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There’s certainly an ‘end times’ feel to today

Prophecies about the end of the world have always been popular, but the current climate is fertile ground

By on Monday, 22 April 2013

St Peter's on the day of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation (CNS)

St Peter's on the day of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation (CNS)

A friend, with whom I sometimes correspond on the problems facing the Church today, has emailed me about certain “end times” prophecies that he has noted recently, in particular those of an Irish lady called Brenda Walsh. She is clearly unhealthily fixated by sayings of the visionaries of Garabandal (even though the Church has stated that Our Lady never appeared there); she also believes Pope Francis will be the last Pope, warns us not to get involved with the world “as it is totally controlled by Masonic Forces in Governments and Banks worldwide” and predicts that “the Triumph” i.e. the end of the world, will come on 13 October 2017.

Why give publicity to such fanciful notions? Because there seems to be a lot of it about at present. Several people whom I have always regarded as sensible have remarked to me that it was not a coincidence that lightning struck the Vatican soon after Pope Benedict had made his resignation speech. Yet others have pointed out that Pope Francis conforms to the end times’ prophecies of the medieval Irish monk, Malachi. And others soberly remark to me that the world in its present state of moral decay “can’t go on as it is.”

Reflecting this last remark, I have been sent a book to review by Stephen Walford, entitled Heralds of the Second Coming and published by Angelico Press. Walford’s book is in many ways a scholarly scrutiny of the teachings of recent Popes, especially Pius XII, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI on eschatology, the theology of the “end times”. Yet what makes me wary of Walford’s analysis – and he goes into great detail, including discussions about the Divine Mercy devotion and all the recent Marian apparitions – is that every text he cites leads on his analysis to one conclusion only: that here we are, right in the very middle of the last days on earth as we know it. As revelation tells us, these days will be ushered in by the Anti-Christ, a mysterious world-figure of great power, charm and ability, who apes Christ, thus tricking and leading astray innumerable people in the process. According to Walford’s book, “At least one cardinal has discussed the possibility that the Anti-Christ may be alive at this moment.” He is the retired Archbishop of Bologna, Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, who was asked by Pope Benedict to deliver the Lenten spiritual exercises for the Vatican Curia in 2007 – and who spoke about the Anti-Christ in his presentation.

Walford also describes what life will be like during these latter days: Mass will be abolished for three and a half years; the Church will face the most terrible persecution it has ever known; many people will desert the Faith; and “a time will come when the sacraments will be banned and churches destroyed.” Alongside widespread apostasy from within the Church, secular laws “that show a complete disregard for the commandments of the Lord”, such as pro-abortion laws, the move to enact laws that will destroy traditional marriage, and the manipulation of life in its earliest stages, as with in vitro fertilization, will deeply undermine Christianity and the civilization that grew from it, from without.

Ignoring the over-active Irish imaginations of Malachi and Brenda Walsh (whom I decided not to check out on the internet), much that Walford says about modern times is obviously true: disobedience within the Church and moral anarchy without. Yet these call for renewal of faith, in prayer and practice – not a fixation on signs, wonders and dubious “prophecies.” As Christians we believe in the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the world; but we are also told that we do not know the day nor the hour when this will take place. In this respect we are in exactly the same position as the early followers of Jesus 2,000 years ago. We have to watch and pray, keep our lamps lit – and bear in mind that our own personal encounter with Christ at death could take place at any time. Terry Nelson, the American Abbey Roads blogger ,quotes Fr Zuhlsdorf as recommending frequent Confession “as a way to be ready for death in these uncertain times” (and he is not thinking of the end of the world as much as storms, earthquakes and random acts of terrorism.)

Finally, I note that in Pope Francis’s new book, On Heaven and Earth, which is about to be published, he writes that “Maybe his [the Devil’s] greatest achievement in these times has been to make us believe that he does not exist and that all can be fixed on a purely human level.” Well, he does exist, he has been overcome by Christ’s death and Resurrection and he is defeated today, as always, by prayer, fasting and the sacraments.

