"Who is the Antichrist?"
..."I am convinced that Christians should free themselves from the idea that the Antichrist can come from anywhere, Heaven or Hell, and that he will manifest himself s an evil person who will impose his dominion by force. Dear friends, the contrary is the case. The Antichrist will appear in a very specific context--that of the triumph of the spirit of the world in the form of the religion of man. From a human point of view he will be a fascinating person. From a natural perspective he will be the best human being produced by nature. He will be proclaimed as Lord and God by all the churches of the world which he will have reordered for the adoration of man. Everything will be done through conviction and not through force.
With the eyes of faith we can see him as the incarnation of the Devil and the supreme manifestation of evil. From a worldly perspective, however, he will regarded as one of the greatest men ever to have been born. He will possess an incredible power to seduce man. He will possess in himself a fascination for everything beautiful that nature has ever produced. For this reason, perhaps, Christians will find it difficult to see him for what he is...Fr. Livio Fanzaga.
A few years ago, one of my good friends not only highly recommended Fr. Fanzaga's book Wrath of God: The Days of the Antichrist
, she loaned it to me. I picked it up, tried reading it but I could not get interested in it. That was the end of that and I put the book out of my mind.
Since it was Lent, I decided to finally read this book and I haven't been able to put it down.
Fr. Livio Fanzaga is a well known Catholic writer in Italy. He is known as the "radio priest
". This book consists of the transcripts of two of Father's radio broadcasts in 1993-1994 on Radio Maria. In those broadcasts, Fr. Lanzaga tackled the topic of the Antichrist, based mainly on two works of literature: A Short Tale of the Antichrist
by Vladimir Soloviev and Lord of the World
by Robert Hugh Benson.
Soloviev saw the Antichrist as follows:
..."[he] was a convinced idealist. He believed in the Good, even in God, but he only loved himself. The inordinate pride of the great idealist seemed justified both by his exceptional genius, beauty and nobility, and his lofty asceticism, disinterestedness and active philanthropy....
...At the beginning he has no hostility against Jesus. He recognized his good intention and his lofty teaching. Three things about Jesus were unacceptable to him: firstly, his moral preoccupations; then his claim to uniqueness; and the third thing the Antichrist could not accept about Christ was that He lives, so much so that he screams to himself repeatedly: "He is not living, He is not and shall not be! He rotted in the tomb, rotted like the lowest...!"
There is so much that I could go into greater detail of Father's analysis of the Antichrist such as his political and social agendas. Since space does not permit, I will focus on the Antichrist's religious agenda.
Of course, the Antichrist doesn't introduce himself to the world as such. He instead declares himself to be emperor of the world.
Why his interest in religion? It is because it is his objective to eradicate Christianity, ..."after which he knows that he will have no difficulty in brushing away all other religions."
"At the time of the Antichrist the number of believers will be greatly reduced. In the whole world Christians will number no more than forty-five million.
A great apostasy is taking place. The program of political and social reform, so successfully carried through, seems to satisfy man's every desire and need. Many are enchanted by the new religion of humanitarianism and have turned their backs on the faith. What the Gospel says of false prophets has come to pass (cf. Mt. 23:11 ff; Mc 12:22). The greatest of these is the Antichrist."
In one powerful section of the book, the Antichrist decides to call the religions together to a council which he will lead. It is to be held in Jerusalem.
Soloviev's tale on how only a "tiny flock
" will remain is very intriguing. Those who stand firm and who will expose the Antichrist will be Pope Peter II of the Catholic Church, the unofficial leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Starets John and a a religious Protestant professor named Ernst Pauli.
"The Antichrist attempts to unite the Church and end all divisions among Christians. Finally, he, and not Christ, is savior of the Church...
The emperor transfers his residence to Jerusalem...Only one temple will be erected. It will be an imperial temple in which all religions will be united.
But who will be adored in this temple? The man made god, the Antichrist, will be worshiped in this temple. "
This emperor soon to be exposed as the Antichrist as aforesaid, speaks to all present in a soothing, seemingly concerned tone and manner.
"Dear brother Catholics! oh, how well I understand your view and how I should like to find support for my power in the authority of your spiritual head! ....I solemnly declare: in accordance with my autocratic will the chief bishop of all Catholics, the Pope of Rome is henceforth restored to his Roman See with all the rights and privileges that had ever been given it by my predecessors beginning with Emperor Constantine the Great.
Ah, but what does this benevolent
ruler want in return:
"And all I want of you, brother-Catholics, is an inner heart-felt recognition of me as your only defender and patron. Let those who regard me as such in their heart and conscience come to me here.' And he pointed to the empty seats on the platform."
How do the Catholics respond to this request? How would each and everyone of us react if we were given the choice? I have been thinking and praying about this a lot lately.
"With joyful cries 'Gratias agimus! Domine, salvum fac magnum imperatorem' almost all the princes of the Catholic Church, cardinals and bishops, the majority of believing laymen and more than half the monks went up on the platform and after low bows to the emperor, took their seats there."
It appears that the Catholics have abandoned the Catholic Church for the promises of the Antichrist. So, what happened to the Church?
"But down below in the middle of the hall, straight and immovable as a marble statue, the Pope, Peter II sat in his place."
Where the pope is, there too is the Church.
Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia
"All who had surrounded him were on the platform. But the thinned ranks of monks and laymen closed around him, forming a narrow ring, and a restrained whisper came from there. "Non praevalebunt, non praevalebunt porte inferni.'"
And so, after the Emperor finishes with the Catholics, he addresses the Russian Orthodox in a similar manner and then the Protestants. It is quite moving reading about how the leaders of the other two Christian religions unite with the Catholic Pope and his tiny flock.
In the second part of his book, Father Fanzaga analyzes the Antichrist in Father Robert Hugh Benson's Lord of the World
Julian Felsenburgh is the name of Benson's Antichrist. Unlike Soloviev's European born Antichrist, Felsenburgh is an American.
According to Fr. Fazgana:
"Benson presents a positive image of the Antichrist. It is a portrait of a politician of high human qualities. He is calm, serene, educated, a pacifist and a universalist. He can bring people into the way of justice, prosperity and peace. There will be no more misery or violence at the time of his appearance. Instead there will be perfect concord and fulfillment of the materialist ideal as well as that of Masonry and communism.
Catholicism alone will resist him.
At the end of the Benson novel, there is a "settling of accounts
" by two armies. The Humanitarians who followed the religious deception of the Antichrist and the tiny flock of the Catholic Church, led by the Vicar of Christ.
The book is very interesting reading. It was hard to put down. I suggest that if you do read it to do so with the Catechism of the Catholic Church
and Holy Bible
at your side for references to many of Father Fanzaga's citations.
Father does delve into several possibilities regarding the coming of the Antichrist and the end of the world according to two main writers as well as his own interpretation.
A red flag did go up when I saw Father Fanzaga referring to works of controversial Maria Valtorta, until I realized he was not focusing on her spiritual writings such as the Poem of the Man-God
, but instead of the context of her description of the Antichrist. He even offers a disclaimer about her works as the Vatican has cautioned.
I highly recommend this book. In searching for another copy for my family, I noticed that it is very expensive to obtain. It is more affordable when buying from an online Catholic book supplier.
If you are interested in reading the two novels referred to in Father Fanzaga's book, you can find them online at the following:
Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson
Note: I found a blog writer who has attempted to translate Soloviev's book from the original Russian. Source: here
If you read Russian, then you can read the book in the original Russian by clicking a link on that blog. BTW, the complete title is The Three Dialogues and the Story of the Antichrist
by Vladimir Sergeyevich Soloviev.