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What should Catholics believe about the end of the world? Now, the answers -- in a major new book saluted by the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano
The end of the world is an unmistakable focus of Christ’s teaching. Yet contemporary Catholic preaching ignores it -- leaving it almost exclusively to Protestants, and to the growing number of believers in private revelations or Marian messages.
“This book does not intend further to multiply such messages,” writes Fr. Livio Fanzago, a Rome-educated theologian and director of Europe’s largest Catholic radio network, Radio Maria. Instead, Fr. Livio seeks to acquaint ordinary Catholics with the Biblical and Church teachings necessary "to evaluate various kinds of speculation about the end of the world" ... to read the signs of the times and recognize the evils of our age ... to prepare ourselves spiritually for the end whenever it may come ... and to discern the answers to such urgently important questions as:
- What will be the content of the "supreme religious deception" that will lead countless Catholics to abandon their faith? Can we see it already at work in our own time?
- Will the Antichrist be a clerical traitor? A religious leader? A politician? A collective phenomenon? Some combination?
- How will the Antichrist succeed in posing as the friend, even protector, of the Catholic Church -- while seducing its members into apostasy and destroying its authority?
- Which of us will be most vulnerable to seduction? Which of us will best prepared to persevere -- and how will we be put to the test?
- Will the Antichrist's appearance coincide with the end of the world? Or must a "thousand year kingdom" elapse first?
- Which prophetic visions or private revelations about the end times fall within the bounds of right doctrine? Which don't?
- Have the end times begun?
The two lengthy radio speeches by Fr. Livio from which this book is adapted created a sensation when first broadcast. Their focus was two "prophetic" Catholic novels written nearly a century ago -- Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson's Lord of the World, and Vladimir Soloviev's Tale of the Antichrist. Drawing countless prophecies and insights from these two books -- which he carefully evaluates in the light of Scripture, magisterial teaching, and recent history -- Fr. Livio compiles a persuasive and vivid portrait not only of the Antichrist, but of the world as it will be when it welcomes him. Highlights:
- Precise meaning of the term "Antichrist" -- used only in St. John's letters, but clearly present in other New Testament texts. How the Old Testament prefigures it
- The New Testament’s “clear and well structured line of thought” on the Antichrist -- from Jesus’s preaching, to St. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, to the writings of St. John
- Society in the end times: “From a materialist perspective, splendid." (Sound familiar?)
- Why Benson portrays the Antichrist as an American
- The growth of apostasy, and the betrayal of the Church from within
- Why Catholic tradition has consistently rejected the notion of an earthly "thousand year kingdom" preceding the end
- How the reckoning between Christ and His enemies "will not be played out in a dramatic conflict but in an attempt to impoverish the Church from within in an attempt to liquidate it"
- How the Antichrist will pose as the savior of religion and bringer of universal peace
- Why he will not be "someone sunken in immorality," but "the complete contrary"
- Why Soloviev and Benson place the Antichrist's appearance at the transition from this millennium to the next
- The common bonds linking Satan, the Antichrist par excellence, with the Antichrist, his representative on earth
- The crucial moment in the life of the Antichrist -- "ultimately, it is exactly what happens to all of us"
- The Antichrist as "the great conciliator and mediator," claiming to reconcile all philosophies and religions
- Crucial to his plan: a "central coercive force which imposes peace on all." Is one in the making right now?
- Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Protestantism in the final days
- Why all religions except Catholicism -- including Buddhism, Hinduism, even Islam -- are attracted to (and will ultimately be seduced by) what Benson called "humanitarian religion"
- How Benson's predicted "humanitarian religion" corresponds exactly to the New Age phenomenon
- Two other prophetic predictions in Benson's novel, both corroborated in our own time
- How the Church will end its history by reliving the Passion of Christ
- Why the true Catholic “hesitates in the face of private revelations which put a specific date” on the end of the world
- 4 spiritual “weapons” that faithful Catholics must arm themselves with for the “good fight” at the end of time -- the time of great deception and persecution of the Church
- Explained in accordance with Catholic doctrine -- these (and many other) apocalyptic terms, symbols and prophecies:
The great tribulation * The abomination of desolation in God's holy temple * The Man of Iniquity * Gog and Magog * The great seduction * The deception of false prophets * The great persecution * The parousia of Christ * The Son of Perdition
Fr. Livio seeks to illuminate not only the when, but the how of the world's end. His insights will fill our hearts with peace, because in discerning God's plan for us, the meaning of our personal existence, as well as of man’s history, is revealed.
“It is a fact that a great part of the Christian world has divested itself of Christianity. For several centuries an apostasy has been taking place which is now very diffused. Increasing numbers of Christians abandon the faith while others ‘change’ the faith, transforming it into something entirely subjective. They make of it a form of religious sentimentalism or a superior form of ‘gnosis.’”
“If we think of other forms of what Paul VI described as the smoke of Satan that had entered the Catholic Church, we discover attempts to empty Christianity of it supernatural dimension and to reduce it to a humanitarian religion. In all this, little importance is attributed to sin, grace, and the transcendent. Insistence is placed on the corporeal works of mercy alone. The Sacraments are abandoned. The supernatural is relegated to the margins. The Church is considered to be democratic and the Magisterium is contested.”
“The Antichrist will be a marvelous, young, seductive person. In common with Christ, he will be thirty years old. He will be calm, highly intelligent and in perfect control of himself. From the perspective of natural virtue, he will be the perfect flower of humanity. It will as though he had been untouched by original sin—apart from his will which harbors a desire to be worshipped instead of God.”
“Friends, in today’s world, apart from the pope, is there any religious authority which can say ‘no,’ with strength and courage, to man’s pretensions to master his own destiny?”
“For the first time in the history of man, atheism has become a mass phenomenon. Man dreams of shaping the future by his own resources, without regard for God or the moral law, Many abandon the faith and the Christian understanding of life, deluded that the world solves all the problems of existence.”
“Some presumed revelations made by Jesus and Our Lady current in Catholic circles can be perplexing. Among simple people, they feed the legend of the Antichrist who is said to occupy the Chair of Peter.... Neither persecution nor seduction, however, can corrode the Chair of Peter and the apostolic college united with it—even if some of its individual members should defect.... When the time of the great deception and tribulation comes, God will not fail to grant the light of discernment to him whom He has placed at the head of the Church.”