Mary crushing the serpent, Artist Unknown
THE Era of Peace—a heresy? Two more antichrists? Has the "period of peace" promised by Our Lady of Fatima already happened? These questions below, plus a comment on Pegasus and the new age as well as the big question: What do I tell my children about what's coming?
THE ERA OF PEACE
Question: Isn't the so-called "era of peace" nothing other than the heresy called "millennialism" condemned by the Church?
What the Church has condemned is not the possibility of an "era of peace," but the false interpretation of what it could be.
As I have written here on several occasions, the Church Fathers such as St. Justin Martyr, St. Irenaeus of Lyons, St. Augustine and others have written about such a period based on Rev 20:2-4, Heb 4:9 and the Old Testament prophets who refer to a universal period of peace within history.
The heresy of "millenarianism" is the false belief that Jesus will descend to earth in the flesh and reign as a global king with His saints for a literal one thousand years before the conclusion of history.
Various offshoots of this heretical and excessively literal interpretation of Revelation 20 also manifested itself in the early Church, e.g. "carnal millenarianism", the added Jewish-Christian error of carnal pleasures and excesses as part of the thousand year reign; and "mitigated or spiritual millenarianism", which in general retained the literal thousand year reign of Christ visibly in the flesh, but rejected the aspect of immoderate carnal pleasures.
Any form of belief that Jesus Christ will return in His resurrected body to the earth and rule visibly on earth for a literal one thousand years (millenarianism) has been condemned by the Church and must be categorically rejected. This anathema does not include, however, the strong Patristic belief held by many Church Fathers and Doctors of a "spiritual", "temporal", "second" (but not final) or "middle" coming of Christ to take place before the end of the world. —source: www.call2holiness.com; nb. this is an excellent summary of the various forms of this heresy.
From the Catechism:
The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, 676
The "messianic hope" we await is not only the return of Jesus in His glorified flesh to reign in a "new heavens and a new earth", but the hope for our own bodies to be freed from the power of death and sin and to be glorified for all eternity. During the Era of Peace, even though justice, peace, and love will prevail, so too will mankind's free will. The possibility for sin will remain. We know this, because at the end of the "thousand year reign," Satan is released from prison so as to deceive the nations who will make war on the saints in Jerusalem.
Question: My pastor as well as good bible commentaries point to St. Augustine's interpretation of the millennium as being a symbolic period which spans the time from Christ's Ascension to His return in glory. Isn't this what the Church teaches?
That is only one of four interpretations St. Augustine proposed for the "thousand year" period. It is, however, the one which came into vogue at the time due to the widespread heresy of millenarianism—an interpretation which has generally prevailed until this day. But it is clear from a careful reading of St. Augustine's writings that he does not condemn the possibility of a "millennium" of peace:
Those who, on the strength of this passage [of Revelation 20:1-6], have suspected that the first resurrection is future and bodily, have been moved, among other things, specially by the number of a thousand years, as if it were a fit thing that the saints should thus enjoy a kind of Sabbath-rest during that period, a holy leisure after the labors of six thousand years since man was created… (and) there should follow on the completion of six thousand years, as of six days, a kind of seventh-day Sabbath in the succeeding thousand years; and that it is for this purpose the saints rise, viz.; to celebrate the Sabbath. And this opinion would not be objectionable, if it were believed that the joys of the saints in that Sabbath shall be spiritual, and consequent on the presence of God… —De Civitate Dei [The City of God], Catholic University of America Press, Bk XX, Ch. 7; quoted in The Triumph of God's Kingdom in the Millennium and End Times, Fr. Joseph Iannuzzi, St. John the Evangelist Press, p. 52-53
St. Augustine here condemns "carnal millenarians" or "Chiliasts" who wrongly asserted that the millennium would be a time of "immoderate carnal banquets" and other worldly pleasures. At the same time, he asserts the belief that there will be a "spiritual" time of peace and rest, consequent on the presence of God—not Christ in the flesh, as in His glorified body—but His spiritual presence, and of course, Eucharistic Presence.
The Catholic Church has made no definitive judgment on the question of the millennium. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, when he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has been quoted as saying,
The Holy See has not yet made any definitive pronouncement in this regard. —The Triumph of God's Kingdom in the Millennium and End Times, Fr. Joseph Iannuzzi, St. John the Evangelist Press, p. 166
Question: Did Mary promise at Fatima an "era of peace," or has the "period of peace" she promised already occurred?
The Vatican's website posts the message of Fatima in English as such:
In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world. —www.vatican.va
It has been argued that with the fall of Communism, the world has been granted a "period of peace." It is true that the Cold War ended and the tensions between America and Russia diminished from the time when the Iron Curtain fell until recent years. However, I tend to think that is more of an American point of view; that is, we North Americans tend to judge world events and biblical prophecy through a Western lens.
