Monday, May 29, 2006

The Restrainer

Mark Mallett wrote this powerful meditation and posted it at his wonderful blog:

A FEW years ago, I had a powerful experience which I shared at a conference in Canada. Afterward, a bishop came up to me and encouraged me to write that experience down in the form of a meditation. And so now I share it with you. It is also forms part of the “word” that Fr. Kyle Dave and I received last fall when the Lord seemed to be speaking prophetically to us. I have already posted the first three “Petals” of that prophetic flower on my website’s blog here. Thus, this forms the Fourth Petal of that flower, for your discernment…

I was driving alone in British Columbia, Canada, making my way to my next concert, enjoying the scenery, drifting in thought, when suddenly I heard within my heart the words, “I have lifted the restrainer.” I felt something in my spirit that is hard to explain. Something happened, and it seemed global… as if a shock wave traversed the earth. It felt as if something in the spiritual realm had been released.

That night in my motel room, I asked the Lord if what I heard was in scripture. I grabbed my bible, and it opened straight to 2 Thessalonians 2:3. So I began to read:
Let no one deceive you in any way. For unless the apostasy comes first and the lawless one is revealed... (New American Bible).

As I read these words, I recalled what Catholic author and evangelist Ralph Martin said to me in a documentary I had produced for the CTV satellite network in Canada in 1997 (What In The World Is Going On) : “Never before have we seen such a falling away from the faith in the past 19 centuries as we have this last century. We are certainly a candidate for the Great Apostasy.”

The word “apostasy” refers to a falling away of believers from the faith in mass numbers. While this is not the place to do an analysis of the Church, it is clear from the words of Pope’s Benedict XVI and John Paul II that Europe and North America have nearly abandoned the faith, as well as other traditionally Catholic countries. A cursory look at other mainstream Christian denominations shows that they are all but crumbling as fast as they are abandoning traditional Christian moral teaching.

Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the last times some will turn away from the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and demonic instructions through the hypocrisy of liars with branded consciences (1 Tim 4:1-3)

What really caught my attention in that motel room, though, was what I read further on in 2 Thessalonians:
And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his time. 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. And then the lawless one will be revealed...
That which is being restrained is the “lawless one” whom verse 4 says will “seat himself in the temple of God, claiming that he is god” and whom in verse 8, “The Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and render powerless by the manifestation of his coming.” The lawless one, the Antichrist.

I wondered… has the Lord now released the lawless one in the same sense that he released Judas at the Last Supper to begin the process of his betrayal? That is, have the times of the Church’s “final passion” begun?

This question alone will no doubt draw a number of eye-rolling-head-shaking reactions: “It’s over-reaction…. paranoia… fear-mongering….” However, I cannot understand this response. If Jesus said that he would return some day, preceded by a time of apostasy, persecution, tribulation and the Antichrist, why are we so quick to suggest that it could not happen in our day? If Jesus said we are to “watch and pray” and to “stay awake” regarding these times, then I find the ready dismissal of any apocalyptic discussion to be far more dangerous than a calm and intellectual debate.

The widespread reluctance on the part of many Catholic thinkers to enter into a profound examination of the apocalyptic elements of contemporary life is, I believe, part of the very problem which they seek to avoid. If apocalyptic thinking is left largely to those who have been subjectivized or who have fallen prey to the vertigo of cosmic terror, then the Christian community, indeed the whole human community, is radically impoverished. And that can be measured in terms of lost human souls. —Author, Michael O’Brien, Are We Living In Apocalyptic Times?

As I have pointed out numerous times, several Popes have not shied away from suggesting we may be entering that specific period of tribulation. Pope Saint Pius X in his 1903 encyclical, E Supremi, “On the Restoration of All Things in Christ”:

When all this is considered there is good reason to fear lest this great perversity may be as it were a foretaste, and perhaps the beginning of those evils which are reserved for the last days; and that there may be already in the world the “Son of Perdition” of whom the Apostle speaks (2 Thess 2: 3). Such, in truth, is the audacity and the wrath employed everywhere in persecuting religion, in combating the dogmas of the faith, in brazen effort to uproot and destroy all relations between man and the Divinity! While, on the other hand, and this according to the same apostle is the distinguishing mark of Antichrist, man has with infinite temerity put himself in the place of God, raising himself above all that is called God; in such a way that although he cannot utterly extinguish in himself all knowledge of God, he has despised God’s majesty and, as it were, made of the universe a temple wherein he himself is to be adored. “He seats himself in the temple of God, showing himself as if he were God” (2 Thess 2:4).

