+ Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts. Peter and Paul +
As mentioned in last week’s blog, St. Vincent Ferrer seems to have had some sympathy for the teachings of Joachim of Fiore, even though St. Thomas Aquinas, who St. Vincent quotes often and follows in other writings, had already condemned those who held Abbot Joachim’s and similar teachings. (The teachings of St. Vincent will be discussed in greater detail next week.) This week, we wish to address the teachings of St. Thomas, of whom one modern-day philosophy professor notes, “There comes a point, however, where Ferrer breaks with Aquinas over a central topic: the possibility of having knowledge of the end times –– those of the coming of the antichrist and the end of the world. Aquinas had written a series of rebuttals of William of Saint‐Amour and other authors who upheld the possibility of such knowledge. For Aquinas, the end times could not be known about, either through reasoning or through a revelation. Jesus of Nazareth himself appears to have denied this possibility: “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” (Acts 1:7).
“He tells how a hermit has assured him that two of his companions had had a revelation that “the antichrist was already born”. Ferrer replies with the same words from the Bible (Acts 1:7) used by Aquinas to counter William of Saint-Amour, although, according to the hermit, Jesus’s words applied only to those he was addressing (the Apostles), not to those destined to undergo the tribulations brought by the antichrist. Then, in a sermon on 8 July 1411 and a letter dated 27 July 1412, Ferrer adopts the hermit’s interpretation as his own…”
So what St. Vincent was doing was basing his mission on the revelation of the hermit (and a vison he possibly attributes to himself) — in other words, on private revelation. Or, as St. Thomas refers to it, “Human reason or conjecture.” And yet St. Vincent does make some distinctions in what he teaches regarding Antichrist. And although St. Vincent may have relied on human reason, it is clear he proved that his mission was from God by the miracles he performed during his lifetime.
St. Vincent Ferrer
“The death of Antichrist and the end of the world will occur at the same time. The shortness of the duration of the world after the death of Antichrist has led me to this conclusion, for nowhere in the whole Bible or in the writings of the Doctors can I find a longer period assigned by God for the repentance of those whom Antichrist has seduced than forty-five days after his death.
“The second conclusion I draw is that until Antichrist is actually born, the time of his birth will be hidden from mankind.
“So, even though there were the most illuminating revelations of the divine Wisdom concerning these matters, it was not necessary for the Apostles and Doctors of the first ages of the Church to know the time of the coming of Antichrist and the end of the world; but after his birth it is expedient for men, even though they be sinners, or so ignorant as to know nothing of the Apostles and Doctors, to know of this birth, so that they may be forewarned and prepared.This is in accordance with the wisdom, mercy and knowledge of God, who from the beginning of the world was accustomed to send messengers to warn men of any great tribulation about to come to pass. Noah was warned before the deluge, Moses before the liberation of Israel, Amos before the destruction of Egypt, and so on.” Before treating these predictions in light of St. Thomas’ teachings, a note is in order on what has been said previously in this blog and in site articles on Antichrist and the Second Coming.
(Clarification of these statements will be provided under the Conclusion heading.)
Antichrist and the Second Coming
I have speculated at length on the relevance of recent events and their possible relation to the Second Coming. Prior to that, I had already written for decades on the identity of Antichrist — the usurper Paul 6. But what I wrote took place AFTER Antichrist had already appeared, and could be credibly identified as such, not BEFORE. And while St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine definitely do teach that no one could actually predict the date of Antichrist’s appearance or that of the Second Coming, once he has actually been credibly predicted to appear and has come and gone it would seem remiss to not warn others that surely the Second Coming is not far off, particularly if signs seem to point to this.
St. Thomas could scarcely have discounted Pope Paul IV’s warning about HOW the abomination of desolation would attempt to insinuate himself into the papacy, while not predicting at exactly what time this would occur. Nor could he dare find fault with Christ’s own Vicar, Pope St. Pius X, who warned in 1903 that Antichrist already had been born. It was common knowledge that Pope St. Pius X was gifted with precognition, and certainly this sainted pope was no mere hermit who was said to have had a vison, since his teachings were assisted by the Holy Ghost. It has been based on these two predictions, also on Pope Pius XII’s laws regarding papal election, that the identification of Antichrist’s reign became clear and was later able to be determined.