If one looks at other regions in the world after the fall of Communism, such as Bosnia-Herzegovina or Rwanda, and the ongoing persecution of the Church in China, North Africa and elsewhere, we do not see peace—but the unleashing of hell in the form of war, genocide, and martyrdom.
It is also debatable that Russia was "converted" in the period after the Iron Curtain fell. Certainly, Christians have had more access to the country in terms of evangelization. But internal corruption and the flood of Western culture has in some ways deteriorated the situation there even further.
St. Maximillian Kolbe seemed to have a picture of when a converted Russia would prevail:
The image of the Immaculate will one day replace the large red star over the Kremlin, but only after a great and bloody trial. —Signs, Wonders and Response, Fr. Albert J. Herbert, p.126
Perhaps that bloody trial was Communism itself. Or perhaps that trial is still to come. Regardless, Russia, who is now teaming up with China and threatening peace as it once did in the Cold War, seems anything but "Mary's land."
Maybe the most compelling comment on this issue comes from Sr. Lucia herself. In an interview with Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, Sr. Lucia describes the period we live in:
Fatima is still in its Third Day. We are now in the post Consecration period. The First Day was the apparition period. The Second was the post apparition, pre-Consecration period. The Fatima Week has not yet ended… People expect things to happen immediately within their own time frame. But Fatima is still in its Third Day. The Triumph is an ongoing process. —Sr. Lucia; God's Final Effort, John Haffert, 101 Foundation, 1999, p. 2; quoted in Private Revelation: Discerning With the Church, Dr. Mark Miravalle, p.65
An ongoing process. If the "period of peace" was in fact the brief period after the Cold War, it is clear from Sr. Lucia herself that the Triumph is not yet complete. It is when her Triumph is accomplished, I believe, that an Era of Peace will begin.
For those who haven't read it, I recommend the meditation Prophetic Perspective.
Question: Doesn't the Antichrist come right before the return of Jesus in Glory? You seem to indicate that there are two more antichrists…
I have answered this question in part in The Coming Ascension. But let me quickly lay out the big picture:
- St. John speaks of a Beast and a False Prophet who arise before the "thousand year" reign or Era of Peace.
- They are captured and "thrown alive into the lake of fire" (Rev 19:20) and
- Satan is chained for a "thousand years" (Rev 20:2).
- Toward the end of the thousand year period (Rev 20:3, 7), Satan is released and sets out to "deceive the nations… Gog and Magog" (Rev 20:7-8).
- They surround the camp of the saints in Jerusalem, but fire comes down from heaven to consume Gog and Magog (Rev 20:9). Then,
The Devil who had led them astray was thrown into the pool of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were. (Rev 20:10).
The Beast and the False Prophet already "were" in the lake of fire. In this regard, St. John's Revelation seems to put forward a basic chronology that is also affirmed in the writings of the early Church Fathers, placing the appearance of an individual antichrist before the Era of Peace:
But when this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come… sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire; but bring in for the righteous the times of the kingdom, that is, the rest, the hallowed seventh day. —St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Fragments, Book V, Ch. 28, 2; from The Early Church Fathers and Other Works published in 1867.
Regarding the possibility of more than one antichrist, we read in St. John's letter:
Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come… (1 Jn 2:18)
Affirming this teaching, Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) said,
As far as the antichrist is concerned, we have seen that in the New Testament he always assumes the lineaments of contemporary history. He cannot be restricted to any single individual. One and the same he wears many masks in each generation. —Dogmatic Theology, Eschatology 9, Johann Auer and Joseph Ratzinger, 1988, p. 199-200
Again, because of the multi-dimensional levels of Scripture, we must always be open to the possibility that Scripture is being fulfilled in ways that we cannot comprehend. Thus, Jesus says to be prepared always, for He will come "like a thief in the night."
Question: You recently wrote in Signs From the Sky about Pegasus and an "illumination of conscience." Isn't Pegasus a new age symbol? And don't the new agers talk about a coming new age and a universal Christ consciousness?
Yes, they do. And now you see how subtle the enemy's plans are to distort the real and salvific plan of Christ. The word "antichrist" does not mean "opposite" of Christ, but against Christ. Satan does not try to deny God's existence, but rather, to distort it into a new reality. This is the case with the new age. In fact, what you have stated in your question perhaps builds the case for a genuine spiritual "era of peace" established by God, as we see Satan trying to twist that reality into his own version.
New agers believe in a coming "Age of Aquarius," an era of peace and harmony. Sounds like the Christian belief, doesn't it? But the difference is this: The new age teaches that, rather than this era being a time when there is a heightened consciousness of Jesus Christ as the one and only mediator between God and mankind, man becomes conscious that he is himself a god and one with the universe. Jesus, on the other hand, teaches that we are one with Him—not through a sudden inner awareness of divinity—but through faith and the acknowledgment of our sins which brings forth the Holy Spirit and the fruit associated with His presence.