  • $24570317

    I really don’t know. The problem is compounded because the great majority of cradle Catholics lapse. The “modernisers” are also a very diverse set. Most concentrate, in my opinion, on trivia: hand raising, modern hymns etc. Those who openly question and critically examine some of the things written down by theologians over the centuries are probably few in number, but they exist in the highest reaches of the hierarchy (as well).
    My “problem” as a Catholic is that I cannot choose to believe certain Church teachings simply because I am told that I must.

  • scary goat

    I shall remember this discussion for a very long time. JB and major joining forces to argue with Jabba. But major is dead against religious “indoctrination” and JB says it “vaccinates” against religion. So which are we? Are we Catholic because we’ve been indoctrinated or are we Catholic because we weren’t vaccinated against it? Strange bedfellows. One thing in common though….a desire to pick fault with everything we believe in.

  • $24570317

    Well the sun has some 4 billion years of good activity left. Then it will go into helium fusion with a rich helium composition that will be opaque to radiant heat. This will cause expansion but also adiabatic cooling of the outer layers (causing it to turn deep red), with the sun engulfing the inner planets. This is the last “age” of the earth, the so-called “glass age” when the sand, soils and rocks are melted into a global ocean of liquid glasses, which will boil away into space. The earth then will probably be consumed by the sun – but it might escape this. The sun will then shrink over several billion years, into a tiny white star – and then cool to a dull red cinder and slowly stop shining. If not already consumed, the earth will continue to orbit the black sun for inconceivable ages until the elementary particles which make up its atoms decay away (sob!).
    Truly, please God help us all.
    But human beings will have long vanished (from earth) before this. We will have evolved into other species (or a single one) long before.

  • $20596475

    Sorry but I don’t think it makes the slightest difference that some things are not “living beings”. Evolutionary principals apply to them every bit as much. Whether the changes are made by man is irrelevant. If they aren’t made in response to a changed environment then the institution will fail. That includes churches, no matter how you try to deny it.

    Even if your belief in God leads you to conclude that He is beyond such events you must surely accept that the way the Church responds in the material world must adapt as that world changes. The Church is NOT God.

  • $20596475

    Thanks. I wasn’t over worried and am not at all now. I hope some of the others read that and refelct.

  • $20596475

    I also think that we need to look at past events that can now be better understood and explained. We need to remove the superstition, which grew from not being able to explain some things we now can.

  • $20596475

    I so agree. No-one should ever believe something just because they are told to do so. This is my basic disagreement with the RC church. That its members are instructed on what Catholics believe. Maybe this suits some people as it removes any need to actually think about things. You just absorb it and then defend it.

  • Julian Lord

    Sorry but I don’t think it makes the slightest difference that some
    things are not “living beings”. Evolutionary principals apply to them
    every bit as much

    Prove it.

    That includes churches, no matter how you try to deny it.

    in fact, I challenged your assertion on the basis that I do not partake of your personal belief system.

    I cannot help but notice, though, that you have failed to demonstrate this assertion of yours.

    Statements by you do not constitute proof of those statements.

    Even if your belief in God leads you to conclude that He is beyond such
    events you must surely accept that the way the Church responds in the
    material world must adapt as that world changes. The Church is NOT God.

    My opinions on this particular matter are far more complex than this black & white caricature.

  • Julian Lord

    My “problem” as a Catholic is that I cannot choose to believe certain Church teachings simply because I am told that I must

    Your problem as a “catholic” is that you overtly deny several of the most central tenets of the Catholicity, which places you in a state of heresy and apostasy.

  • $20596475

    Is there any comment made here that you don’t feel obliged to respond to? If anyone here has a superior than everyone else attitude then I know who my vote goes to.

  • $20596475

    Go back and read your own comments. They contain all the “particulars” that I am referring to. To refer again to every one would be needless repetition, and there is quite enough of that provided by yourself for me to add any more. I am quite sure many of the other readers get the point, even if you don’t.