St. Thomas Aquinas: Contra Impugnantes, on the Inability to Determine the Arrival of Antichrist and the Last Judgment
Chapters 3 and 4 (These are random extracts form a very long discourse by St. Thomas)
“Hence religious, because they exercise the office of preaching in a learned manner, are regarded as the forerunners of Antichrist.
- “I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb” (Rev. xiii. 11). On these words of the Apocalypse the Gloss remarks: “The description of the tribulation which will be caused by Antichrist and his princes is followed by a narrative of the evils which will befall the Church, by means of the apostles of Antichrist, who will travel throughout the entire world.” Again, “coming up out of the earth” signifies “ going forth to preach” (Gloss). On the words “it had two horns” the Gloss remarks: “These preachers are said to have two horns, because they will profess to imitate the innocent and spotless life of our Lord, to work miracles resembling His, and to preach His doctrine; or else because they will usurp to themselves the two Testaments.” Hence it would appear that they who go forth to preach, with the knowledge of the two Testaments, and with an appearance of sanctity, are the apostles of Antichrist. (Comment: Which is exactly what Novus Ordo and LibTrad pseudo-clergy do.)
“Julian the Apostate was the first to conceive this idea. He, as we are told in ecclesiastical history, forcibly prevented Christians from acquiring knowledge. Those therefore who imitate him, by forbidding religious to study, act in a manner opposed to the precepts of Scripture. We read, for instance, in Isaiah (v. 13): “Therefore is my people led away captive, because they had not knowledge.” “Because,” remarks the Gloss, “they would not have knowledge.” Now voluntary ignorance could not deserve punishment, were not knowledge praiseworthy.
“2. In the Prophet Hosea (iv. 5) we read: “In the night I have made your mother to be silent. My people have been silent, because they had no knowledge; because you rejected knowledge, I will reject you that you shall not do the office of priesthood to me.” This text clearly shows how severely ignorance will be punished.
“3. In Ps. cxviii. 66, we read: “Teach me goodness and discipline and knowledge.” On these words, the Gloss says: “Teach me goodness, i.e. inspire me, with charity; teach me discipline, i.e. give me patience; teach me knowledge, i.e. enlighten my mind. For that knowledge is useful, whereby a man becomes known to himself.”
“4. St. Jerome writes to the monk Rusticus: “Let a book be never absent from your eyes or hand.” Hence the learning of the saints is preferable to the holiness of the unlearned. In the same epistle, after enumerating the books of holy Scripture, St. Jerome continues: “I beseech you, brother, let these books be the companions of your life and the subject of your meditation. I know nothing but these, and seek no other thing. Don’t you see that in this way you may on earth enjoy the Kingdom of heaven?” A heavenly life then consists in the constant study of Holy Scripture.
“5. St. Paul points out that knowledge of the Scriptures is essential to preachers. For, he says (1 Tim. iv. 13), “Till I come attend unto reading, to exhortation, and to doctrine.” It is evident from this that a knowledge of what they are to teach, is necessary for those whose duty it is to preach and to exhort.
“6. St. Jerome writes to the monk Rusticus: “Spend much time in learning what you must later on teach.” Once more he writes to the same, “If you desire to enter the clerical state, study, in order that you may teach.” … (Comment: Catechetical teaching was greatly neglected in favor of promoting the new liturgy, as theologians writing pre-Vatican 2 observed.)
“There shall arise false Christs and false prophets” (Mark xiii. 22), the Gloss says: This verse is to be understood as referring the heretics who attacked the Church, declaring that they were Christs. The first of these impostors was Simon Magus; the last will be Antichrist.” He who preaches without, any commission to do so, or teaches false doctrine, does so inspired by some bad motive, either of covetousness, or pride, or vain glory. Such men are deprived of the grace of God; and consequently commit sins, more or less heinous. But everyone who preaches for the sake of gain or popularity is not, necessarily a false apostle or false prophet; otherwise there would be no distinction between a hireling and a false apostle. They who preach for the sake of anything save of the glory of God and the good of souls are hirelings; let their preaching be true or false, authorised or unauthorised. BUT SUCH MEN CANNOT BE CALLED FALSE PROPHETS, UNLESS THEY EITHER BEAR NO COMMISSION, OR TEACH FALSE DOCTRINE. (Comment: Here we have a definition of LibTrads from St. Thomas own mouth!) “In the same way, every sinner who administers the sacraments, or preaches the Word of God, is not necessarily a false apostle or a false prophet. For true prelates are true apostles; although at times they may be sinful.
