Speculation about the end of the world and the parousia (i.e. Second Coming of Christ) have abounded since the first century. One only need to think back to 2011 when Harold Camping, a self-styled Protestant "Bible expert", predicted the so-called "rapture" to occur on May 21 of that year, and the end of the world five months later on October 21. He duped many people who sold their houses and quit their jobs in anticipation of "the end." Now, with the abdication of Ratzinger from his "papacy", Traditionalists themselves are wondering aloud about the prophesies of St. Malachy and if someone named "Peter" will fulfil his prediction that the end will occur during his "reign."
Unfortunately, I find too many Traditionalists putting heavy reliance on private revelations (Fatima, St. Malachy, etc) instead of sound theology when dealing with many topics. You can easily fall prey to charlatans like the "seers" of Bayside and Medjugorje. To a point, I can sympathize, because of the unique situation of being in an age of near universal apostasy since Vatican II; something hitherto unknown. Does the historical situation of having a "Pope Emeritus" and a "pope" both residing in Rome and neither ever holding or having held the Petrine Office mean we're close to the end of the world? Let's do what True Catholics have always done, namely, consult the teaching of the Magisterium as expressed through the Church's approved theologians before Vatican II.
According to theologian Ludwig Ott, there will be five signs that will precede the Second Coming:
My commentary will appear in red.
- The preaching of the Gospel to the whole world.
2. The conversion of the Jews.
In Romans 11:25-32, St. Paul reveals "the mystery": When the fullness, that is the number ordained by God, of the Gentiles has entered into the kingdom of God, "all Israel" will be converted and saved. It could well be a universal moral conversion, much akin to the preaching of the Gospel to the "whole world." Nothing like this appears on the horizon.
3. The Falling Away from the Faith.
Jesus foretells that in the time before the end false prophets will appear who will lead many astray. (e.g. See St Matt. 24:4, et seq.). St. Paul asserts that before the Coming of the Lord "the schism", that is the falling away from the Catholic Faith, must happen. (See 2 Thes. 2,3). It's hard for me to resist saying that it appears with almost moral certainty to have already happened at Vatican II.
4. The appearance of Antichrist
According to Saints Paul and John, Antichrist is to appear as a definite human personality who is the instrument of Satan. The historical interpretation of the Antichrist to a certain time (Nero, Caligula, and others) as well as the historico-religious explanation which seeks the origin of the Antichrist in Babylonian and Persian myths, is to be rejected. The falling away from the Faith will have a causal connection with the appearance of the Antichrist. He appears with the power of Satan working false miracles to lead many astray. He will be slain by Christ at His Second Coming. Could Antichrist be around the corner? Could the next antipope be the False Prophet who by using the ecumenism of the Vatican II sect will bring about a One World church, even as Antichrist seeks a One World Government?
5. Severe Tribulations.
Tremendous catastrophes of nature are to accompany the coming again of Christ. Jesus foretells of wars, famines, earthquakes, and bitter persecutions of His followers (See St. Matt. 24:9). One's mind goes to tsunamis, superstorm Sandy, terrorism, the Middle East, etc.
(Taken from Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Fr. Ludwig Ott, first published in 1952, pgs. 486-488).
Are we in the Last Days? No one knows, nor can anyone know. As Ott states (and the Church teaches) as a "Catholic Truth" guaranteed as certain as a dogma proper that, "The Time of Jesus' Second Coming is Unknown to Men" (Ibid, pg. 488). There are certainly some scary things going on in the world as outlined above. However, we must heed our Lord's Words in the Our Father to pray for our DAILY bread, and live one day at a time for Him, whatever may come. Let's strive to have a well-grounded Faith supported by theological teaching and--while not disparaging the miraculous--don't entrust our Faith or put our hopes in crying statues, apparitions, and wild-eyed conspiracy theories with Freemasons lurking behind every door.
Stay in the One True Church. Have nothing to do with the false Vatican II sect and its antipope that falsely claim the title "Catholic." Attend the True Mass as often as you are blessed to do so. Frequent the True Sacraments. Pray the Rosary. Stay close to the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph. Do this and have no fear for the future--God will take care of His chosen in the state of sanctifying grace. One day Christ will return and the world will end as we know it. If not in our lifetime, the world will end when we die. In either case, if we persevere until the end, we will be saved. So fear no man, let alone some antipope--be he named Peter or otherwise.