My "take" on End Times prophecy is heavily conditioned by a close study of Fr. Herman Kramer's "The Book of Destiny" (available the last I knew from Tan Books), which is a chapter-by-chapter interpretation of the Book of the Apocalypse (hereafter BOA), with minor adjustments due to various other prophecies & private revelations.
The value of Kramer's approach is that he enables us to place ourselves more or less precisely-- chronologically-- within the BOA. This tells us what to watch for, what the next things will be, what it all means, what the specific dangers of our age are, & so forth.
BTW, I don't mean to preach this stuff. I know full well that I'm not the final authority-- or indeed, any sort of an authority. I offer my spin on this in a spirit of all humility, & to gain valuable reactions from others who are equally or more knowledgeable than I am.
To begin with, as an inspired work the BOA must be our context for understanding the End Times. The BOA is written in a series of septettes-- the 7 letters, 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 vials containing the 7 plagues, & so forth. (Except where noted all quotations & references are from the Westminster version of the Bible.) The 7 letters are only a preamble, showing that the prophecies that follow are meant for the entire Church. The 7 bowls appear after the appearance of the Beast, who is the AntiChrist. Since he hasn't appeared yet, we will ignore them & concentrate on an interpretation of the 7 seals & the 7 trumpets.
A seal is an implement of secrecy, as to "keep something under a seal"; while a trumpet is an instrument of broadcast, as to announce something publicly. The 7 seals therefore refer to the era of the persecutions, when the Church existed in secret & in hiding; while the 7 trumpets pertain to the subsequent period when the Gospel triumphed & was proclaimed to all the corners of the Earth.
Without getting too deeply into the symbolism (as Kramer does), I'll content myself with observing that the breaking of the first 4 seals release the 4 horsemen of the Apocalypse, the symbolism of which certainly sounds as if it applies more to the ancient world than to the modern; the 5th is the vision of the martyrs, the 6th is the earthquake, the sun is darkened, the moon is blood, & so forth; & the 7th is silence in heaven for half an hour. The key to understanding all of this is the vision of the martyrs, for while we still today have the occasional martyr with us, the age of martyrs is long past, & pertains mainly to the era of persecutions under the Roman Empire.
To see if this makes sense in terms of the overall prophecy, let us turn next to the 7 trumpets. But before we do that, it would help if we had some fixed chronological point of reference in all of this-- an anchor to help us understand what came before & what came after. Fortunately, as Kramer points out, we possess just such a reference point in the life of St. Vincent Ferrer.
St. Vincent lived from 1350 thru 1419 &, with his disciple St. Bernardine of Siena, was one of the principal saints who preached against the Catharist heresy & the falling away from the Church that was to culminate in the Protestant Reformation 100 years later. Quoting now from Kramer, "Preaching...in San Esteban on 3 Oct. 1408 he solemnly declared that he was the angel of the judgement spoken of by St. John in the Apocalypse. The body of a woman was just being carried to St. Paul's Church nearby for burial. St. Vincent ordered...the dead to testify whether his claim was true or not. The dead woman came to life and...bore witness to the truth of the saint's claim..."
If it is true that St. Vincent was the eagle flying in mid-heaven at the end of Ch. 8 of the BOA, crying "Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the Earth"; then he appears after the first 4 trumpets have been blown & before the last 3. It should therefore be possible to make sense of them in this context.
The first 4 trumpets are the hail & fire mixed with blood, the mountain burning with fire, the star Wormwood, & the smiting of the third part of the sun, the moon, & the stars. The first 2 of these prophecies seem fairly obscure, although Kramer makes sense of them. The second 2, however, are fairly clear. Stars in Apocalyptic prophecy stand for angels, or often for prelates of the Church. The context of the Wormwood & smiting prophecies makes it clear that the meaning here is the second one. A star with a name would therefore be a very significant & high-ranking prelate-- most probably the Patriarch of Constantinople, who led the oldest & most populous portion of the Church into schism & heresy in the year 1054. The smiting of the third part of the sun, the moon, & the stars would therefore refer to the Great Western Schism, when 3 popes reigned at once, which was still going on during the lifetime of St. Vincent.
The next 3 trumpets are another fallen star who releases locusts from the bottomless pit, the war of the 200 million soldiers, & the woman clothed with the sun. These things, from the perspective of St. Vincent, were yet to come.
This fallen star is without a name, indicating that before his fall he is of no particular importance. The description fits Luther, who ushered in the Protestant Reformation. He & the other Reformers fit the description of the locusts. They are given a symbolic period of 5 months in which to complete their work. More of this in a moment.
The war of the 200 million soldiers can be made to conform to the wars of the 20th Century. Dealing with just the 1st & 2d World Wars, never before have such closely related conflicts been waged over such a wide area by virtually the same belligerents, involving such staggering numbers of soldiers. The number of regular troops engaged in these conflcits have been estimated at 140 million, not counting partisans or civilian casualties. If we include the Balkan Wars that immediately preceded WW1 & the post-colonial wars that followed WW2, we can get very close to St. John's figure of 200 million soldiers.
