Monday, December 21, 2015

The Seven Churches of Asia: Laodicea

. . . This Great Monarch will assist the Pope in the reformation of the whole earth. Many princes and nations that are living in error and impiety shall be converted, and an admirable peace shall reign among men during many years, because the wrath of God shall be appeased through their repentance, penance, and good works. There will be one common law one faith, one baptism, one religion. All nations shall recognize the Holy See of Rome, and shall pay homage to the Pope. But after some considerable time fervor shall cool, iniquity shall abound, and moral corruption shall become worse than ever, which shall bring upon mankind the last and worse persecution of Antichrist, and the end of the world. (Saint Caesar of Arles, c. AD 469-543)

In the last period Christians will not appreciate the great grace of God who provided a monarch, a long duration of peace, a splendid fertility of the earth. They will be very ungrateful, lead a sinful life, in pride, vanity, unchastity, frivolity, hatred, avarice, gluttony, and many other vices, that the sins of men will stink more than a pestilence before God. (From the Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius, Syria, c. AD 700)

Laodicea: Church of the Seventh Age

And to the Angel of the Church of Laodicea write:


Laodicea concludes our journey of the Seven Churches of Asia. Asia, land of the rising Sun, figuratively refers to the Earth, as opposed to Heaven and the Church of Heaven. Laodicea prophetically refers to the Church of the future. At most maybe a few centuries away. Laodicea, a generation of Christians will spring up from the advanced generations of Philadelphia, a Church which will be inaugurated by the co-reign of the Angelic Shepherd and Great Monarch who have come out of the little Tribulation.

Laodicea is a future generation of Catholic Christians on Earth at the time of Antichrist. On Earth, Laodicea will not only suffer the reign of Antichrist, but they will also see the Return of Jesus. Holzhauser has the seventh age of Laodicea defined from the birth of Antichrist to the end of the world. But note that the sins committed by Roman Catholics which will induce the birth and reign of Antichrist begin prior to Antichrist's birth. See I don't think there is any clear cut date when the seventh age of Laodicea begins. Some late Catholic Christians of Philadelphia will generate those of Laodicea, and in general the world will have slipped away from the profound era of peace, holiness, health and happiness of the Angelic Shepherd and Great Monarch.

So Jesus, from Heaven, prophetically imparts one last set of critique and advice aimed at a Pope of what would be considered our 'future'. This Pope is figuratively represented by "Angel of the Church of Laodicea". Through this Pope, the critique and advice applies to the entire future Church and of course can also be used by us today. For,

All Scripture, having been divinely inspired, is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in justice, so that the man of God may be perfect, having been trained for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16)

Word Origin

Laodicea has a fascinating word origin. Its almost to good to be true in context to the interpretive approach I've decided to take with the Seven Churches. It is poetic in its precision and without having to apply a whole lot of effort I can complete this interpretation in consistent style. Jesus chose this name with powerful foresight. Laodicea originates from the Greek words Laos and Dike.

Laos is Greek. It literally means 'a people' or 'the crowd'. In context of Sacred Scripture laos assumes the meaning 'people of the Lord' or 'God's chosen people'. The English word 'laity' originates in the Greek laos.

Dike is also Greek. It loosely means justice or punishment or judicial hearing. In classical Greek, dike is used to convey a legal decision based on justice . . . a judicial verdict of innocence or of guilt.

So combine the two concepts Laos and Dike into Laodicea and you see where we are going. The people of the Lord living in the future are judged by the Lord as severely guilty, especially in light of the rare and marvelous gifts lavished onto the Church and the world throughout the little Tribulation and beyond past its culmination. As a recompense, for having wasted these elect gifts they receive Antichrist.

There is also a deeper reason why Jesus used this name. Laodicea figuratively refers to the last Church and Church age in the midst of which Jesus will complete his work. Sometime after Jesus returns and destroys Antichrist he will initiate the Resurrection and Last Judgment, followed by the creation of the New Heaven and the New Earth, upon which the New Jerusalem will land. So the name is fitting and fits in with my interpretive approach inspired by Ven. Bartholomew Holzhauser.

