A few days ago, an American wrote me in the wake of their Supreme Court’s decision to invent the right to same-sex “marriage”:
“I have been weeping on and off a good part of this day… as I attempt to go to sleep I am wondering if you could help me understand just where we are in the timeline of events to come….”
There are several thoughts on this that have come to me in the silence of this past week. And they are, in part, an answer to this question…
“Write down the vision; make it plain upon tablets, so that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is a witness for the appointed time…” (Habakkuk 2:2-3)
There are two things that guide and inform this writing apostolate that are worth highlighting again. The first is that interior light the Lord gave me to understand that the Church and the world are entering a Great Storm (like a hurricane). The second and most important dimension, however, has been to filter absolutely everything through the teaching authority and memory of the Church, preserved in Sacred Tradition, in order to faithfully respond to Saint John Paul II’s directive:
The young have shown themselves to be for Rome and for the Church a special gift of the Spirit of God… I did not hesitate to ask them to make a radical choice of faith and life and present them with a stupendous task: to become “morning watchmen” at the dawn of the new millennium.
In this regard, I have found that the metaphor of a “Storm” fits perfectly with the early Church Fathers’ vision of the “day of the Lord” and what would transpire before, during, and after the Storm.
The big picture
What exactly is the “Storm”? Taking into consideration the Scriptures, the vision of the Church Fathers, the approved apparitions of the Blessed Mother, the prophecies of saints such as Faustina  and Emmerich, the unequivocal warnings from the papacy, the teachings of the Catechism, and the “signs of the times”, the Storm essentially ushers in the day of the Lord. According to the early Church Fathers, this is not the end of the world, but a specific period prior to, and leading to the end of time and the return of Jesus in glory.  That time, the Fathers taught, is found in the vision of St. John who wrote that after the reign of Antichrist (the beast), there would be a period of peace, symbolized by a “thousand years”, a “millennium”, when the Church would reign with Christ throughout the world (see Revelation 20:1-4). 
“…this day of ours, which is bounded by the rising and the setting of the sun, is a representation of that great day to which the circuit of a thousand years affixes its limits.” 
“Behold, the Day of the Lord shall be a thousand years.” 
A “thousand years”, however, is not to be understood literally, but figuratively as referring to an extended period in time  when Christ would reign spiritually through His Church throughout all the nations “and then the end will come.” 
The reason I point all this out is because, according to both St. John and the Church Fathers, the appearance of the “lawless one” or “beast” occurs before the triumph of the Church — those “times of the kingdom” or what the Fathers often referred to as a “sabbath rest” for the Church:
“But when The Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from Heaven in the clouds… sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire; but bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom, that is, the rest, the hallowed seventh day… These are to take place in the times of the kingdom, that is, upon the seventh day… the true Sabbath of the righteous.”  —
That is, things are going to get worse before they get better. As one of St. Thérèse de Lisieux’s favorite authors wrote,
“The most authoritative view, and the one that appears to be most in harmony with Holy Scripture, is that, after the fall of the Antichrist, the Catholic Church will once again enter upon a period of prosperity and triumph.” 
In this regard, I want to relay what is one of the most significant harbingers of the Antichrist that appears to be unfolding at this hour…
The hour of lawlessness
I want to recount for new readers an indelible experience I had in 2005 that a Canadian bishop urged me to write about. 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. It was as if a shock wave traversed the earth — 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 the Scriptures, since the word “restrainer” was unfamiliar to me. I grabbed my Bible, and it opened straight to 2 Thessalonians 2:3. I began to read:
“…[do not be] shaken out of your minds suddenly, or… alarmed either by a “spirit,” or by an oral statement, or by a letter allegedly from us to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand. Let no one deceive you in any way. For unless the apostasy comes first and the lawless one is revealed…”
That is, St. Paul warned that the “day of the Lord” would be preceded by a rebellion and the revelation of Antichrist — in a word, lawlessness.
“…before the Lord’s arrival there will be apostasy, and one well described as the “man of lawlessness”, “the son of perdition” must be revealed, who tradition would come to call the Antichrist. 
