Why Do Catholics Believe Strange Things about the End Times? *
The startling visions of the prophet Daniel, whose apocalyptic language is echoed in Revelation, have provided grist for many a mill of "end times" speculation. Though a number of the book's passages seem to refer to events now in the past, others clearly point toward "the end of days" (Dn 12:13).
Nevertheless, given the cryptic and often symbolic nature of these and related biblical texts, the countless interpretations of them often contradict one another. So the Catholic Church warns believers to avoid futile speculation on the matter. What, then, can we know for certain about the end of the world?
Here's a summary of the essentials of the Church teaching from the Catechism:
Jesus will return to earth in glory (see Mt 24:27).
First, however, the Antichrist will appear to deceive the world and persecute the Church (see 2 Thes 2:3-12).
The Church will suffer the great tribulation prophesied by her Lord (see Mt 24:3-14).
The final victory of Christ on earth will not come through a gradual improvement in the world's spiritual condition, nor by a special period of his earthly reign before Judgment Day. It will take place not within history, but beyond it, after Christ has brought an end to history by his glorious Second Coming (see 1 Cor 15:22-28).
The Jewish people will come to recognize Jesus Christ as their Messiah before he returns (see Rom 11:25-29).
The dead will be raised bodily (see 1 Cor 15:20-58).
Christ will judge the living and the dead, and the Devil and his allies will at last be utterly overthrown (see Jn 5:26-29; Rv 20:10-15; see also "Why do Catholics stress the Last Judgment?")
At the end of time, God's kingdom will come in its fullness, and all things will be renewed, perfected, and consummated (see Rv 21:1-22:5; see also "Why do Catholics believe Strange things about Heaven?"
Other related scriptures: Jb 19:25-26; Dn 12:2-3; Mt 24:27, 30-31; 26:64; Lk 18:8; 21:12, 27; Jn 5:28-29; 6:39-40, 44, 54; 11:21-27; 15:19-21; Rom 8:11; 1 Cor 6:14; Phil 3:20-21; Col 2:12; 3:1-4; 1 Thes 4:13-18; 5:2-3; 1 Jn 4:2-3; 2 Jn 7.
Catechism of the Catholic Church: 668-682; 972; 988-1004; 1015-1017; 1186; 2771-1772; 2776.
*Quoted from The New Catholic Answer Bible. Wichita, Kansas, Fireside Catholic Publishing, 2005. www.firesidecatholic.com
Additional insights at: www.catholic.com