THE past month has been one of palpable sorrow as the Lord continues to warn that there is So Little Time Left. The times are sorrowful because mankind is about to reap what God has begged us not to sow. It is sorrowful because many souls do not realize that they are on the precipice of eternal separation from Him. It is sorrowful because the hour of the Church’s own passion has come when a Judas will rise up against her.1 It is sorrowful because Jesus is not only being neglected and forgotten throughout the world, but abused and mocked once again. Hence, the Time of times has come when all lawlessness will break forth across the globe.
Before I go on, ponder for a moment the truth-filled words of a saint:
Do not fear what may happen tomorrow. The same loving Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and everyday. Either he will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings. —St. Francis de Sales, 17th century bishop
Indeed, this blog is not here to scare or frighten, but to confirm and prepare you so that, like the five wise virgins, the light of your faith will not be snuffed out, but glow ever brighter when the light of God in the world is fully dimmed, and darkness fully unrestrained.2
Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour. (Matt 25:13)
In 2005, I wrote in The Restrainer (under the urging of a bishop) how I was driving alone in British Columbia, Canada, making my way to my next concert, enjoying the scenery, drifting in thought, when suddenly I heard within my heart the words:
I have lifted the restrainer.
I felt something in my spirit that is hard to explain. It was as if a shock wave traversed the earth—as if something in the spiritual realm had been released.
That night in my motel room, I asked the Lord if what I heard was in the Scriptures, since the word “restrainer” was unfamiliar to me. I grabbed my Bible which opened straight to 2 Thessalonians 2:3. I began to read:
…[do not be] shaken out of your minds suddenly, or… alarmed either by a “spirit,” or by an oral statement, or by a letter allegedly from us to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand. Let no one deceive you in any way. For unless the apostasy comes first and the lawless one is revealed…
That is, the “apostasy” (rebellion) and “the lawless one” (Antichrist) essentially usher in “the day of the Lord,” says St. Paul, a day of both vindication and justice3 (the Day of the Lord being, not a 24 hour period, but what could rightly be called the final era before the end of the world. See Two More Days). How can one not recall at this point the startling words of the popes in this regard?
Apostasy, the loss of the faith, is spreading throughout the world and into the highest levels within the Church. —POPE PAUL VI, Address on the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Fatima Apparitions, October 13, 1977
In fact, Pope Pius X—in an encyclical, no less—suggested that both the apostasy and the Antichrist may already be present:
Who can fail to see that society is at the present time, more than in any past age, suffering from a terrible and deep-rooted malady which, developing every day and eating into its inmost being, is dragging it to destruction? You understand, Venerable Brethren, what this disease is—apostasy from God… When all this is considered there is good reason to fear lest this great perversity may be as it were a foretaste, and perhaps the beginning of those evils which are reserved for the last days; and that there may be already in the world the “Son of Perdition” of whom the Apostle speaks. —E Supremi, Encyclical On the Restoration of All Things in Christ, n. 3, 5; October 4th, 1903
But there is something “restraining” the appearance of this Antichrist. For, with my jaw wide open that night, I went on to read:
And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed…
Now, this April 2012, I hear new words which I have pondered for weeks, spoken about several times with my spiritual director, and which I write now in obedience: that the Lord is going to remove the restrainer altogether.
What Is the Restrainer?
Theologians are divided about the meaning of these mysterious words of St. Paul. “What” is it that restrains? And who is “he who now restrains?“ The Early Church Fathers often held that the restrainer was the Roman Empire, based on Daniel 7:24:
Out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings. (Dan 7:24)
Now this restraining power [is] generally admitted to be the Roman empire… I do not grant that the Roman empire is gone. Far from it: the Roman empire remains even to this day. —Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890), Advent Sermons on Antichrist, Sermon I
And yet, St. Paul also refers to “he who restrains,” as in a person or possibly angelic entity. From the Navarre biblical commentary:
Although it is not altogether clear what St. Paul means here (commentators ancient and modern have offered all kinds of interpretations), the general thrust of his remarks seems clear enough: he is exhorting people to persevere in doing good, because that is the best way to avoid doing evil (evil being the “mystery of lawlessness”). However, it is difficult to say precisely what this mystery of lawlessness consists in or who is restraining it.
