The Conversion of the Jews at the End of Time

One of the signs that must precede the Second Coming of Our Lord and His final judgment is the conversion of the Jews as a nation. It is a confirmed as such by this passage from the Catechism of the Catholic Church No 674 “The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by “all Israel”, for “a hardening has come upon part of Israel” in their “unbelief” toward Jesus.St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.”St. Paul echoes him: “For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? (Rom 11:15)”The “full inclusion” of the Jews in the Messiah’s salvation, in the wake of “the full number of the Gentiles”,will enable the People of God to achieve “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”, in which “God may be all in all”.

What we can say is that their conversion is part of a mysterious design of Divine Providence which will bring to fulfillment the Covenant established and never revoked. The first chosen will be the last to accept the message of salvation offered by Jesus Christ. However, the way this occurs is distinctly different to the evangelization of the Gentiles. In his famous text De Consideratione, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153), writes about this mystery advising Pope Eugene III : “Granted, with regard to the Jews, time excuses you; for them a determined point in time has been fixed, which cannot be anticipated. The full number of Gentiles must come in first” (De Consideratione III/1, 2).

By rejecting their Messiah,the Jews temporarily frustrated the will of God for them (Lk 7:30) bringing about Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and their dispersal throughout the world- an exile which has last some 2000 years, during which time the Gospel of God’s salvation has spread to a universal level. In a very real way. St. Paul describes this reality when he writes: “But through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!” (Rom 11,11-12).

Two passages from the New Testament relate the importance of the sequence of end times events (in a chronological sense from Pentecost) First in St Luke’s Gospel Jesus says “Jerusalem will be trodden underfoot until the age of the Gentiles is completely fulfilled.” (Lk 21:24) and then Later St Paul says “Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon a part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved…” (Rom 11:25-26). So what we discover is that there can be no mass conversion of the Jews until the Gospel has been spread to a universal dimension. This would also rule out a millennium era of peace in which a temporal Kingdom of Christ would come and transform the earth, because within that theory, the mass conversion of the Jews would have to happen as part of it, as well as the other mass conversion (which we are told only happens at the end of the world), and if the Jews were to reject this ” temporal Kingdom” then they would surely be destined to damnation because presumably they would no longer have invincible ignorance to rely on. This is obviously not the case .Scripture assures us that the Jews will convert at the end and due to the two witnesses described in (Rev 11: 3-13) who preach for a time and are then put to death in Jerusalem by the Antichrist before they rise after three days.

So what of the Conversion of the Jews and are there any signs of it? In Heralds of the Second Coming, I have avoided any speculation on this point as there is no real evidence yet, but one aspect that cannot be discounted is the establisment of Isreal in 1948 and the return of the Jews to their homeland.  Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the Papal Preacher, eloquently summarizes the importance of this momentous event “We know that God gave Israel the land but there is no mention of his taking it back again forever. Can we Christians exclude that what is happening in our day, that is, the return of Israel to the land of its fathers, is not connected in some way, still a mystery to us, to this providential order which concerns the chosen people and which is carried out even through human error and excess as happens in the Church itself? If Israel is to enter the New Covenant one day, St. Paul tells us that they will not do so a few at a time but as an entire nation, as ever-living ‘roots’. But if Israel is to enter as a nation, it must be a nation; it must have a land of its own, an organization and a voice in the midst of other nations of the earth. The fact that Israel has remained an ethnic unity throughout the centuries and throughout many historical upheavals is, in itself, a sign of a destiny that has not been interrupted but is waiting to be fulfilled” (from Christ, the Glory of Israel). (cited from newtorah.org)

It is interesting that the great wars Jesus described in His Olivet Discourse (and understood by several popes are referring to the two world wars) paved the way (albeit through the terrible evil of the Holocaust) to the creation of the State of Isreal. It would seem that there is an eschatological significance linking these events, which at present is still in part a mystery hidden by Divine Providence.  This explains why discerning the sign of the times is so important. We know God has not forgotten Isreal and never will. As Cardinal Ratzinger once pointed out, the Jews are always in the middle of the great events of history, it will be through their greatest ever-namely their final acceptance of Jesus as Lord and God that will bring about the crowning victory of Jesus against all his enemies. Finally, “God may be all in all” giving fulfillment to the great prayer of Jesus “Thy Kingdom come, thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”. This will be the everlasting eschatological peace which the elect will inherit. Come Lord Jesus!

Eschatological Analysis of Fr Gobbi’s revelations

In the light of recent discussions on various forums concerning the error of Millenarianism and the obvious support for the theory promoted by not an insignificant number of people, I would like to show how the idea that modern prophetic mystics are saying the same thing is not true. The revelations given to Fr Gobbi do not support this view – even though Fr Gobbi himself supported this millennial view. 

Nowhere in the revelations does Our Lady make any mention of Revelation Ch 20. Nowhere does she state a temporal era with an end is coming. What she does say is exactly in line with the version of events as contained in the Catechism and the teachings of the Pope-of which I have promoted in Heralds of the Second Coming. In fact at this point, I would stress one of the biggest signs of authenticity is that Our Lady doesn’t say anything like Fr Gobbi’s own interpretation of the messages (see his June 24 1996 speech on the Second Coming at the MMP USA website). She states no first resurrection of the saints and no millennium. If Fr Gobbi was making it up, surely he would have made sure the message fitted his interpretation.

