It is particularly true that whenever there is a general crisis in society and, as a result, in the Church, many misguided souls arise and imprudently take upon themselves the role of prophet or teacher.
Some of these people are well-intentioned. Their good intention is proven when they listen to the teaching authority invested in the Church's hierarchy. Otherwise, you can be certain that such prophets are misled by the devil.
Our Lord and the Apostles preached watchfulness more than anything else. When all that has been foretold in the Scriptures is fulfilled, it matters very little where we are or what we are doing at the time: the end will come wherever we are. It is not in the wilderness that we ought to flee because there will be no `safe' place. The only `safe place' is there, where we are doing God's holy will and are humbly preparing for Christ's coming.
Even if it were revealed to us the exact year, month, day and hour, this by itself would not guarantee that between this moment and that last one each person will be in the state of grace.
Many have died who were once in the state of grace, but through some unfortunate circumstance fell into mortal sin and died in that state. If, for example, someone were certain that the world would end on January 1, 2000, what good would this knowledge do him if he did not persevere in grace until the end of this year of our Lord, 1996?
Who would be so foolish as to suggest that, knowing when the world is going to end will be an incentive to strive to avoid mortal sin? It may be asked: With whose strength do you hope to achieve this wonderful thing? Why, you are never certain that the very next minute will find you among the living - much less a number of years from now!
All this vain curiosity about future events distracts from the duties and opportunities for good in the immediate present.
We should do good now, while we have the opportunity. No one knows when death will overtake him. Whatever plans we may make ought always be with the contingency: If it be God's will!
Therefore, we should keep in mind that our Lord refused to give us any precise determination concerning "the hour and the day" of His coming. This much we learn from the following texts:
St. Matthew: "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but the Father only." (24,36).
St. Mark: "But of that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. Take heed, watch and pray, for you do not know when the time is.." (13,32-33).
Acts: "They therefore who had come together began to ask him, saying, `Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom of Israel?' But he said to them, `It is not for you to know the times or dates which the Father has fixed by his own authority;.." (1, 6-7).
Besides this, our Lord has positively stated that that day would come suddenly, like a thief in the night, like a bolt of lightening, like the deluge which took the people of Noah's days by surprise, like the rain of fire and brimstone which rained upon Sodom, and like the net cast over the birds. Our Lord's simple injunction in this regard was: WATCH!
The Prophets already announced the day of the Lord as being ushered in by extraordinary natural events that take place in the stars and on the earth. It is within this framework that our Lord's preaching on the Last Day are centered.
Our Lord told us that there would be "pestilences and famines and earthquakes in various places" (Matt.24, 7). He likewise added that "all these things are the beginning of sorrows."
Jesus does not go into detail as to exactly what kind of
pestilences and at what historic period this would come
about. He does not place famines in any limited or circumscribed historical moment. Thus, when the Socialists under Joseph Stalin murdered
several million Ukrainians by starvation, we might be tempted to point to that specific incident and conclude: Ah! Here's the famine
spoken of by Jesus Christ! The Socialists are responsible for the direct and indirect murder of countless millions of Christians
Europe and Asia.
There can be little doubt that the words of our Lord seem to apply to the appalling political situation in the world today: "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be pestilences and famines and earthquakes in various places." (Matt.24, 7). There is hardly a place on this earth where there is not some kind of war or threat of war. There are declared and undeclared wars everywhere. There is a subtle `war' upon the citizens of every country by the very fact that everyone is suspect of being either a `terrorist' or `bomber.'
For example, there was a time when a traveler by airplane simply purchased a ticket for a designated flight, arrived at the airport and proceeded to the appropriate gate. Then suddenly there was an `incident.' A `hijacker' skyjacked an airplane at gun point and demanded to be taken somewhere else. Immediately (as if by plan?!) security systems appeared in every airport! Now, 99.9% of the passengers had to pass through a metal detection system to assure that they were not carrying a concealed weapon!
Under the guise of `safety' for the passengers, every passenger was treated as a possible `hijacker.' This conditioning process did not stop there. This was just the beginning.