Some commentators think that the mystery of lawlessness is the activity of the man of lawlessness, which is being restrained by the rigid laws enforced by the Roman Empire. Others suggest that St. Michael is the one who is holding lawlessness back (cf. Rev 12:1; Rev 12:7-9; 20:1-3, 7)… which show him combating Satan, restraining him or letting him free… others think that the curb on the man of lawlessness is the active presence of Christians in the world, who through word and example bring Christ’s teaching and grace to many. If Christians let their zeal grow cold (this interpretation says), then the curb on evil will cease to apply and the rebellion will ensue. —The Navarre Bible commentary on 2 Thess 2:6-7, Thessalonians and Pastoral Epistles, p. 69-70
The original Roman Empire collapsed, though not completely some historians argue, essentially because of political and moral corruption. Speaking to the Roman Curia, Pope Benedict XVI said:
The disintegration of the key principles of law and of the fundamental moral attitudes underpinning them burst open the dams which until that time had protected peaceful coexistence among peoples. The sun was setting over an entire world. Frequent natural disasters further increased this sense of insecurity. There was no power in sight that could put a stop to this decline. All the more insistent, then, was the invocation of the power of God: the plea that he might come and protect his people from all these threats. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, December 20th, 2010
I believe few realize the prophetic thrust of Pope Benedict’s words that were carefully chosen on the eve of the winter solstice—the darkest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.4He was comparing the decline of Rome with our generation. He was underlining how “the key principles of law and of the fundamental moral attitudes underpinning” our society, are beginning to collapse:
…our world is at the same time troubled by the sense that moral consensus is collapsing, consensus without which juridical and political structures cannot function… Only if there is such a consensus on the essentials can constitutions and law function. This fundamental consensus derived from the Christian heritage is at risk… In reality, this makes reason blind to what is essential. To resist this eclipse of reason and to preserve its capacity for seeing the essential, for seeing God and man, for seeing what is good and what is true, is the common interest that must unite all people of good will. The very future of the world is at stake. —Ibid.
Essentially, the world is on the brink of lawlessness. Now, this does not necessarily mean to be without laws, but rather to embrace, codify, and promote falsehoods as though they were truths. For to abandon objective truth, which under-girds the principles of just law, is to allow the whole structure to collapse.
Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. (Rom 1:24-25)
The voice of truth that restrains men from their passions by calling them to repentance and back to the right path, has been entrusted to the Church…
The Church Restrains
Jesus promised the Apostles “when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.”5 But they were not to hide this truth beneath a bushel basket; rather, they were commissioned to:
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matt 28:19-20)
…sinful man needs grace and revelation so moral and religious truths may be known “by everyone with facility, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error.” The natural law provides revealed law and grace with a foundation prepared by God and in accordance with the work of the Spirit. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1960
With the French Revolution,6 the division between Church and state became systematized and human rights began to be defined, no longer by the natural and moral law, but by the state. Henceforth, the Church’s moral authority has continually been eroded, such that today:
…the Christian faith is no longer allowed to express itself visibly… in the name of tolerance, tolerance is being abolished. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Light of the World, A Conversation with Peter Seewald, p. 52-53
The illusive concept of “tolerance“,7 while creating an illusion of “freedom”, has led to the rejection of inspired truth thus leading mankind to a new kind of slavery:
The Church invites political authorities to measure their judgments and decisions against this inspired truth about God and man: Societies not recognizing this vision or rejecting it in the name of their independence from God are brought to seek their criteria and goal in themselves or to borrow them from some ideology. Since they do not admit that one can defend an objective criterion of good and evil, they arrogate to themselves an explicit or implicit totalitarian power over man and his destiny, as history shows. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Centesimus annus, n. 45, 46
With tragic consequences, a long historical process is reaching a turning-point. The process which once led to discovering the idea of “human rights”—rights inherent in every person and prior to any Constitution and State legislation—is today marked by a surprising contradiction… the very right to life is being denied or trampled upon… the original and inalienable right to life is questioned or denied on the basis of a parliamentary vote or the will of one part of the people—even if it is the majority. This is the sinister result of a relativism which reigns unopposed: the “right” ceases to be such, because it is no longer firmly founded on the inviolable dignity of the person, but is made subject to the will of the stronger part. In this way democracy, contradicting its own principles, effectively moves towards a form of totalitarianism. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Evangelium Vitae, “The Gospel of Life”, n. 18, 20
A totalitarianism that is now global in nature, thanks to the phenomenon of globalization. Add to this the repeated calls for a global currency and a “new world order”,8 as the world economy as we know it continues to disintegrate.9 But it is not merely an economic or political dictatorship forming, but a religious one controlled by “those with the power to “create” opinion and impose it on others.”10
…an abstract, negative religion is being made into a tyrannical standard that everyone must follow. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Light of the World, A Conversation with Peter Seewald, p. 52
A new world order in itself is not necessarily evil; but if truth is rejected—and the Church who proclaims it—it will ultimately lead to the acceptance of the one whom Jesus calls a “liar and the father of lies”. For…
…without the guidance of charity in truth, this global force could cause unprecedented damage and create new divisions within the human family… humanity runs new risks of enslavement and manipulation… —Caritas in Veritate, n.33, 26
…enslavement to the one whom “the manipulator” gives his power to: a Judas,12 the lawless one, the “son of perdition”, the Antichrist or beast:
To it the dragon gave its own power and throne, along with great authority. (Rev 13:2)
He comes to power when that which is “restraining” him is removed.
