END TIMES- THE CHURCH IN THE
GARDEN OF GETHSEMANI
THE "END TIMES"
(1John 2:18-19) Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come; therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out, that it might be plain that they all are not of us.
That we are indeed in the "end times" is corroborated both by Scripture and Tradition. The "end times" began with the Ascension almost 2000 years ago. It is the final stage of human history that will culminate in the Lord's glorious return. Before that event, however, will come a era of increasing evil leading to the crucifixion of Christ's mystical Body, the Church.
(2Ti 3:1-5) Know also this, that in the last days shall come dangerous times. Men shall be lovers of themselves, covetous, haughty, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, wicked, Without affection, without peace, slanderers, incontinent, unmerciful, without kindness, Traitors, stubborn, puffed up, and lovers of pleasure more than of God: Having an appearance indeed of godliness but denying the power thereof.
(Dan 12:9-10) He said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end. Many shall purify themselves, and make themselves white, and be refined; but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but those who are wise shall understand.
(Rev 12:12) Rejoice then, O heaven and you that dwell therein! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!"
FROM THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH:
670 Since the Ascension God's plan has entered into its fulfilment. We are already at "the last hour". "Already the final age of the world is with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real but imperfect." Christ's kingdom already manifests its presence through the miraculous signs that attend its proclamation by the Church. . . . until all things are subjected to him
677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgement after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.
686 The Holy Spirit is at work with the Father and the Son from the beginning to the completion of the plan for our salvation. But in these "end times," ushered in by the Son's redeeming Incarnation, the Spirit is revealed and given, recognized and welcomed as a person. Now can this divine plan, accomplished in Christ, the firstborn and head of the new creation, be embodied in mankind by the outpouring of the Spirit: as the Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
CATHOLIC CHURCH IN CRISIS- THE AGONY IN THE GARDEN
Priests. While the number of priests in the United States more than doubled to 58,000 between 1930 and 1965, since then that number has fallen to 45,000. By 2020, there will be only 31,000 priests left, and more than half of these priests will be over 70.
Ordinations. In 1965, 1,575 new priests were ordained in the United States. In 2002, the number was 450. In 1965, only 1 percent of U.S. parishes were without a priest. Today, there are 3,000 priestless parishes, 15 percent of all U.S. parishes.
Seminarians. Between 1965 and 2002, the number of seminarians dropped from 49,000 to 4,700, a decline of over 90 percent. Two-thirds of the 600 seminaries that were operating in 1965 have now closed.
Sisters. In 1965, there were 180,000 Catholic nuns. By 2002, that had fallen to 75,000, and the average age of a Catholic nun is today 68. In 1965, there were 104,000 teaching nuns. Today, there are 8,200, a decline of 94 percent since the end of Vatican II.
Religious orders. For religious orders in America, the end is in sight. In 1965, 3,559 young men were studying to become Jesuit priests. In 2000, the figure was 389. With the Christian Brothers, the situation is even more dire. Their number has shrunk by two-thirds, with the number of seminarians falling 99 percent. In 1965, there were 912 seminarians in the Christian Brothers. In 2000, there were only seven.
The number of young men studying to become Franciscan and Redemptorist priests fell from 3,379 in 1965 to 84 in 2000.
Catholic schools. Almost half of all Catholic high schools in the United States have closed since 1965. The student population has fallen from 700,000 to 386,000. Parochial schools suffered an even greater decline. Some 4,000 have disappeared, and the number of pupils attending has fallen below 2 million--from 4.5 million.
Though the number of U.S. Catholics has risen by 20 million since 1965, Jones' statistics show that the power of Catholic belief and devotion to the faith are not nearly what they were.
Catholic marriage. Catholic marriages have fallen in number by one-third since 1965, while the annual number of annulments has soared from 338 in 1968 to 50,000 in 2002.
Attendance at Mass. A 1958 Gallup Poll reported that three in four Catholics attended church on Sundays. A recent study by the University of Notre Dame found that only one in four now attend.
Only 10 percent of lay religious teachers now accept church teaching on contraception. Fifty-three percent believe a Catholic can have an abortion and remain a good Catholic. Sixty-five percent believe that Catholics may divorce and remarry. Seventy-seven percent believe one can be a good Catholic without going to Mass on Sundays.
By one New York Times poll, 70 percent of all Catholics in the age group 18 to 44 believe the Eucharist is merely a "symbolic reminder" of Jesus.
APOSTASY IN THE HEADLINES
Death Saint Popular in
An alternative faith offers opportunities
Catholic Church Attendance Drops This Year in Midst of Scandal
Jesus 'healed using cannabis'
Group: Cloning Is Immortality
Paganism "fastest growing" religion in Australia
EDITOR'S COMMENT: The statistics above are taken from an article that seeks to ascribe the cause of this "disease" in the Church to Vatican II. Yet as the excerpts from the both the Catechism and the Bible quoted in part one of this series illustrate, this falling away from the faith was prophesied to occur thousands of years ago. It was as inevitable as the crucifixion of Our Lord was inevitable.
