Eschatology


Aelianus once suggested to me that the principal difference between the elves and the men in Tolkien is not their nature but their end: the elves are directed by God to a merely natural end, whereas the men are directed to a supernatural end. This is why the elves are destined to remain in Arda, that is, on earth, since they can find there all that is necessary for them to achieve their goal, whereas men by ‘the gift of Iluvatar’, that is, by death, go elsewhere, the elves know not whither.

Savonarola suggested – though Bellarmine didn’t like it – that the inhabitants of Limbo would after the resurrection have dealings with the saints, sharing at least some of the same space and speaking to them.

Since those in Limbo have the same nature as the saints, but only attain a natural end, they would be after the resurrection rather similar to Tolkien’s elves. It is true that those in Limbo had a supernatural end insofar as they are members of the human race, but they were never personally proportioned to the beatific vision by receiving any actual grace, and so they would not experience any longing for it, or have any sense that their natural fulfilment was insufficient for them.

(Garrigou-Lagrange claims in various places that those in Limbo have a will that is averted from God as their supernatural end, and that by this fact that their will is also averted from God as their natural end. If this were true then their lot would seem to be very unpleasant, but I don’t know why he says it. Original sin implies an absence of charity in the will, but not a state of ‘having turned away from God’ in it.)

We can be tempted to imagine the inhabitants of Limbo after the resurrection as being like over-grown children, or like the adults on earth who have Down’s syndrome. But this would be quite wrong. Their intellects would function excellently, and their wills would love God with a natural love, and each other with noble friendship, and their emotions would be in complete harmony with reason. God might even give them certain natural gifts that the saints would not possess, such as the gift of writing beautiful poetry or singing beautiful songs in honour of creation. Or even if the saints could do the same, their would surely be a style of speech and song unique to those who live by nature alone, in a natural purity of heart, yet without desire of friendship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost; just as the saints  have no desire, for example, to be higher in glory than they are, or to have been the redeemer of the world.

If we put, then, Aelianus’s and Savonarola’s suggestion together, we come up with the question of this post: shall we see elves?

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In October 2015, the Remnant Newspaper drew attention to an apparently very rare conjunction of heavenly bodies due to take place during the 100th anniversary of the miracle of the sun.  The author, Patrick Archbold, quoted first the opening verse of Apoc. 12: “And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars: And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered.” He continued:

The author of Revelation clearly indicates that this vision is one of a sign in heaven or in the sky. What do we see in the sky of the near future?

On November 20, 2016, an astronomical event begins that will last nine and a half months, culminating in startling concurrence with the vision of Revelation 12. While I am not an astronomer, all my research indicates that this astronomical event, in all its particulars, is unique in the history of man.

On November 20, 2016, Jupiter (the King planet) enters into the body (womb) of the constellation Virgo (the virgin).   Jupiter, due its retrograde motion, will spend the next 9 ½ months within the womb of Virgo. This length of time corresponds with gestation period of a normal late-term baby.

After 9 ½ months, Jupiter exits out of the womb of Virgo. Upon Jupiter’s exit (birth), on September 23, 2017, we see the constellation Virgo with the sun rise directly behind it (the woman clothed with the sun). At the feet of Virgo, we find the moon. And upon her head we find a crown of twelve stars, formed by the usual nine stars of the constellation Leo with the addition of the planets Mercury, Venus, and Mars.

That is a truly remarkable and, as far as I can determine, unique series of event with a startling degree of concurrence with the vision of Revelation 12.

As a result, there was a certain amount of speculation about whether something significant for the Church or the word would happen on September 23rd 2017. Other people drew attention to the importance of 100 years in connexion with Fatima, and wondered whether something dramatic would happen on, say October 13th, 2017. I have discussed this last point here.

However, to my knowledge, no one has pointed out that something rather important did take place on 23rd September. The ‘Filial Correction’ which accused Pope Francis of upholding and propagating seven heresies was first seen by most people, at least on the eastern side of the Atlantic, on 24th September. However, the Associated Press, who seem to have been the first to publish it, date their article to the 23rd.

(Someone might wonder whether the organisers of the Filial Correction released their document deliberately to coincide with the ‘sign in the heavens’. I have been able to speak  to some of them, and I do not believe that this is the case.)

heavn

Do the Blessed know the value of π?

“Lest too great a variety of religious orders leads to grave confusion in God’s church, we strictly forbid anyone henceforth to found a new religious order. Whoever wants to become a religious should enter one of the already approved orders. Likewise, whoever wishes to found a new religious house should take the rule and institutes from already approved religious orders.”