  • $20596475

    Prove it? Do I really need to? Some things are self evidently true and, once you accept the principal of evolution, this becomes one of them.

    If you do not accept the principal of evolution then it is going to take rather more than a com box to explain it. Try reading Darwin, or even better Richard Dawkins. That is not a personal belief system. It is now accepted scientific fact. Everything needs to adapt and adjust to changed circumstances and it really doesn’t matter what motive forces are used to achieve it. It is so obvious as to be quite sad that anyone seeks to challenge it.

    Your opinions don’t seem very complex to me. I have come across similar attitudes many times before and, whilst the holder might regard them as complex, when you look from the outside they can be quite simply explained. The complexity is just a self justification device.

  • $24570317

    “a desire to pick fault with everything we believe in.”

    Not so. Much probably, but not everything. In addition I would acknowledge a meaning of some of the things in which you and I believe, which many fundamentalist Catholics, possibly including yourself, would not “agree with” (but in reality “not understand”).

    The “vaccination” effect works on most Catholic school pupils (the 90% plus lapsation rate soon after school) – but not on all; some have their minds on other things during RE and others are protected for other reasons.

    Some converts are frauds (seeking senior, well-paid promotion in RC schools, for example), but very many are genuine – and not having been vaccinated must help.

    Indoctrination will never produce a true Catholic – although it may produce many people who like the comfort of “belonging” to a church which lays down detailed instructions of how to live and think.

    I consider myself a Catholic, and I do my best to be as proper a one as possible. I would not presume to pass any opinion on your Catholicity, or on its origins.

  • $24570317

    You may think this, but I don’t believe that I do (“deny several of the most central tenets of the Catholicity”).

    My disagreement with orthodox people often centres on the real (true) meaning of these “tenets”.

  • $24570317

    Where were you? A desert or the seaside?

    The world has recently become better – for the poor and the hungry – and hardly anyone noticed!!

  • $20596475

    I had not previously considered the impact of being a convert, but it makes sense. As I would prefer everyone to be an adult convert, rather than be trained as a child and expected to conform, I can hardly object. However I also agree that JP seems to fit the category you describe like a glove. Some folk need a structure around them to survive. Free thinking is anathema to them.

  • $24570317

    NO, it’s not. (Air is a mixture of several gases, provided its temperature and pressure have certain values. Otherwise air can be a liquid or a solid).

    It’s simply not true to say “water is also wet”, as if it is always so.
    Water can be wet or it can be dry (even in its common liquid state).

  • $20596475

    I have read some nasty things said about Archbishop Nichols, and some pretty unveiled digs at Pope Francis, whilst getting all nostalgic about the “wonderful” Pope Benedict (who I thought was a disaster and held back the progress of countless millions). Not just here, but on some on some of the other trad blogs. They don’t like people like me taking them to task and on some blogs my comments get “moderated” out, whilst other websites just ban anyone who dares take a contrary line.

    I would just like to see some progressive voices posting, for I am well aware they exist.

  • $20596475

    I am quite sure JB24 is able to answer for himself. It must surely though be true that is for the Church, and not for any individual member, to decide what is acceptable or not. My guess is that this will depend on who makes the decision for there seems to be as many different attitudes among the priesthood as the laity.

    That you would rule yourself out of such a liturgy is entirely your decision but it is not for you to rule on matters you are not competent to judge.

    My own view is that any organisation which stifles debate, and accepts only one interpretation, is doomed to eventual decline. I know you don’t agree but I think the evidence from the developed world is clear enough, and as the developing world aspire to become as the developed world they will follow in time.

