Editor’s note: The following is taken from a post on Joshua Charles’ account on X (formerly Twitter).
(LifeSiteNews) — The Catholic Church teaches that She, the Mystical Body of Christ, will endure a Passion like Christ did (Catechism, pars. 675-77).
It’s quite unlike various Protestant views that what they call “the church” will somehow have something more triumphantly prepared for Christ’s return – a view very much like the Jews, many of whom believe they must attain a certain level of “worthiness” for Messiah to appear.
Many Fathers, popes, saints, theologians, etc. have said the Church will be in Her worst earthly state ever prior to the appearance of Antichrist. This of course will be at the same time the Church Triumphant in Heaven will be nearing its completion by the coming in of all the elect throughout history.
So when the Church Militant on earth appears weakest (as did Our Lord during His Passion), the Church itself will be on the brink of its greatest triumph (as Our Lord on Resurrection Sunday) – the completion of Christ’s work of gathering His own from among all nations, Jew and Gentile, for the eternal wedding banquet.
Pope St. Gregory the Great, in the late 500s, speaks to this very clearly and presciently in his “Moralia in Job,” as do many other great saints and doctors.
Prior to the coming of Antichrist, he said, “Signs of power are withdrawn from Holy Church. For prophecy is hidden, the grace of healings is taken away, the power of longer abstinences is weakened, the words of doctrine are silent, the prodigies of miracles are removed. And though the heavenly dispensation does not entirely withdraw them, yet it does not manifest them openly and in manifold ways as in former times” (Moralia in Job, Book 34, §7).
As such, we will go through what I’ve described as “the Holy Saturday of the Church.” Like Christ, who appeared dead and gone, so will His Body, the Church. On that “Holy Saturday,” only those who see with the light of faith and burning love will endure to the end. The claims of Christ and His Church will quite possibly appear absurd. Dialectic and argumentation will convince no one who is not willing to suffer every loss. The only way to stand by Christ will be to patiently endure and suffer, suffering the mocking and derision of not only the world, but quite possibly many calling themselves “Christians” who have long since abandoned the Catholic Faith and communion.
But this is itself a grace from God. Our vindication will come on Sunday. Those within the Church who are scandalized by Her Good Friday and Holy Saturday will fall away. Those outside of Her who are scandalized will be hardened in their opposition.
But those who see with the eyes to see – the eyes of faith, hope, and love – will merit all the more reward for their faithfulness to Christ and His Church, for suffering with Her until Our Lord vindicates His Bride before the whole world on Easter Sunday.
As Pope St. Gregory the Great observed in the same section of “Moralia in Job”:
And this is so caused by a wonderful dispensation, in order that the Divine mercy and justice may be fulfilled together by one and the same means. For when Holy Church appears as if she were more abject, on the withdrawal of signs of power, both the reward of the good increases, who reverence her for the hope of heavenly things, and not on account of present signs; and the mind of the wicked is the more quickly displayed against her, who neglect to pursue the invisible things which she promises, when they are not constrained by visible signs. When therefore the humility of the faithful is deprived of the manifold manifestation of wonders, by the terrible judgment of the secret dispensation, there is heaped up more abundant mercy for the good, and just anger for the evil, by the same means.
Are those days our days? Possibly. But that’s not the point. The point is that in every epoch we must suffer with Christ, which means suffering with His Church. If we are not willing to do so, we will never see the truth, no matter what day or hour we are in.
Joshua Charles is a Catholic convert from protestantism, former White House speechwriter, #1 New York Times bestselling author, historian, and classical pianist, with degrees in music, government, and law. He’s authored and edited eight books, and is currently founding a non-profit organization focused on evangelism, apologetics, and classical education.