to what end is it for you?
the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light." Amos 5:18
Many televangelists and fundamentalists sects are voicing a cry that the end is near and they expect the return of Jesus Christ. In spite their dire warnings, the year 2000 has come and gone without mishap, so they will have to revise their predictions. The Catholic traditions have a somewhat different view of End Time prophecies.
A Summary of specific Catholic teachings on the End times
These are the teachings of the Catholic Church on the End Times that must be believed by all the Faithful.
-The Resurrection of the Dead. The teachings of the Catholic Church teach the actual resurrection of all flesh in their own bodies (including the damned), not merely a spiritual resurrection. This teaching is affirmed in both the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed.
-The General Judgement. After the resurrection of all flesh, there will follow the universal judgement. Christ will sit upon the throne of judgement and render to each man according to his works (Matthew 16:27).
-The Destruction of the World. The world will be destroyed at the command of Our Divine Lord Jesus Christ. The fulfillment of this prophecy will be supernatural and not as a result of atomic wars, or geological or astronomical disturbances.
-The Reign of the Church Victorious. The faithful of the Church will live and reign with Christ forever. The devils and evil men will be damned forever without reprieve.
Errors in Interpreting End-Time Prophecy
Over the history of the Church, some errors have sprung up concerning the End Times.
The teaching of millenarianism, that Christ before the Final Judgement will come visibly to rule over this world, is a serious error condemned by Pius XII. Indeed, the teaching of millenarianism is the very thing the Antichrist will need to set up his rule over the world.
A common error is to try to set actual dates on the Second coming. The Sacred Scriptures point out this error: But of that day or hour no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father. (Mark 13:32).
However, in 1832 Pope Gregory XVI did indicate that the time of the "plague of locusts (Revelation 9:3)" had arrived in his Encyclical "Mirari vos arbitramur."
A popular belief of the 20th Century among Bible fundamentalists is the concept of a taking up of the true Christians before the coming of the Antichrist. Their scriptural support for this theory largely vague and symbolic, and based on the assumption that the rapture theory is true.
They cite I Thessalonians 4:16 as the basis for this claim. However, the verse before, I Thessalonians 4:15, clearly shows that the dead in Christ rise first. This same event, the first ressurection, occurs after the return of Our Divine Lord Jesus Christ and the defeat of the Antichrist. In fact, those that rule and reign with Christ a thousand years are those that are martyred during the reign of the Antichrist. (Revelations 20:4-6)
The Rebuilding of the Temple
In this day we find many sects and denominations looking for the re-building of a temple in Jerusalem with great anticipation. Why any Christian would welcome such a thing is beyond me. If animals are again sacrificed in a temple in Jerusalem, would not the blood of every calf, lamb or goat sacrificed be a denial of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the cross? (Hebrews 10:10) Is not the denial of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus the very spirit of the antichrist?
In Matthew 24:2, Jesus prophesies about the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. Jesus says nothing about the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. It is true that Jesus said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." (John 2:19) However, Jesus was speaking of His Body, which is the Temple of the Holy Ghost. (John 2:21)
The prophesy of the destruction of the Temple came about in 70 AD with the siege of Vespasian. There were a few stones left of the foundation left. Later, Emperor Julian the Apostate attempted to discredit the prophesy of Our Divine Lord Jesus Christ by ordering the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Jews from all over the Roman Empire supported the task with great zeal and huge amounts of gold and silver. The task was accompanied by great scorn for the Christians in the empire, who believed that the Temple was not to be rebuilt. In order to provide a foundation for the "new temple" the final stones left of the old foundation were cleared away, completing the prophecy of Jesus.
As they began the re-building, earthquakes broke out all over the temple mount, halting the effort. When the earthquakes subsided, they attempted to begin again. As they approached the foundations, balls of blue fire exploded from the ground burning many of the workmen. Finally the effort was abandoned without laying a single stone of the new temple.
How to Interpret End Time Prophecy
The Sacred Scriptures and Church teachings hold the primacy of place in what we are to understand about the end times. Moreover, the writings of the early Fathers (Patristic) and the Saints have much to say about the end times also. The Church does not censure the study of these private revelations, in so long as the prophecy comes from a virtuous source. In fact, it is even considered acceptable to study the writings of Nostradamus, who was a Catholic Scholar. However, the Church teaches us to approach any end-time prophecy with a critical eye. Here are some guidelines to follow in the study of end-time prophets.
The study should edify the soul
Studying end time prophets should draw us closer to God, not away from Him. It should not bring on a morbid preoccupation of the end times, to the exclusion of Christian charity and duties. It should not lead you to wish for the damnation of others or to hasten destruction of the world, etc. (Amos 5:1
The study should not lead to errors of the faith
The study of end time prophecies should not lead you into beliefs contrary to the teaching of the Holy Church. You should be suspicious of any revelation that purports or promotes dogmatic errors. (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)
A Generally Accepted Sequence of Events
The following is a summary of the sequence of end-time events based on the Scriptures, the writings of the early Church Fathers, the Saints and noted Catholic scholars.
-The threat from the kings of the east.
-A pope makes a special decree and is driven from Rome. He dies a terrible death.
-A new Pope is elected outside of Rome.He crowns a Christian king. This King defends the west from the kings of the east.
-Three days of darkness and the great chastisement (associated with a comet).
-The Christian king is victorous over the east, and a period of peace and evangelization occurs.
-The people do not appreciate the grace of the peace, and after a time, the Antichrist rises to power out of Babylon.
-The Antichrist rules for three and a half years. The two witnesses preach against him.
-The Antichrist kills the two witnesses. They rise from the dead on the third day, and are taken into heaven.
-Forty days later, The Antichrist tries to rise up to heaven by magic. He is struck from the heavens.
-Christ returns to the earth, appearing in the heavens.
-The dead Christians rise from the grave and are taken into a new heaven and a new earth.
-The Christians yet living are taken up to a new heaven and a new earth. As the "Rapture" fans can see the Catholic scholars are very post-tribulation.
-Christ destroys the old heaven and earth.