Tribulations

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Some evangelicals preach that the Rapture will save believers from undergoing the suffering of the last days prophesied in the Book of Revelation. The Catholic Church holds that Jesus' many teachings about the need to prepare for the Final Exam would not make sense if all faithful members of His Body were to be given an exemption. The scriptural references to the Rapture are few and need extra-Biblical assumptions to turn them into a promise that the Body will not suffer as the Head has suffered; the scriptural passages that we are to be take on Jesus' own character by following Him on the way of the Cross are many and require no special pleading to interpret.

Scripture

These scriptures are not for "the end of the world." They apply to every believer in every age. All Christians have lived and will live in the "end times," not just those who come last in the chronological order of secular history.

Lk 18:8
I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Mt 24:111-13

11 Many false prophets will arise and deceive many;

12 and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold.

13 But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.

Lk 21:12-19

12 “Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.

13 It will lead to your giving testimony.

14 Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,

15 for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.

16 You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death.

17 You will be hated by all because of my name,

18 but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.

19 By your perseverance you will secure your lives.

Jn 15:19-20

19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.

20 Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

2 Thess 2:3-12

3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For unless the apostasy comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one doomed to perdition,

4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god and object of worship, so as to seat himself in the temple of God, claiming that he is a god—

5 do you not recall that while I was still with you I told you these things?

6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his time.

7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. But the one who restrains is to do so only for the present, until he is removed from the scene.

8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord [Jesus] will kill with the breath of his mouth and render powerless by the manifestation of his coming,

9 the one whose coming springs from the power of Satan in every mighty deed and in signs and wonders that lie,

10 and in every wicked deceit for those who are perishing because they have not accepted the love of truth so that they may be saved.

11 Therefore, God is sending them a deceiving power so that they may believe the lie,

12 that all who have not believed the truth but have approved wrongdoing may be condemned.

1 Thess 5:2-6

2 For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night.

3 When people are saying, “Peace and security,” then sudden disaster comes upon them, like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness, for that day to overtake you like a thief.

5 For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness.

6 Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober.

2 Jn 7
Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh; such is the deceitful one and the antichrist.
1 Jn 2:18-22

18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. Thus we know this is the last hour.

19 They went out from us, but they were not really of our number; if they had been, they would have remained with us. Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number.

20 But you have the anointing that comes from the holy one, and you all have knowledge.

21 I write to you not because you do not know the truth but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth.

22 Who is the liar? Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist.

Rev 12:17
Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus.
Rev 19:1-9

1 After this I heard what sounded like the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying:

“Alleluia!

Salvation, glory, and might belong to our God,

2 for true and just are his judgments.

He has condemned the great harlot

who corrupted the earth with her harlotry.

He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”


3 They said a second time:

“Alleluia! Smoke will rise from her forever and ever.”

4 The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, “Amen. Alleluia.”

5 A voice coming from the throne said:

“Praise our God, all you his servants,

[and] you who revere him, small and great.”

6 Then I heard something like the sound of a great multitude or the sound of rushing water or mighty peals of thunder, as they said:

“Alleluia!

The Lord has established his reign,

[our] God, the almighty.

7 Let us rejoice and be glad

and give him glory.

For the wedding day of the Lamb has come,

his bride has made herself ready.

8 She was allowed to wear

a bright, clean linen garment.”

(The linen represents the righteous deeds of the holy ones.)

9 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These words are true; they come from God.”

Rev 13:8
All the inhabitants of the earth will worship it, all whose names were not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life, which belongs to the Lamb who was slain.
Rev 20:7-10

7 When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison.

8 He will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea.

9 They invaded the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the holy ones and the beloved city. But fire came down from heaven and consumed them.

10 The Devil who had led them astray was thrown into the pool of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Rev 21:2-4

2 I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

3 I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them [as their God].

4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away.”

Rev 20:12
I saw the dead, the great and the lowly, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, the book of life. The dead were judged according to their deeds, by what was written in the scrolls.
2 Pet 3:11-14

11 Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought [you] to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion,

12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved in flames and the elements melted by fire.

13 But according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

14 Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.

Cathechism: The Church's ultimate trial

#675
Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.[1] The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth[2] will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.[3]
#676
The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism,[4] especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.[5]
#677
The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection.[6] The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven.[7] God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.[8]
#680
Christ the Lord already reigns through the Church, but all the things of this world are not yet subjected to him. The triumph of Christ's kingdom will not come about without one last assault by the powers of evil.

References

  1. Cf. Lk 18:8; Mt 24:12.
  2. Cf. Lk 21:12; Jn 15:19-20.
  3. Cf. 2 Thess 2:4-12; 1 Thess 5:2-3; 2 Jn 7; 1 Jn 2:18,22.
  4. Cf. DS 3839.
  5. Pius XI, Divini Redemptoris, condemning the "false mysticism" of this "counterfeit of the redemption of the lowly"; cf. GS 20-21.
  6. Cf. Rev 19:1-9.
  7. Cf Rev 13:8; 20:7-10; 21:2-4.
  8. Cf. Rev 20:12. 2 Pet 3:12-13.
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