“That you be not easily moved from your sense, nor be terrified, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by epistle, as sent from us, as if the day of the Lord were at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means, for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, Who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he were God.” (II Thessalonians 2:2-4)
From the word translated as revolt in the above Scripture, we derive the word apostasy. This refers more to a time in the history of the Catholic Church, when the majority of Catholics will depart from the Catholic Faith into apostasy. This time is known as The Great Apostasy.
We shall consider this briefly from a prophetic viewpoint, and then consider whether we might actually be in or near the Great Apostasy.
The Douay Rhiems has several footnotes: “”A revolt”: This revolt, 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 means of Mahomet, Luther, &c., and it may be supposed, will be more general in the days of the Antichrist.”
Henry Edward Cardinal Manning commented in the late 1800’s: “Then, the Church shall be scattered, driven into the wilderness, and shall be for a time, as it was in the beginning, invisible, hidden in catacombs, in dens, in mountains, in lurking-places; for a time it shall be swept, as it were, from the face of the earth- Such is the universal testimony of the Fathers of the early centuries.”
The Church shall be devastated and reduced to a very small number, who shall remain faithful. The Church shall be persecuted.
The Douay-Rheims also comments: “”The man of sin”: Here must be meant some particular man, as is evident from the frequent repetition of the Greek article: ‘the man of sin, ‘the son of perdition, ‘the adversary or opposer. It agrees to the wicked and great Antichrist, who will come before the end of the world.”
There is much speculation about Antichrist and when he will arrive upon earth. Pope Saint Pius X wrote in his first Encyclical, E Supremi, on October 4, 1903: “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 (II. Thess. ii., 3).” This was over 110 years ago. Was Saint Pius X wrong? We shall consider some private prophecies that indicate the timing of the Great Apostasy in a moment.
Antichrist could be the abomination of desolation which we read about in Sacred Scripture. Saint Paul identifies him as the man of sin and the son of perdition. Many think he is the beast of Apocalypse 13 and also the beast from the abyss who kills Enoch and Elias.
Daniel says (11:31): “And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall defile the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the continual sacrifice, and they shall place there the abomination unto desolation.” And Jesus tells us: “When therefore you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth let him understand.” (Matthew 24:15)
In the instruction for the Last Lord’s day after Pentecost 1 Saint Jerome says: “The abomination of desolation can be taken to mean as well every perverted doctrine. When we see such a thing stand in the holy place, that is in the Church, and pretend that it is God, we must flee from Judea to the mountains, …”
In the Church
And the Douay-Rheims comments: “”In the temple”: Either that of Jerusalem which some think he will rebuild; or in some Christian church, which he will pervert to his own worship: as Mahomet has done by the churches of the east.”
As we saw above, Saint Jerome also thinks that the abomination of desolation shall some day sit in the Church herself. What he means is that heresy shall invade the very Church herself, causing the revolt Saint Paul talks about.
Although this is not a book about prophesy, prophesy appears to be fulfilled at this time as we have already begun to consider. Rather this book will consider the Great Apostasy and its attributes in order to determine if we may be close to it or possibly already in the Great Apostasy. We shall begin with a brief look at prophecy and a few events that coincide with the Great Apostasy.
Note: in this work we will use the 1917 Code of Canon Law, because many of the incidents considered occurred before 1983.
1 Insyead of saying Sunday, which has a pagan connotation, we should remind ourselves in our speech that the first day of the week has been consecrated by God through the Apostles as the Lord’s day, transferring the Sabbath of the Old Law from the last day of the week to the first.