Signs of the End

Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be (Matthew 24:23ff).

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-14)

Scripture warns of chaos and deception in the last days, of fear that will grip the hearts of many, preparing them to accept a masterful delusion, an appearance of a being that seems so much like Christ that even professed Christians will be deceived.

I think it can happen. I think it will happen. I think the way is already being prepared for it to happen.

A year ago I posted about Catholic apocalypticism. I noted:

The mainstream Catholic Church shies away from eschatological speculation, but–perhaps because of this–the fringes are full of it. Bits and pieces from different supposed “apparitions” of Mary and other saints are woven together to create a scenario including Three Days of Darkness, a Warning, a Chastisement, followed not by the return of Christ in glory, but by a period of peace and a “Eucharistic Reign of Christ.” You can find stuff like this in the writings of Bud Macfarlane, Fr. Stephano Gobbi, Fr. Joseph Iannuzzi, and Michael H. Brown. Take a look at this from Brown, and then consider an evangelical’s reaction to such teachings (scroll down about half way to the subheading, “Second Coming or Manifestation?”

Let’s look at that article by Michael Brown to which I linked. His books are in most Catholic book stores. He’s a Catholic author writing to other Catholics who believe in apparitions of Mary and the saints, telling them to watch out–something better is coming.

It would be something, wouldn’t it? A report that Jesus was appearing in some remote place — just as Mary is currently appearing. We can only imagine the effect that would have. We can only imagine the flood of pilgrims.

Already we know what happened when the Blessed Mother appeared at Fatima, Lourdes, and Medjugorje. Thousands and then millions — tens of millions, at each of those places — rushed to feel the grace associated with what theologians classify as first-tier “corporeal” apparitions.

They were not simple visions. They were not fleeting manifestations. They were first-tier apparitions — and how much more grace would there be if there was to be a first-class corporeal apparition of Jesus?

Such has never occurred, not since the Ascension. Yes, there have been countless visions of the Lord, and He has been seen, allegedly, by countless individual mystics.

But the Lord has never been associated with a site of apparitions as the Blessed Mother so often has and this is the point: Where the Blessed Mother has been witnessed since Saragossa in Spain, and Le Puy, France, in the first century (a site that attracted throngs during the first 500 years of Christianity), not a single similar case can be associated in the same way with Jesus. There is no place where famous seers all simultaneously dropped to their knees for regular apparitions of Our Savior.

No, He has been in the background, waiting for a much larger manifestation. It is like she has been preparing the way. It is like her appearances are a forerunner of how He will one day appear. At the same time, we have to be cautious: if there is such an apparition, might it be a deception? Might it be what Scripture warns about when it says not to heed those who say Christ is appearing here or there or in the desert?

And if indeed it happened, and was of God, the question: would such a full-scale apparition — an apparition site centered on Jesus, not the Blessed Mother — be seen as the Second Coming?

It is a crucial question in an era when anything could happen. Our world is in spiritual upheaval — a tumult that has led many to wonder if we are close to the Second Coming, or at least a major manifestation. We believe that, either way, the Presence of Christ — whether in dreams, whether in a special new imbuing of the Blessed Sacrament, or in the way of an apparition — is going to increase in the years immediately ahead.

Imagine a period in which dreams involving Jesus — Christ coming to heal, or admonish, or convert — began to involve tens of thousands. In our own time we get periodic reports of Muslims having such experiences with Christ — but imagine if this proliferated to thousands, and then millions?

Visions. Dreams. We expect these to dramatically increase and wouldn’t be surprised if the surge is noted by this time next year. In fact, our prediction is that Jesus will be much in the news due to everything from individual visions to the release of a new movie. Every year, we expect this to increase. Between now and 2040, we foresee some kind of a major manifestation.

But we must always distinguish between visions and dreams (which are both interior), and a full-scale, Fatima-like apparition. Christ has never appeared in that way. Yes, many are those who claim they have seen them, and at Fatima He appeared briefly in the final apparition of October 13, 1917 (as well as in private visions to the seer Lucia dos Santos).

But that’s not the kind of appearance that we are talking about. We are speaking about an event that would be focused on Him as the main apparitional figure. We recognize that the very fact that we are speculating about this makes it unlikely that precisely such will happen. Usually, such manifestations come in a way that is not anticipated, or at least with features that are totally unexpected.

But we revert once more to what we have called the 1990 prophecy, which allegedly involved an angel quoting Jesus. “I will come not as a man of flesh,” it said, “but like My mother, who already nurses Me and holds Me in her arms, as a light and power. I will manifest Myself in a series of supernatural events similar to the apparitions but much more powerful. In other words, My second coming will be different than My first, and like My first, it will be spectacular to many but also unknown initially to many, or disbelieved. Yet truly I tell you, the arrogance of the world will have been broken, and so many more than normal will believe. I will come in towering light. My mother held me in her arms at Medjugorje, as an infant. I will come as she has come, in light.”

Known to many. But also unknown to just as many. Or disbelieved.

We’ll leave the rest to your own imaginations.

It’s breathtaking, as you read it, how he skips past the Scriptural warning with nary a care. He paints a scenario that has everything in common with the Scriptural warnings of end time deception and that contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture about the Second Coming of Christ, and he hears a little warning bell go off, but he plunges on.

He says it himself–the Marian apparitions are preparing the way for something that has never been seen by any Catholic visionary–an apparently corporeal manifestation of Jesus. Maybe not everywhere at once, maybe a little here, a little there. But it is coming he says, and you need to be ready for it–and accept it.