In fact, in Fr Gobbi’s well known speech of June 24 1996 he states ” I am a little apprehensive since this is a new theme. I myself was surprised to discover how Our Lady has revealed this to us in her messages. [This is] a theme on which perhaps, humanly speaking, I was not prepared, since this aspect was never a part of my theological studies; that is, the triumph of the Immaculate Heart comes about with Jesus’ return in glory…Another example can be found in the frequent expressions, that at first sight can leave us uneasy, in which it is affirmed that the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary coincides with the coming of the glorious reign of Christ. These expressions are, of course, to be interpreted in the light of what is taught in Sacred Scripture (Rev 20:1-7) –  and to the authentic Magisterium of the Church. In this regard, let us keep before our eyes the frequent references which, in his first encyclical, “Redemptor Hominis” and in other important documents, Pope John Paul II makes concerning the Church of the second Advent which awaits the second coming of Jesus.” (Preface – To the Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons – pg. xlii)”

There are several significant statements Fr Gobbi made here, first is that he admits he was not trained in this theological area, and secondly a search on the Vatican website for references to Rev Ch. 20: 1-7 show up nothing.The simple fact is that the Magisterium does not relate in any way this difficult passage of Scripture to a coming millennium, a temporal Kingdom. In my many years of studying papal teachings I have never once come across anything that would suggest they expect an imminent era of peace within history. Also, Fr Gobbi in an interview he gave in August 1999 stated that the world would end rather than be renewed at the Last Judgement-a view which is not found in the Catechism, in fact the exact opposite is stated in that heaven will come down to earth and the Most Holy Trinity will dwell with the redeemed in a transfigured Universe.

Let us  look into the messages themselves to see if they do in fact correspond exactly to the teaching of the Magisterium concerning the Second Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ in glory for the Last Judgment. 

1) Second Coming-spiritual or physical? The condemned theory of Millenarianism (in its purest form) says that Jesus will reign on earth physically for a thousand years before the end.. One of the ways supporters of this theory get round it is to state it is a spiritual manifestation an”intermediate coming”.In the book, Our Lady states on December 8 1990:Live in love and holiness because Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, our saviour and our King is about to come to you in the splendour of His glorious Body” Also on April 14,1990,Holy Saturday the Blessed Virgin stated:” Watch with Me in expectation and be sure in the hope that Jesus will return on the clouds of Heaven, in the splendour of His glorious Body” 

Therefore, immediately to suggest these revelations do not refer to the end of the world would be millenarianism in its purest form .There is no room for manoeuvre here. Jesus coming in His glorious body is prophesied as about to happen.

2) Another aspect that concerns the ultimate end of the world is the defeat of satan. The  temporal era of peace before the final coming of Satan theory states that the Devil will be bound during it ( to a great extent) then let loose for one last assault on the Church. However in the book, the Blessed Virgin clearly states that he will be defeated forever at the end of this trial. On April 16, 1995, Our Lady stated:” But the moment is at hand in which the Risen Christ will manifest Himself in all His power. Evil will be destroyed, Satan will be defeated forever” In a message entitled “The Holy City” on December 8, 1992, Mary stated:”Jesus will return in glory, to bring back the whole of creation to the full splendour of its new earthly paradise.The sinful city will now have vanished and so the whole of creation will open up with joy to welcome the Holy City, the new Jerusalem come down from Heaven”. Also in the same message it is stated:”Finally, the Holy City must gather together humanity which has been redeemed and saved, after it has been completely freed from the slavery to Satan, sin and evil”. How can this be if there is a time still to come in the future in which Satan will be allowed to test humanity again. The Blessed Virgin clearly teaches that Satan’s defeat soon will be complete, and forever. This is in total opposition to those stating that sin will remain in the era to come. Our Lady states no such thing. “Completely freed from the slavery to Satan, sin and evil. No temporal era is prophesied. 
3) If we are facing the final judgement soon , then we obviously turn our thoughts to the Resurrection from the dead. The Blessed Virgin also addresses this area in the book. We know the times to come are called the “New Times”, a phrase used often by Pope John Paul the Great (“New” in theological language means final perfection). On March 29, 1991, Mary said:”He is the man of the new times. Because it is only in Him that all who have lived, died, been buried and fallen away to dry dust will rise again“.There is a clear message here that the new times bring forth the raising of the dead, otherwise why would Our Lady link the new times with Jesus ability to raise the dead? On April 15, 1995, we read: “It is the Saturday of its long sepulchre (humanity).Soon it will come forth from the tomb in which it is lying, when Jesus will come back in glory and will lead it into the new garden of His Resurrection. The great miracle of the Divine mercy is in preparation. It will repeat for the whole of humanity that which came about for my Son Jesus.”

4)Another aspect of this mystery is the freeing of humanity from the corruption of death for those still alive. Mary stated on September 8, 1990:”Then the whole of creation, freed from the slavery of sin and death will know the splendour of a second earthly paradise in which God will dwell with you, will wipe away every tear,and there will no longer be day or night for you because the earlier things have passed awaand your light will be that of the Lamb and of the new Jerusalem come down from Heaven onto the earth, ready as a bride for her Bridegroom.” Also on November 1st,1989, the Blessed Virgin said:” there will no longer be death, mourning, weeping or sighing, because the former things have passed away.”If we compare these two statements with the Catechism we can see how they refer to the same event: “At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. After the universal judgment, the righteous will reign for ever with Christ, glorified in body and soul. The universe itself will be renewed:The Church . . . will receive her perfection only in the glory of heaven, when will come the time of the renewal of all things. At that time, together with the human race, the universe itself, which is so closely related to man and which attains its destiny through him, will be perfectly re-established in Christ.631″”In this new universe, the heavenly Jerusalem, God will have his dwelling among men.634 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”635