Then, another `unfortunate incident' occurs: an airplane mysteriously crashes or explodes! Appropriately, the media keeps the populace distracted with all the gory details and heightened mystery of why the equipment failed. This was an act of `terrorism' - we are suggested to believe and, for the most part, the unthinking masses respond as anticipated. Still another `safety' measure is initiated. Now, `security' is `intensified.' How? Why, of course, the 99.9%+ passengers are submitted to still further degrading `suspicion': they must now show some kind of `picture identification.' Someone who has been traveling through the same airport for over a million miles is now a `potential terrorist.' It is all a conditioning process for the control of citizens under the preposterous pretext of `security' or `protection' of the people. What people? The people traveling on the airplanes? But, it is these people who are treated as the terrorists! If this is not a form of war upon peaceful, law-abiding citizens, what is? Will we have to wait for midnight visits from `security police' before we awaken to the reality that we have been invaded, subjugated and now completely controlled by a foreign power?
Even as this article is being prepared, the United States is like an earthquake ready to erupt. The Socialist agenda to agitate and create conflicts and confrontation wherever possible in every area of civil society becomes more and more visible. There are certainly `wars and rumors of war' and the people sense this.
As for pestilence and famine: These have become the weapons of choice for the international gangsters who are now sitting in many countries and calling themselves `democratic' states. Pestilence is no longer the result of filth and careless living on the part of many people. Pestilence is now prepared in laboratories! It is deliberately designed to wipe out entire cities and populations, such as the AIDS fraud. Famines are more man-made than natural.
There is no reason why anyone anywhere in the world should suffer and die of starvation. It is an abomination to blame such catastrophes on God. Famines are the fruit of human greed, malice and laziness. If insipid food products can arrive at your local supermarket every morning from distant countries, why is it that there is a superabundance of food in one place and a superabsence in others?
Each day all over the country (USA) perfectly good food is dumped to make room for more `fresh' products to replace the day-old. Now the cost for all this dumping is built into that fresh bread you buy in your local market. The consumer is paying for the waste that is taking place every day. Then, when the consumer is asked to help someone who suffers want, the out-cry is that everything costs so much! Of course it costs so much! You, the consumer, must not only pay for the loaf of bread which you buy for your needs, but you must also pay for the fifty loaves which you do not need and will be thrown in the dumpster the next morning. And so the vicious cycle of profit and waste continues while children somewhere in the world are dying that very morning when your friendly supermarket is throwing bread out to rot in some landfill.
There are pestilences and famines in various places in astounding proportions even today. We are more aware of the many earthquakes that have occurred in recent years. The earthquake in California a few years ago has destroyed many homes and has rendered still more uninhabitable. Volcanic eruptions in other parts of the world have given clear signs of the powers of nature in rebellion against the abuses of man.
Are these incidents the ones referred to in the Holy Scriptures? That is the question. The world has seen such tribulations in the past. And, in the past people pointed to these natural upheavals in nature with the same fearful thought: The end of the world is coming! The world did not end with the eruption of Vesuvius; the world did not end with the Bubonic plague; the world did not end with the death of millions of Ukrainians starved to death by Socialist Joseph Stalin.
The kind of tribulation that will precede the Second Coming of Jesus Christ ushering in the end of the world as we know it "will be great.such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, nor will be."
Consequently, the tribulations we observe on the television screen from the comfort of our own homes may not be that `great tribulation' to come. Granted, for those people who actually suffered in those tribulations, whether man-made or caused by natural means, most probably never experienced any tribulation as great as the one they then experienced. Patriots who stand up and fight for their country against invading armies or are tortured to death by their own countrymen in the service of the enemy assuredly have not suffered any tribulation as intense as this. The courageous patriot standing before his executioners in some remote room in some small country, must see the finality of his existence this side of death just before the loud report of the gun that ends his life.
Each person undergoes a `great tribulation' at some point in life. How, then, must we understand these words of the Scriptures?
The Prophets have spoken of extraordinary events in the cosmos. Our Lord Himself used these signs to impress upon His listeners what would take place in the future: "But immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give her light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken." (Matt.24,29).
These are the words of our Lord. We ought not be imprudent with the imprudence of the Modernist apostates who would dismiss our Lord's words as if He did not know what He meant to say. It is for us to listen attentively to these words, strain to understand them and then act accordingly.
However, there is a reasonable difficulty here. It is this: Did our Lord mean these words literally, or were they to be understood figuratively?
Jesus is often referred to as "the Sun" because He is the intellectual, spiritual light of the world. As all things are seen in light, so also is all truth seen in Him.
