Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in one of Connecticut’s largest news dailies. He holds an MS degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
Last time we saw a small bit of the ominous warning about the arrival of the Antichrist and end of times. The Catechism tells us the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, must go through the passion as Our Lord did.
We saw how in 1976 in America while still Cardinal Wojtyla, St. John Paul II warned: “It is, therefore, in God's Plan, and it must be a trial which the Church must take up, and face courageously..."
In the midst of this, St. Pius X observed in his encyclical E Supremi that “the victory will ever be with God…Of this we are assured in the holy books by God Himself...”
Because we know the outcome, there’s no reason to fret whenever the signs unfold. God does not leave us without hope. Does not Jesus tell us, "When these things begin to happen, stand erect and hold your head high, for your deliverance is near at hand" (Luke 21:28).
Saints have also given indications of these times and how to meet them. Here’s what a small handful have to say.
Father of the Church St. Hippolytus clearly spelled out those engrossed in worldly affairs and lusts will be easily deceived. But many who hear “the divine Scriptures, and have them in their hand, and keep them in mind with understanding, will escape his imposture. For they will see clearly through his insidious appearance his deceitful imposture, and will flee from his hands…they will seek after the Friend of man with tears and a contrite heart; and He will deliver them…and with His right hand He will save those from his snares who in a worthy and righteous manner make their supplication to Him.”
In the 14th century, the mystic St. Bridget of Sweden said, “Before Antichrist comes the portals of the faith will be opened to great numbers of pagans.”
Similarly, in the 19th Century, Bl. Anna Maria Taigi revealed: “Whole nations will join the Church shortly before the reign of the Antichrist….There shall be innumerable conversions of heretics, who will return to the bosom of the Church…Russia, England and China will come into the Church…” There’s hope.
How Might This Happen?
Father and Doctor of the Church St. John Damascene taught that “Enoch and Elias will be sent and they shall ‘turn the heart of the fathers to the children’ that is to say, turn the synagogue to our Lord Jesus Christ and the preaching of the apostles.”
Three centuries later another Doctor, Hildegard of Bingen, concurred. She spelled out that God will reveal to his two Witnesses, Enoch and Elias, “the actions and condition of men that they may regard them with the eyes of compassion. Because of this special preparation, these two holy men are more wise than all the wise men on the earth taken together. God will give them the task of opposing antichrist and of bringing back those who have strayed from the way of salvation.
“Both of these men will say to people: ‘This accursed one has been sent by the devil to lead men astray and into error; we have been preserved by God in a hidden place where we did not experience the sorrows of men but God has now sent us to combat the heresy of this son of perdition.’
“They will go into all cities and villages where previously antichrist had broadcasted his heresies and by the power of the Holy Spirit will perform wonderful miracles so that all nations will greatly marvel at them. Thus as to a wedding feast, Christians will hasten to death by martyrdom which the son of perdition will have prepared for them in such numbers that those murderers will be unable even to count the slain, then the blood of these martyrs will fill the rivers…”
The Sacred Heart Speaks
Jesus and Mary are, and will be, our pillars then as now. In the 17th century, Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque as the Sacred Heart. She said, "I understand that the devotion of the Sacred Heart is a last effort of His Love towards the Christians of these latter days, by offering to them an object and means so calculated to persuade them to love Him." Jesus gave 12 promises to us through her. Take advantage of them.
In the 20th century, he prepared us even further through what he told St. Faustina. He said, “Write: before I come as just Judge, I first open wide the door of My mercy” (Diary 1146).
Jesus repeated this message in different ways. Again he said, “Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart. I use punishment when they themselves force Me to do so; My hand is reluctant to take hold of the sword of justice. Before the Day of Justice I am sending the Day of Mercy” (Diary 1588). Trust in Jesus is essential.
We know from our Blessed Mother’s approved appearances that she is helping to hold back the justice in order for people to repent.
As Venerable Sister Elena Aiello in the 20th century reported Mary saying, “I am bending over the world and detaining the justice of God, otherwise those things would have already happened. Prayer and sacrifices are needed. Men must return to God and to My Immaculate Heart, mediatrix for men, then at last part of the world will be saved…”
Mary Is the Essential Key
Our Blessed Mother is the essential key to victory over the Antichrist.
“On this universal level, if victory comes it will be brought by Mary. Christ will conquer through her because He wants the Church’s victories now and in the future to be linked to her…” wrote St. John Paul II in Crossing the Threshold of Hope.
In his homily on Feast of the Assumption in1997, focusing on Revelation 12, John Paul II again said, “And in this spiritual battle her help to the Church is decisive for attaining the ultimate victory over evil.”