It would seem in hindsight that Pius X was speaking prophetically as he perceived “a foretaste, and perhaps the beginning of those evils which are reserved for the last days.” I pose this thought. If the “Son of Perdition” is in fact alive, would lawlessness be the harbinger of the “lawless one?”

“The mystery of lawlessness is already at work,” Paul says in verse 7. Since I heard those words, “the restrainer has been lifted,” I believe there has been a rapidly increasing lawlessness in the world. In fact, Jesus said this would happen in the days prior to His return:
...because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold. (Matthew 24:12)
What is the sign of love grown cold? The apostle John wrote, “Perfect love casts out all fear”. Perhaps then, perfect fear casts out all love, or rather, causes love to grow cold. This may be the saddest trait of our times: our fear of one another, and the unknown. And the reason is because of a growing lawlessness, which corrodes trust.

There has been a marked increase in corporate and political greed, and scandal in governments and the money markets.
Laws redefining marriage, reframing human dignity, and approving hedonistic practices continue to gain momentum.
Terrorism has nearly become a daily occurrence.
Genocide is becoming more prevalent.
Violence has increased in various forms from suicide to school shootings to parent/child murders to the starvation of the helpless.
There has been an unprecedented and rapid decay of morality in television and movie productions in the past few years. It’s not so much in what we see visually, though that is a part of it, but in what we hear. The topics of discussion and frank content of sitcoms, dating shows, talk show hosts, and movie dialogue is virtually unrestrained.
Pornography has exploded across the globe with high speed internet.
STD’s are reaching epidemic proportions not only in third world countries, but in nations such as Canada as well.

I think it is worth it to note that, as lawlessness increases, so too do the wild disturbances in nature, from extreme weather to the awakening of volcanoes to the fomentation of new diseases.

2 Thessalonians 2:11 goes on to say:
Therefore, God is sending them a deceiving power so that they may believe the lie, that all who have not believed the truth but have approved wrongdoing may be condemned.
At the time I received this word, I was also getting a strong image—particularly as I was speaking in parishes—of a strong wave of deception. The Da Vinci Code comes to mind… but it is certainly more than that. As Pope Benedict said shortly before his election to succeed John Paul II, there is a growing “dictatorship of relativism” (Opening Homily at Conclave, April 18th, 2004). A growing number of people consider the Church to be more and more irrelevant, while their own personal feelings or the pop psychology of the day form their conscience.
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

With the growing lawlessness in our society, those who hold fast to the moral teachings of the Church are perceived more and more as fanatics and fundamentalists. Beguiling, is the voice of the world, defective as its reasoning is.

I hear the words in my heart repeatedly, like a war drum in the distant hills:
Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Matt 26:41).

There is a parallel story to this “lifting of the restrainer”. It is found in Luke 15—the story of the Prodigal Son. The prodigal did not want to live by his Father’s rules, and so, the Father let him go; he opened the front door, “lifting the restrainer” as it were. The boy took his inheritance (symbolic of the gift of free will and knowledge), and left. The boy went off to indulge his “freedom”.

The key point here is this: the Father did not release the boy so as to see him destroyed. We know this because scripture says the Father saw the boy coming from a long way off (that is, the Father was constantly on the lookout, waiting for his son’s return….). He ran to the boy, embraced him, and took him back —poor, naked, and hungry.

God is still acting in his mercy toward us. I believe that we may experience, as did the prodigal son, terrible consequences as a global community for continuing to reject the Gospel. Already, we are reaping what we have sown. But I believe God will permit this so that after having tasted how poor, naked, and hungry we are, we will return to Him. I believe Catherine Doherty once said, “In our weakness, we are most ready to receive His mercy.”

Whether or not we live in the times foretold by Christ, we can be sure that with every breath we breathe, He is extending his mercy and love toward us. And since none of us knows if we will wake up tonight, the most important question is, “Am I ready to meet Him today?”

Well said Mr. Mallett.

This article may be found at:



Dave said...

One can see this apostasy very strongly in the Manchester Diocese. Churches closing and emptying, lack of priestly vocations, dissent from magisterial teaching, pride of life, and a love which has grown cold.

Lee said...

And if you are a Catholic who accepts the Magisterium's teaching, you are shunned or hated outright. Our Lady of Perpetual Help has merged with St. Anthony's on Belmont Street, a parish which appears to be very liberal. There is a risen Christ on the Cross instead of the crucified Christ. Modernists and "progressives" hate Christ's sacrifice on the Cross.

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