Jesus told His followers to watch for signs in nature to precede His coming. That is, nature will only confirm as a "sign" what Jesus has already revealed in the Gospels. However, the new age goes beyond seeing nature and creation as a sign, and rather looks for "secret" or "hidden knowledge." This is also known as "gnosticism" which the Church condemns and has fought against through the centuries. And thus, new agers look to the constellation Pegasus rather than to the Gospel for that secret knowledge which will raise them to new levels of consciousness and godlike existence.
Indeed, the "illumination of conscience" God will send is not to raise mankind to godlike status, but to humble us and call us back to Himself. Yes, the difference here is a matter of "conscience," not consciousness.
Various forms of gnosticism are manifesting in our day with such phenomena as the video called "The Secret," the "Judas Gospel" and the subtle deceptions of "Harry Potter." There is nothing subtle, however, about the "His Dark Materials" series of which "The Golden Compass" is the first movie based on the books.
Question: What do I tell my children about these days and what may be coming?
There are many controversial things Jesus said and did publicly, including denouncing the Pharisees and cleansing the temple with a whip. But according to Mark, Jesus spoke about the "end times" privately with just Peter, James, John, and Andrew (see Mk 13:3; cf. Matt 24:3). Perhaps it is because these were the Apostles who witnessed the Transfiguration (except for Andrew). They saw the astounding glory of Jesus, and so knew more than any other human beings the tremendous "end of the story" which awaits the world. Given this glorious preview, perhaps only they could handle at the time the knowledge of the "labor pains" which would precede His return.
Maybe we should imitate our Lord's wisdom on this when it comes to our children. Our little ones first and foremost need to know that tremendous "end of the story." They need to understand the "good news" and the big picture of how Jesus will return on the clouds to receive into the Kingdom all those who have said "yes" to Him with their lives. This is the primary message, the "Great Commission."
It seems to me that when our children grow into a personal relationship with Jesus, they have a deeper understanding and perception of the world and times they live in through the quiet activity of the Holy Spirit. As such, their questions, or distress with the sinful state of the world that they see around them will be an opportunity for you to share more deeply the "signs of the times." You can explain that just as a mother has to go through some pain in order to give birth to new life, so too does our world have to pass through a time of pain in order to be renewed. But the message is one of hope for new life!
Regarding the urgent message to "prepare", this is best explained to them by what you do to prepare. Your life should reflect a pilgrim mentality: a spirit of poverty resisting materialism, gluttony, drunkenness, and excessive consumption of television. In this way, your life says to your children, "This is not my home! I am preparing to spend eternity with God. My life, my actions, yes, the warp and woof of my day are centered on Him because He is everything to me." In this way, your life becomes a living eschatology—a witness of living in the present moment so as to dwell forever in the eternal moment. (Eschatology is the theology concerned with the final things.)
On a personal note, I have shared select writings with my older children who are in their early teens. Occasionally, they overhear me discussing my writings with my wife. And so, they have a basic understanding that we need to live in a state of preparedness as our Lord commanded us to. But that is not my central concern. Rather, it is that we as a family learn to love God and one another, and to love our neighbour, especially our enemies. For what good is it to know of coming events if I am devoid of love?
If I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge… but do not have love, I am nothing. (1 Cor 13:2)
I have warned on this website several times that a spiritual tsunami of deception is sweeping through the world and that God has lifted the restrainer, thereby permitting mankind to follow its unrepentant heart.
For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. (2 Tim 4:3-4)
Just as Noah required God's protection against the deluge, so too do we need God's protection in our day in order to ride this spiritual tsunami. Thus, He has sent us the new Ark, the Blessed Virgin Mary. She has always been recognized from the earliest of times as a gift to the Church from God. She desires with her whole being to form us in the school of her heart so that we may become the sons and daughters of God built firmly upon her Son, Jesus, who is the Truth. The Rosary which she teaches us to pray is a great weapon against heresy according to her promises to those who pray it. I believe that without her help today, overcoming the deceptions and snares of darkness will be very difficult. She is the Ark of Protection.
But foremost among our weapons against the pride and arrogance of the enemy is the childlike disposition of a heart which trusts in the Father and in the Holy Spirit teaching and leading us through the Catholic Church, which Christ Himself has built upon Peter.
Watch and pray. And listen to the Holy Father and those in union with Him.
Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me. (Luke 10:16)
In this way, you will be able to hear the voice of your Shepherd, Jesus Christ, among the din of deception which is perhaps louder and more dangerous now than in any other generation before us.
False messiahs and false prophets will arise, and they will perform signs and wonders so great as to deceive, if that were possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told it to you beforehand. So if they say to you, 'He is in the desert,' do not go out there; if they say, 'He is in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For just as lightning comes from the east and is seen as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matt 24:24-27)