Tag Archives: CCC

Prophecy From a Catholic Perspective (42) – The Communion of Saints

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Continuing through the Catechism of the Catholic Church as it relates to prophecy:

954 The three states of the Church. “When the Lord comes in glory, and all his angels with him, death will be no more and all things will be subject to him. But at the present time some of his disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating ‘in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is”‘: All of us, however, in varying degrees and in different ways share in the same charity towards God and our neighbours, and we all sing the one hymn of glory to our God. All, indeed, who are of Christ and who have his Spirit form one Church and in Christ cleave together.

957 Communion with the saints. “It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself”:
We worship Christ as God’s Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord’s disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples!

We believe that, in Christ , and in communion through Him we have an eternal relationship with one another. Not just those we personally know, but all those who live, have lived, and will live in the Christian faith. Those who, through their own choices and actions, are condemned have separated themselves not just from God but from all Christians.

The Communion of Saints is actually an important aspect of prophecy. This is true for a few reasons. First of all, there is a distinct allusion to the communion of saints and the martyrs in the book of Revelation as it relates to their pleadings for the justice of God. There is also a distinct tie-in to the timing of God’s final judgment to the number of martyrs and elect. This question will be explored further at a later time.

The communion of Saints is alluded to in ways that make the prophecies more understandable in that the Church is seen not just as a structure and a hierarchy, but as the mystical body of Christ formed by all believers. Further, when Christ says that He is the vine and we are the branches, we do not wither and die and fall off the vine upon our own death. We stays united on the vine and remain part of the mystical body of Christ in His Church. Paul says we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses (there’s that “cloud” again!)

As an aside for a moment, it is a distinctly Catholic doctrine that there is a Purgatory. I will not turn this into an apologetic exercise about Purgatory. But it is unfortunate that we have this disunity. Many – if not most – people who pass away still need our prayers, and there are so many who do not believe that this is true. While it is true that the judgment of salvation or condemnation is determined upon our death, this does not imply immediate entry into heaven. Purgatory is not a way after death to get out of going to hell. It is a purification of all worldly longings and attachments in order to enter heaven. Our prayers aid in this process. Without those prayers, those souls are on their own, which is not emblematic of our communion with them as fellow believers. Purgatory is in no way a repudiation of Christ’s work on the cross, just as the fact that some will be damned is not a repudiation of his sacrifice.

Prophecy From a Catholic Perspective (41) – Consecrated Life as a Sign of Fulfillment

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Continuing through the Catechism of the Catholic Church as it relates to prophecy:

916 The religious state is thus one way of experiencing a “more intimate” consecration, rooted in Baptism and dedicated totally to God. In the consecrated life, Christ’s faithful, moved by the Holy Spirit, propose to follow Christ more nearly, to give themselves to God who is loved above all and, pursuing the perfection of charity in the service of the Kingdom, to signify and proclaim in the Church the glory of the world to come.

923 “Virgins who, committed to the holy plan of following Christ more closely, are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, are betrothed mystically to Christ, the Son of God, and are dedicated to the service of the Church.” By this solemn rite (Consecratio virginum), the virgin is “constituted . . . a sacred person, a transcendent sign of the Church’s love for Christ, and an eschatological image of this heavenly Bride of Christ and of the life to come.”

933 Whether their witness is public, as in the religious state, or less public, or even secret, Christ’s coming remains for all those consecrated both the origin and rising sun of their life:
For the People of God has here no lasting city, . . . [and this state] reveals more clearly to all believers the heavenly goods which are already present in this age, witnessing to the new and eternal life which we have acquired through the redemptive work of Christ and preluding our future resurrection and the glory of the heavenly kingdom.

I have not pulled all the different excerpts on consecrated or religious life from the Catechism, but these are emblematic of the whole. Those who dedicate themselves through vows of virginity and chastity, poverty and mission-work, and so on in a very special way unite themselves to the Kingdom and are in themselves signs of the glory of the perfected Kingdom to come. Further, as the universal Church is the bride of Christ, individuals are an image of this bride by consecrating themselves only to Christ and His Church.