It is also interesting to note the descriptions Jesus uses about himself at the head of the letter:

Thus says the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, who is the Beginning of the creation of God.
So you see we have gone full circle here. At the very end Jesus is emphasizing that all things were created through Him and that he is the ultimate object in the concept of creation, that is all things were created for Him. Everything belongs to Jesus, and he also earned this on the Cross and will complete what he set out to do from his Father. 

Ancient Laodicea vs. Prophetic Laodicea

Like the other models Jesus used in this prophecy, Laodicea was an ancient city of what is today known as Turkey. Like Sardis, Laodicea was rich and prosperous. It was situated on a trade route. After incorporation by the first Roman Emperors, it became a flourishing commercial city where large money transactions and extensive trade were made.

Prophetic Laodicea will also be ultra-advanced, interconnected on a global scale, [maybe even more so today] immensely wealthy, and pleasure seeking. Banking will have long returned. Through military might, bribes, and cunning Antichrist will be able to take control of the whole world, as well as the Church, fairly easily, much more so than if he were to come in our generation (which he most certainly will not).


I know your works: that you are neither cold, nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. But because you are lukewarm and are neither cold nor hot, I will begin to vomit you out of my mouth.

The Church will also be rich, but like Jesus alludes, she will be lukewarm, a behavior which Jesus obviously despises. The bar will be set high, and the stakes will be raised after the little Tribulation. The lavish gifts poured out on the Church and the world are not to be taken lightly.      


For you declare, ‘I am wealthy, and I have been enriched further, and I have need of nothing.’ And you do not know that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
The Church of Laodicea will also be presumptuous. This presumption will lead many into apostasy, rejecting of all the teachings of the Church, the Sacraments, and so on. Today, some fall into apostasy, but it is much more common to reject certain teachings of the Church or rejects certain Sacraments, but not all of them. In the future this wholesale rejection of all that Christ has given us will happen across the Church and the world.

Also notice the allusion to material wealth. Maybe the Earth's resources will be replenished after the little Tribulation because of the Comet Wormwood and miracles performed by God. People will think there is nothing left other than to enjoy whatever pleasures of the world are left. The sciences will have advanced as far as they can and all pleasures will be overflowing, and refined.

Jesus despises this, and references her deprivation in regards to spiritual works, that is works deriving from the Holy Spirit and done in cooperation with Him.

And so Jesus advises using figures:
I urge you to buy from me gold, tested by fire, so that you may be enriched and may be clothed in white vestments, and so that the shame of your nakedness may disappear. And anoint your eyes with an eye salve, so that you may see.
The gold could refer to selfless love all of which originates in Jesus, and tried by temptations, the world, and so on. The eye salve, the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Jesus Suggests the Great Tribulation
Those whom I love, I rebuke and chastise. Therefore, be zealous and do penance.
Here Jesus suggests that he is going to initiate the Great Tribulation, which coincides with Antichrist's reign. This is also the time when Enoch and Elias will be sent from Paradise to the Earth. So the Church, named Laodicea, will also see Enoch and Elias and experience their preaching and miracles. Enoch and Elias will spark zeal and penance in some of those remaining. They will wake up from their lukewarm slumber.

Jesus Suggest He is about to Return
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone will hear my voice and will open the door to me, I will enter to him, and I will dine with him, and he with me.
In contradistinction to the letter to the Church of Philadelphia where Jesus says he is approaching quickly, later in the generation of Laodicea, Jesus is no longer approaching, he is standing at the door, and knocking so to speak. There is an implication of progression in the words of Jesus from "approaching quickly" in Philadelphia to "standing at the door and knocking" in Laodicea.  And this supports the prophetic understanding that the Seven Churches of Asia are a temporal succession.  But again within seven years of Antichrist's global rise to power Jesus will Return. This is quick.

This word of Jesus above could easily be taken figuratively, but maybe there is also some literal truth to this. When Jesus Returns, maybe he will stay at some people's houses and dine with them as he takes care of the situation on Earth.

Last Advice
Whoever prevails, I will grant to him to sit with me on my throne, just as I also have overcome and have sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.”