But there is something “restraining” the appearance of this Antichrist. With my jaw wide open that night, I went on to read:
“And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed…”
When we think of lawlessness, we tend to envision gangs roaming the streets, the absence of police, crime everywhere, etc. But, as we have seen in the past, the most insidious and dangerous forms of lawlessness come on the wave of revolutions. The French Revolution was fueled by the throngs wanting to overthrow the Church and monarchy; Communism was birthed as the people stormed Moscow in the October Revolution; Nazism was democratically employed through the popular vote; and today, working parallel to democratically elected governments, in unison with lobbyists, is the practical force behind the present Global Revolution: judicial activism, whereby the courts simply invent laws as an “interpretation” of constitutions or charters of rights. This is all to say that there has been a progression where lawlessness appears more and more to take on the face of liberty when, in fact, it is undermining it. 
“…when the culture itself is corrupt and objective truth and universally valid principles are no longer upheld, then laws can only be seen as arbitrary impositions or obstacles to be avoided.” 
Thus, adds Pope Francis, “lack of respect for the law is becoming more common.”  However, as previous popes have warned, this has been the goal all along of those working against the present order. 
At this period, however, the partisans of evil seems to be combining together… No longer making any secret of their purposes, they are now boldly rising up against God Himself …that which is their ultimate purpose forces itself into view — namely, the utter overthrow of that whole religious and political order of the world which the Christian teaching has produced, and the substitution of a new state of things in accordance with their ideas, of which the foundations and laws shall be drawn from mere naturalism. — Pope Leo XIII,Humanum Genus, Encyclical on Freemasonry, n.10, April 20th, 1884
The Beast devours liberty
Brothers and sisters, I say this by way also to warn you of those well-meaning Catholics who insist that we cannot possibly be nearing the time of Antichrist. And the reason for their insistence is this: they have limited themselves to scholastic theology and a biblical exegesis that does not take into account the full scope of patristic writings, mystical theology, and the entire body of Catholic teaching. And so, Magisterial statements such as the following are conveniently ignored:
“Who can fail to see that society is at the present time, more than in any past age, suffering from a terrible and deep-rooted malady which, developing every day and eating into its inmost being, is dragging it to destruction? You understand, Venerable Brethren, what this disease is — apostasy from God… 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.” 
Nonetheless, a cursory examination of our times reveals present at this hour every hallmark that would precede and accompany the “lawless one.”
I. Lawlessness and apostasy
As already stated, lawlessness is breaking out everywhere, not only in the overturning of the natural moral law, but in what Pope Francis calls the growing “atmosphere of war”,  family and cultural divisions, and economic crises.
But the word St. Paul uses to describe the lawlessness is “apostasy”, which means specifically a rebellion toward, and mass rejection of the Catholic faith. The root of this rebellion is compromise with the spirit of the world.
“There has never been such a falling away from Christianity as there has been in the past century. We are certainly a “candidate” for the Great Apostasy.” 
“…worldliness is the root of evil and it can lead us to abandon our traditions and negotiate our loyalty to God who is always faithful. This… is called apostasy, which… is a form of “adultery” which takes place when we negotiate the essence of our being: loyalty to the Lord.” 
As noted above, more than one Pope has spoken of an apostasy unfolding in our midst.
“Apostasy, the loss of the faith, is spreading throughout the world and into the highest levels within the Church.” 
II. Disappearance of liberty
Both the prophet Daniel and St. John describe “the beast” as an overpowering world dominion that is “granted authority over every tribe, people, tongue, and nation.”
Evidence of an encroaching world power that controls is becoming more evident,  not only in laws that are passed that restrict  liberties in order to “fight terrorism”, but in a global economy that is increasingly enslaving not only the poor, but the middle class through “usury”.  Furthermore, Pope Francis decries the “ideological colonization” that is forcing nations across the world to adopt an increasingly anti-human ideology.
It is not the beautiful globalization of unity of all Nations, each one with their own customs, instead it is the globalization of hegemonic uniformity, it is the single thought. And this sole thought is the fruit of worldliness. 