...& the woman clothed with the sun is not the Blessed Virgin, but is the Church itself.
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The 5th & 6th trumpets are blown in Ch. 9 & the 7th not until Ch. 12. In between are the angel who speaks the 7 thunders that are sealed up, the scroll that is bitter in the stomach although it tastes sweet, the measuring of the Temple, and the coming & death of the 2 Witnesses.
Kramer wrote in 1955, before Pope John XXIII refused to reveal the 3d Secret of Fatima, before the 2d Vatican Council, & before the (unapproved) Apparitions of Garabandal. He therefore imagined the 7 thunders to be the decrees of an Ecumenical Council trying to set right the abuses in the Church which had become ever more pronounced since the time of Pope Leo XIII. He could never have imagined that the coming Ecumenical Council would take quite an opposite course, & codify those very abuses.
On the contrary, the angel comes down from heaven. I therefore believe the 7 thunders to be the prophecies of La Salette, Lourdes, Fatima, & possibly that of Garabandal. The prophecies of La Salette were not written down at the time, or indeed for 20+ years afterward, by which time memories may have faded & details have been forgotten or changed. This amounts to them having been sealed up. There have been rumors for generations about secret prophecies of Lourdes which have never been made public. The 3d Secret of Fatima is too well-known to need elaboration, while withholding ecclesiastical approval from Garabandal amounts to having sealed up those prophecies as well.
The scroll that is bitter in the stomach although it tastes sweet is a prophecy of the coming triumph of Jesus, coupled with all the pain & suffering this will entail.
The measuring of the Temple was the 2d Vatican Council, and the coming of the 2 Witnesses hasn't happened yet. This is a clue that this particular part of the BOA may not be strictly chronological, for reasons discussed below.
My interpretation of the woman clothed with the sun owes much to that of Kramer, who wrote of it before it may have happened. He writes, "...she gives birth to some definite person who is to rule the Church... It then points to a conflict waged within the Church...this is unmistakably a papal election..."
3 years after Kramer wrote those words, Giuseppi Siri was allegedly elected pope, chose a papal name, & then was forced to step down, J23 being elected in his stead. This event, if true, closely corresponds to the prophecy. Its significance is strongly enhanced by the fact that after Pius XII considered & then was persuaded to reject the idea of an Ecumenical Council on the advice of those who counseled him that modernist tendencies in the Church had become so strong that there was a risk they would hijack the Council, J23 almost immediately after his election decided to convene one which has virtually destroyed the Church-- something he & the Council would probably have been unable to do had they enjoyed the full guidance & protection of the Holy Spirit.
I don't insist on this. I realize there are strong arguments to be made on both sides of the Siri Thesis, & that people of good will can come to diametrically opposite conclusions. In its favor I will simply state that Siri could have been compelled to silence by use of the seal of the confessional, & that late in his life he made public statements which can only be interpreted as a confession that he had indeed been validly elected.
Whether the Siri Thesis is true or not, the woman (Church) fleeing into the wilderness probably refers to the Traditionalist wing of the Church, which exists post-V2 in disobedience on the fringe of schism, many parishes almost in hiding. In the days to come the Trads may be forced into actual schism, or even into actual hiding.
All of this takes place in Ch. 12, at the end of which the dragon (Satan) calls forth the Beast of the Sea (AntiChrist) at the beginning of Ch. 13. This hasn't happened yet, or at most it's happening now, so it's time to turn to a consideration of the private revelations & prophecies that lend support to this chronology.
St. Malachy foretold that there would be only 1 pope after the present one (Benedict). This is very consistent with an End Times chronology that puts us close to the end of Ch. 12 & the beginning of Ch. 13. This is a good place to point out that I regard Jesus' promise to be "with (the Church) always..." to having been a CONDITIONAL promise. The first part of that statement is, "Go therefore...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you..." (RSV) Since the Church began systematically deviating from that command post-V2, although sporadic violations occurred decades earlier, post-V2 the Church has forfeited Jesus' promise. This is consistent with the idea that just as the Hebrews were deprived of their Levite priesthood after generations of ignoring the Will of God, so are we about to be deprived of our priesthood for the same reason.
Around noon on 13 Oct. 1884 Pope Leo XIII was praying at the altar after celebrating Mass when he heard a guttural voice say, speaking from the left-hand side of the altar, "I can destroy your Church." A pleasant voice (which Pope Leo took to be that of Jesus) answered from the right-hand side, "Then do so." The first voice objected, "I need more time & greater power." The pleasant voice asked, "How much time?" The guttural voice answered, "75 to 100 years, & a greater power over those who will give themselves into my service." And the second voice said, "You have the time, & you have the power. Do with them as you will."
Pope Leo stumbled to his apartments, where he drafted a prayer to Michael the Archangel which he ordered to be incorporated into the Mass, calling upon the archangel to defend the Church against Satan.
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Several things about this vision of Pope Leo stand out.
1st, in 1884 Satan and many of his demons were apparently released from Hell & given greater power. This was in fulfillment of one of the prophecies of La Salette-- but the prophecy said that this would happen in 1864. Our conclusion should be that either Satan changed his plans based on the Marian prophecy, or else the memories of Melanie & Maximin were faulty 20+ years later when they wrote down the prophecy, & the Blessed Virgin had actually said 1884 in the first place. I lean towards the latter interpretation.