 – Lateran IV (1215)

“…the disgrace into which the Society of Jesus had fallen made Catholics hesitant to embrace doctrines with which the Jesuits had been identified. One such doctrine was that for those who were inculpably ignorant of the Christian message, or of its truth, explicit Christian faith was not strictly necessary for salvation. Jesuits had taught that such people could be saved, as those who lived before the coming of Christ could be, by a faith in Christ, or a desire of such faith, that would be implicit in their faith in God. As we have seen, this was a departure from the teaching of St Thomas and the whole mediaeval tradition, which had required explicit Christian faith for the salvation of everyone in the Christian era. After the suppression of the Jesuit order, hardly any Catholic theologians dared to question the traditional teaching on this point.”

– Francis Sullivan S.J.

 

Mgr Andrew Wadsworth, provost of the Oratorians in Washington, summarizes Ven. Bartholomew Holzhauser on the 7 ages of the church. They are supposed to be prefigured by the 7 churches of Asia Minor at the start of the Apocalpyse. I suppose that if he is right, this blog ought really to be re-named Exsardi. Mrg Wadsworth doesn’t draw out the links with Apoc. 1-3, go the original to find out more.

If you don’t have time for the talk, here is the summary:

The Seven Ages of the Church
According to the writings of the
Venerable Bartholemew Holzhauser
(1613-1658)
Germany

1. Status Seminativus
AD 30-70
*Apostles*
from Christ and the Apostles
until Pope Linus and the Emperor Nero

2. Status Irrigativus
AD 70-330
*Martyrs*
10 Persecutions of the Church

3. Status Illuminativus
AD 330-500
*Doctors*
from Pope Sylvester to Leo III

4. Status Pacificus
AD 500-1500
*Christendom*
from Pope Leo III to Leo X

5. Status Afflictionis et Purgativus
1517-?
*Heresy/Decline*
from Leo X to a strong ruler/strong monarch/holy pope

6. Status Consolationis
?
*Triumph*
from the holy pope until the Antichrist

7. Status Desolationis
?
*Antichrist/End*
from the Antichrist to the End of the World

St Augustine:

As the ointment on the head, which descended to the beard, to Aaron’s beard, which descended to the fringe of his garment. What was Aaron? A priest. Who is a priest, except that one Priest, who entered into the Holy of Holies? Who is that priest, save Him, who was at once Victim and Priest? save Him who when he found nothing clean in the world to offer, offered Himself? The ointment is on his head, because Christ is one whole with the Church, but the ointment comes from the head. Our Head is Christ crucified and buried; He rose again, and ascended into heaven; and the Holy Spirit came from the head. Whither? To the beard. The beard signifies the courageous; the beard distinguishes the grown men, the earnest, the active, the vigorous. So that when we describe such, we say, he is a bearded man. Thus that ointment descended first upon the Apostles, descended upon those who bore the first assaults of the world, and therefore the Holy Spirit descended on them. For they who first began to dwell together in unity, suffered persecution, but because the ointment descended to the beard, they suffered, but were not conquered…. (in Ps. 132)

 

St Thomas Aquinas:

It is becoming for those who apply themselves to the Divine ministry to be shaven, and to be tonsured in the form of a crown by reason of the shape. Because a crown is the sign of royalty; and of perfection, since it is circular; and those who are appointed to the Divine service acquire a royal dignity and ought to be perfect in virtue. It is also becoming to them as it involves the hair being taken away: both from the higher part of the head by the tonsure, lest their mind be hindered by temporal occupations from contemplating Divine things, and from the lower part by shaving, lest their senses be entangled in temporal things (Suppl. 40, 1).

I’m not sure how to overcome this aporia, unless we think that Hanon in 1 Sam. 10 had the right idea by shaving off one half of the beards of David’s servants. However, Cornelius a Lapide says that this episode represents the Jews plucking off hairs from Christ’s beard during the Passion, or the devil stripping religious men of their courage, so that does not seem promising. I suppose we have to say that per se it is better for a man, especially a Christian, to possess a beard, at least in this life, but per accidens, e.g. because of a particular need to signify something else, it may become better to be shaved (and tonsured). I say ‘in this life’ because Aelianus tells me that the earliest depictions of our Lord present Him as risen and beardless, in token of eternal youth, and suggests that this may be the ‘other form’ which hindered people from recognising Him after the resurrection.

I presume that the historical reason why priests in the west have generally been shaven is Romanitas. Eastern rite priests of course often have beards, and I have a theory that the East-West division here is a providential counterbalance to the characteristics of their respective liturgies. That is, the Eastern liturgies put before us in particular the glory of the resurrection, so it is fitting that their priests be bearded, to preserve some suggestion of the trials and labours of this life as well, lest we float off into unreality. On the other hand, the Roman rite is more stark and sacrificial, so perhaps there is a danger that adding beards as well might make it too much for some people to take. I hope these are not irreverent thoughts.