  • $24570317

    Oh yes, that’s what I was saying. The poor Archbishop! what a life! – but he’s still looking well, although some years younger than me. (NO, I haven’t met him recently).
    My wife was banned from this site, several times in fact. She gave up after the last time: a discussion, I think, about our young people “drowning in a sea of (mainly internet) pornography” – which is a current fantasy of what she describes as the middle class “moralisers” who take the news from the Telegraph, and such, as “gospel”. Before we married she was a teacher in a posh boarding school (girls and boys) and heard exactly the same story (about the girls being asked by the boys to shave, as reported in recent news) from the mother of a girl who hated the school (the girl hated it), some 40 years or so ago. As my wife says: parents are often taken for a ride by their children (This particular girl, by the way, achieved her aim of being taken out of the boarding school she hated).
    She remained a teacher of our great young people until she retired.

    But have a bit of sympathy for the Church. We know the stories about these large bulk carriers (enormous ships) which take miles and ages to stop because of their sheer inertia. The Church is like this but on a much greater scale. It is a vast entity in time and space and in the minds of human beings, and also has a large constituency that it doesn’t want to upset or loose.

  • $20596475

    There is much we could discuss. I used to own and run a nursery school and have a great deal of time for our youngsters, and their teachers who these days have a really hard job. I quite like the Telegraph (the exception being a certain blog writer on there) whilst I think the Mail is a real disgrace.

    I have both sympathy for the Church, and some anger with it. I spend half my life in a country dominated by it, both in terms of religion and its control of politics. The hierarchy there have some very questionable attitudes. They appear scared of too much economic progress (it is a very poor country) because they might lose control if the poor get wealthier. They oppose any type of sex education, or of artificial contraception being available. The results can be imagined. An out of control birthrate and a STD crisis which is routinely denied. However there are some wonderful priests who work really hard at grass root level. From them I never get too much Catholicism, and have come to the conclusion that they are just good people who have sought the best vehicle available to do what they want to do. These people despair of their leadership, which takes much the same line as most of the trads do on here. If some of the UK Archbishops went there I think some cracking progress might be made.

    My own wife was born there and I am close to my father in law, who is one of the best men I have ever known. A cradle Catholic he still goes to church every week and continues to work to support him family, even though he is approaching 80. He sees the problems very clearly and asks me when will the church allow them to use contraception for he sees it as the only way his country can ever escape poverty. He blames “Rome” for this and asks for my help to try to improve things. This is why I first became interested in Catholicism.

  • $24570317

    Yes, I’ve read the Telegraph since my teens – although of late I’m irritated by the frequent pointless photos of duchesses and princes (and half-brained footballers) etc and Christina Odone’s epistles. It is going down-hill in my view. Sometimes the Mail on line has interesting links, but I don’t read the paper. I also read The Spectator – but I’m very working class in my roots, despite a Cambridge education (God bless the Grammar school) – although my wife is far from working class in origin. The official line on sex education is very bad: i.e. “the less Catholic children know about sex the better”. And the official view of contraception (and the ludicrous differentiation between “natural” and “artificial” contraception) is absurd and greatly damaging to communities and families all over the world.
    As usual the poor suffer the most.
    Maybe we will all go to Hell. An American Cardinal (I think, or perhaps Archbishop) was saying this quite recently.

  • Julian Lord

    Cripes, your posts are a sad caricature …

  • Julian Lord

    Is there any comment made here that you don’t feel obliged to respond to?

    Even a very superficial statistical analysis of posts made in Catholic Herald forums would reveal that they are in the clear majority.

  • Julian Lord

    Prove it? Do I really need to?

    Only if you expect others to accept this highly dubious proposition of yours.

    Your opinions don’t seem very complex to me

    I am not responsible for your massive prejudice, expressed on countless occasions, on the subject of the relationship between religiosity and rationality.

    But I do NOT of course accept your simplistic understandings of it as being in any way cogent with reality.

  • Julian Lord

    Modernism is a heresy, condemned as such by Popes and the Magisterium, NOT any kind of valid interpretative method.

  • Julian Lord

    it is not for you to rule on matters you are not competent to judge

    It is in fact the DUTY of ALL Faithful Catholics to denounce blatant heresy wheresoever they may come across it.

  • Julian Lord

    Not just here, but on some on some of the other trad blogs

    This is not a traditionalist website.