“1.St. Augustine says (Epist. ad Hesychium): “You say the Gospel tells us that no man knows that day or hour. I tell you, as far as my understanding will suffice, that no man can know the month nor the year of the coming of the Lord. This seems as if the words had been understood to mean that, though none can say in what year the Lord will come, it is possible to know in what septet or decade of years his coming may be expected.”
“2. Certain men were condemned in the early days of the Church for teaching, as men teach now, that the coming of the Lord was imminent. We have this on the authority of St. Jerome (De illustr. viris), and of Eusebius, (Ecclesiast. Histor.).No period, either long or short, can be determined, in which is to be expected the end of the world, or the coming of Christ or of Antichrist. It is for this reason that we are told that “the day of the Lord shall come as a thief” (1 Thes. v. 2), and that as “in the days of Noah they knew not till the flood came and took them all away, so also shall the coming of the Son of man be” (Matt. xxiv). St. Augustine, in his Epistle to Hesychius, speaks of three classes of men who made assertions respecting the coming of our Lord. One class expects Him soon; another later; and the third declares its ignorance of the time of His coming. This last opinion meets with the approbation of St. Augustine, and he censures the presumption of the others. Then he concludes by saying: “It is thus uncertain by what generations the final period of time, which begins with the coming of our Lord and is to end with the end of the world, is to be counted.” God has chosen, for some wise purpose, to keep this hidden. So it is written in the Gospel. St. Paul also declares that “the day of the Lord is to come like a thief in the night.”
“3. (1) They quote the words of Daniel (vii. 25) concerning Antichrist: “He shall think himself able to change times.” That is to say, according to the Gloss, “ His pride is so excessive that he strives to alter laws and ceremonies.” On account of these words the days of Antichrist are said to be at hand, because certain men try to alter the Gospel of Christ into another gospel, which they call “eternal.” The Gospel of which they speak is a certain Introduction to the books of Joachim, WHICH IS CONDEMNED BY THE CHURCH. Or else it is the doctrine of Joachim, whereby they say the Gospel of Christ is altered. But granted that this hypothesis were true, it would be no token of the approach of Antichrist. For even in the days of the Apostles, certain men tried to alter the Gospel of Christ. Thus St. Paul says (Gal. i. 6): “I wonder that you are soon removed from him who called you into the grace of Christ, to another Gospel.”
“(2) The second sign of the coming of Antichrist is supposed to be found in the words of the Psalmist (ix. 21): “Appoint, O Lord, a lawgiver over them.” This the Gloss interprets to mean “the Antichrist, the giver of an evil law.” As the doctrine which we have already mentioned, which they call the law of Antichrist, was promulgated at Paris, it is thought to be a sign that Antichrist is at hand. But it is not true to say that the doctrine of Joachim, or that which is contained in the Introduction to the Gospel of Joachim, however reprehensible it may be, is the doctrine which will be preached by Antichrist.
“(3) The third supposed sign of the coming of Antichrist is found in the Book of Daniel (v) and in Isaiah (xxi). We read there the account of the hand that wrote Mane, Thecel, Phares on the wall of Babylon. Those who believe that Antichrist is at hand, maintain that the same prediction which formerly was written up in Babylon is now written in the Church. Mane was interpreted to mean, “God has numbered your Kingdom and has finished it”; and the Kingdom of Christ is now numbered, for it has been foretold that it is to endure a thousand two hundred and seventy years. Thecel signified, “You art weighed in the balance and found wanting”; and the “Eternal Gospel” is preferred to the Gospel of Christ. Phares meant your Kingdom is divided and is given to the Medes and Persians”; and the Kingdom of the Church is now finished and given to others.” (Comment: It may not have applied in St. Thomas’ time but certainly applies to the Novus Ordo today.)
“Thus, the writing on the wall signified both the destruction of the Church and the ruin of Babylon. (Comment: St. Jerome does say that everything written in the New Testament was foreshadowed in the Old Testament.) “This, however, seems a very foolish idea. St. Augustine tells us (18 de Civ. Dei) that certain men said that Christianity was to last for three hundred and sixty-five years, and that at the end of that time it was to cease to exist. Thus, it is no new thing to assign a limit for the duration of Christianity, since this was done even before the time of Augustine. Hence this is no reason for believing Antichrist to be at hand. St. Augustine says likewise (ibid.) that in his time some men estimated that four hundred years, others that five hundred, were to elapse between the Ascension of Christ and His second coming. Others, again, reckoned that this period was to embrace a thousand years. But the words of our Lord, “It is not yours to know the times or the moments” etc. (Acts i. 7), expose the folly of all such suppositions. St. Augustine, furthermore, blames the kind of arguments.