This extends not only to recognized religious life, but to lay apostolates as well. Ultimately, this extends to all of us in every walk of life. There is a very special bond in the religious life. But this also is a sign to our own calling in life, and our own devotion to Christ and His Church – whether we are husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, teachers or lawyers or actuaries… wherever we are, we are still a witness.

That is in the here and now. But the Catechism considers all these orders and apostolates and individuals to be signs of the ultimate fulfillment of all our hopes and expectations in the return of Christ and perfection of the Kingdom. Whenever we see goodness, we see the Kingdom.

Prophecy From a Catholic Perspective (40) – Universal Evangelization in an Unbroken Line of Succession

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Continuing through the Catechism of the Catholic Church as it relates to prophecy:

849 The missionary mandate. “Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be ‘the universal sacrament of salvation,’ the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men”: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age.”

860 In the office of the apostles there is one aspect that cannot be transmitted: to be the chosen witnesses of the Lord’s Resurrection and so the foundation stones of the Church. But their office also has a permanent aspect. Christ promised to remain with them always. The divine mission entrusted by Jesus to them “will continue to the end of time, since the Gospel they handed on is the lasting source of all life for the Church. Therefore, the apostles took care to appoint successors.”

865 The Church is ultimately one, holy, catholic, and apostolic in her deepest and ultimate identity, because it is in her that “the Kingdom of heaven,” the “Reign of God,” already exists and will be fulfilled at the end of time. The kingdom has come in the person of Christ and grows mysteriously in the hearts of those incorporated into him, until its full eschatological manifestation. Then all those he has redeemed and made “holy and blameless before him in love,” will be gathered together as the one People of God, the “Bride of the Lamb,” “the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.” For “the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

This is one of the key prophetic messages from Scripture (#849 above) that indicates that the end of the age will not come until a complete evangelization has occurred.   We live in interesting times in that we have the technology in so many ways to reach all corners of the globe, and even to the extent that technology doesn’t exist in all places, the ease with which we can travel allows access to nearly everywhere.   The only current practical limitations to evangelization are governmental restrictions that limit the ability to evangelize.    God will break these barriers down when the time is right, and whenever that happens, it may be an indication that the close of the age is nearing.

An unbroken succession of Bishops, or “Apostles” will be maintained until the end of time, and it is in that line that the Kingdom of Heaven exists on its way to ultimate fulfillment in perfection with Christ’s return.

Prophecy From a Catholic Perspective (39) – Roles of Christians and Non-Christians in Coming Events

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Continuing through the Catechism of the Catholic Church as it relates to prophecy:

840 and when one considers the future, God’s People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.

841 The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

842 The Church’s bond with non-Christian religions is in the first place the common origin and end of the human race:
All nations form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created to people the entire earth, and also because all share a common destiny, namely God. His providence, evident goodness, and saving designs extend to all against the day when the elect are gathered together in the holy city. . .

The Catechism speaks to other faiths, but also of non-Christians. Those who are imperfect in their belief of God and/or the Messiah can nonetheless share some common beliefs about the God we love and serve. The Catholic Church speaks no judgment of condemnation against anyone, since all judgment is reserved for God alone. And while it is certainly legitimate to point out error and differences from Catholic teaching, it is also proper to understand that there can be some mutual elements of belief to be celebrated, and to use as a starting point in the traversing towards unity.

It is evident in prophecy that Jews and Muslims play a large role in certain events to come. But what is certainly not true is that ALL Jews will do one thing and ALL Muslims will do another thing, and ALL Christians will do the right thing.

Prophecy From a Catholic Perspective (38) – Consistency and Victory in Truth Until the Parousia

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Continuing through the Catechism of the Catholic Church as it relates to prophecy:

830 The word “catholic” means “universal,” in the sense of “according to the totality” or “in keeping with the whole.” The Church is catholic in a double sense: First, the Church is catholic because Christ is present in her. “Where there is Christ Jesus, there is the Catholic Church.” In her subsists the fullness of Christ’s body united with its head; this implies that she receives from him “the fullness of the means of salvation” which he has willed: correct and complete confession of faith, full sacramental life, and ordained ministry in apostolic succession. The Church was, in this fundamental sense, catholic on the day of Pentecost and will always be so until the day of the Parousia.