    I would just like to see some progressive voices posting, for I am well aware they exist

    The vast majority of the “progressives” is in a state of open, heretical rebellion against the very Faith itself.

    There is a tiny minority of progressives that remains orthodox with the Faith, but their voices are almost completely drowned out by the clamour from the heretics and apostates who claim to be “catholic”.

  • Julian Lord

    I am asking “what (do you, or BC, say) was the miracle?”

    You seem to be entertaining the bizarre notion that a miracle could be “explained”.

  • $20596475

    The website may not be traditional but the contributors and the com boxes are dominated by them. You, and other traditionalists, seem to believe that only you can speak with any authority upon what is permissible. I rather think that responsibility lies elsewhere.

  • $20596475

    Here you go again. Now you are deciding which Catholics are “faithful” and which are not. Sorry but I don’t think that falls within your remit.

  • $20596475

    I have no doubt at all that I don’t need to prove the obvious to anyone other than those who would argue black was white just to sustain an argument. I don’t need to play those games.

    I will also allow others to decide which contributor possesses “massive prejudice” etc etc.

  • $20596475

    The last time I checked you were by far the most frequent poster on here. That might just effect the “majority”!

  • $24570317

    I’m not asking for any explanation.
    I am simply asking what the miracle was.

    For example at the marriage feast (Cana), Jesus turned water into wine at the indirect request of Mary. THAT was the miracle: transforming plain water into (good quality by all accounts) wine.
    THAT was what the miracle WAS, in that case.
    This has nothing to do with how Jesus managed to do this – i.e. nothing to do with any kind of explanation. Miracles don’t require explanations if they take place – they would just be the consequence of God’s will.

  • $24570317

    Of course the real (true) meaning of the teachings would not change.

    Modernism could only be a heresy if a true meaning was replaced with a false interpretation.
    History has shown that over time many false interpretations have been replaced with correct ones.
    The understanding of the Bible provides many examples.

  • isis

    Ignorance and pride.. the bible says be watchful.. be prepared with oil I lampswaiting for our bridegroom

  • Lynda Janzen

    Matthew 24, Luke 21, Mark 13, 2Timothy 3:1-9, Revelation Chapters 2 and 3 — these are just a few Bible passages which speak to end times. It’s true, we are not to know the day and the hour, but Jesus Himself said, “When you see these things happening you know that it is near, right at the door.” Among “these things” referenced by Jesus,was the return of the Jewish Nation, which happened in 1948, with the retaking of Jerusalem in 1967. Jesus then says, (Matthew 24:34) “Truly I tell you, this generation (the one that witnesses the return of Israel) will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” At the end of the parable of the ten virgins Jesus says, “therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” BECAUSE we do not know the day or hour of His return we are to KEEP WATCH. He wants those who believe in Him to be ready. All the signs are present. AND…if it were possible for humankind through prayer and works to save the world from itself why would Jesus need to return? No, my friend, read the Old Testament prophets and know that eventually the LORD God has enough of human wickedness and folly. Eventually nothing will repair creation except the supernatural intervention of the Creator Himself. May He bless you.

  • Lynda Janzen

    Jeannine, the book is called “Revelation”… No “s” on the end. Question: If you don’t believe the Bible is the literal Word of God, supernaturally inspired by His Holy Spirit, how can you believe in Jesus and the Salvation message? Or more to the point, why believe? Christ died on the cross to redeem us from sin so that we would be fit to live with Him forever. Every book in the Bible points to that Truth. Christ has paid the debt. The only requirement of us is to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength (believing in Him as Triune Almighty Creator, Redeemer, and Comforter) and to love our neighbour as ourselves. Humankind cannot salvage the mess humankind has wrought on earth; only Yeshua Meschiach can do that… And He’s coming soon! Maranatha! God bless you.

