August 2019- Eight Important Principles From Apocalypse
Some believe we are in Apocalyptic times and have read this book of Sacred Scripture out of curiosity, trying to discern what is going to happen next in the world. While doing this, it is easy to skip over or even miss the good advice found that applies to us today, even if these are not Apocalyptic times. Let us consider some of these principles.
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of the testimony, and they loved not their lives unto death." (Apocalypse 12:11)
We love our lives unto death, when we bow to the desires of our lower nature rather than sanctifying ourselves and spending our time and effort on Almighty God and completing His holy will in our lives.
"And in their mouth there was found no lie; for they are without spot before the throne of God." (Apocalypse 14:5)
One of the marks of these times is the fact that lying has become a way of life for so many people.
Some lies are excused as little white lies, when in fact they may even be mortal sins. Laxity is a sign of the times. Jesus said: "But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." (Matthew 12:36-37)
"A fool receiveth not the words of prudence: unless thou say those things which are in his heart." (Proverbs 18:2) Another version translates this as: "A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion." We should only express our opinion, when it is necessary and otherwise remain silent. "A time to keep silence, and a time to speak." (Ecclesiastes 3:7) Notice that silence comes first. One of the Fathers of the Church observed that God gave us two ears and one mouth, and that we should listen more than we speak.
"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying: Go out from her, my people; that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and the Lord hath remembered her iniquities." (Apocalypse 18:4-5)
When we remain in the world and conform ourselves to its perfidious maxims, we participate in her sins and become worthy of the plagues God will send upon the world. Saint Paul reminds us: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God." (Romans 12:1-2) We see by this that non-conformity with the world is a practice for all ages, not just those surrounding the time of Antichrist. Saint John Vianney identifies three classes of people, those who are totally worldly, those who are totally Godly, and those who want to have one foot in the world and another in the Church. This last class wants to find an easy way to heaven through Purgatory, while indulging in the pleasures of the world. They walk a tight rope of near occasions of sin, which they hope to avoid, but... Saint John then concludes, "You are either totally for God or you are totally for the world; there is no middle ground." This middle ground is actually the road to hell, which is cleverly disguised. How many who indulge in deliberate venial sin finally cross the line and commit a mortal sin? How many treading this fine line actually know where the line is between venial and mortal sin? Usually they keep moving the line further and further into the area of mortal sin, believing their own sins are mere trifles, when all sin is an offense against God.
"He, that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches:"
Throughout Apocalypse chapters two and three we read about the seven churches.
And seven times we are bidden to hear what the Spirit (the Holy Ghost) has to say to the churches. Let us consider some of this sage advice.
"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I will also keep thee from the hour of the temptation, which shall come upon the whole world to try them that dwell upon the earth." (Apocalypse 3:10)
Notice that God will protect us in the hour of temptation, if we keep the word of patience. Patience is a common theme in Apocalypse. "Here is the patience and the faith of the saints." (Apocalypse 13:10) "Here is the patience of the saints, who keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." (Apocalypse 14:12) One would think that keeping the Commandments would go without saying, it is so reasonable, but we are often reminded of these in Sacred Scripture, because we easily turn aside from the Commandments.
"In like manner do penance: if not, I will come to thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth." (Apocalypse 2:16)
Jesus said: "No, I say to you: but unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3,5) The theme of penance is found throughout Apocalypse: "But I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first charity. Be mindful therefore from whence thou art fallen: and do penance, and do the first works. Or else I come to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou do penance." (Apocalypse 2:4-5) "Have in mind therefore in what manner thou hast received and heard: and observe, and do penance. If then thou shalt not watch, I will come to thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know at what hour I will come to thee." (Apocalypse 3:3) "Such as I love, I rebuke and chastise. Be zealous therefore, and do penance." (Apocalypse 3:19)
"And the rest of the men, who were not slain by these plagues, did not do penance from the works of their hands, that they should not adore devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and wood, which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither did they penance from their murders, nor from their sorceries, nor from their fornication, nor from their thefts." (Apocalypse 9:20-21)
Apocalypse chapters six, eight and nine describe a series of plagues and chastisements that appear t come before the reign of Antichrist. Notice after all of these chastisements from Almighty God what people don't do. People do not do penance. And so the Holy Ghost is reminding us of the necessity of penance, which begins with following the advice Jesus gave to two people: "Go now and sin no more." (John 5:14; John 8:11) We need to step away from our lives of mediocrity and a lax attitude towards sin, and get serious about becoming a saint.
"And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun, and it was given unto him to afflict men with heat and fire: And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God, who hath power over these plagues, neither did they penance to give him glory. And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom became dark, and they gnawed their tongues for pain: And they blasphemed the God of heaven, because of their pains and wounds, and did not penance for their works." (Apocalypse 16:8-11)
The pouring out of the seven vials appears to be during and after the time of Antichrist.
People, who have seen all of the plagues mentioned earlier in this holy book have now seen the reign of Antichrist and the preaching of the Two Witnesses (Apocalypse 11). And yet, people have not gotten better; they have gotten worse. Now they are blaspheming Almighty God in addition to refusing to do penance for their sins.
If God wills that we actually see Apocalyptic times, we need to be ready, because the trials we will see will cause many to fall away from Almighty God and join the world. Many will fall completely away from the Faith under the persecution of Antichrist, which will be the worst in human history.