There’s another phenomenon related to this, a practice Catholics call “Eucharistic adoration.” It is worship of the consecrated Eucharist. Once a staple of Catholic life, it seemed to disappear after Vatican 2, but has been revived over the last decade in a way that no one could have expected. It isn’t just the old folks who gather for this devotion, but it attracts youth and young adults, eager to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. An increasing number of churches host “perpetual adoration,” in which the Eucharist is exposed in a monstrance 24 hours a day, with worshipers constantly before it. With the internet, you don’t even have to go to the chapel, but can worship on-line.

This is Jesus, Catholics say, present “body and blood, soul and divinity”–all there is to have of him.

Which begs the question–why even look for the Second Coming if you can have a Eucharistic presence and the occasional corporeal apparition?

When we look at Catholic mystics, we see that some answer that question in all seriousness, “Why indeed?”

Fr. Joseph lannuzzi, OSJ, for example,

argues from the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, from the Magisterium, and from Sacred Scripture that there will be a flowering of Christ’s kingdom on earth which will last for a period of time, not necessarily a literal thousand years, during which Christ will reign gloriously on earth, not physically, but in the Eucharist. During this period he says that the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus will “cultivate in the faithful a spirit of intense adoration and worship never before seen.” Perhaps the spread of perpetual adoration we are seeing is a sign of more to come!

Here’s Fr. Stephano Gobbi:

And so I say that the power of the Eucharistic Christ is kept from manifesting itself by the obstacles we put in the way; and the obstacle is sin – individual sin, social sin, sin set as the norm of action. All of this sin is a rejection that we make; it is a barrier that we place, because of which the Eucharistic Christ cannot manifest his divine power. But when Satan is cast into hell, when the door of the abyss is closed and the power of Satan is destroyed, these obstacles will be removed.

Then will Jesus in the Eucharist explode. He will manifest Himself in all his power; we will see Him beyond the species; we will feel Him because He will work within us most powerfully as God, because in the Eucharist Jesus is present with the fullness of his divinity in our midst! And as God, He will then succeed in transforming our hearts; He will succeed in transforming souls; He will succeed in transforming families; He will succeed in transforming nations… In a message, Our Lady says that through her Immaculate Heart, universal peace will take place and the unity of the Church will be achieved. Finally, after so many years of division, and after so many (almost useless) efforts of ecumenism, the unity of the Church will be achieved and we will truly have the Eucharistic Reign of Christ within us.

Therefore, I would almost like to say: Jesus who returns and manifests Himself in glory unites with Jesus who is present in the Eucharist; and He will almost open wide the doors of the species, which still keep Him veiled to us, so that He may manifest Himself with his power and transform everything, forming at last the new heavens and the new earth. Therefore, the return of Christ in glory will also coincide with the great triumph of the Eucharistic Reign of Jesus.

So a scenario like this would fit what many Catholic visionaries and students of Catholic apocalyptic expect–a world in chaos, torn by human and natural disasters, in the midst of which comes a warning, that strikes the hearts of people all over the world. Three days of supernatural darkness complete the cycle of horror. But then, hope. Apparitions of Jesus are seen, at first by a few, then by great multitudes. He tells them he longs to reign in the world through the Eucharist, and this Eucharistic Reign will be a time of unparalleled peace. But first they must put away personal sin and social sin. They must make changes in human laws to show that they put him first. They must deal with those who refuse to acknowledge him.

I felt goosebumps when I first read this stuff, because I recognized here what the Bible describes as the scenario that will play out in the Last Days–but the actor in this drama is Satan, not Christ.

I think that day is coming soon. Fears of Global Warming, of terrorism, of enduring war in the Middle East, natural disasters such the current mysterious disappearance of honeybees that threatens crops throughout the world, all could be setting the stage for that day.

It’s time we opened our eyes. Maybe St. Malachy knew something.

5 thoughts on “Signs of the End

  1. A lot to think about there Bill. Still many of these are voices from the fringe. There is a debate going on in the Church over here in Ireland (a debate is unusual in itself for a church that is so quiet). I am viewing the debate in the context of the season, it being close to the feast of St. Patrick. As Christians, we all believe that Jesus will return, at least we pray and profess thus in the Creed. But how? The debate is between traditionally minded missionaries and more progressive modern ones. The progressives believe that the Kingdom will come when Justice reigns, that is why social justice and ecology are their priority. The other side of the debate is led by Fr. Vincent Twomey SVD (link ). He is forwarding the more traditional thesis that when Christ is preached to the ends of the earth, to all nations, that then Christ will come. That is why St. Paul was on his way to Iberia wasn’t it? St. Patrick makes it clear that this is why he returned to the land of his captivity, to preach Christ to the savage, pagan Irish (and there were we thinking for the past few hundred years that he came because we were so charming). Now aren’t these the questions that we should be pondering?

  2. Liam, good points about preaching the Gospel to the ends of the earth. That’s based on a clear statement from Jesus (it also motivated Columbus, who was a secular Franciscan and an avid student of apocalyptic).

    Fascinating post about Benedict and Luther. He’s always had a fondness for him; after Vatican 2, for instance, he regretted that “Gaudium et spes” was “too much Chardin, not enough Luther.”

    Thanks for the link, Francis!

  3. Bill,

    Thank you for this enlightening post. You have demonstrated that such scenarios are not out of the realm of possibility. Although I have a strong affinity for prophecy, I do not study the “signs of the times” as much as other people. I look more to the state of God’s Remnant church to see if the time is near, rather than the state of the world!

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