[quote="Ron_Conte, post:1, topic:337437"]
Is the great apostasy, spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 near?
Catholic eschatology has long held that an apostasy of Christians or specifically Catholic Christians is associated with the end times. My view is that the great apostasy, which takes place during the tribulation, is near.
The foundation has already been laid. Many Catholics no longer consider the Church or the Magisterium or the Pope to be their teacher. They adopt whatever ideas are taught by sinful secular society, even in opposition to Church teaching. Many have already departed from the Church in their hearts.
Dear Ron Conte,
Cordial greetings and a very good day. Hope all is well. Thankyou for raising this most solemn topic, which, given the troublous times in which are lot is presently cast, deserves far more attention than it is wont to normally receive.
As to whether this Antichrist is to be an individual - some powerful pernicious personality - or a collectivity, is a most baffling question, dear brother. From what I have read, many Catholic commentators consider the Antichrist to be a personification of the evil forces that will get the upper hand during the very last of the "last days" of the world. According to St. Paul the activity of the Man of Sin is already taking place, although he is not yet revealed. Now as this activity has been going on since the early days of Christianity, the Antichrist would seem to an apocalyptic personification of the powers of evil let loose. Moreover, in the Gospels our dear Lord nowhere speaks of one Antichrist but of many false Christs and false prophets (cf. S. Matt. 24). This would also agree with St. John's teaching in his Epistles, whilst in the Book of Revelation the Antichrist symbolizes the sum total of persecuting political powers and false prophets by the two beasts who are emissaries of Satan. However, St. Paul's teaching with regards to the Antichrist (II Thess. 2: 3,4) is certainly quite compatible with his being a single person, and the manner in which all the Sacred Books from Daniel to the Apocalypse speak of him, as a man incarnating all the forces of evil and as a false counterpart of Christ Himself in the final days of the world, does not permit us to lay aside as improbable the view that the Antichrist is indeed an individual. Nevertheless, this general interpretation is not defined as an article of faith and thus the faithful are at liberty to hold that, prior to the Second Advent, some great force opposed to Christ will emerge and will deceive many members of the Church, dragging them into apostasy. Perhaps both will occur.
When, dear brother, St. Paul speaks of the "last days" he of course refers to the entire Messianic era in which we now live, which will get progressively worse and not better, finally culminating in the revelation of the 'Man of Sin', of which I have just been speaking. The Apostle also says that the Gospel Age will be characterised by a defection from Catholic doctrine, even from within the bosom of Holy Mother Church - "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears; and they shall turn their ears away from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (II Tim. 4: 3,4). Whilst it is perfectly true that opposition to authentic Catholic teaching has always been a characteristic of the interadvent period and thus should not elicit our surprise or dismay, it does seem that the Church will face terrible times as we approach closer the Second Advent of Christ. Have we then entered the great apostasy of the very end times? Possibly, yes. What certainly admits of no doubt is that there is a crisis and widespread apostasy within the bosom of the Church today that appears to be quite unprecedented. As you say, dear brother, multitudes of putative Catholics no longer believe the teachings of their Church and have embraced a sort of *a la carte *approach. Again, you are quite correct when you say that many contemporary Catholics have adopted the mindset of the godless secular society with which they are surrounded. What I find so deeply saddening is the hand in hand with the world religious practice that is now so common in the Western world, even among those who identify as 'conservative' and orthodox. There is little passion for the pursuit of holiness and striving to live up to the arduous demands of our most holy religion, as if this was somehow equated with Puritanism or Jansenism. Very sad indeed.
Of course, dear brother, false doctrines have always beset Holy Mother Church, being propagated even in the early Church, but as St. Paul looked into the distant future he could forsee the dangers increasing with the unremitting flood of false doctrines, and with it the corresponding corruption of morals. .
Whatever our present plight, the faithful must not despair or become discouraged, for the activity of forces hostile to the cause of good will never utterly prevail against the Church of Christ (cf, S. Matt. 16: 18). However, the faithful remnant will be quite a small body prior to our Lord's return, whenever that blessed event will be. As Christ Himself said: "Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" (S. Lk. 18: 8). Now whilst this faith may not always be entirely denied, neither will it be held or fully embraced, especially as we approach the final days of the world. Men will increasingly have a "form of godliness" but deny its power in reality by a shameful worldly conformity. This will surely be a feature of the final apostasy at the end of the age.
Warmest good wishes,