As in the Passover and Exodus of the Old Testament, God's people must cross the desert toward the Promised Land. In the New Testament era, the "pillar of fire" is the presence of our Eucharistic Lord. In this painting, ominous storm clouds gather and an army approaches, intent on destroying the children of the new covenant. The people are in confusion and terror, but a priest lifts high a monstrance in which the Body of Christ is exposed, the Lord rallying to Himself all those who hunger for truth. Soon the light will scatter the darkness, divide the waters, and open an impossible path to the promised land of Paradise. —Michael D. O'Brien, commentary on the painting The New Exodus
THE PILLAR OF FIRE
JESUS is going to lead His people into the "promised land"—an Era of Peace where the Covenant people of God will rest from their labors.
For he has spoken somewhere about the seventh day in this manner, "And God rested on the seventh day from all his works"… Therefore, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God. (Heb 4:4, 9)
Indeed, that Pillar of Fire is the burning Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Eucharist. His Mother, Mary, is the Pillar of Cloud which has been leading this little remnant of the Church out of the night of sin during the past 40 years. But as the Dawn approaches, we are to Look To The East, for the Pillar of Fire is rising to lead us to victory. We, like the Israelites, are to smash our idols, to simplify our lives so that we may travel lightly, to fix our eyes upon the Cross, and place our trust completely in God. Only in this way will we be able to make the journey.
THE GREAT EVANGELIZATION
Mary is preparing us for the Great Battle… the Battle for souls. It is so very near my brothers and sisters, so very near. Jesus is coming, the Rider upon a White Horse, the Pillar of Fire, to bring about great victories. It is the First Seal:
I looked, and there was a white horse, and its rider had a bow. He was given a crown, and he rode forth victorious to further his victories. (Rev 6:2)
[The Rider] is Jesus Christ. The inspired evangelist [St. John] not only saw the devastation brought about by sin, war, hunger and death; he also saw, in the first place, the victory of Christ. —POPE PIUS XII, Address, November 15, 1946; footnote of The Navarre Bible, "Revelation", p.70
When the Seals of Revelation are broken, many will turn back toward the Pillar of Fire, especially those for whom we are now praying and fasting for. Our role will be to point them toward this Pillar of Fire.
I see the dawning of a new missionary age, which will become a radiant day bearing an abundant harvest, if all Christians, and missionaries and young churches in particular, respond with generosity and holiness to the calls and challenges of our time. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, December 7, 1990: Encyclical, Redemptoris Missio "The Mission of Christ the Redeemer"
Tragically, many will be lost for eternity, choosing instead the false light of the prince of darkness. During this period, there will be much confusion and anguish. This is why Jesus called these times "labor pains", for they will be giving birth to new Christians in the midst of pain and suffering.
Do not expect to see the whole world convert. In fact, what I see in my heart is a further separation of the wheat from the chaff.
We should not think that in the near future Christianity will become a movement of the masses again, going back to a situation like Medieval times …the powerful minorities, which have something to say and something to bring to society, will determine the future. —POPE BENEDICT XVI (Cardinal Ratzinger), Catholic News Agency, August 9, 2004
Before the Seventh Seal is broken, God ensures that His people will be marked by His angels for protection:
Then I saw another angel come up from the East, holding the seal of the living God. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were given power to damage the land and the sea. Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God… The one who sits on the throne will shelter them. (Rev 7:2-3, 15)
The armies of God, and the armies of Satan will be sifted further and defined throughout this period, and the great confrontation Pope John Paul spoke of will reach its climax:
We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel… It is a trial which the whole Church . . . must take up. —reprinted November 9, 1978, issue of The Wall Street Journal
THE SEVENTH SEAL
Those who decide for Christ will be spiritually sheltered as they follow the Pillar of Fire. They will be in the Ark, who is Our Lady.
When the Seventh Seal is broken…
…there was silence in heaven for about half an hour…. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with burning coals from the altar, and hurled it down to the earth. There were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. (Rev 8:1, 5)
The Seventh Seal marks the silence of the Lord, when the Church will be officially silenced, and the time of the famine of the word of God commences:
Yes, days are coming, says the Lord GOD, when I will send famine upon the land: Not a famine of bread, or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the LORD. (Amos 8:11)
It marks the beginning of the definitive stage of the war between the Church and the anti-Church. We see this scene in detail in Revelation 11 & 12:
Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. (11:19, 12:1-4)
The Blessed Mother is clothed with the Sun, for she signals the dawning of the reign of the Sun of Justice, the Eucharist. Remember that this "woman clothed in the sun" is also a symbol of the Church. You see now how our Mother and the Holy Father are working in unison to birth the reign of the Eucharist! There is a mystery here: The child whom this woman is giving birth to is Christ in the Eucharist, which is also at the same time the remnant Church who are mystically the Body of Christ. The woman, then, is laboring to give birth to the whole Body of Christ who will reign with Him during the Era of Peace:
She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne. The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God, that there she might be taken care of for twelve hundred and sixty days. (Rev 12:5-6)
The "son" who is caught up to the throne, I believe, is Jesus, the one "who sits on the throne." That is, the daily sacrifice of the Mass will be banned from public worship—(see The Eclipse of the Son.) At that time, the Church will have to flee persecution, and many will be taken to "sacred refuges" where they will be protected by God's angels. Others will be called to confront the army of Satan in an attempt to convert them: the time of the Two Witnesses.
I will commission my two witnesses to prophesy for those twelve hundred and sixty days, wearing sackcloth. (Rev 11:3)
THE TIMES OF ANTICHRIST
The Dragon sweeps a third of the stars in the sky toward the earth. This marks the beginning of the Time of the Seven Trumpets, and what may in fact be a full blown schism in the Church, with the stars representing, in part, a portion of the hierarchy falling away:
When the first one blew his trumpet, there came hail and fire mixed with blood, which was hurled down to the earth. A third of the land was burned up, along with a third of the trees and all green grass. When the second angel blew his trumpet, something like a large burning mountain was hurled into the sea. A third of the sea turned to blood, a third of the creatures living in the sea died, and a third of the ships were wrecked… (Rev 8:7-9)
After this schism, there will rise the anti-Christ, whose time the Holy Fathers of this past century have suggested is near.
When all this is considered there is good reason to fear… that there may be already in the world the "Son of Perdition" of whom the Apostle speaks (2 Thess 2: 3). —Pope St. Pius X
Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God's commandments and bear witness to Jesus. It took its position on the sand of the sea… Then I saw a beast come out of the sea with ten horns and seven heads; on its horns were ten diadems, and on its heads blasphemous names. To it the dragon gave its own power and throne, along with great authority. (Rev 12:17, 13:1-2)
For a short period of time, with the abolition of the Eucharist, darkness will hem in the earth's inhabitants until Christ destroys the 'lawless one' with His breath, throwing the Beast and the False Prophet into the lake of fire, and chaining Satan for a "thousand years."
Thus will begin the universal reign of the Body of Christ: Jesus, and His Mystical Body, a union of hearts, through the Holy Eucharist. It is this reign which will bring about His return in glory.
THE WORDS OF THE KING
Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be famines and earthquakes from place to place. All these are the beginning of the labor pains. Then they will hand you over to persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name. And then many will be led into sin; they will betray and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matt 24:7-14)
A new missionary age will arise, a new springtime for the Church. –POPE JOHN PAUL II, Homily, May, 1991