The great Pope of Fatima spoke many times of the importance of Fatima and our Blessed Mother. In a way preparing for the end times, Our Lady told the children at Fatima, “You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. It is to save them that God wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.”
Of course, one major direction Mary gave in every apparition was a “must” — pray the Rosary every day.
The great Marian apostle St. Louis de Montfort whose book inspired John Paul II had this to say: “Mary's power over the evil spirits will especially shine forth in the latter times, when Satan will lie in wait for her heel, that is, for her humble servants and her poor children whom she will rouse to fight against him. In the eyes of the world they will be little and poor” but they would “be rich in God's graces, which will be abundantly bestowed on them by Mary. n union with Mary, they will crush the head of Satan with their heel, that is, their humility, and bring victory to Jesus Christ.”
Right before him, Bl. Mary of Agreda had a revelation that in the latter days, “the Lord will in a special manner spread the renown of His Mother. Mary began salvation, and by her intercession it will be completed. Before the second coming of Christ, Mary, more than ever, must shine in mercy, might, and grace in order to bring unbelievers into the Catholic faith. The power of Mary in the latter days will be very conspicuous. Mary will extend the reign of Christ over the heathens and the Mohammedans, and it will be a time of great joy when Mary is enthroned as Mistress and Queen of Hearts.”
This is just one reason de Montfort stressed, “Devotion to Mary is especially necessary in the latter times.”
Following Mary Assures Victory
De Montfort tells us in True Devotion to Mary why God has her lead the faithful in the latter times, including the time the Antichrist will appear.
“God has established only one enmity — but it is an irreconcilable one — which will last and even go on increasing to the end of time. That enmity is between Mary, his worthy Mother, and the devil, between the children and the servants of the Blessed Virgin and the children and followers of Lucifer.”
“Thus the most fearful enemy that God has set up against the devil is Mary, his holy Mother.”
De Montfort explained from Genesis (3:16) God already gave Mary who was yet to be born ingenuity to expose, and the power to defeat and crush, the rebellious devil. That’s why “Satan fears her not only more than angels and men but in a certain sense more than God himself. This does not mean that the anger, hatred and power of God are not infinitely greater than the Blessed Virgin's, since her attributes are limited. It simply means that Satan, being so proud, suffers infinitely more in being vanquished and punished by a lowly and humble servant of God, for her humility humiliates him more than the power of God.”
De Montfort goes into great detail that abounds in hope and victory in all times. He stresses that in all present and future persecutions “the humble Mary will always triumph over Satan, the proud one, and so great will be her victory that she will crush his head, the very seat of his pride. She will unmask his serpent's cunning and expose his wicked plots. She will scatter to the winds his devilish plans and to the end of time will keep her faithful servants safe from his cruel claws.”
Directives for us become clearer and clearer. To win the battle we must be close to Mary. St. John Paul II showed that we have to consecrate ourselves to Mary and her Immaculate Heart and have devotion to her.
About devotees, de Montfort stressed, “They will see clearly that she is the safest, easiest, shortest and most perfect way of approaching Jesus and will surrender themselves to her, body and soul, without reserve in order to belong entirely to Jesus.”
Triumph in Sight
“Blessed shall they be who overcome the tyrant then,” wrote St. Hippolytus amid all the many details he presents of the last times. “For they shall be set forth as more illustrious and loftier than the first witnesses; for the former witnesses overcame his minions only, but these overthrow the accuser himself, the son of perdition. With what eulogies and crowns, therefore, will they not be adorned by our King, Jesus Christ!”
St. John Damascene gave a strong reminder of what’s in Scripture about the return of Christ then. The Lord will come from heaven in the same way the apostles saw Him ascending to heaven “and he shall destroy the man of iniquity, the son of perdition, with the spirit of His mouth. So let no one expect the Lord to come from the earth but from Heaven, as He Himself has positively assured us…”
Until then it’s clear we fortify ourselves turning and listening to the Sacred Heart and our Mother Mary who will guide and protect us to stay faithful in turbulent times.
As St. Pope John Paul II in his homily on the Assumption, said, “Mary shines on earth ‘until the day of the Lord shall come, a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God’ (Lumen gentium, n. 68). A caring mother to everyone, she supports the efforts of believers and encourages them to persevere in their commitment.”
The sainted Holy Father asked Mary to: “Help us not to be afraid of following him to the very end, even when the cross seems unbearably heavy. Make us understand that this alone is the way which leads to the heights of eternal salvation.”
Tough times ahead, yet at Fatima, she gave us her assurance, “But in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.