Locked, as he was, in the post war struggle with communism, Fulton Sheen’s prophecies about the end time are somewhat dated, but his underlying vision is strong and sobering.
In his Communism and the Conscience of the West he discusses the Antichrist:
The Antichrist will not be so called; otherwise he would have no followers. He will not wear red tights, nor vomit sulphur, nor carry a trident nor wave an arrowed tail as Mephistopheles in Faust. This masquerade has helped the Devil convince men that he does not exist. When no man recognizes him, the more power he exercises.
We must always remember that Satan comes as an angel of light. What he presents is always eminently reasonable. He offers the seemingly sensible way, the soft way, the way of compromise and ease. If he showed himself as the monster he is all would run howling in terror. Instead he offers a way out when we are in a jam, an alternative when the way of Christ seems difficult.
Nowhere in Sacred Scripture do we find warrant for the popular myth of the Devil as a buffoon who is dressed like the first “red.” Rather is he described as an angel fallen from heaven, as “the Prince of this world,” whose business it is to tell us that there is no other world.
When watching for the anti Christ we should be careful not to become too obsessed with one particular historical or contemporary figure. To be sure, there will be an anti Christ one day who seeks to take over the world and there will be his prophet who is a religious leader who seeks to deceive people with a fake system of spirituality.
However, we should also remember that down through history there have always been anti Christs and false prophets. Furthermore, there have also been systems of thought that have been antiChrists and systems of religion that are the false prophet.
At heart the Anti Christ is the ruler of this world. The false prophet teaches a religion that is only of this world.
All the world’s systems and false religions combine to convince us of this fact. Here are some of the anti Christ systems of thought prevalent in our culture today:
- Materialism: there is no other world. This is it.
- Scientism only scientifically tested knowledge is valid.
- Historicism there is not over-arching providence. History is random.
- Evolutionism the natural world develops at random. There is no divine plan.
- Utilitarianism what works is all that matters. Efficiency and economy are our gods.
- Rationalism there is no such thing as Revelation. Your reasoning power is your only access to truth.
- Sentimentalism your feelings are your only guide because there is no objective truth
- Moral Relativism there is no great Law. Therefore you may do as you wish. In fact this is the motto of diabolism: “Do as you Will.”
Fulton Sheen traces the logical consequence of a system that is bound only to this world and seeks to eliminate the unseen world.
Satan’s logic is simple: if there is no heaven there is no hell; if there is no hell, then there is no sin; if there is no sin, then there is no judge, and if there is no judgment then evil is good and good is evil. But above all these descriptions, Our Lord tells us that he will be so much like Himself that he would deceive even the elect–and certainly no devil ever seen in picture books could deceive even the elect.
Of course the elect will be deceived and follow the antichrist. They already do. To see what I mean continue reading Archbishop Sheen.
How will he come in this new age to win followers to his religion? The pre-Communist Russian belief is that he will come disguised as the Great Humanitarian; he will talk peace, prosperity and plenty not as means to lead us to God, but as ends in themselves.
Always beware the promise of a better world. There is always a price to pay for Utopia. Do not swallow the bait. Remember there is always free cheese in a mousetrap. Do not spend your time making this world a better place without first making sure you are going to the Best Place. The antichrist always offers us this world. He offered Christ himself all the kingdoms of this world. He does the same to us. He offers a wonderful world…one without God and his Son Christ the King.
Sheen explains what the religion of the anti Christ looks like:
this is the temptation to have a new religion without a Cross, a liturgy without a world to come, a religion to destroy a religion, or a politics which is a religion–one that renders unto Caesar even the things that are God’s. In the midst of all his seeming love for humanity and his glib talk of freedom and equality, he will have one great secret which he will tell to no one: he will not believe in God.
The antichrist will not believe in God, but he will be religious. Watch the political leaders give lip service to Christianity and the Church. During the election the politician will pray to get into office. After the election the people pray to get him out of office. The antichrist follows the Lord of this World and you can tell because all he cares about is this world.
Because his religion will be brotherhood of Man without the fatherhood of God, he will deceive even the elect. He will set up a counter church which will be the ape of the Church, because he, the Devil, is the ape of God. It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content. It will be a mystical body of the Antichrist that will in all externals resemble the mystical body of Christ. . . .
“The Ape of God” what a phrase! It reminds me of The Last Battle by C.S.Lewis in which an ape named Shift finds an old lion skin and persuades a stupid donkey named Puzzle to dress up as Aslan. The faithful Narnians are fooled by Shift and Puzzle because they had already given in and forgotten about Aslan. They had already compromised, so when the anti Aslan appeared they fell down before him.
Catholics need to wake up. Already most of us have adapted to the Spirit of the new age. Already we have compromised our standards and lowered our defenses. It has been a slow, gradual process, but why do we think that we might stand up to the antichrist when we have already swallowed his candy?
Look at the world around you. How many church leaders do you know who already preach a gospel that is no more than watered down socialism? How many sweet talking, smiling preachers do you already know who parade their political activism while neglecting the reality of Christ’s true gospel? How many religious people do you know who already believe that it is all about the brotherhood of Man while neglecting the Fatherhood of God?
At this time there is no single false prophet or counterfeit church. Instead these false systems of thought have infiltrated all the Christian churches and the Catholic church is no exception. When I hear prelates talk more about saving the environment than saving souls I’m smelling sulphur. When I hear priests and prelates justifying a sexual immorality that breaks the sacrament of marriage and the natural order in the cause of “peace and mercy” I’m smelling smoke–and it ain’t incense. When I hear prelates compromise the Catholic faith in favor of a false ecumenism I’m whiffing something vile from the sewers of Dis.
Already they have put before us “a new religion without a Cross, a liturgy without a world to come, a religion to destroy a religion, or a politics which is a religion–one that renders unto Caesar even the things that are God’s.”
Wake up, and don’t be deceived. Remember the only thing Satan knows how to do is to lie. He is the Father of Lies and the Father of Flies, and where the flies gather there is already a corpse.