So we see Our Lady restates exactly what the Catechism says refers to the era of peace after the Last Judgment, Just as I have tried to show in the papal magisterium.
5) One further passage refers to the end of history and time as we know it. On December 24, 1997 we read: “Enter with me into the fullness of times, which will come about when Jesus returns in the splendour of His divine glory. This His first coming reaches its full significance only in His second coming. This Holy Night is directed towards the radiant day without nightfall. My Divine Babe, whom you are now contemplating in the manger, weeping and trembling because of the cold, will come back one day in the power of His divine glory and will bring to their fullness both time and history. Time and history will have their fulfilment; with His divine and glorious presence, He will make all things new”
At no stage does Our Lady mention two aspects of the Day of the Lord as some promoters of this doctrinal error teache. “His second birth is at hand. With Me, live through the final hours of this second advent: in confidence, in prayer, in suffering which is welcomed and enlightened, in waiting for the great day of the Lord to come soon” (24 Dec 1983) Also just a clear is the message of Sept 8 1990 in which She states” I am the dawn which announces the stupendous event of your salvation, and who prepares all of you for the coming of the great day of the Lord” (at this point let us remember Hebrews 9:28 “so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him”) Later in the same message the whole idea of a new age, new times is explained as pertaining to the period after the end of the world “In fact the immense sorrow of these last times is preparing for the birth of a new age, of new times, in which Jesus will come in the splendor of His glory and will establish His reign in the world. Then the whole of creation, freed from the slavery of sin and death will know the splendour of a second earthly paradise in which God will dwell with you, will wipe away every tear,and there will no longer be day or night for you because the earlier things have passed away and your light will be that of the Lamb and of the new Jerusalem come down from Heaven onto the earth, ready as a bride for her Bridegroom” Message 453 also reiterates this point “The new era, which I am preparing for you, coincides with the defeat of Satan and of his universal dominionAll of his power is destroyed. He is bound with all the evil spirits, and enclosed in Hell, from which he will not be able to get out to do harm in the world. In it Christ reigns, in the Splendour of his glorious Body”-Again here if this does NOT refer to the final coming and time after the last judgment, it is pure millenarianism condemned by the Church. Also Our Lady is absolutely clear: it is the end of Satan.

6)The coming of the Antichrist. In the view of promoters of the temporary Kingdom, the Antichrist comes not as the end of the world as defined clearly in the Catechsim and Magisterium of the Popes but before the supposed millennium. What does Our Lady tell Fr Gobbi? “They are the times foretold by Divine Scripture as those of the great apostasy and of the coming of the Antichrist. They are the times of great tribulation and innumerable sufferings for everyone, which will lead you to live through the final events in preparation for the second coming of Jesus in glory” (May 19 1991) Also in message 485, entitled The End of Times, the Antichrist is explained as one of the signs of the end. Matthew chapter 24 is continually used by Our Lady as a biblical reference point for this message, and as Pope John Paul stated in the general audience of 27 April 1988, this text refers to the end of the world. In fact I would urge the reading of this general audience because the Pope gives a very detailed explanation concerning the coming of the Kingdom and the fulfillment of the Our Father. Promoters of a millennial interpretation of Luisa Piccaretta’s writings should take careful note. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/audiences/alpha/data/aud19880427en.html
7)The triumph of the Immaculate Heart. Does it lead to a temporal Kingdom or the definitive coming of the Kingdom at the end of the world? “You are living out the mystery of this second advent, which is preparing you to receive Jesus, when He returns to you on the clouds of Heaven. Only then will the second advent, through which you are living be fulfilled. Then time will reach its fullnessThen the Triumph of your Heavenly Mother will have its triumph in the definitive and glorious triumph of Her Son Jesus.” (24 Dec 1997) In Her very last message, Our Lady said “Everything has been revealed to you: my plan has been foretold to you especially in its marvelous and victorious fulfillment.I have announced to you the Triumph of My Immaculate Heart in the world.In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph (Our Lady’s emphasis). This will come about in the greatest triumph of Jesus who will bring into the world His glorious reign of love, justice and peace and will make all things new. Open your hearts to hope.Throw open the doors to Christ who is coming to you in glory”. (31 Dec 1997)

What is clear and absolutely unambiguous is that Our Lady states the triumph comes at the end (why did she emphasize it?)Time will reach its fullness and Jesus comes in His glorious Body-all in the same event of the Triumph. This is exactly the scenario I proposed in my book Heralds of the second Coming-confirmed by cardinals, bishops and professors of theology.
In the revelations of Our Lady to Fr Gobbi there is no mention of an era of peace to come before the end of the world. This is confirmed by Her saying continually that Satan will be defeated forever at the end if this purification. She never once proclaims a first resurrection for the saints; she speaks of the complete and definitive coming of Jesus in His glorious Body-therefore its either millenarian heresy(in which case the Church would have condemned these messages long ago, or they refer to the end of the world. In my book I have a quote from Cardinal Ratzinger in a letter to Bishop Pavel Hnilica in which he states the 3rd secret of Fatima refers to the persecution until the end of the world.
Finally, there is mention of a Eucharistic reign. In the book Our Lady states “This new era will coincide with the greatest triumph of the Eucharistic reign of Jesus” (26 Feb 1991). In the papal magisterium and the Tradition of the Church there is no mention of a Eucharistic reign which could be viewed as a separate era from the new heaven and new earth, or in the present age. So what do Our Lady’s words refer to? The closest papal teaching to this comes from an ad limina address to Bishops of the USA on Dec 9 1988 Any consideration of the eschatological dimension of the Church must necessarily include the Holy Eucharist. The Church constantly finds her nourishment in the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of the glorified Christ. At the end of time, the saving power of the Eucharist will attain its full effect when the holiness of the Church will be complete and the entire universe will be perfectly restored in Christ. Meanwhile, we “proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes”.The renewal of the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary is at the same time the banquet of the Kingdom.” Therefore the pope places this idea in the firm context of the renewal of the Universe to come after the Last Judgment. In reality it is symbolic of the eschatological Banquet of the Kingdom of God. It cannot possibly be viewed as anything else, and Our Lady does not suggest another interpretation to it in the book. In fact in message 505, after giving a similar statement on the Eucharistic reign, she immediately says “towards these new heavens and this new earth your Heavenly Mother, who is gathering you today from every part of the world, to prepare you for the Lord who is coming, is leading you” (21 Nov 1993)