831 Secondly, the Church is catholic because she has been sent out by Christ on a mission to the whole of the human race:

All men are called to belong to the new People of God. This People, therefore, while remaining one and only one, is to be spread throughout the whole world and to all ages in order that the design of God’s will may be fulfilled: he made human nature one in the beginning and has decreed that all his children who were scattered should be finally gathered together as one…. the character of universality which adorns the People of God is a gift from the Lord himself whereby the Catholic Church ceaselessly and efficaciously seeks for the return of all humanity and all its goods, under Christ the Head in the unity of his Spirit.

“Parousia” is a reference to the Second Coming of Christ – the end of time as we know it, and the fulfillment of the promise of eternal life to come with the completion and perfection of God’s Kingdom finally to be had. The catechism is very careful to note (not all items have been presented here, since I am focusing on the prophetic elements) that “non-Catholic” churches are looked upon as brothers and sisters in Christ. Those born into other faiths who had nothing to do with division or schism, and are faithful Christians are believed to serve a real Christian purpose through the Holy Spirit, and we are unified in many ways, despite our differences. The reality is that there is still a schism there that needs healing, but we need to constantly move one another towards unity of Spirit and away from division. And in this way, the term “catholic” applies to all Christians who put their faith in Christ – we universally worship one God. In a sense, they are still a branch to the tree, though this isn’t a perfect analogy as long as teachings in areas of truth differ. However, the Church will remain until Christ comes, despite the enemy’s best efforts to the contrary, and even perhaps in what might appear for a time as a victory over and destruction of the Church in a time of great Tribulation to come.

I am often amazed when I consider the fact that our Church has persevered with here teachings intact despite all the different eras and pressures and a stretch of unseemly Popes and all that stuff. Whenever people want to point to individuals who have failed in some respect (even in deeply sinful, scandalous ways, such as the sex-abuse scandal that emerged in great detail a decade ago) as somehow being indicative of a Church that is in error, I can’t make sense out of the argument. The Church has done so much good in the world that people either fail or refuse to recognize that can be used to counter such arguments. But those things, while great, are insufficient. In the end, the teachings of Christ, the gospel message, and the faith has remained intact. Even today, we live in a world that embraces many evils as good, and provides well-constructed arguments that can even confuse the faithful into wondering if the Church is being a bit to inflexible. The attacks come from all sides. It is easy to see how a nearly complete animosity towards the Church can occur, as secular humanism becomes more and more entrenched as the favored gospel of the planet. And yet, the teachings remain. Where others see weakness, I see strength.

And so it will continue until the Second Coming. The Church may well, at some point, appear so weak as to be near death. But as long as the teachings continue to be the truth, the ultimate victory will be Christ’s. Somehow, some way.

Prophecy From a Catholic Perspective (37) – The Weeds within the Kingdom

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Continuing through the Catechism of the Catholic Church as it relates to prophecy:

827 “Christ, ‘holy, innocent, and undefiled,’ knew nothing of sin, but came only to expiate the sins of the people. The Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.” All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners. In everyone, the weeds of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time. Hence the Church gathers sinners already caught up in Christ’s salvation but still on the way to holiness:

The Church is therefore holy, though having sinners in her midst, because she herself has no other life but the life of grace. If they live her life, her members are sanctified; if they move away from her life, they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for those offenses, of which she has the power to free her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

This entry in the catechism recalls the Kingdom of God being like the field where the enemy sowed weeds in with the wheat. The master allowed the two to grow side by side, and in the end the weeds will be burned. This theme is revisited over and over again, and yet human history and the Church seems to forget about this message. People don’t like hypocrites, and they want to believe all those in the hierarchy are the holiest of individuals. We unthinkingly put our faith in men, rather than Christ and the Holy Spirit in guiding the teachings of the Church. Thus, people leave when men fail them, and in turn reject Church teachings.