“(Acts i. 7), (St. Augustine, furthermore, blames the kind of arguments used in such conjectures. He compares them to the hypothesis of some that as there were ten plagues of Egypt, so there were to be ten persecutions of the Church. He says that such opinions are mere human conjectures, established on no foundation of truth. Those who interpret the handwriting on the wall as prophetic of the speedy coming of Antichrist, show their agreement with the Scripture that they reprobate; because, like the Scripture, they say that the beloved Babylon is soon to be destroyed. But there is no real similitude. For the handwriting in Babylon was divinely displayed, and it was therefore a proof of the truth; but the writing, of which these would-be prophets speak, is a figment of error, on which no argument can be founded expose the folly of all such suppositions.” (Comment: Joachim’s writings were a figment of error because he expected the world to end based solely on his own prognostications. The prophecies in Apocalypse are also divinely displayed but were not fulfilled in St. Thomas’ day.)
“6. Many false prophets shall arise and shall seduce many.” We are told that this sign is now manifested, because certain religious appear who are called false prophets. If we compare it with the Gloss on the passage in the Gospel of St. Mark (xiii), where false prophets are understood to mean heretics, or those who, after the Passion of our Lord and before the destruction of Jerusalem, seduced the Jewish nation. We have also already spoken at length on the subject of false prophets.
“7. There have been in all ages men in the Church who appeared perfect, and yet originated heresies. We may mention Pelagius, Nestorius, and Eutyches. There have also been many others of the same description. But they did not, therefore, prove that their charity had grown cold. For, although they did not follow the teaching of the Gospel, they did not persecute it. There is no need of persecution, where there is no defender of the truth. Such a persecution would revive extinct errors; and, under pretext of refuting them, would teach them to the people; and this is the greatest of dangers. Hence St. Gregory says (14 Moral.) that after Eutyches had died leaving no followers, he would not labour to exterminate his errors, lest he should again fan them into flame. (Comment: Modernism, synthesis of all heresies, fanned these flames into a conflagration.)
“They assert that these seducers will be neither barbarians, nor Jews, nor Gentiles. But this opinion is contrary to the prophecy of the Apocalypse: “Satan… shall seduce the nations which are over the four quarters of the Earth, Gog and Magog” (Rev. xx. 7). On these words, the Gloss says: “Satan will first seduce these two nations; he will then proceed to deceive others.” Or, according to another interpretation, by Magog is understood all persecutors who proceeded, at first by secret, and afterwards, by open persecution. Hence barbarians are not excluded from the persecution of Antichrist, as they would persuade us.
“For St. Paul did not mean that the same men would be guilty of all the vices which he enumerates, but that some of his words would apply to some men, and that other parts of his reproof would be true of other persons. Hence it is not necessary that all those who are likely to endanger the Church should present an appearance of piety. It is merely implied that some of them will do so. In like manner, the early Church suffered persecution from believers and unbelievers alike. “In perils from the Gentiles… in perils from false brethren” (2 Cor. xi. 26).
“The emissaries of Antichrist, we are next told, will not be found among the manifestly wicked. This opinion is, however, clearly opposed to the 82nd Psalm. The Gloss explains that the whole of that Psalm treats of the persecution of Antichrist. It adds that among his other emissaries, the “Philistines” signify those who are drunk with worldly luxury… But, although some of the emissaries of Antichrist may wear an appearance of piety, it is not necessary that they shall all seem godly. Christians of the early Church were persecuted both by the impious and by the apparently pious.” (Comment: Materialism, foundation stone of the Masonic pyramid, paved the way for all other errors.)