If Jesus is the `Sun,' then His Vicar on earth, a legitimate Pope, would be the `Moon' for Christ's Vicar has as his duty to reflect the light of the Sun. Of itself, the moon has no light. In like manner, the spiritual `moon' has no light of himself, but must reflect the true light of the `sun.' When doctrine is denied or ignored, when the salutary customs and traditions are rejected to please non-believers, then it may be said that the `sun has been darkened.' Spiritual darkness takes place when the mind and the will refuse the light!
The darkness becomes all the more universal when the `moon' no longer reflects the light.
The `stars' are the Bishops because they are more numerous than the single `moon.' Falling or shooting `stars' are stars that have burned out. The `powers of heaven' are the clergy who are moved, or, shaken, by the failure of those many Bishops who chose darkness with the moon rather than light with the Sun.
The confusion and conflict faced by the clergy reduces the good ones to silent, apathetic conformity, while the evil ones feel free to spread their false ideas, inspired by the spirit of disobedience.
The crucial question is: Are all those pestilences and famines and earthquakes that we witness today to be understood as those of which our Lord spoke? Some would have us believe that they are the signs concerning which Jesus spoke. Without making a dogmatic statement, it would seem that these are the signs of which Jesus spoke. We know that many have pointed to similar happenings in the past and have made like statements. And, nevertheless, the end did not come.
We ought to keep all these things in their proper perspective. Emphasizing one aspect while ignoring another can only lead to erroneous conclusions. And, tragically, these erroneous conclusions frequently lead to unrealistic extremes. We should keep in mind that our Lord also said concerning the great apostasy and the `wars and rumors of wars': "Take care that you do not be alarmed, for these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet." (Ibid. 24, 6 ).
Do not be alarmed! Truly, for those who have genuine supernatural faith, the knowledge that God's divine providence holds everything in its hands should strengthen the heart and soul in face of every fear. If not a single sparrow falls from the sky without His knowledge (and permission!), if every hair on everyone's head is numbered (and He knows the number!), if, in a word, nothing transpires in all of creation without His knowledge and permission, what should we fear? We ought to fear nothing except the fear that comes from lack of faith! We are also reminded by this same Lord that "Whoever perseveres to the end, he shall be saved." (Ibid. 24,13).
When the time fixed by the Father comes, where shall we hide? Why should we hide from that which no man can avoid?
than hide and do nothing, we ought to make every effort to sanctify ourselves by living that faith which the Apostles handed down to those of us of this present generation.
The greatest `pestilence,' the greatest `famine,' and the greatest `earthquakes' are the things which our Lord repeatedly warned against: heresy and schism!
Of all the great trials and the great failures in nature and supernature will be the multitudes of apostates from the true faith, from the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. The numbers of those who will not persevere to the end will be awesomely large.
How many times does our Lord speak of `false prophets'! Before, during and after giving brief accounts of the different events that would take place before the Second Coming, Jesus warns of false prophets.
"Take care that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, `I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray."
This means that many will come and offer themselves as the guides to salvation - the many priests who set themselves up independently of their Bishop; the bishops who parade in their purple, so to speak, yet deny the very power and purpose of the office they have stolen. There are many such bastard bishops, not unlike the Muslims and Talmudists who claim Abraham as their father but do not do the works of Abraham - those `Thuc-line bishops' who have never really honored that great South Vietnamese Archbishop, Msgr. Ngo Ding Thuc, and what he bravely upheld. How many are led astray by these false prophets on the right, and how many are led astray by the sea of schismatics and heretics on the left can only be measure by the fewness of true Catholics in the middle.
The physical world points to the spiritual world from whence it comes. The physical cosmos is ultimately composed of two simple substantial principles: matter and form. Even natural science teaches us that all matter is homogenous. That is, it is the same in everything. It is, as it were, the raw material or the clay out of which everything is fashioned. When this passive matter is given a `form' or `shape' it becomes a distinctive thing.
Neither can exist without the other. There cannot be `matter' that has no `form' and there cannot be a `form' that does not determine `matter' in some way.
Thus, the scented flower and the manure that made it bloom so beautifully are both of the same matter. What makes the flower attractive to the eye and to the smell is its specific form while its matter is essentially the same as the matter of the manure. It is the form of the manure that makes it to be what it is and it is the form of the flower that makes it to be what it is.