What we can conclude from this, is that regardless of the authenticity of these revelations, of which the Church will perhaps one day make a definitive judgment, we can affirm that they do not support the theory of a millennium. They actually affirm the messages from approved private revelations which speak of the nearness of the final coming. For instance we can refer to the Divine Mercy revelations of St Faustina, the messages from Kibeho, Rwanda in which Alphonsine Mamureke (now a Nun) stated Our Lady told her she had come to prepare souls for the return of Jesus, and those from San Nicholas, Argentina in which the Blessed Virgin stated “the coming of the Lord is imminent”.

The private revelations of mystics and visionaries can only ever be interpreted in the light of the Magisterium. The mistake some apparition followers make is to understand it the other way round, and that is the basis for a variety of millennial errors which seem to be alive and well-unfortunately.

Analysis of Rev 20 from Bro Leo Checkai, OP

I present here an analysis of this difficult passage of Sacred Scripture which was written as part of a series on the entire Book of Revelation. I would strongly  encourage a reading of the entire text at http://www.dominicanablog.com/online-edition/opening-the-book-of-revelation/

Chapter 20—Salvation History Re-presented

The revelation to St. John continues with a vision of Satan being bound by an angel. The saints then reign with Christ for a thousand years, after which Satan is released for a final battle in which he and his supporters are definitively defeated. Then comes the judgment.

The question that faces the alert reader is whether this material is to be read as a continuation of the visions in the preceding chapters or as a recapitulation, where a new vision starts over and presents the same thing again in a different way. The best answer is, “It depends on how you interpret it.”

Not every interpretation is a true interpretation, but we have seen in previous posts how Jesus and other authoritative interpreters within Scripture show us how Scriptural texts can have multiple true interpretations. It might seem strange to say that the way the images ought to be divided into distinct visions depends on which interpretation one is considering. But it is just like the prophecies of the Old Testament, where the way sentences ought to be divided into distinct clauses depends on which interpretation one is considering.

Here’s an example. Remember that the Bible predates punctuation marks. Editors of various editions have long put punctuation in to help readers, but it is not part of the inspired text. So Isaiah 40:3 says, “A voice cries out in the wilderness prepare a way for the Lord”. Which way are you supposed to read it? Is the voice in the wilderness or is the way for the Lord in the wilderness? From the way we usually like to speak in English, it might seem like the former is more likely. But if you consider the original historical context of the prophecy, which is to encourage the people to return to the Holy Land from their exile in Babylon, the more fitting interpretation is: “A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare a way for the Lord.’” Between Babylon and the land of Israel is the vast Arabian desert, and it is not practical to march across it. To go between the two, one ordinarily has to journey north, then east-west, then south again. But the Lord is so determined to go back that he is going straight through the wilderness – so the people had better get moving!

But the original historical context is not the only sense of the prophecy. The Evangelists are inspired by God to say that this passage was fulfilled in St. John the Baptist. Since John was in the desert, and the way of the Lord that he is calling for is in the people’s souls, then for his situation the interpretation “A voice cries out in the desert: “Prepare a way for the Lord” makes more sense. This other division of the sentence is just as true, although it is applicable to a different situation. The editors of the NABRE are attentive to this, and so they punctuate it one way in the Old Testament and the other in the New Testament, as in Mark 1:3.

Likewise the prophetic visions of the Book of Revelation, as we have seen, can be read rightly as applying to events in St. John’s time or as applying to later events. If we are reading it according to its meaning for the Church in St. John’s time, then in Chapters 17-19 Babylon represents pagan Rome and the Beast is the antichrist Caesar Nero. But if we read it according to its eschatological sense, then Babylon represents the wicked considered all together as one “city” opposed to the city of God, and the Beast represents the Antichrist whom the Church teaches will come at the end (CCC 675). In either interpretation the reign of Christ with the saints refers to the Church, which consists of Jesus’ holy ones on earth and in heaven. As we saw in Post X, wherever Christ is, there is his kingdom; the Church is the body of Christ. The life of a member of the Body of Christ, that is, being a baptized Christian, is an intrinsically priestly and royal life (I Peter 2:5, 9), and a resurrection (Colossians 3:1). Satan’s “binding” for a thousand years means that God will never allow him to afflict the entire Church on earth so thoroughly that she is reduced to the state of the early Church under the Roman persecution.

Therefore if we are considering the Book according to the historical interpretation, then we should probably interpret Chapter 20 as a continuation of what came before, because in that interpretation it makes sense for the thousand-year reign to come after the fall of Babylon. But if we are interpreting it according to its meaning of prophesying events future to St. John’s time, then we should interpret it as a recapitulation, a new vision that presents the same thing again in a different way, as happens in many prophetic visions in Scripture. Since St. Bede’s commentary is chiefly about the latter interpretation, he interprets Chapter 20 as a recapitulation.