2d, the thing that most amazed & staggered Pope Leo about this vision wasn't Satan's malice, his plans, or even the fact that Jesus would consent. After all, in the Old Testament God agreed to allow Satan to torment Job, one of God's most faithful servants. The thing that Pope Leo later wrote had shocked him the most was that Satan could come onto the consecrated ground of one of the holiest churches in the world & approach so closely to the very altar of God & the consecrated Host of the Eucharist.
What this should mean to us is that of all our supposed defenses against evil-- the Sign of the Cross, the Crucifix itself, the Bible, the Rosary, prayer, & even the consecrated Host-- none can be counted on to keep Satan away. They may strengthen us to withstand his temptations, but they cannot protect us.
3d, the chronology. 13 Oct. 1884 was exactly 33 years to the day-- to the very hour-- prior to the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, which we'll discuss in a moment. This exact timing cannot be a coincidence, & it means that the vision of Pope Leo must form a crucial part of End Times Marian prophecy.
4th, 1884 + 75 years = 1959. That is 1 year after the Conclave of 1958 that elected J23. Only 3 months after his election, on 25 Jan. 1959, J23 took the whole Church by surprise with his announcement that he intended to convene an Ecumenical Council. This was the 2d Vatican Council, which re-wrote the Liturgy of the Mass & laid the groundwork for the self-annihilation of the Church. In other words, within his 75 years Satan managed to infiltrate the Church at the highest levels & lay the groundwork for its self-destruction, which by 1984-- the end of his 100 years-- was largely complete. He didn't even need his full 100 years.
...and 5th, it was J23 who read & then refused to release the 3d Secret of Fatima, saying that it didn't pertain to his papacy-- even though the Queen of Heaven had specifically said that it did. I believe that the 3d Secret amounted to an explicit warning not to convene an Ecumenical Council. This interpretation is supported by the public statements of Cardinals Ottaviani, Oddi, Ciappi, & Biffi, & to those of the late Fr. Malachi Martin, each of whom read the 3d Secret & affirmed that it pertained to a great apostasy in the Church. (The nonsense that was revealed as the 3d Secret by the Vatican in 2000 was so transparently a fraud that even the secular press saw thru the deception.)
These conclusions regarding V2 are also consistent with the Message of Garabandal, which was highly & explicitly skeptical of the Council.
Remember the 5 months that were given to the locusts of the Protestant Reformation in which to complete their work? Might not this period of 5 months signify 500 years? If so, then that would bring us to Oct. of 2017, which makes sense in light of the fact that today, in the early years of the 21st Century, the Protestant Reformation still exists.
...and that brings us to the Message of Fatima. The Miracle of the Sun took place around noon on 13 Oct. 1917, 33 years to the very hour after the locution of Pope Leo XIII. On 13 June 1929, 12 years to the day after the beginning of the Fatima apparitions, Sr. Lucy of Fatima had a vision in which the BV asked that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart. There exist strong reasons to believe that this has never been done. In Aug. of 1931 she had another vision in which Jesus said to her, "Make it known to My ministers, given that they follow the example of the King of France in delaying their execution of My command, they will follow him into grave misfortune."
Jesus' mention of the King of France refers to a previous message that He gave in the late 17th Century to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, promising to show great divine favor to France if the King would consecrate France to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
At first delayed in bringing Jesus' message to the King, St. Margaret succeeded in obtaining a royal audience after 3 years of trying, on 17 June 1689, at which time she explained what Jesus had told her. When Louis XIV died in 1715 he still hadn't carried out Jesus' request, nor did his immediate successors Louis XV or Louis XVI.
On 17 June 1789-- 100 years to the day after St. Margaret had passed along Jesus' request to the King-- the French Revolution overthrew the monarchy, & some years later Louis XVI was beheaded. There's a legend that he performed the consecration of France in his prison cell shortly before being executed, by which time it was much too late.
I therefore believe that some time between 2017 & 2031 we'll see the appearance of the AntiChrist & Ch. 13 of the BOA, with all that involves. 2017, because that will be 500 years after the beginning of the Protestant Reformation & 100 years after Fatima; & 2031, because that will be 100 years after Sr. Lucy's vision at Rianjo.
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Garabandal should be approved mainly because Padre Pio, who has since been canonized, said that the BV had explicitly instructed him that the apparitions there were true. He therefore wrote to the visionaries, he sent people to Garabandal, he personally met with Conchita at his monastery, & he instructed that one of the 3 veils that covered his face in death was to be given to Conchita. This is not a matter wherein the private opinion of a saint comes into play, in which the saint could be mistaken. St. Pio of Petrelcina specifically said that the BV had told him in a vision that the apparitions were valid. If Padre Pio deserved to be canonized, then his visions have received the approval of the Church, & Garabandal cannot therefore be other than a valid series of apparitions. One, BTW, that makes explicit reference to the great apostasy & was very skeptical of V2.