Can someone help me understand eschatology/end times according to the RCC?

(Apologies if this thread doesn’t belong in this sub-forum. I wasn’t entirely sure where to post this, but if it needs to be moved, then that’s okay.)

So this was a popular thing to talk about among young devout Protestant friends of mine some years ago. There was the usual talk about a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, the Seven Year Tribulation, Armageddon, etc. And it always seemed like it was “imminent” every year. Of course, being an atheist at the time, I dismissed it immediately, but in renewing faith lately, and in my interest in what the Catholic Church has to offer that my old one doesn’t, I’m rather curious about the RCC’s general view of the whole end times subject. Maybe even more so thanks to recent world events and all.

On one side, I hear from some Catholics who take a bit of a literal futurist approach to Revelation and other books containing prophecy, seeking to connect them to current happenings in the world in a similar manner I’ve seen non-Catholics doing. Yet on the other side, I hear a bit more of a non-literal partial preterist take on it all, which I feel I agree with the most. But I guess my ultimate question is: is there a definitive official take of the Church on this subject and how it goes down, or is it more of a “anything could happen” between now and Second Coming/Last Judgment?

Lots of good reading choices here:

I would highly recommend Jimmy Akin’s DVD called “Understanding Revelation.” He goes over all the possible ways it can be understood, as well as the version he finds most compelling and why. I especially liked that he addressed the various popular points of view and the elements in favor and against each one as he went through the book.

The Catechism 668-682:

Colin Donovan: Endtimes, Millennium, Rapture

Catholic Answers: The Rapture

As a kid my mom kept saying the end of the world would be soon but she never told us much about it. When I got older and had more protestent friends I wondered about it and why as Catholics we never heard much about it. I asked a priest about and he said " what difference does it make if the end of the world is next week and you get run over by a car tonight".
I thought about what he said and stopped thinking about it.

Here is a thread that you might find interesting:

The last things

*]heaven, possible purgatory first
That happens with each death that occurs, 24/7/365… There is no waiting for some future event for these things to take place when death occurs… They take place at one’s death… One knows at that point where they will spend eternity.

The soul, given to us by God at our conception, is immortal. It can’t die. Memory and intellect is fully functional forever…whether in heaven or hell.

I examine the clouds of heaven in a new light. If I remember correctly, the Catholic view is most closely approximated by the amillennial view in Protestantism. Still, it is mysterious in the extreme and if we focus on it excessively, we tend to lose the gift of the present day - which is all that we are granted. We are told only to “watch.”

As pointed out by steveb, our last breath is the end time for us. Thomas å Kempis advises us to live as if we do not expect to survive the day, and to sleep as if we will not awaken.

Catholics are permitted to have different opinions. The Church allows room for opinions on certain subjects. And that’s what they are, opinions, unlike in some churches such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. And some evangelical congregations can get very dogmatic about the end times, to the extent, according to Dr. Robert Morey, if you aren’t a pre-millenialist (for example), you aren’t saved!

The contemporary Catholic Church doesn’t emphasize end-times too much, although perhaps it should mention the subject a bit more, in view of the current interest in it. I know of a person locally who left the Church to become a bible church preacher because he became interested in end times and he wasn’t satisfied with what he was told in the Church. I guess he didn’t pay attention to the Creed when he recited it!

It seems every 500 or a 1000 years an end-times fever comes into being. There was one around the year 1000–you can imagine how after 1000 years it was logical to think it was time for Christ to return. And now the current millennial fever which began as early as the 1800’s and is yet to abate, although I predict it will. That is why the Catholics don’t emphasize the end-times too much, they have been burned in the past. For the Catholic Church, 2000 years old, it is old hat. But for some evangelicals and fundamentalists, it is new and exciting. It is gratifying to them to believe that they, they, are going to be a part of the culmination of the ages, and not just part of ordinary time.

Catholics do generally think we are in the end-times now, and have been since the Church was founded.

Anyone who dies has seen and experienced the end of the world.

Judgement takes place immediately, and it is known immediately either heaven or hell for all eternity will be the judgement. Those who go to purgatory first, are assured they will go to heaven after they are purified.

Jesus, the one who judges every soul, told us in advance how things will be.

Matthew 7:13-14

13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy,[a] that leads to destruction, ἀπώλεια ] and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Note: that Greek word ( ἀπώλεια, apóleia: = destruction, loss)
Full Definition: destruction, ruin, loss, perishing; eternal ruin.

IOW, Jesus says, few make it to heaven, the rest go to hell.

To address specific teachings, the Church holds that we’re already in the “last hour”-and have been for centuries -and that the end can come at any moment even as no man knows the day or hour. She also teaches that, at the very end, the Church will go through a time of persecution during which a religious deception will prevail and after which Christ will come in glory, judge the living and the dead, separating the sheep and goats and ushering in the end, fully establishing the Kingdom where good, alone, will be allowed to prevail.

The Church teaches directly against millenarianism, the idea that there will be a 1000 yr period of peace on earth where Jesus physically comes and reigns as per JWs and some Protestant sects. There will be no fully realized kingdom of God on this earth whether achieved by His arrival or by man’s efforts, even as we’re adjured to strive for His will to be done here:

676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgement. the Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism,576 especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism.577

Someones death and the real second coming or end of the world, are going to be two entirely different events, even those who have been long dead will be involved when the second coming happens, for one, everyone that ever lived will at some point be back on the earth, in their glorified body, its going to be a HUGE thing, even if you have been dead for 1000 yrs.

At the 2nd coming, (final judgement)

all those still alive on earth are separated

Mt 25: 31
“When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. 34… "


Bodies of Everyone who have ever lived are raised.

Their souls were judged at their death. Their bodies went to the ground, their souls (souls being immortal, can’t die, and live forever) have been either in heaven, hell, or possibly purgatory. Therefore, Body and soul at the resurrection, and final judgement are reunited.

If the soul was in heaven, body and soul are reunited in heaven forever.

If the soul was in hell, body and soul are then reunited in hell forever.

Purgatory ceases to exist since there are no more births or deaths.

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