Although with Isaiah 40:3 we might be able to make a pretty good case for applying either reading in some sense to either the return from exile or St. John the Baptist, with Revelation 20 we get in trouble if we try to mix the two. If one interprets it according to the eschatological meaning and interprets Chapter 20 not as a recapitulation but as a continuation, then the error of “millenarianism” results (or “chiliasm,” depending on whether you prefer Latin or Greek), which supposes that at the end of the world there will be an earthly kingdom of Christ which lasts for numerically 1,000 years. The people most susceptible to this mistake are those who do not understand the Church well enough to see how the language of the thousand-year reign refers to her, and those who are not well attuned to the interpretation of prophecy in Scripture we have been reviewing in these posts.

We saw from the Old Testament prophecies that what God has done he will do again, and in a similar way. There has already been a historical fulfillment of the judgment of Babylon the great city (pagan Rome) proximate to St. John. But its fall did not mean simple annihilation. Isaiah and the Psalms prophesy that Egypt and Babylon will be converted to the Lord:

The LORD shall make himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day; they shall offer sacrifices and oblations, make vows to the LORD and fulfill them. Although the LORD shall smite Egypt severely, he shall heal them… On that day Israel shall be a third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, when the LORD of hosts gives this blessing: Blessed be my people Egypt, and the work of my hands Assyria, and my heritage Israel.
—Isaiah 19:21-22, 24-25

Rahab and Babylon I count among those who know me.
—Ps. 87:4

Pagan Rome fell—and it was taken over by Christians and subjected to Christ. Imagine how wondrous that must have seemed to those who knew the full horror and brutality of its persecution. So shall the world be in the new creation, and more wondrous still when the Day of the Lord that is yet to be comes to pass.

Chapter 21—The New Creation

It is not incorrect to say that the Book of Revelation is about the “end of the world.” But if it is an end, it is an end that is really a beginning, like commencement speakers are fond of saying at college graduations—a beginning of something better and more lasting. Heaven and earth are renewed. We are told, among other things, that “the sea was no more.” We can speculate about the geography of the new creation, but remember that the primary purpose of the visions of the Book of Revelation is to make spiritual realities visible. In the Bible the sea represents chaos and the untamable destructiveness of nature in a fallen world that makes it inhospitable to man. That aspect of creation symbolized by the sea will be no more. The way is clear for the everlasting joy and triumph of the elect in the New Jerusalem.

The Blessed Virgin Mary-Star of the New Evangelization

As the Church embarks on a new stage of its eschatological journey through history, under the leadership of Pope Francis, it is clear that two separate heavenly initiatives are converging in preparation for the instillation of the eternal Kingdom of Jesus Christ. These initiatives-stages of salvation history, are known as the Marian era, a period of time marked by an increased maternal presence of the Blessed Virgin in the life of the Church; and theNew Evangelization, an attempt to re-evangelize the lost sheep of Western Christianity-those souls ensnared by what Blessed John Paul II called the silent apostasy (Ecclesia in Europa no 9).

The present situation, in this dramatic hour of history calls for an extraordinary effort of all Catholics to respond to the demands of the Gospel: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20). Why is this so necessary? It is because in the prophetic voice of the recent popes and saints, an apocalyptic menace is looming over humanity; the culmination of a battle that began in the Garden of Eden as described in the third chapter of Genesis. The divine will of God has decreed that the glory of the Blessed Virgin should shine forth in this era to bring to fulfilment the victory won for us by the Lord’s death and resurrection. Pope John Paul II, imbued with a prophetic spirit, understood more than anyone the true extent of the role of Mary in these times – in fact he stated that the “Marian era” began with the proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady in 1854. As far as the specific times we face, he told priests in Poland in 1983 “In the period of these great struggles, Mary is given to us as a sign. ‘A woman clothed with the sun with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars’ (Rev 12:1), thus sees John in the Book of Revelation. In the period of this great struggle with the “principes et potestates . . . Tenebrarum harum” a powerful illumination is required, more powerful than at any other time.”

Looking at the prophetic teaching of St Louis de Montfort concerning Mary’s role in the end times, we see a gradual coming to fruition over the past two centuries; from the many apparitions and the proclamation of the dogmas, to the great Marian popes and their mariological teaching of the twentieth century.

However, what is also striking in this era, is how the devil has tried to halt Marian devotion; many of us will have witnessed statues or images of Our Lady  being removed from Catholic churches, while the Holy Rosary has been frowned upon by a certain section of the Catholicism. The modern error strewn theological approach has been to claim that devotion to the Mother of God draws attention away from Jesus. In reality the opposite is true. Mary is the perfect image of the Church. In her person she is the ecclesia immaculata and the ecclesia assumpta; in essence, the perfect model for all believers. There is an ancient title for Mary loved by the popes-the Hodegetria– meaning “She who shows the way”. For the surest path to Christ, Mary is that way-in her purity, charity, humility and obedience. The perfection of these virtues in her Immaculate Heart makes her the icon of the Church militant. The eloquent silence of Mary in the Gospel teaches us that silence is the way to listen to the voice of God in our heart and conscience, while granting is a greater ability to discern the signs of the times.

