept over it and said: 'If only you had know the path to peace this day; but you have completely lost it from view! Days will come upon you when your enemies encircle you with a rampart, hem you in and press you hard from every side. They will wipe you out, you and your children within your walls, and leave not a stone within you, because you failed to recognize the time of your visitation'".

A visitation from God is a two-edged sword, peace, the fullness of God's blessings, for those who are prepared for it and welcome it, destruction for those who have failed to heed the preparatory messengers and are not prepared to recognize and respond when the fullness of the visitation arrives."The entire populace that had heard Jesus, even the tax collectors, gave praise to God, for they had received from John the baptismal bath he administered. The Pharisees and the lawyers, on the other hand, by failing to receive his baptism defeated God's plan in their regard" (Lk 7:29-30).A baptismal bath of conversion, of repentance, of docility to the Holy Spirit, of intense sacramental life, is being administered by the Pope and Mary, to prepare us for an encounter with God that is coming. If we do not participate in the preparation we may not be ready for the encounter.I believe we are now in a time of visitation. God is visiting us in the ministry of John Paul II, in the ministry of Mary, and in many other ways as well. The time of preparation is well advanced. According to the message of John Paul II and Mary we are on the very verge of a significant action of god, an action that will function as a two-edged sword, depending on our preparation and willingness to respond to the prophetic message we are being given. And is it possible that the fullness of the "new springtime" will not come until we are first purified through chastisement, and awakened to the holiness of God?

John Paul is calling us to a dance of preparation for "the greatest Jubilee the Church has ever celebrated". He has unveiled a church-wide six year plan of preparation, a few months of which remain.Mary is weeping for those in danger of missing the visitation and has unveiled a personal plan of preparation for what is coming that involves prayer, fasting, repentance and Reconciliation, daily Eucharist, rosary, conversion and faith.

The messages are complementary. They are two sides of one coin, two edges of one sword. It is urgent that we respond.
(this article was taken from ICCRS Newsletter Sept-Oct 1999 issue, with permission)

Additional Catholic writing about The Book of Revelation:
http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=4738