III. Unguided technology
Pope Francis has likewise elucidated the growing threat of technological power that threatens “not only our politics but also freedom and justice.”  A false idea prevails as though ‘every increase in power means “an increase of ‘progress’ itself.”’  But this is not possible, he warns, unless there is a frank and open discussion on the ethics and limitations of technology. Like his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who frequently framed economic and technological trends as risking the enslavement of mankind, Francis has likewise taken a universal tone that, while noting the benefits and necessity of human creativity, warns of the increasing dominance of technology by a few:
…those with the knowledge, and especially the economic resources to use them, [have] an impressive dominance over the whole of humanity and the entire world. Never has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it will be used wisely, particularly when we consider how it is currently being used. We need but think of the nuclear bombs dropped in the middle of the twentieth century, or the array of technology which Nazism, Communism and other totalitarian regimes have employed to kill millions of people, to say nothing of the increasingly deadly arsenal of weapons available for modern warfare. In whose hands does all this power lie, or will it eventually end up? It is extremely risky for a small part of humanity to have it. 
IV. The emergence of “the mark”
One would have to be somewhat naive not to recognize the very real and growing danger of commerce becoming more and more restricted to the digital domain. Quietly, subtly, humanity is being corralled like cattle into an economic system whereby there are fewer and fewer players and more central control. Small retailers have often been replaced by box stores; local growers displaced by multi-national food corporations; and local banks swallowed up by huge and often anonymous financial powers that have put profit before people, “anonymous financial interests which turn men into slaves, which are nolonger human things, but are an anonymous power which men serve,” said Pope Benedict XVI. 
Technologies that reduce buying and selling to digital recognition systems run the risk of eventually excluding those who do not “participate” in the broader social experiment. If, for example, a business owner is forced to close his business for not baking a cake for a same-sex wedding, how far away are we from courts simply ordering the “switch” to be turned off on the bank accounts of those who are deemed “terrorists” of the peace? Or perhaps, more subtly, after the collapse of the dollar and the rise of a new global economic system, could a technology be implemented that also demands adherence to the principles of a “global treaty”? Already, banks have begun to implement “fine print” that insists that their customers are “tolerant” and “inclusive”.
“The Apocalypse speaks about God’s antagonist, the beast. This animal does not have a name, but a number. In [the horror of the concentration camps], they cancel faces and history, transforming man into a number, reducing him to a cog in an enormous machine. Man is no more than a function. In our days, we should not forget that they prefigured the destiny of a world that runs the risk of adopting the same structure of the concentration camps, if the universal law of the machine is accepted. The machines that have been constructed impose the same law. According to this logic, man must be interpreted by a computer and this is only possible if translated into numbers. The beast is a number and transforms into numbers. God, however, has a name and calls by name. He is a person and looks for the person.” 
Strangers and sojourners
It is evident that Christians in Western society have become the new “outsiders”; in Eastern nations, we have become targets. As the number of martyrs in the past century exceeds all of the centuries before them combined, it is clear that we have entered into a new persecution of the Church that is becoming more aggressive by the hour. This too is another “sign of the times” that we are getting closer to the Eye of the Storm.
Yet, all of this I have been writing and warning about for a decade now, along with many other voices in the Church. The words of Jesus are echoing in my ears…
“I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you.” (John 16:4)
This is all to say, brothers and sisters, that the winds are going to get more fierce, the changes more rapid, the Storm more violent. Again, the Seven Seals of Revolution form the beginning of this Storm, and we are watching them break open in real-time on the daily news.
But in all of this, God has a plan for His faithful people.
At the end of April, I shared with you a word on my heart: Come Away With Me. I sensed the Lord calling us, once again, out of Babylon, out of the world into the “desert.” What I didn’t share at the time was my deeper sense that Jesus is calling us much like he did the “desert Fathers” — those men who fled the temptations of the world into the solitude of the desert in order to safeguard their spiritual life. Their flight into the wilderness formed the basis of Western monasticism and a new way of combining work and prayer.
My sense is that the Lord is preparing physical places that Christians may be called to gather, either voluntarily or through displacement. I saw these places for Christian “exiles”, these “parallel communities”, in an interior vision which came to me several years ago while praying before the Blessed Sacrament (see The Coming Refuges and Solitudes). Yet, it would be wrong for us to think of these only as refuges for the future. Right now, Christians need to band together, to form bonds of unity to strengthen, support, and encourage one another. For persecution is not coming: it is already here.
