Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report, a Catholic website that puts a refreshing spin on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company in New York.
As I watch the economic mess in Europe unfold like a slow motion video of that diver who back flopped at the Olympics, I sometimes ponder a strange question.
Is this the time they were talking about?
"Is this the time..."
What time? The time when Europe leads the world into the conflagration. A time of crisis the likes of which has never been seen before. Boy, after all we have seen before, that should make one shudder.
"...they were talking about?"
What they? Catholic prophets. Yes, we do have those believe it or not. We just don't like to talk about it lest someone think that we are like those wild-eyed folks, bless their hearts, with the "in case of rapture this car will be unmanned" bumper stickers.
No, we are not like them but we do have prophets (Yes, even the future telling kind.) And while there is no shortage of "catholic" quacks and charlatans out there, there are dozens and dozens of quotes from Approved Catholic sources, saints, sages, Fathers and Doctors of the Church who have gone out of their way to let us know what may befall mankind before the end of the world.
Now, while no Catholic MUST believe in any of it and any Catholic is free to REJECT all of it, that doesn't mean I can't discuss it. [If you are not keen on discussing it, read no further and kindly refrain from commenting. Gracias.]
So what do these saints, sages, Fathers and Doctors tell us? The basic scenario goes something like this: (Nutshell version)
Sometime near the end of the world, but before the rise of Antichrist, the world and the Church will be in a terrible state. Faith is greatly diminished and, well, let St. Nilus tell it. "There will be no respect for parents or elders, love will disappear, and Christian pastors, bishops, and priests will become vain men, completely failing to distinguish the right hand way from the left. At that time the morals and traditions of Christians and the Church will change. People will abandon modesty, and dissipation will reign. Falsehood and greed will attain great proportions, and woe to those who pile up treasures. Lust, adultery, homosexuality, secret deeds and murder will rule in society." Well, that sure fits. But then what?
Chastisement, with a capital C. There are different kinds of chastisement, the heaven sent kind and the other worse kind. Worse kind? Yes. The worse chastisement a just God can inflict upon the world is to let us have our own way, to allow the trees of our own contrary wills to bear their vicious fruit.
What many prophecies agree upon is that the great Chastisement begins with civil unrest and anarchy in Europe (likely economic) that grows into all out civil war and general war. The focus of such prophecy is Europe, but the unrest is likely not limited to there. At some point, the Church and the faithful become a particular target of the hate-filled upon whom some of the worst ravages are unleashed.
Amidst the chaos and war, the Pope reluctantly flees Rome and goes into hiding. He is eventually found and killed by his enemies who boast of destroying the Church. Surprisingly, amidst the chaos, a new and great Pope is miraculously chosen. This Pope crowns a king (yes, a king) for France to help end the chaos there.
This king goes on to defeat the enemies of the Church across world and becomes the Great Monarch, Emperor to a restored Holy Roman Empire and de facto leader of the world. In this capacity, he restores order, peace, and justice to the world and the Church and the Gospel is spread throughout the world. After some unknown amount of time of peace and prosperity, the world returns to its old ways and prepares the way for the rise of Antichrist.
So this brings me back to my opening question. If any of this prophecy business holds any water, is the building crisis in Europe the one that could begin it all?
When I first read about these prophecies back in the mid 80's, the possibility seemed remote as the Ruskies were the menace of the day. But then the cold war ended and all of it seemed even more remote.
But then a bunch of post-Christian European eggheads decided that after centuries of acting like the Hatfields and the McCoys, the path to a permanent peace was for all of them to open a joint bank account with unlimited overdraft. How they ever thought that was a good idea, I will never know.
As a Europe with a very fratricidal history is on the brink of economic disaster, a Catholic conversant with these prophecies should keep his eyes open. For sure, Europe has been there time and again and the rest hasn't happened. But if those saints, sages, Fathers and Doctors are right, it will.
So this Catholic sometimes wonders, is this the time they were talking about?