The New Evangelization called for by Blessed Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI is the answer to the dictatorship of relativism that dominates much of the West. Its aim is to reverse the trend of apostasy and atheism wherever it manifests itself. Significantly, Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI have all stated that the Gospel has now spread to a universal dimension, seemingly bringing to fruition the prophecy of Jesus that it would have to go throughout the world before His return. In fact Paul VI asked this question: “Now that the Gospel message has reached the ends of the earth, is missionary work, properly so called at an end?” His answer was no. The Church would have to work hard until the very last day, especially in this new aspect of re-evangelization. The popes have placed Mary the “Star of the New Evangelization” as its leader and have begged for her prayers to bring about conversions. The Church of the twenty-first century needs to be in the Upper Room with Mary in the cenacle of a new Pentecost. It needs to listen to Mary while being docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who is the beginning and end of all missionary activity. As Mary is the spouse of the Holy Spirit, it is given to her as our Mediatrix and Advocate to lead this new evangelization and to obtain from Him the graces necessary for a miraculous catch (Lk 5:4). The maternal interventions of Mary in contemporary history can only be understood in the light of the new evangelization-to place these apparitions outside the missionary mandate of the Lord is to misunderstand their significance .The Blessed Virgin knows the entire stretch of salvation history from beginning to end, and therefore Her increased presence in recent times illustrates the necessity and urgency of evangelization.

Upon reflection, we see clearly the convergence of the Marian era and the New Evangelization in an eschatological light. It’s ultimate goal is to prepare the world for the Second Coming of Our Lord as explained by Blessed John Paul in a speech to Spanish bishops “May the Virgin, Mother of the Church, Our Lady of Hope and Advent, give us the grace to accomplish the task of a new evangelization to prepare hearts for the coming of the Lord”. It also explains why the great polish pontiff constantly urged the youth of the Church to recognize the signs of the new times and to boldly spread the Good News to all. At World Youth Day 1993 in Denver he prophetically proclaimed: “This pilgrimage must continue—it must continue in our lives; it must continue in the life of the Church as she looks forward to the Third Christian Millennium. It must continue as a new advent, a moment of hope and expectation until the return of the Lord in glory.

In these dark days for humanity and the Church, may our prayer be one of unfailing hope and joy, not pessimism or despair -for that is not the Christian way, nor is it the way of evangelization. With the Blessed Virgin at the helm, we can be sure that the knot tied by Eve’s disobedience will finally be untied forever and the Kingdom of God will come bringing the peace that only Jesus can give. Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!

The Importance of Eschatology in the Thought of Blessed John Paul

I would like to present extracts from the ad Limina address Pope John Paul II gave to Bishops from the USA in December 1988. It displays his clear vision of an eschatology that is central to the mission of the Catholic Church, especially in our times, when the temptation of Satan for us to “make ourselves like God” (cf. Gen 3:5) seemingly replaces any need to look beyond this life. Without the horizon of eschatological hope and peace to guide the Church’s mission, we risk being left with a sort of social counselling service which would betray the reason for the Word of God descending to our humanity. Eternal salvation, and the transfiguration of humanity in the final analysis, is what matters most. We loose that focus at our peril!

