Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sonja Corbitt wants to convince us that Antichrist is not near

In an article for Catholic Online, Sonja Corbitt acknowledges that, "We know to watch for particular signs, and the signs of the times are not good."  She then asks "Could Antichrist be iminent?" while citing the words of Our Lord, "No man knows the day or hour."  But after acknowledging Our Lord's warning, she writes: "Uprising after uprising in the Middle East; sexual and intellectual scandal in the Church; earthquakes in Chile and Haiti; tsunamis in Indonesia and Japan; and financial collapse in almost every market: given the startling increase in the frequency of global crises - political, religious, financial, natural - one is tempted to begin looking for Antichrist and despair for the future.

The pervading anxiety and fear is exacerbated by non-Catholic proliferation of end times fiction and even some Catholics who erroneously promote the imminent arrival of the Antichrist and the Second Coming. This idea has distinct emotional appeal in our troubled times, since one way or another, it would all end soon, and possibly without our having to "do" anything.

Although the prospect relieves us of our sense of personal responsibility to become or remain involved in an immoral world which despises a Christian moral message, according to the historic Tradition of the Church and the direction of her leadership, it would be a tragic error for several reasons. First, the Antichrist is not here, or even just around the corner..."

But not everyone shares Ms. Corbitt's view.  For example, Cardinal Giacomo Biffi has warned that the Antichrist is already among us.  And the late (great) Archbishop Fulton John Sheen said, shortly before he died, that, "We are living in the days of the Apocalypse - the last days of our era...The two great forces of the Mystical Body of Christ and the Mystical Body of Antichrist are beginning to draw up the battle lines for the catastrophic contest."

With all due respect for Ms. Corbitt, she's no Fulton Sheen.  And never will be.  While the idea that Antichrist is imminent may have emotional appeal for some who wish to evade "personal responsibility to become or remain involved in an immoral world which despises a Christian moral message," it may also be said that there is emotional appeal for others in believing that the Antichrist is not near.  For, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us:

"Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth 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." (675).

The idea that such a persecution may be close at hand is disturbing.  But the answer is not to be found by sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that "all is well."  The message that Antichrist is near need not fill us with dread or despair.  For again the Catechism explains that, "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. 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. 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." (677).

Does that sound like a message of despair?  Or could it just be that Sonja Corbitt's faith in the Lord Jesus is not very strong?  The Church assures us that God's victory over the final unleashing of evil will result in a new heavens and a new earth where righteousness is at home.  How is this a message of despair?  We have a courageous example given to us in Sacred Scripture as to how to face persecution even unto death.  And this from a mother and her seven sons.  See here.

Read this passage from Maccabees and ask yourself, "Did these people of faith despair?"  Or did they believe in the Lord's promises?

At any rate, getting back to Ms. Corbitt's assertion that the Antichrist is not near, let's hear from Father Charles Arminjon in his book "The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life":

"It is undeniable that all governments at the present time are at work accomplishing this abominable operation of apostasy, and that they are striving to banish Jesus Christ from the school, the army, and from the very abode of justice!  Are not His Cross and His adorable name blasphemed and held up as a symbol of ignorance and fanaticism?  Has not the Church been outlawed and excluded from the councils of governments and deliberative assemblies?  Are not all the laws that are formulated marked with the seal of odious intolerance toward her, and have they any other purpose than to diminish her authority and influence?  Blasphemy is raised to the level of a privilege and a right.  Parallel with the destruction of Christianity, we see the reappearance of paganism, in the form of base materialism, marked by the exaltation of all that flatters the senses, and the glorification of the basest and most brutish instincts; a paganism that pervades industry, the arts, and literature, and predominates in all public institutions.  Christianity is declared to be the enemy, and at the same time, materialism is presented to the aspirations of peoples as the moving force of progress, and the god of the future.  Now, if the extremes of evil do not meet with a prompt and vigorous response, if the defection continues on its course, it may be predicted that this war on God must inevitably end in total, consummated apostasy.  It is but a small step from the cult of the state - that is, the utilitarian spirit and the worship of the god-state which is the religion of our time, to the worship of the individual man.  We have almost reached that point...and, proceeding from these facts and observations, we must conclude that the hypothesis of the proximity of the Antichrist's coming is more probable than the hypothesis that considers his coming as remote." (pp. 71-72).


Amanda said...

A powerful refutation of Corbitt's thesis. Thank you for posting this!

Jonathan said...

It was Pope John Paul II who said that, "We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel… It is a trial which the whole Church . . . must take up." (November 9, 1978, issue of The Wall Street Journal).

The final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church. What does Corbitt think this means? Pope John Paul II was a great Pontiff and mystic. Is Corbitt suggesting that he was filled with anxiety and despair?

As far as I'm concerned, Corbitt's article doesn't offer anything but a denial which is itself based on fear and anxiety.

Thank you for this post which adds clarity. I agree with you, Archbishop Sheen was anything but an alarmist. He was rather a great philosopher-priest with five doctorates.

I place far more weight on his words than I ever would Corbitt's.

Anonymous said...

Ms.Corbitt's thesis aim at those who want to feel good, mostly the libertine group within our Church, this group of norm denial the exsitent of hell, devil, confession, anti-chirst and Divine justice of God, this group only want to believe that the world is all about love, blinded by this false type of love, they chosen to make believe the many changes happening through out our world which, JPII, BXVI and Bishop Sheen had warned, the urshing in of the age of Anti-Christ, before his appearing all this must take place, This is also the word of Christ " Will I find Faith"? Could Ms.Corbitt see the truth? the major loss of faith happening in Church as Christ had foretold, when new-age believer out number true believer in church today and only 23% Catholic believe the true present of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Sonja Corbitt said...

Dear Amanda, Jonathan, and Anonymous: I have never and would never ask anyone to place more weight on my own words than those of either Archbishop Fulton Sheen or John Paul the Great. My "thesis" was not that we are not living in the last days, only that the Church Fathers and the lessons of Fatima indicate that the "last days" will be far longer than we expect, and that a great many things still must come to pass before the Second Coming.

I regret the tone of both this blog post and the comments, because I am in NO WAY a new ager, a liberal Catholic, or disloyal to the Magisterium of the Church, and would appreciate it if you would charitably refrain from such insinuations. If you had read more of the body of my work you would know this of me. The fact that you would make such judgments about me and my faith indicates more about you than it does me.

Jonathan said...

Ms. Corbitt, you now claim that your "..'thesis' was not that we are not living in the last days, only that the 'last days' will be far longer than we expect."

But that's not what you wrote. You are being dishonest and attempting to backtrack now. You referred to, "..some Catholics who erroneously promote the imminent arrival of the Antichrist."

But your thought is not consistent with either Pope John Paul II or Fulton Sheen. No one ever accused you of being New Age. But we simply don't agree with your thesis.

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