It does none of us any good to ignore the failings of people in the Church structure and throughout history. However, acknowledging that is not an indictment of the Church herself – the bride of Christ. In fact, the above entry in the Catechism takes this even further – every one of us have some “weeds” growing up in our own personal field. We can be baptized and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. We can go to the Sacraments and be infused with grace. We are made holy. And yet, we can still sin. The Church as a community is just a greater reflection of the very process we go through at the individual level. But in the end, it is still Christ’s Church.

This is relevant as it relates to the prophetic for the same reasons as many previous entries. It gives us insight into what the kingdom of God on earth is all about, which is truly of vital imporance when trying to understand the context of Biblical prophecy, as well as discerning the claims made in Private Revelation.

Prophecy From a Catholic Perspective (36) – Unity – That They May All Be One

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Continuing through the Catechism of the Catholic Church as it relates to prophecy:

820 “Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time.” Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her. This is why Jesus himself prayed at the hour of his Passion, and does not cease praying to his Father, for the unity of his disciples: “That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, so that the world may know that you have sent me.” The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit.

Clearly, there is disunity in the Christian community. This is no accident. Pride is the ultimate divisor, and throughout history there have been times of pridefulness within certain confines of the Catholic Church that drove believers away, and there have been occasions of pridefulness on the part of those who split away and took others with them. There were times when obedience was called for but humility was lacking, and there were times where obedience was demanded in matters for which the demand was unreasonable.

This is all called “sin.” And it is perfectly understanable why Satan would look to attack the unity of the Christian Church. Look at the words of Jesus above: “may they also be one in us, so that the world may know that you have sent me.” It is not a negative assault upon any individual who is not Catholic (and perhaps never has even been properly exposed to the faith) to point out that disunity in the Church is most likely the one largest reason why there is a general lack of faith in the world. When a non-Christian (or apathetic Christian) steps back and looks at us, it is not an unfair question for them to ask “so… you all believe different things and you all claim that the Bible and Holy Spirit tell you that you’re right, and yet there are a gazillion denominations, non-denominations, home-churches… WHO’S RIGHT!?” It is quite likely that the person asking this will dismiss it all and either eschew religion altogether, look to a non-Christian alternative, or just pick one that makes him or her feel the best about themselves. Disunity is a travesty far beyond any of the sins of the Church that spawned disunity in the first place. And the division does not confine itself to denominational lines. When you hear that 80% or more of married Catholics use contraception – in clear contradiction to the moral teachings of the Church – there is a lack of unity even within the Church. And eventually, many Catholics fall away from the faith because of it.

It is healthy to recognize past failings, as long as it is in the proper perspective. People tend to want to “get away” from the issues they see, and too often will transcend them to improper levels. If the local Priest preaches heresy, one may feel inclined to head down the street to the denomination next door, but this is problematic. Doctrinal positions require that unambiguous truths exist. Going to the church next door may feel good on emotional and personable levels, but if there are doctrinal differences between them and the Catholic Church, then an honest evaluation of that needs to be considered before making a rash, emotional decision. I have seen those who leave for non-doctrinal reasons, and then allow themselves to slowly accept the doctrinal differences that go against Church teachings, but it is not an intellectually honest evaluation that they have done. They did not honestly struggle with the hard questions about whether or not God was calling them to understand their faith before they left, or whether or not they were being called to stay where they were for the purpose of helping to right the problems in the Parish.

So, what does this have to do with prophecy? It has everything to do with it. Timothy says that people will leave the truth of the Church for simple messages that “tickle their ears.” Further, it is clearly a continued attack on the unity of Christians that is emblematic of end-time prophecies. Further, there is a belief that, prior to the return of Christ, there must be a stronger unity among Christians. Remembering that Catholics don’t view the End Times as a specific number of years at the end of time, but all time succeeding the Resurrection of Christ, we can see the falling away from the unified faith as a sign of the end times unfolding over the last few centuries.