“We are further told that the ministers of Satan will be found among those who devote themselves to study… St. Paul was referring not to men who seduce others, but to silly women who suffer themselves to be led astray. Granted, however that the words apply to men who mislead others, they can only refer to those who, in their studies, depart from the way of truth. Hence the text is often interpreted of heretics. Those who hold a contrary opinion, however, quote in support of it the following words of St. Gregory (13 Moral.) on Job xvi.: “My enemy has looked at me with terrible eyes.” “The incarnate Truth,” says St. Gregory, “chose for His preachers poor and simple men. But Antichrist will send as his Apostles men who are cunning and double-tongued and imbued with the wisdom of the world…” Therefore, the true preachers of Antichrist are learned men, who lead worldly lives and attract men to vice. But even if Antichrist were going to ruin the Church by means of learned men, it would not be by their agency alone.
“We are further told that the envoys of Antichrist will be found among those learned men whose opinion is esteemed as peculiarly weighty and valuable… St. Paul says of them, first that they will have an appearance of godliness, and then that they will be “men corrupted in mind, reprobate concerning the faith” (2 Tim iii. 5). Stress is also laid on the words, “they came forth from us” (1 John ii. 19), which means, as the Gloss says, “they shared with us in the Sacraments.” But this quotation is no argument. For St. Paul does not say of the men to whom he refers that at first they wore an appearance of piety, and that then, laying it aside, they became infidels. What he means is that while these men had a superficial semblance of godliness, they were at the same time infidels at heart.” (Comment: And here we see exactly what happened with the rot that entered into the Church and led to Roncalli’s election: the cardinals and bishops had only “a superficial semblance of godliness, they were at the same time infidels at heart.” They were pretenders who could only elect and support a master pretender.)
“1. The first error lies in defining the heralds of Antichrist as one race of men, when, as “we know by the Gloss on Ps. lxxxii, Antichrists will spring from all classes of men.
“2. The second error lies in the fact that though diverse authorities may be quoted in support of individual points, no class of men furnishes all the necessary conditions.
“3. Even were some such men found amongst religious, other such might likewise be found among men who are not religious. Hence this argument does not tell more against religious than against seculars.
“4. If some religious are to be emissaries of Antichrist, all religious will not be his adherents. Perhaps very few religious will join Antichrist, as he is to recruit his ranks from all classes of men.
“5. It is praiseworthy to be a Christian, a learned man, a prudent counsellor, and a religious. These attributes, therefore, are no reason for concluding that their possessor is to be a forerunner of Antichrist.” (End of of St. Thomas commentary)
Now of course St. Vincent Ferrer wrote and taught long after the death of St. Thomas Aquinas. And if there had really been anything objectionable in his writings, anything even approaching the condemned doctrines that Abbot Joachim taught, he would never have achieved sainthood. Nor would he have been noted for his miracles. So while Saint Thomas Aquinas’ teachings must definitely be honored here and taken to heart, that doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be new developments and new perspectives on the coming of Antichrist and how this would come about. It is clear from what has been written above that we are not predicting Antichrist is going to come as was St. Vincent or naming a date for anything. We are simply observing that it certainly appears that he has already come and that as St. Thomas Aquinas himself says in his own works, we cannot properly estimate the time-period between Antichrist’s death and the end of the world, when so many will believe they have nothing to fear and live “in peace and security.” We must simply pray and watch.
Neither St. Thomas nor St. Vincent Ferrer ever foresaw how everything in the Church would be so utterly destroyed. The death of Antichrist will not be complete until the final perpetrator of his system is annihilated, the last reincarnation of his imposture. We know Antichrist and the false prophet will be thrown alive into the lake of fire and how could this be? Only if the final judgment began with their bodily resurrection and casting into that lake of fire by Christ during the Battle of Armageddon. That is the beginning of the Final Judgment, and on its heels will most likely follow all the rest.
What St. Thomas Aquinas emphasized in his writings above is the inability of forecasting Antichrist’s future coming and the Second Coming according to insufficient evidence, particularly that based primarily on human conjecture. That is not what has been done in the case of the Great Apostasy, the advent of the Novus Ordo church and the Cessation of the Holy Sacrifice. The consequences of these things St. Thomas never even considered. We are not conjecturing anything in the future here; we have witnessed it with our own eyes. St. Thomas also is denying that certain prophecies in the Old Testament can be used by his opponent William St. Amour, a follower of Abbot Joachim, to justify his case. That does not mean it could not and does not apply to the case at hand today. Basically St. Thomas believed that not much would really be known about the coming of Antichrist until the actual event.
Next week, we will see the virtues St. Vincent Ferrer advises Catholics to practice during Antichrist’s reign, and how he viewed Antichrist’s persecution and Christ’s Second Coming.