The End of the World
It is a dogma of the Catholic Church that the world, as it is now and has been since the time of Adam and Eve's disobedience, will end. St. Peter puts it this way:
"Beloved do not be ignorant of this one thing, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The Lord does not delay in his promises, but for your sake is long-suffering, not wishing that any should perish but that all should turn to repentance. The day of the Lord will come as a thief; at that time the heavens will pass away with great violence and the elements will be dissolved with heat and the earth and the works that are in it, will burn up. Seeing therefore that all these things are to be dissolved you ought to be men of holy and pious behavior waiting and hastening toward the coming day of God, by which the heavens, being on fire, will dissolve and the elements will melt away by reason of the heat of the fire! But we look for a new heavens and a new earth where according to His promise the justice of God will dwell." (2 Peter 8-13)
When will this happen? Jesus says that we are not to know the day or the hour but that we must watch the signs of the times. "Now from the fig tree learn this parable. When its branch is now tender and the leaves break forth you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things know that the time is near, even at the door." What are all these things that are signs of the times?
1. False Christs and false prophets will lead many astray.
2. Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.
3. There will be plagues and pestilences in various places.
4. There will be earthquakes and famines in various places.
5. There will be three days of darkness.
6. The Church will triumph for a given time and all nations will be Catholic.
7. Governments will turn against Christ and a worldwide persecution of the Church will ensue.
8. There will be a great apostasy in which many will deny the faith and betray one another.
9. Because of sin the love of many will grow cold.
10. The tumult of the seas will cause great fear and anxiety.
11. There will be signs in the sun the moon and the stars.
12. The gospel will be preached in every nation to all peoples.
13. The Jews return to Zion.
14. The Temple of Solomon will be rebuilt on the same sight.
15. The Antichrist will bring peace and bring about the solutions to many of mankind's troubles.
16. The Antichrist will unite all the nations of the world under one government and under one religion.
17. Antichrist will stand in the Temple and proclaim himself God.
18. The Jews will be completely converted to Christ and become Catholic.
19. The forces of Antichrist will war against the remnant of the Church outside the city of Megiddo in the territory of Jezreel called Armageddon.
20. Our Lord Jesus Christ will come, gather the good with Him in the air and destroy the forces of Antichrist.
21. Antichrist will be slain and cast into hell.
22. The dead shall be raised to life. Jesus will judge all human beings according to their conduct (the general judgment).
23. The heavens and the earth will then be destroyed by fire and God will create a new heaven and a new earth.
24. The damned who have been raised will be cast into hell forever.
The Blessed will be brought into paradise forever.
The above list is incomplete but it does at least give us an idea of what has been prophesied by Jesus, the prophets and the Saints.
If you notice in the list there are several events that must take place that seem very far off. For instance the Temple has not been rebuilt in Jerusalem and as long as the Muslims are occupying the Temple Mount, from which their legends say Mohammed ascended into heaven, there does not seem the slightest possibility of the Temple being rebuilt in our life time. Nor has everyone on earth been exposed to the one, true, Faith of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Nearly 2 billion people are not even allowed to hear the gospel.
For the above 2 reasons alone I believe we will not see the coming of The Antichrist in our lifetime. Nevertheless, this does not mean that we will not experience other Antichrists who will carry in them the spirit of Antichrist. But this does not portend the end of the world. There will be Antichrists and apostasies. We have already seen one in the Protestant rebellion where millions followed false prophets and false doctrines and fell away from the Faith. We have seen the likes of Caligula, Nero, Diocletian, Julian the Apostate, Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Clinton all of whom resemble in many ways the future Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition, all of whom are merely precursors to the one who will bring the final assault on the Church. We will see others who are possessed of the spirit of Antichrist in our lifetime.
This world of death, corruption, disease, violence, hatred, lust and suffering will be burnt up and blown away as a man blows away a handfull of ashes. Our destruction will not come from natural causes but by the direct hand of God. In the mean time we live in a time of sorrows. We must live each day as if it were our last because if you should die today that would truly be the end of the world for you.
Jesus says that He shall come as a thief in the night and when he is least expected. We all must realize that Jesus will judge us in the particular judgment after our individual death. The world ends when our life ends. Then we will be judged on how we loved Him and those He put into our lives. Therefore, to be too concerned with the coming end of the world is a distraction. Instead we should be concerned with how we can further the reign of Jesus as King over all hearts here and now. We do this by reaching out as individuals to all those with whom God brings us into contact; by living the example of our Catholic Faith in such a way that all who see us and know us are inspired to want to know Jesus and His Church because of us; by learning our Faith sufficiently so that we may explain to others what and why we believe what we believe. But most of all we must transform our faith in love so that we serve others as Jesus has commanded, not out of obligation or mere duty but out of the passion we should have for saving souls. Every soul we bring to Christ and His Church should remain intimately in our care. As long as they are willing and the seeds of faith have taken root then it is our duty to nurture, cultivate and till the soil of their souls that the Faith may grow full and fruitful within them.
The end of the world may come in our lifetime or it may not. Who know??? It really doesn't matter much because we should live every day as if it is the end of the world. By so doing we will live every day preparing ourselves and others for Christ's judgment of us as individuals. If we do this then when our end comes we will rejoice at the words of Jesus as he says; "Come Blessed of my Father into the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world..." =