St. John of Shanghai and of San Francisco: “There will be an exhaustion of good and an increase of evil.”
“The day of the Last Judgement! That day no one knows — only God the Father knows — but its signs are given in the Gospel and in the Apocalypse of the holy Apostle John the Theologian. Revelation speaks of the events at the end of the world and of the Last Judgement primarily in images and in a veiled manner. However, the Holy Fathers have explained these images, and there is an authentic Church tradition that speaks clearly concerning the signs of the approach of the end, and concerning the Last Judgement. Before the end of life on earth there will be agitation, wars, civil war, hunger, earthquakes… Men will suffer from fear, will die from expectation of calamity. There will be no life, no joy of life but a tormented state of falling away from life. Nevertheless there will be a falling away not only from life, but from faith also, and “when the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” (St. Luke 18:8). Men will become proud, ungrateful, rejecting Divine law. Together with the falling away from life will be a weakening of moral life. There will be an exhaustion of good and an increase of evil.”
- St. John of Shanghai and of San Francisco, homily on the Last Judgement
“It is a great goodness to submit to the will of God. Then your soul is filled with the Lord only, and it has no other thought, it prays to God with a special purity, and feels the love of God, even though the body may suffer. When the soul has submitted wholly to the will of God, then the Lord Himself begins to lead it…”
– St. Silouan the Athonite
“When he was asked one day, in what does a perishing sinner differ from a righteous man who is saving his soul, a saint, St. Seraphim answered: Only in his resolve… Our salvation is in our will, in our firmness, in the steadfastness of our resolve to be godly to the end. The Lord does not give His Spirit by measure, nor does He give His grace by measure; He gives everything, and He gives Himself. But we receive grace and make use of God’s gifts to the measure of our readiness to receive what He gives—and that means what He gives, and not what we want—and bring forth the fruit that He expects from us.”
– Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, speaking on St. Seraphim of Sarov
Benedict XVI: “The Church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.”
“The Church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members….
It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek . . . The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain . . . But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.
And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.”
-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)
I have posted this quote before, but it seems particularly fitting to remember it just now. The Synod of Bishops on the family has deepened the concern of many about the direction that Pope Francis may intend to lead the Roman Catholic Church. I myself am not Roman Catholic, but, as any Christian in the Western world should, I recognize the pivotal role that the Roman Catholic Church must play in stopping the downward spiral of Western civilization. The report that was made public this week, Cardinal Kasper’s comments, and now the demotion of Cardinal Burke, are all troubling signs of what might be ahead.
Kasper has been advocating for this change for two decades. As an Anglican, I think we have no right whatever to say that our position on divorce and remarriage has shown itself to be in any way better than that of the Roman Catholic Church. Over the past three or four decades we have demonstrated quite effectively the moral and theological problems that relaxing church discipline causes.
“Christian religion is not a certain philosophic system, about which learned men, trained in metaphysical studies, argue and then either espouse or reject, according to the opinion each one has formed. It is faith, established in the souls of men, which ought to be spread to the many and be maintained in their consciousness.”
– St. Nektarios of Aegina