  • $28180339

    The Book of Revelation is a book written by John to give comfort to those who were being persecuted by the Roman Empire at that time. The book is filled with rich & truthful symbolism that many at that time would automatically understand & definitely points back to the Christ & his Church whch is the Roman Catholic Church. The Book of Revelation is not to be taken literally so say many orthodox Catholic scriptural scholars. I do not know when the end of the world is coming; neither do you. Yet Christ told us in the Gospel of Matthew? to be prepared as if it will come tomorrow.
    You need to read a Catholic approved explanation on this Book of Revelation instead of getting your biblical knowledge from our evangelical brethren. (I assume you are a Roman Catholic.)

  • Lynda Janzen

    Jeannine, have you actually read Revelation? It sounds to me as though you are merely regurgitating some liberal professor’s humanistic interpretation. The book is clearly prophetic. Reference Chapter 11 for example, which talks about the two witnesses who are killed and left to rot in the square of “the great city” for three and a half days, while people from every nation will gaze on their bodies and the whole world will celebrate over their demise. But the LORD God raises them up afterward. Jeannine, that did not happen during the Roman persecution and has not happened yet. You might also want to check out God’s admonition to neither add nor subtract from this prophecy–Rev.22:18-19. Check it out, Jeannine … you are treading on God’s Holy Word .

  • Peter

    You are deluded and would have to be completely blind or mired in naivete to think that the world is somehow “improving”.

    Following the most violent century in history, we are now witnessing the rise of radical Islam across Europe. Still (secretly) Communist nations like Russia, conducted the biggest wargames in its history in 2004. Some 15 years after Communism was supposedly dead after the Berlin Wall came down and military preparedness against the West no longer necessary. Supposedly.

    In fact, Russia lies waiting in the wings for economic collapse in the West as per Kruschev’s 158 point plan to beguile and seduce the West hatched back in the 1950′s and started in earnest in the 1990′s.

    A regional war about to spread across the Middle East.

    Then there is the infiltration of the Illumati/Masonry into all the highest positions in politics, the bureaucracy, military, police, judiciary, business and now the Catholic Church across the world. All of these organisations have as their key premise the domination of every nation on earth. Many communists are also Masons.
    It is diabolical.

    You should read the supernatural messages of the European-based woman, “Maria(Divine Mercy)” which are now being given to her daily such is the urgency for the world. They are essentially the same as those of Medjugorje and previous seers but much more detailed.

    A person would have to be very foolish and have no understanding of Daniel, Revelations, the supernatural, human history and the material world to dismiss the warnings being given by people her and the Medjugorje seers.

    These recent examples maintain a remarkable internal consistency with Fatima and La Salette for example (1846) these over the last 150 odd years. If you know anything about Revelations, it does not stop at the Warning but is much more serious.

    People still don’t get it though. Unbelievable…

  • Peter

    Whilst it is true that John wrote Revelation for the early church – as they believed that the end of the world would happen in their day – we can only guess at much of the detail of the highly symbolic language.

    The symbology does however, represent real things and indeed, there is no mistaking what some of it means, what the 4 horsemen bring for example – death, disease, famine and war as I recall…

    Some seem to be confusing ‘end times’ with ‘end of the world’. The latter is part of the former but at the conclusion of human history – apparently 1000 years away. The 2nd Coming and New Jerusalem happen before this conclusion. If Genesis refers to Paradise Lost then this will be Paradise Regained.

    It is salient to remember that the 3rd Secret of Fatima has not been truthfully revealed by Sodano and Bertone. I don’t know whether they are several of the evil cardinals in the Vatican or were actually just trying to prevent mass panic (4 popes have now refused to reveal its true contents) when they said it referred to JP2. This cannot be correct however as the revelation said a pope would be assassinated not just wounded.

    People forget we still have 2 popes. If Maria Divine Mercy and the Medjugorje seers are genuine and Francis is an imposter, then Benedict escaping from the ruined city (Rome) will sadly be assassinated with his group as foretold at Fatima, quite possibly at the beautiful supernatural, permanent sign to be provided at Medjugorje itself.

  • JMH

    “(even though the Church has stated that Our Lady never appeared there)”, reference as to where this statement comes from, please…………