Sunday, September 13, 2009

Signs of the "Birth Pains" of Matthew 24: 8

By: Dr. J. P. Hubert

In my previous post in which I discussed the increasing incidence of earthquakes HERE..., I suggested that the other signs (based on Sacred Scripture alone) which must precede the appearance of Antichrist are present as well. I also indicated that depending on how one interprets the severity of the required "signs" and those of the current age, it is possible to derive varying conclusions. In that regard it is noteworthy that Yves DuPont in his Catholic Prophecy: The Coming Chastisement, (Rockford Ill. Tan Books and Publishers Inc.: 1973) came to a different conclusion than mine regarding the eschatological sequence. His interpretation was arrived at after a detailed analysis of the many statements on this topic made by Catholic "seers'" throughout history (note however that Catholics are not required to accept any of these as they are private revelations and not part of General Revelation and the Deposit of the Faith).

In any case, DuPont's view is that there will be 2 stages (the first less severe than the last which brings about the final consummation of the world) involved in the final sequence of events discussed in Matt. 24: 4-44. The first stage will begin after the preaching of the gospel throughout the world (although imperfectly) and with a universal Apostasy (world-wide but incomplete) also involving wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, tidal waves, astronomical events, epidemics etc. including a 3-day darkness covering the whole earth which will constitute a minor (serious but less severe than the Great Tribulation) Chastisement of the Earth as a punishment for its Apostasy, (DuPont, 1973, pp. 89-91). He asserts that these events will be followed by the appearance of a final saintly Pope (whose reign could last decades) and a great ruler/king of Europe who will together re-establish the Catholic Church along Traditional orthodox lines. This will apparently be followed by a "reign of peace" in which many Protestants, Jews, Muslims and non-believer's will convert to Catholicism. At that time the whole world will presumably be Catholic which is to constitute the final "sign" or fulfillment of Christ's words in scripture: "this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world as a testament to all nations..." (Matt. 24: 14) the occurrence of which serves as (the first sign) of the second stage of the final eschatological sequence.

According to DuPont, toward the end of the great ruler's reign, there will again be a severe (final) Apostasy (the second sign) after which (the third sign) the destruction of the reconstituted Holy Roman Empire will usher in the appearance of Antichrist (the fourth sign). After that point Enoch and Elias will appear to battle the Antichrist (the fifth sign), the Jews will convert returning to Palestine (the sixth sign) and many new severe disturbances will take place (the seventh, eight, and ninth signs) culminating finally in the glorious return of Jesus Christ in glory.

The latter set of "signs" starting with the appearance of Antichrist begins the worst of the Great Tribulation (Major Chastisement). In many respects this outline is compatible with Sacred Scripture except perhaps for the extended "period of peace" (e.g. the "age of peace" is not mentioned in Mathew 24 or Mark 13 both of which appear to describe in some detail what must occur before the appearance of Antichrist) after what DuPont describes as the more minor chastisement of the first stage. DuPont further asserts that the Antichrist will not appear until the last saintly Pope and the final good ruler/king of the Holy Roman Empire have restored the faith and until a "period of peace" occurs. For a slightly different view with respect to the "period of peace" and the necessary occurrences prior to the appearance of Antichrist see Desmond A Birch, Trial, Tribulation and Triumph: Before, During and After Antichrist, (Goleta, Calif.: Queenship Publishing, 1996).

The major difference between what I have suggested and what DuPont described is that based on my reading of scripture (admittedly limited) I have not been able detect a division of the signs in Matt. 24: 4-44 into 2 separate stages as he has done. I am unaware of whether or not the Church Father's specifically did this either, although many referred to the universal Apostasy which must precede the appearance of Antichrist. At least one, St. Ephraem, the Syrian Father and Doctor of the Church apparently predicted that in the future before the appearance of Antichrist:

"The Lord from his glorious heaven shall set up his peace . . . and (after that) coming forth from perdition, the man of iniquity shall be revealed upon the earth, the Seducer of men, and the Disturber of the whole earth" (Birch,1996, p.547).

Presumably, DuPont's opinion that a "period of peace" would precede the advent of Antichrist was largely a result of relying on the testimonies of many private Catholic seer's rather than on Sacred Scripture and the Traditional teachings of the Church Father's.

DuPont's point is that these private prophesies are extremely consistent about the prolonged period of peace between the first stage of the final eschatological sequence and the appearance of Antichrist. In this he specifically appeals to the Blessed Virgin Mary's words to the children of Fatima along with other private prophecies. For support regarding the details of the first Apostasy he refers to Sr. Anne Catherine Emmerick (DuPont pp. 60-72) and others who provided a large number of details about the lack of faith especially with regard to the episcopacy and Priests.

In 1970 according to DuPont, we had just entered the period of the first stage in which an Apostasy had appeared in the Roman Catholic Church related to Vatican II (note that [Birch, 1996 p. LIX] argued that the post-Vatican II Apostasy had not been geographically universal enough to constitute the eschatological Apostasy). Now almost 40 years after DuPont wrote, we would presumably be well into and perhaps nearing the end of the first stage and yet the good Pope who purportedly would restore the Traditional Catholic faith and the good European ruler have not yet appeared. Under DuPont's scheme these further signs are necessary (including further cosmic and natural disasters) before the Antichrist arrives. One can hope and pray that he is correct. If so, the world is yet to experience the extended "period of peace." Unfortunately, the private prophesies of those who DuPont quotes are not strictly speaking part of the Deposit of the Faith. Each one must make their own decision about the current circumstances and proceed accordingly.

Whether DuPont's view is correct or whether the current signs are more suggestive of the imminent appearance of Antichrist--based as they are on Sacred Scripture not private revelation and admittedly less detailed--is anyone's guess. What DuPont has outlined is not incompatible with scripture however since it is consistent with it where the same topics are addressed and more detailed where scripture is silent.

The "take-away" here would seem to be that we are currently living in a unique era which could well represent the unfolding of the eschatological sequence. For those who are extremely confused by the crisis in the Roman Catholic Church and the situation in the world which appears to be moving toward a "one-world" government, it may be of some consolation to know that these events have been predicted by Jesus Christ himself and that no matter what is in store for the immediate future, the final result is victory for those who remain completely faithful to the True (orthodox) Catholic Faith. Doing so of course has become extremely challenging but not impossible. Readers will find links on this site to the Catechism of the Council of Trent, the Challoner Edition of the Douay-Rheims Bible and the Dogmas of the faith for easy access to orthodox Catholic teaching.

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