Perhaps an analogy from the medical field would be of value. When a drug or treatment is evaluated to determine its effect on a disease, it is necessary to first have knowledge about the natural course of the disease. That is, what happens to people who are untreated? It is then possible to fairly evaluate the effect of a given treatment- is it beneficial, does it have no effect, or is it detrimental.
It is impossible to appropriately ascribe any blame for the Church's present state to Vatican II simply because we do not know what the state of the Church would be today had Vatican II not occured. Traditionalists will argue that it would be much holier while modernists would argue that Vatican II did not go far enough in its "reforms". But as obedient Catholics we must trust that the Magisterium is indeed led by the Holy Spirit and that Vatican II was the will of the Father and hence necessarily for the good of the Church.
Further evidence that Vatican II is not the cause of the present state of crisis in the Church is the fact that the apostasy in faith is occurring throughout Christianity, involving both our Eastern Orthodox brothers and other denominations that would not be affected by Vatican II.
Returning to the medical analogy, Vatican II may be viewed as a palliative "treatment". A palliative treatment does not cure a disease but eliminates suffering that would be present if the treatment were not given. But the Church's march to Calvary must nevertheless continue.
THE RESPONSE- PRAYER, NOT DESPAIR
(Jonah 1:1-2) Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amit'tai, saying, "Arise, go to Nin'eveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness has come up before me."
COMMENTARY: We are told that Nineveh is so large that it takes three days to walk through it; yet Jonah only gets a third of the way through the city probably halfheartedly announcing -- Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed -- when the entire population -- 120,000 citizens repent! They are all fasting, they are all covered in sackcloth -- even the animals! In fact, in no time the king of Nineveh himself is dressed in sackcloth and sitting on a pile of ashes.
(Jonah 3:10) When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not do it.
Ninevah was spared the punishment it was due because of their reaction to the call to repentance by God through Jonah. History shows that Ninevah eventually was destroyed, as required by God's justice, but the generation in Jonah's day was saved as an eternal example of God's merciful response to a truly repentant heart.
JESUS IN THE GARDEN
(Luke 22:39-43) And going out, he went, according to his custom, to the Mount of Olives. And his disciples also followed him. And when he was come to the place, he said to them: Pray, lest ye enter into temptation. And he was withdrawn away from them a stone's cast. And kneeling down, he prayed. Saying: Father, if thou wilt, remove this chalice from me: but yet not my will, but thine be done. And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony, he prayed the longer.
How should God's mystical Body respond to Gethesami? We see through Jesus' actions in the garden that the proper response is prayer and surrender. Our loving and merciful Father will certainly provide us, via His Grace and angelic support, all that we need to spiritually survive the trials of this evil hour.
ST CYPRIAN, BISHOP OF CARTHAGE, ADDRESSES PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS IN THE THIRD CENTURY
St Cyprian writes, "What we must do is beg the Lord with united and undivided hearts, without pause in our entreaty, with confidence that we shall receive, seeking to appease Him with cries and tears as befits those who find themselves amid the lamentations of the fallen and the trembling of the remnant still left, amidst the host of those who lie faint and savaged and the tiny band of those who stand firm. We must beg that peace be promptly restored, that help be quickly brought to our places of concealment and peril, that those things be fulfilled which the Lord vouchsafes to reveal to his servants: the restoration of His church, the certitude of our salvation, bright skies after rain, after darkness light, after wild storms a gentle calm. We must beg that the Father send his loving aid to his children, that God in his majesty perform now as he has so often His wonderful works".
POPE JOHN PAUL II GENERAL AUDIENCE Wednesday 11 December 2002
Commentary on Canticle from the Book of Jeremiah (Jer 14,17-21):
Now comes the turning-point: the people return to God and raise an intense prayer to him. First of all, they recognize their own sin with a brief but heartfelt confession of guilt: "We recognize, O Lord, our wickedness,... that we have sinned against you" (v. 21). Thus God's silence was provoked by man's rejection. If the people will be converted and return to the Lord, God will also show himself ready to go out to meet and embrace them.
Finally, the prophet uses two fundamental words: "remember" and "covenant" (v. 21). God is asked by his people to "remember", that is, to return to the line of his generous kindness, which he had so often shown in the past with crucial interventions to save Israel. God is asked to remember that he bound himself to his people by a covenant of fidelity and love. Precisely because of this covenant, the people can be confident that the Lord will intervene to set them free and save them.
The commitment he assumed, the honour of his "name" and the fact that he was present in the temple, "the throne of his glory", impel God - after his judgement of sin and his silence - to draw close to his people once again to give them life, peace and joy.
With the Israelites, therefore, we too can be sure that the Lord will not give us up for good but, after every purifying trial, will return to make "his face to shine upon us, and be gracious to us ... and give us peace" as the priestly blessing mentioned in Numbers says (6,25-26).
EDITOR'S NOTE: Yet another sign of the times.........Pray on!!!
(Mat 16:18) And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.
(Rom 8:35-37) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, "For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
(1Jo 3:2) Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
4:18) There is no fear in love,
but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment,
he who fears is not perfected in love.