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“He shall be a wild man: his hand will be against all men, and all men’s hands against him: and he shall pitch his tents over against all his brethren.” (Genesis 16:12)

In the Gospel According to St Luke 21:24 we read “and they shall fall by the edge of the sword; and shall be led away captives into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles; till the times of the nations be fulfilled.” The verse speaks of the sack of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. It is a rather disturbing verse as it implies that when the Jews recover possession of the earthly Jerusalem the ‘time of the nations [will] be fulfilled’. In various places the New Testament foretells a great apostasy of the Gentiles preceding the end of time. As Our Lord says in Luke 18:8 “the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?” Indeed, in the discourse of which Luke 21:24 forms a part there is a clear shift at this very verse from describing the sack of Jerusalem to describing the end of the world. The very last event prophesied before the return of the Lord is the conversion of the Jews. As St Paul explains in Romans 11 “For if the loss of them be the reconciliation of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? … For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of this mystery, (lest you should be wise in your own conceits), that blindness in part has happened in Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles should come in and so all Israel should be saved”. But between the falling away of the Gentiles and the conversion of the Jews there intervenes the reign of the Antichrist.

The old city of Jerusalem was recaptured by the Jews on 7th June 1967. One would have to be very blind not to have perceived a great falling away of the nations since that time. This carries the alarming implication that things are only going in one direction and that the Antichrist is on his way. It is slightly chilling that in revelation when the 144,000 are enumerated from the twelve tribes they are all alive while the ‘great multitude’ of the Gentile Christians are all dead. It is as if the remnant of the faithful in the time of Antichrist will all be children of Abraham (or rather Jacob) according to the flesh as well as the spirit. It is slightly consoling that the elect are drawn from all twelve tribes and who knows who might be descended from Israel in the female line? Another mysterious statement in Revelation 14:1-4 implies the Israelite elect will all be celibate. This might resolve a difficulty St Augustine raises towards the end of the De Civitate Dei. St Augustine notes that Our Lord says it is only possible to despoil the property of the strong man while he is bound and  Revelation tells us that in the last days the Devil will be unbound. St Augustine considers the possibility that during the three and a half years during which the Antichrist will rule the world no one will be justified. He discards this idea because of the efficacy of infant baptism. However, if the remainder of the faithful at this time are all celibate, infant baptism may not be such an objection. Our Lord even says in Matthew 24:37-39 “And as in the days of Noe, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even till that day in which Noe entered into the ark, and they knew not till the flood came, and took them all away; so also shall the coming of the Son of man be.”

So, if the gentiles are to fall away entirely until only a tiny number of celibate Catholics, all descended from Jacob, remain, where will the Gentiles fall away to? A monk once showed me a book (written by a Protestant) given to him by a Cardinal which pointed out the startling similarities between the eschatology of the Mohammedans and that of the New Testament. The one key difference is that the heroes of Mohammedan eschatology are the villains of Christian prophecy. In Christian eschatology there are two key figures behind the final persecution of the Church: the Antichrist and the False Prophet. These correspond to the first and second beasts of Revelation 13. One is a great temporal ruler and the other his false religious auxiliary. Yet there seems to be some confusion in the tradition, for while the temporal ruler seems to take the lead and it is towards him that the False Prophet directs the worship of the reprobate, it is the second beast – the False Prophet – who is described as impersonating the Messiah “two horns, like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon”.  Yet it is normally the first beast who is though to be the Antichrist. The hero of Mohammedan eschatology is the Mahdi who will subject the entire world to Islamic rule. In his time Isa (the Mohammedan Jesus) will return. The Mahdi will offer to defer to the pseudo-Jesus but the latter will recognise Mahdi as greater. Isa will then commence the extermination of all remaining Jews and Christians on earth (two groups which, it would seem from the New Testament, may by then be materially identical). This suddenly makes a lot of sense of the two figures in the New Testament. Indeed, St Hippolytus in his treatise on the Antichrist seems to suspect that this is partly why the second beast has two horns: “By the beast, then, coming up out of the earth, he means the kingdom of Antichrist; and by the two horns he means him and the false prophet after him. And in speaking of the horns being like a lamb, he means that he will make himself like the Son of God, and set himself forward as king.”

In Galatians, St Paul famously contends that Ishmael is a type of the unbelieving Jews. As Ishmael was a slave so they are bound in servile subjection to the law. As Ishmael lived out his life in Arabia so they are bound to the covenant given on Sinai “a mountain in Arabia”. As he was rejected in favour of the miraculous son of the promise so they have been rejected in favour of the miraculously converted multitude of the Gentiles. How does this typology run once the children of Isaac after the flesh have once more become children of the promise? If the apostasy of the Jews means the conversion of the nations and the conversion of the Jews (and apostasy of the nations) means the end of the world might it not be that the return of the Jews to the promises of God will mean the transformation of the Gentiles into children of Ishmael according to the spirit?

“But what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son; for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman.” (Galatians 4:30)

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