All that will take place through the transforming of the elements in nature will be precisely what the word `transforming' means: It means the `changing of forms' while the passive substances will remain what they always were from the day of their creation: homogenous masses of incomplete passive substances. Like the phenomenon of `death,' it may be said of the cosmos: It is not annihilated; it is changed. Nothing can be merely `matter,' and nothing can be merely `form.' The two must always go together to constitute one substantial being. Incidentally, this is the reason why the theory of those who wish to `eat their cake and have it, too' have recourse to the irrational idea that there can be a `material pope' who is at the same time not a `formal pope.' This same kind of absurd, cracked thinking is found also in the medical profession where doctors seek to cannibalize living bodies for their vital organs by referring to these dying people as "living corpses." This is a contradiction in terms.
To return to our initial question concerning the signs preceding the Second Coming of Christ to judge the living and the dead, we must consider the words of St. Peter who clearly states that the world will end in fire.
In his second Epistle, St. Peter denounces the vices of heresy - while almost the entire world dismisses heresies as nothing more than `differing cultures.' How foreign to the words of the Holy Ghost are the words coming from the mouth in the Vatican !
St. Peter calls heretics "Rash and self-willed, such men in their deriding do not regard majesty;" (2 St. Peter 3, 10) - That is, they do not consider the sacredness of true doctrine but change it to suit their own perverted wills because they despise authority. Not even the angels can be accused of such rashness: "Whereas angels, though greater in strength and power, do not bring against themselves an abusive charge."
Heretics are worse than the fallen angels:
But these men, like irrational animals created by nature for capture and
destruction, deride what they do not understand, and will perish in their own corruption, receiving recompense for their wrongdoing.
They regard as pleasing their daylight revelry; they are spots and blemishes, they abound in wantonness while banqueting with
you. They have eyes full of adultery and turned unceasingly towards sin. They entice unstable souls; they have their hearts
in covetousness; they are children of a curse."
What are all these heretical ministers and clergymen in the light of the inspired word of God? Are they worshippers of the same God as we Christians (Note: You cannot be a Christian without being a Catholic at the same time. If you are not a Catholic, you are not a Christian.)
St. Peter states: "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; at that time the heavens will pass away with great violence, and the elements will be dissolved with heat, and the earth and the works that are in it, will be burned up."
And for those who hope to escape this fiery end and for those who spend their lives in the pursuit of material pleasures and pastimes, squandering their material blessings on such frivolous things, St. Peter has some strong warnings and urgent exhortations: "Seeing therefore that all these things are to be dissolved, what manner of men ought you to be in holy and pious behavior, you who await and hasten towards the coming of the day of God, by which the heavens, being on fire, will be dissolved and the elements will melt away by reason of the heat of the fire." (2 St. Peter 3,11-12).
We are further exhorted by St. Peter to take our faith seriously and not find lame excuses for denying its power. Our time is not the same as God's time. If God seems to delay His coming, it is only because of His mercy - giving us an opportunity to turn away from our worldliness and to return to Him through generous and real acts of penance: "But, beloved, do not be ignorant of this one thing, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord does not delay in his promises, but for your sake is long-suffering, not wishing that any should perish but that all should turn to repentance." (Ibid. 3, 89).
God's mercy, then, does not consist in what the false teachers would wish, that there were no hell because of a deluded idea that there is no place of eternal punishment for unrepentant sinners, but His mercy consists in His long-suffering so that through repentance (That is, a change of heart from vice to virtue!) we may not perish. For surely, if we do not repent and bring forth works worthy of repentance, we shall all perish.
Conclusion: What may we conclude from a consideration of the signs given us in nature concerning the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? We still cannot fix a specific time. We cannot be certain that the signs we see are without doubt those our Lord had in mind when He spoke. That these signs ought to instill in us a serious determination to live according to His holy will is the most certain conclusion. That we should evaluate our lives and examine ourselves honestly and without illusions as to how we are using our time and blessings (spiritual and material) for the honor and glory of God and the salvation of souls: This is a certain conclusion. That we ought to be ready each day to meet our Judge: This is a certain conclusion. That we should mortify and stifle our idle curiosity about things that do not concern our salvation: This is a certain conclusion.
And, finally, the most important conclusion is this: We should conscientiously strive each day to place God at the head of our list of importance, convinced that we are not with God if we are not with Christ; and we are not with Christ, if we are not with the true Church.
We will continue these considerations of the signs preceding the Second Coming of Christ by going into more detail about the destruction of the cosmos by fire. Here, the matter was briefly mentioned. It deserves more consideration.
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