“In the words of the Letter to the Hebrews: “Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith” . And because “he has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God”, it is by looking to Christ in the reality of his heavenly Kingdom that we will understand his Church on earth.
Since the Church is already the Kingdom of God in its initial stage, it is fitting, at the conclusion of the ad Limina visits, that our attention should be directed to the final consummation of the Church. Her eschatological nature is an essential part of her mystery, and it is of great importance for our pastoral leadership in the Church.
We have been placed by the Holy Spirit as Pastors to guide the Church in accomplishing her mission. To do so adequately, we must always keep in mind that there is a specific dynamic at work at the center of the Church’s evangelizing activities. It is her eschatological dimension. Everything that brings about her final fulfillment promotes her vitality. But if eschatology were to remain devoid of consequences, the Church’s progress would be halted and her course misdirected. In this case, her activities would be irrelevant to authentic evangelization.
Ecclesial communion too is profoundly eschatological. Founded on communion through Christ with the Father in the Holy Spirit, the Church knows she is imbued with a life that transcends death. Her life is the life of the Risen Christ, the life that through the Cross conquered death by the power of loving obedience to the Father’s will. By the exercise of his saving power, Christ communicates his own glorious life to the Church. The Church begins to exist as a consequence of this act of the Risen Jesus. She already lives this life of her Lord and Savior while longing for her definitive fulfillment.
By his life-giving act the Lord brings his Church into union with himself and thus fills her with holiness But this holiness must be sustained and increased. In all the dimensions of their human existence the members of the Church must open themselves ever more to the Lord’s sanctifying power. In this way, the Kingdom gradually takes shape in each Christian and in the Church, and grows indefinitely.
It is precisely in holiness that the Church anticipates and actually inaugurates the Kingdom of God. The pastoral office in the Church exists to foster holiness. To understand fully the pastoral office we must look to the holiness of the Church in her eschatological form: the holiness that Christ wills for his Church, the holiness that consummates the union of Christ and his Bride in heaven. In presenting an American Bishop to the whole world as a model of pastoral charity, Paul VI called the canonization of John Neumann both a “celebration of holiness” and a “prophetic anticipation… for the United States… of a renewal in love”.
The full coming of Christ’s Kingdom requires from all the faithful the gift of themselves to God and to others. Inseparable from this gift is prayer. We see this in Christ Jesus. Our Lord goes to the Cross in the very context of that prayer which he began in Gethsemane and which was consummated when he gave up his spirit into the hands of the Father. By virtue of our divine filiation we are called to follow in this path. Authentic prayer is possible only when we are ready to carry out the saving plan of the Father. We must try, therefore, to help God’s people achieve a clear understanding of what prayer means: dialogue with God involving personal commitment. As Pastors, we ourselves must bear witness to prayer, being convinced that through it the saving power of God transforms the ecclesial community.
The Church proclaims that her members are to be “children of the resurrection”, and she waits “in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ” She looks forward to the hour when her glory will be revealed in the fullness of communion with the Most Holy Trinity. It is Christ’s coming that in turn will definitively[sic] “new heavens and a new earth” As we await these realities we are called to live in deep peace and serenity. Victory is certain, evil will not prevail: Jesus Christ has overcome the world.
For this reason, Christians must seek to use temporal goods without the anxiety and hyperactivity of those whose only hope is in this life. Certainly faith does not permit us to remain passive in the face of suffering and injustice. Our hope spurs us on to work actively for the coming of the universal Kingdom of God. But we can never do this with the uncertainty of those who place their ultimate happiness in earthly history. A Christian’s struggle breathes serenity and communicates peace, not only as the goal it seeks but as the very style with which it promotes justice. A basic security and optimism inspires the whole life of the Church. We know beforehand the goal to which we aspire with God’s help. We may experience hesitation with regard to certain means, but the objective is clear and unchanging. In its light we can discern the path to be followed and we correct any course that may have been taken by mistake. The Church can never succumb to the temptation to “remake” herself. Her essential identity is guaranteed by the assurance that Jesus Christ will return in glory.
This expectation of Christ’s return in glory gives meaning to all the Church’s activities and places all temporal concerns in proper perspective. In all she does, the Church looks to a horizon far beyond human history, where everything will be subjected to Christ and by him offered to the Father. At the moment foreordained, everything in heaven and on earth will definitively be placed under the headship of Christ. Meanwhile, by God’s design, the life of the Church is interwoven in the fabric of human history but always directed to eternal life.
The Church can never be a community at the service of merely temporal objectives. Her end is the Kingdom of God, which she must unceasingly extend until its completion in eternity. Hence her initiatives and efforts cannot be motivated by merely temporal values. The Church lives in the midst of human beings – she herself being the new humanity in Christ – and she shares the experience of the whole human family. She lives in solidarity with all people, and nothing human is foreign to her.
The concerns of the ecclesial community embrace those of the civil community in such areas as peace, culture, the family and human rights. Yet the perspective from which the Church approaches all these issues has as its characteristic originality a relationship with the Kingdom of God. If the Church were to lose this transcendent perspective, she could not make her distinctive contribution to humanity.
Any consideration of the eschatological dimension of the Church must necessarily include the Holy Eucharist. The Church constantly finds her nourishment in the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of the glorified Christ. At the end of time, the saving power of the Eucharist will attain its full effect when the holiness of the Church will be complete and the entire universe will be perfectly restored in Christ. Meanwhile, we “proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes”.
The renewal of the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary is at the same time the banquet of the Kingdom.
Mary the Mother of Jesus is the perfect realization of the Church’s life of faith and goal of holiness. In her we have a great sign that sums up and completely expresses the holiness that we sinners strive to attain through conversion. She who is now body and soul in heaven is the first of the redeemed and the totally sanctified one.
In the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, the Council presents a synthesis, applicable to Mary, of living in the temporal order without ever losing sight of the spiritual order in its eschatological fullness. The Council says that “while leading the life common to all here on earth, one filled with family concerns and labors, she was always intimately united with her Son and in an entirely unique way cooperated in the work of the Savior”. In her femininity as Virgin, Wife and Mother, Mary stands in and before the Church as the Woman of all salvation history. Having now been assumed into heaven, she lives her spiritual motherhood interceding on our behalf, helping us in the midst of our earthly pilgrimage not to forget the goal which inspires all the Church’s activities.
The present hour in the life of the Church calls for great hope, based on the eschatological promises of God and expressed in renewed confidence in the power of Christ’s Paschal Mystery. This is the hour for renewed effort in inviting young people to the priesthood and religious life, the hour for renewed serenity in proclaiming the most difficult demands of Christianity and the loftiest challenges of the Cross. It is the hour for a new commitment to holiness on the part of the Church, as she prepares for the great Jubilee of the year 2000 and invokes the coming of the Lord Jesus.”
Ad Limina Address to American Bishops, 9 December, 1988
Available at www.vatican.va