The Rock and the Restrainer
When still a cardinal, Pope Benedict XVI wrote:
Abraham, the father of faith, is by his faith the rock that holds back chaos, the onrushing primordial flood of destruction, and thus sustains creation. Simon, the first to confess Jesus as the Christ… now becomes by virtue of his Abrahamic faith, which is renewed in Christ, the rock that stands against the impure tide of unbelief and its destruction of man. —POPE BENEDICT XVI (Cardinal Ratzinger), Called to Communion, Understanding the Church Today, Adrian Walker, Tr., p. 55-56
The Pope, Simon Peter’s successor, by virtue of his divine office as “rock” and custodian of the “keys of the kingdom”,13 holds back the “mystery of lawlessness” in its fullness. The Pope, however, is not alone; there are “living stones”14 built with him upon the foundation who is Christ, the cornerstone,15 who leads the whole Church into all truth through His Spirit.
The whole body of the faithful… cannot err in matters of belief. This characteristic is shown in the supernatural appreciation of faith (sensus fidei) on the part of the whole people, when, from the bishops to the last of the faithful, they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 92
Thus, the entire body of Christ shares in the Petrine ministry insofar as they remain in communion with him. So then, is that which restrains unbridled lawlessness—indeed, the Antichrist—the moral witness and voice of the Church, in communion with the Holy Father?
The Church is always called upon to do what God asked of Abraham, which is to see to it that there are enough righteous men to repress evil and destruction. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Light of the World, A Conversation with Peter Seewald, p. 166
When Christians cease to shine16, or when that light has been dulled by sin and corruption, that authoritative “voice” loses its moral force and credence. Then the future is determined no longer by absolutes, but by what Pope Benedict calls “a dictatorship of relativism”….
…which leaves as the ultimate measure only one’s ego and desires… —Cardinal Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI) pre-conclave Homily, April 18th, 2005
We can better understand, then, why now, at this hour, the restrainer is being removed, particularly in light of the widespread sexual scandals in the priesthood. Regarding these sins, Pope Benedict has not been vague:
As a result, the faith as such becomes unbelievable, and the Church can no longer present herself credibly as the herald of the Lord. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Light of the World, A Conversation with Peter Seewald, p. 25
Even St. Michael the Archangel, as protector of the Church, is himself bound by the free will of its members if they so choose to slide into apostasy.
The Roman Empire
What of the Roman Empire? Western civilization is built in part upon principles of the Roman Empire, particularly the Judaeo-Christian principles that it adopted. Under Emperor Constantine, Rome became Christian and from there, Catholicism spread throughout Europe and beyond. The collapse of the Roman Empire, hence, could be understood, in part, as the collapse of those Christian morals that supported it.
This revolt [apostasy], or falling off, is generally understood, by the ancient fathers, of a revolt from the Roman empire, which was first to be destroyed, before the coming of Antichrist. It may, perhaps, be understood also of a revolt of many nations from the Catholic Church which has, in part, happened already, by the means of Mahomet, Luther, etc. and it may be supposed, will be more general in the days of the Antichrist. —footnote on 2 Thess 2:3, Douay-Rheims Holy Bible, Baronius Press Limited, 2003; p. 235
Today, the Roman Empire is believed to subsist in some form through the European Union, which embraced the Treaty of Rome in forming its economic union. America, I might add, finds its roots in the European people, and through a nearly constant history of war, has built an empire of sorts throughout the Middle East and beyond. Others believe the Roman Empire has yet to rise in its final form before it falls for good. The point, however, is this: Western civilization is in a collapse, says Pope Benedict.
God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects. —Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to All the Bishops of the World, March 10, 2009; Catholic Online
The dam of lawlessness is about to burst open upon a world whose future, he warned, “is at stake.”
What Would He Say?
If Pope Pius X were alive today… walking through our malls on Sunday, noting our empty and closed churches,17 watching a sampling of evening sitcoms and Hollywood movies, spending a day browsing the internet, listening to our radio shock jocks, watching pagan parades, comparing plump North Americans to starving Africans, and counting the number of unborn who are decimated in the womb by the thousands each and every day… I am almost certain we would hear him shouting…18
…there may be already in the world the “Son of Perdition” of whom the Apostle speaks. —E Supremi, Encyclical On the Restoration of All Things in Christ, n. 5; October 4th, 1903
In our rationalism, and in the face of the rising power of dictatorships, God shows us the humility of the Mother, who appears to little children and speaks to them of the essentials: faith, hope, love, penance. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Light of the World, A Conversation with Peter Seewald, p. 164
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.—Our Lady of Fatima to the three children of Portugal; Message of Fatima, www.vatican.va