Wrath of God: How to Read the Signs of the Times
We should take comfort in this: Our Lord is, was and ever will be victorious over Satan, offers each of us his deep love and eternal friendship.
We are always edging nearer to Christ’s coming. The end of times is not something we should fear to examine, nor is it something we should obsess over as to the when and the wherefore. Instead, we should consider how to steel our souls against the seduction of the age, in every age, becoming as wise as serpents while remaining as gentle as doves. The spirit of Antichrist is legion and, in every age, seeks to steal souls.
In Wrath of God: How to Read the Signs of the Times and Recognize the Evils of Our Age, Father Livio Fanzaga introduces the reader to two books from the turn of the 20th century — Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of the World and Vladimir Sergaevitch’s A Story of the Antichrist — which grapple with this difficult subject.
Using these two texts, the book reveals the nature of seduction — how the devil uses whatever will appear to please us, to turn a soul from seeking to please God. Bringing modern readers up to speed with these two texts requires a lot of summary, but provides a good understanding of how to unmask the deceptions that run rampant in every age.
The narrative of these two texts is interspersed with analysis, and whets the appetite of the reader to examine both of these sources on their own. The stories illustrate how the Antichrist might tear down the faithful from within the body of the Church and how externally, the Antichrist might seek the destruction of souls by seduction of the whole world.
The book isn’t just a review of the two texts — it also provides counsel to the reader on how to avoid becoming seduced by the Antichrist. Humility, prayer and closeness to the Blessed Mother are the spiritual defenses that best protect. The stories include the fall of a priest from grace and faith (because of his pride and paucity of a prayer life) to remind all of us that everyone is, to the evil one, prey.
Recognizing that which is not of God requires knowing what seduces us and what that seduction looks like. These days, most values we hold dear are treated with contempt by our current culture. The temptation to withdraw, to avoid making conflict, reduces us to lukewarm witnesses, who wither in the heat of the noonday sun.
Alternatively, we may harden into combatants who live for the fight, rather than for Christ. These are the disciples who take out their swords when the crowds come for Jesus. We are clearly told by our Lord to put them away.
If we despair, it can feel as if we’ve reached the moment when we ought to cry out, “Mountains, fall on us,” and we will deny the true strength of our Savior, thinking we’ve reached a point that he cannot heal.
Yes, we are all weak and sick and in desperate need of Our Lord. We face a foe we cannot beat, and who seeks our ruin.
But we should take comfort in this reality: Our Lord is, was and ever will be victorious over Satan, and over all sin and death, and offers each of us his deep love and eternal friendship.
Father Fanzaga’s The Wrath of God isn’t what one would call light summer reading, but it is good for jogging the Catholic spiritual imagination around the park. In truth, we are always facing the reality of either revealing or denying Christ by our actions. We need to understand what isn’t of Christ if we are to be faithful followers of our Lord and Savior and not seduced by the spirit of this age, or of any age yet to come.