Reasons for writing the book

In presenting this article concerning my new book, Heralds of the Second Coming , I would like to explain my reasons for writing it and to draw attention as to why I hope it will shed new light on the Marian era which appears to be reaching a crescendo in our time. The primary focus of the book revolves around the popes from Blessed Pius IX to Benedict XVI, and especially their prophetic teachings, given as part of the charism of assistance promised by Jesus when he said to Peter “I have prayed for you” (Lk 22:32). (See General Audiences of Pope John Paul II, 2 December 1992, 10 & 17 March 1993)
In the past two centuries, the Catholic Church has been the beneficiary of a more or less continual stream of prophetic revelations concerning the dire situation facing humanity as the culture of hedonism, relativism and apostasy have taken a stranglehold on God’s children-both within the Church and without. We may recall the great apparitions of Rue de Bac, La Salette, Laus, and Lourdes, while in more recent times Fatima, Medjugorje, Kibeho, San Nicolas and Garabandal, some of which still await the approval of Rome. Great mystics have also been granted insights of an eschatological nature, for instance St Faustina, Blessed Elena Aiello, Mother Speranza, and Maria Esperanza among others. While this has been a great help to the Church, the emergence of apocalyptic prophecies among Catholics has left a somewhat confused picture of what is to come in the future. I believe this has come about because an individualistic approach to interpreting prophecy has taken centre stage, especially in recent times with the mass appeal of the internet and the plethora of websites devoted to private revelations. The reality is that a form of millenarianism still dominates the discussion, with the idea that a great chastisement awaits us, after which we are granted the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary leading to a temporal era of peace, and only after that would Satan fight one last time before the curtain falls on history forever.
Over a long period of time, it became apparent to me that the missing link in all discussion of the end times, was what does the magisterium of the popes say about it? Do we have clear teachings of what we can expect to happen? Is there any sense of urgency in the writings of the popes similar to those of private revelation? The benefit of bringing this new angle to the table, is that we know that the popes are protected from all errors in faith and morals, and even their ordinary magisterium is to be accepted:
This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme Magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgements made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking. (Lumen Gentium 25)
Therefore we have a guarantee that what the popes teach from an ‘end times’ point of view is to be accepted., and is guided by the Holy Spirit. The central focus of the book is to answer this pivotal question: Are we to expect some sort of temporal Kingdom before the end of the world, or are we actually approaching the glorious return of Jesus to judge the living and the dead?
It is unquestionable that in the Divine Mercy revelations,both Jesus and His Blessed Mother were referring to the end of the world with references to the ‘final coming’; in fact St Faustina told her spiritual director, Blessed Michael Sopocko days before her death that the world would not exist for much longer. Some have argued that the Vatican did not approve St Faustina’s revelations in her canonization process, but that is simply wrong. In fact, Pope John Paul quoted some of the most prophetic, eschatological passages from her Diary in homilies, and thus they then became part of his ordinary magisterium. During his trip to Poland in August 2002, Blessed John Paul said “May the binding promise of the Lord Jesus be fulfilled: from here there must go forth “the spark which will prepare the world for his final coming” (cf. Diary, 1732). The Holy Father went as far as to call it a “binding promise”, therefore the claim that her revelations are not approved is without foundation. The revelations from Kibeho, Rwanda(approved at the highest level) also have this deep eschatological element, in that Alphonsine Mumureke, one of the three approved visionaries stated that Our Lady had told them she is preparing the way for the return of the Lord.
The main cause of confusion that dominates the quest to discover the mystery behind the chastisement and era of peace, is centered around the renewal of the world. For many catholics, especially in pre Vatican II days there was no in-depth theology of the renewal of all things at the end of the world, therefore the term “end of the world” really meant total destruction, with all the saved going “up” to heaven. However this is not the case. The world is to be made new and become a second earthly paradise, but crucially it is not to happen this side of the last judgement-and it will have no end. Although a somewhat theological explanation, this passage from the Vatican website explains the issue:
Jesus spoke not of the end of the “world”, but of the end of the “age” (aion in Greek), the present period of salvation history. God was doing something new in Jesus. The Hebrew olam, Greek aion, and Latin saeculum all have temporal as well as spatial dimensions (age, period, eon, but also world). Kingdom of God language in New Testament usage is primarily temporal, not spatial. The realization of the promise will occur within history as its culmination, and not, as in Platonic, anti-­material views, just over the edge into eternity. So the kingdom hope is for this world, but in a new era. (Report of the Third Phase of the International Theological Dialogue
between the Catholic Church and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches 1998-2005) .

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had also ruled out any era of peace before the final coming of Jesus in the notification of 1995 concerning Vassula Ryden- referring to the idea as “millenarian in style” It is my view that even saints and mystics in referring to an era of peace may have also misunderstood this theological point. Stressing the fact that peace on earth would come and because they perhaps understood the material world to end one day, they automatically assumed it must occur within history. Pope Benedict stated in the Apostolic Letter declaring St Hildegard of Bingen a Doctor of the Church that even she did not understand fully her revelations. This explains why the Pope, as guardian of the truth, is the one who has authority to interpret revelations like Fatima’s third secret. It is my sincere wish that this book will help to rebalance this critical point and thus we will gain knowledge of the secret mystery of Fatima in particular.
What the reader will discover throughout the pages of this book is a startlingly bold prophetic message-and the answer to many important questions that have seemingly remained hidden. For instance: How does Fatima relate to the end of the world? What is the true meaning of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart? What did Pope John Paul mean by prophesying a great springtime for Christianity? What was the eschatological significance of Vatican II? Other important issues addressed concern the visions of St Hildegard of Bingen in which she was shown by God the Father the “Five Furious Epochs” to come from her time, until the end of the world; significant in that certain pin point accurate prophecies allow us to discover where we are in that sequence of epochs. Another element of great importance considered, is the meaning of certain words and phrases used in biblical language, which deepen our understanding of what is to come-for instance Pope John Paul’s proclamation of a “new and divine holiness” to come in the near future.
I would like to stress that Heralds of the Second Coming is not a duplication of the many books available that study apparitions and prophecies. Far from it. It is a unique volume which presents this important subject for the first time from the teaching authority of the successors of St Peter. The mysterious veil is lifted, and light is shed on the mission conferred by the Holy Trinity upon Our Blessed Mother to prepare hearts for the second glorious coming of Jesus. Any doubts about the hour if history we face are dispelled upon reading the remarkable words of all these popes. “Spectacularly present, yet strangely overlooked” in the words of Fr Aidan Nichols OP.
With a Foreword by His Eminence Cardinal Ivan Dias, a great marian devotee himself, and Cardinal member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and endorsed by a variety of experts, I hope you will find answers to the many questions of our time, and above all help us to live our lives in an “advent” spirit so that the Lord finds us watching and waiting when he comes to inaugurate the new heavens and new earth.

My first blog post

Peace and Blessings to you all!

I hope to use this blog to share a wide variety of writing from popes, theologians, Church Fathers, saints, mystics and visionaries concerning the eschatological signs.

My main aim however, is to bring the importance of the papal magisterium and it’s teachings into the centre of the mystery of salvation history.

Please do check back often and feel free to offer thoughts!

Stephen