Thus, I was fascinated to read an editorial that appeared in TIME magazine this past weekend. I was deeply moved for obvious reasons and quote it in part here:
“…orthodox Christians must understand that things are going to get much more difficult for us. We are going to have to learn how to live as exiles in our own country… we are going to have to change the way we practice our faith and teach it to our children, to build resilient communities.”
It is time for what I call the Benedict Option. In his 1982 book After Virtue, the eminent philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre likened the current age to the fall of ancient Rome. He pointed to Benedict of Nursia, a pious young Christian who left the chaos of Rome to go to the woods to pray, as an example for us. We who want to live by the traditional virtues, MacIntyre said, have to pioneer new ways of doing so in community. We await, he said “a new ? and doubtless very different ? St. Benedict.”
Throughout the early Middle Ages, Benedict’s communities formed monasteries, and kept the light of faith burning through the surrounding cultural darkness. Eventually, the Benedictine monks helped refound civilization. 
Indeed, Pope Benedict warned that “the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel” in his letter to all the bishops of the world.  But this hour of lawlessness also presents an opportunity: to be a keeper and guardian of the faith, preserving the truth and keeping it alive and burning in one’s own heart. Right now, the “era of peace” to come is being formed in the hearts of those who are giving their “fiat” to Jesus. God is preserving a people, often hidden from the world, through home-schooling, new vocations to the priesthood, and the religious and consecrated life in order to become the seedsof a new era, a new civilization of love.
We are drawing closer, faster, and nearer to the Eye of the Storm.  How long will these things take to unfold. Months? Years? Decades? What I will say, dear brothers and sisters, is that when you see events unfolding (even now) one upon the other as though the Church and the world are on the verge of being lost… just remember the words of Jesus:
“I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you.” (John 16:4)
… and then, be still, be faithful, and await the hand of the Lord who is a refuge to all who remain in Him.
 John Paul II P.P. Novo Millennio Inuente, n.9
 cf. Faustina, and the Day of the Lord
 cf. How the Era was Lost; see also Dear Holy Father… He is Coming!
 cf. The Popes, and the Dawning Era.
 Lactantius, Fathers of the Church: The Divine Institutes, Book VII, Chapter 14, Catholic Encyclopedia; http://www.newadvent.org/
 Letter of Barnabas, The Fathers of the Church, Ch. 15
 cf. Millenarianism—What it is, and is Not
 cf. Matthew 24:14
 St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Church Father (140–202 A.D.); Adversus Haereses, Irenaeus of Lyons, V.33.3.4, The Fathers of the Church, CIMA Publishing Co.
 The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life, Fr. Charles Arminjon (1824-1885), p. 56-57; Sophia
 cf. Removing the Restrainer
 Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, “Whether at the end of time or during a tragic lack of peace: Come Lord Jesus!”, L’Osservatore Romano, Nov. 12th, 2008
 cf. Dream of the Lawless One
 Pope Francis, Laudato sí, n. 123; http://www.vatican.va
 cf. Laudato si’, n. 142; http://www.vatican.va
 cf. Mystery Babylon
 Pope St Pius X, E Supremi, Encyclical, On the Restoration of All Things in Christ, n. 3, 5; October 4th, 1903
 cf. Catholic Herald, June 6th, 2015
 Dr. Ralph Martin, a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization,What in the World is Going On? Television documenatary, CTV Edmonton, 1997
 Pope Francis, from a homily, Vatican Radio, November 18th, 2013
 Pope Paul VI, Address on the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Fatima Apparitions, October 13, 1977
 cf. Rev 13:7
 cf. Control! Control!
 cf. 2014 and the Rising Beast
 Pope Francis, Homily, November 18th, 2013; Zenit
 cf. Laudato si’, n. 53; http://www.vatican.va
 cf. Laudato si’, n. 105; http://www.vatican.va
 Laudato sí, n. 104; http://www.vatican.va/
 cf. Reflection after the reading of the office for the Third Hour, Vatican City, October 11, 2010
 Cardinal Ratzinger, (Pope Benedict XVI) Palermo, March 15th, 2000
 Time Magazine: Orthodox Christians Must Now Learn To Live as Exiles in Our Own Country, Rod Dreher; June 26, 2015
 cf. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to All the Bishops of the World, March 12, 2009; Catholic Online
 cf. The Eye of the Storm
Previously published by The Now Word