Josh Claybourn has some End Times musings
… and asks for my commentary. None to give really. You can put my eschatological theorizing in a thimble if you are asking “What happens next?” I’m no seer and so have nothing to offer on the headlines, the future of Israel, red heifers, Temple rebuilding, One World Governments, bar codes, the EU and all the normal staple of such fanciful speculation. The Catechism tells us the basic structure of what to expect from history in the long run:
675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” 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 religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.
676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgement. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism.
677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgement after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.
So, everyday in every way, the world will not be getting better and better. History is coming to climax, but it is the climax of conflict between Christ and anti-christ, not the Great Rosy Dawn When Things All Work Out Around a UN Negotiation Table. At the same time, the coming (and present) trial through which the saints go is positively busting with hope. But it is a hope for eternal, not temporal glory. Pagans (see “St. Joan of Arc parish in the St. Paul Archdiocese”) are happy about small things but sad about huge ones. They have little victories in their little power struggles, telling the Pope to stick it in his ear because they are going to include Anne Morrow Lindbergh in the readings. But in the big things, they are hopeless because don’t really believe in eternal redemption, but in a sort of watery Marxism that locates all real things in this world, when this world is merely a prelude to the Real World. Christians are sad about small things but joyful about cosmic ones. And the joy even spills over onto the small sadnesses. This whole Situation, full of pain as it is, remains in the long run, an occasion of glory like every other cross the Church has carried. Because in the long run nothing can defeat the Church. It is animated by eternal life and everything that the devil flings at her just makes her stronger. Plus, she knows a huge secret:
The worst thing that can ever happen has already happened. The coming conflict with antichrist is small beer compared to what happened on Calvary 2000 years ago. Mop-up efforts.
A lot of people naturally want to get a Catholic take on the book of Revelation at times like these. For that, I would recommend a study of Revelation Scott Hahn and I did a while back on Catholic Exchange. I think Scott’s take on Revelation is simply the best there is to be had anywhere. Check it out.