Old Things and New Things
Transcription of Bishop Williamson’s Scripture class on 2 Thessalonians, given at Winona on October 10, 1997, slightly adapted for easier reading.
Dress rehearsal for mass apostasy
What we got now is the dress rehearsal for the mass apostasy and the dress rehearsal for the coming of the Antichrist, for the two can mean the same. At the end of the Fifth Age we are going through the dress rehearsal for the end of the world. What I am saying is absolutely not de fide but it makes a lot of sense that God is going to grant His Catholic Church one last great triumph which would be the Sixth Age of the Church. Then will follow the corruption of that Sixth Age and then the Antichrist. Why?
Sixth age will be short
I am only giving you my opinion. Why will the Sixth Age be so short? Our Lady of La Salette says men will forget. After 25 years of good harvests men will forget what they owe to God. The enormous prosperity in all respects will be fatal. The Chastisement then will wipe out a huge number of human beings. There are various prophecies after the Chastisement stating that the survivors are going to be staggering out of the ruins looking for one another. But they are all going to be godly; they are going to believe in God and they will be humble and they will all recognize the power and might of God and it will be a great age of Faith, but it will not last very long.
Prosperity, the extraordinary prosperity, which will be the fruit of men’s godliness, will again make men forget God even after those 25 or 30 years. They will forget God again and the Antichrist will come. The question is, why is it going to be so fast?
Let’s say technology, modern technology, began around the 1400s, that’s just an arbitrary date – of course it was a gradual thing – let us say it has taken 600 years to arrive at supercomputers. But now that the idea and the knowledge of how to make supercomputers is there and the convenience and memory is there, it is not going to take another 600 years to reinvent them because somebody after the Chastisement will be alive who remembers them. I do not think God will take all those who have a memory of supercomputers and eliminate them. So it will just take one or two people who knew how those things worked to reconstruct them, and reconstructing all that technology will reconstruct the ease of sinning which that technology is providing man with today. Therefore, while it took God’s wisdom, from the Incarnation, 2000 years to allow men to arrive at this present mess, it will be much shorter next time around. That is my guess why it is not going to take another few centuries. The Sixth Age is not going to last a few centuries.
Men are corrupt today, corrupt in death. This terrible subjectivism! The way in which people can justify themselves. They are doing rotten things and they are absolutely convinced they are saints. And it is like that all the time. People are convinced they are doing good when they are doing ill. People today have a terrible ability to convince themselves that they are doing right when they are in fact doing wrong, because their minds and their lives are so unhooked from objective right and wrong. They have replaced real right and wrong with their own ideas of right and wrong, and they have done it in depth. So they do not have any idea of what they have done.
That is characteristic of today and men are very corrupt today. Objective norms of right and wrong have very little grip left. There is very little you can try to get hold of in people’s minds and lives to persuade them today of what is right and wrong. They just reorganize it all according to their own wishes in the ‘land of liberty’, and in this ‘civilization’ of liberty we do what we want, and it is absolutely right that we do what we like. We are saints when we do what we like. It is a crusade to do what we like. People make a crusade of anything. It is an incredible mentality. Very corrupt… now that is the way people are today. So the Lord God would have to take away free will in order to get rid of that corruption.
Different men, different tactics
The very triumph of the Middle Ages produced a different man and the different man made the Devil change his tactics just as the Church had to change its tactics. The Church generated the Middle Ages but the very triumph of the Middle Ages generated a different man whom the Devil was able to tempt in ways in which he had not been able to tempt man previously.
When men were savages just climbing out of the jungle they did not have any particular reasons to think they were “hot shots”. Then they had the Middle Ages: “We are hot-shots”. So, we are “hot-shots”. Then the Devil could get them with a pride as he had never got at them before. When they were climbing out of the jungles they knew they were jerks, but at the height of the Middle Ages they could say “We are hot-shots”. So while the Devil could not tempt them with pride when they were jerks he could easily tempt them with pride when they had the Summa, and when they had the cathedrals, and when they had all of the rest of those great things of the Middle Ages. Then the Devil could tempt them saying “It is not God that did this all for you. You did that”. “It was not the Catholic Church that did that. You did that.”