Holzhauser's comments on the age of Laodicea

Other theologians have developed ideas about the Great Tribulation and beyond. And there is plenty of time for Christians of the future to develop interpretations so here we end the journey of the Seven Churches with Holzhauser's comments.

“The seventh and last period of the Church—the status desolationis, state of desolation—dates from the birth of Antichrist till the end of the world. In this age the apostasy from the faith will be general, and then will time come unto its end. To this period corresponds the seventh day of creation when God concluded His work, and celebrated the Sabbath. So will God now close the work of spiritual creation, and repose in eternity with His saints and His elect. The evils of this age will be lukewarmness in faith—coldness of love—perturbation of public order—folly on the part of pastors and rulers, who will be like unto autumnal trees without fruits---wandering stars---rainless clouds. This state of things is denoted by the name of the seventh community, Laodicea, which signifies the spitting out; for Christ the Lord will spit out His lukewarm Christendom, and deliver it over to the sons of perdition. (Beykirch, p. 33) 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Seven Churches of Asia: Philadelphia

“Be consoled, be consoled, O my people!” says your God. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem, and call out to her! For her malice has reached its end. Her iniquity has been forgiven. She has received double for all her sins from the hand of the Lord. (Isaiah 40:1,2) 
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:11) 
“The devout Christian of the future will either be a ‘mystic,’ one who has experienced ‘something,’ or he will cease to be anything at all.” (Karl Rahner, “Christian Living Formerly and Today,” in Theological Investigations VII, trans. David Bourke (New York: Herder and Herder, 1971)
We are not on earth to guard a museum, but to tend a blooming garden full of life. (St. John XXIII) 

Philadelphia: Church of the Sixth Age

And to the Angel of the Church of Philadelphia write:

Word Origin and History of Philadelphia

As many may have heard by now, Philadelphia loosely means the
'city of brotherly love'. They say the ancient city, in the location of modern day Turkey, was established after 189 B.C. The story goes that the founder named the city after his brother, who won his loyalty and affection; and would later become his successor. In the Greek, Philadelphos literally means "one who loves his brother". philos means love, adelphos means brother. This literal word meaning has a supreme significance in our prophetic context. I cannot possibly emphasize this enough. Jesus chose this name to refer to the multiple successive generations of Christians which will spring forth and succeed our current Church of Sardis.

The future Church of Philadelphia and loosely the entire world will be reconciled and freed from the slavery of the epic sins committed in our age. In Philadelphia, there will be no more Protestant churches. No more ridiculous thousands of Christian denominations and non-denominations. No more Christian sects, schisms or any sort of Christian divisions. There will be one universal Church first led by the Angelic Shepherd, a Bishop of Rome predicted by Catholic saints and mystics and perhaps hidden in the Sacred Scripts via figures of speech. In Philadelphia, all will believe and agree on the Seven Sacraments, the dogmas and doctrines of the Universal Church, as well as interpretations of Sacred Scripture.

In Philly, there will be clarity, morality and sanity, the opposite of what we have today.  The Church will open up to the world like some dormint flower.  God has a strategy for making this all happen in response to Jesus' prayer for unity at the Last Supper. It will begin to happen, more profoundly, during the little Tribulation. In addition, by the time Philadelphia springs up there will be many Jews and Muslims who change and join the One Catholic Church through the example of the Angelic Shepherd and Great Catholic Monarch, both of which will be holy mystics and bigger than life world leaders.  

In Philadelphia, there will also be a generation of mystics having the Seal of the Living God and other unique experiences of God to kick start the famous Church of Philadelphia I, (and I think we) long and pray for.   The Seal of the Living God, a miraculous cruciform stigmata on the forehead will work wonders in helping the nations convert, especially the oriental peoples.

Philadelphia will be famous for their filial love for one another regardless of any conceivable differences, especially religious, but also those many other divisions of people that have cropped up around the world for various and some incredibly complex reasons as a result of the epic greed of the ruling cliques or elite (as well as our own sins). This seeming miracle will be brought about by Jesus with Mary's help via the events and prophetic figures of the little Tribulation. A great change will occur in mankind. Pope Francis has helped prepare for it through his Year of Mercy.  Those who live to see Philadelphia will will be a little different than we are today. They will be subtle and thoughtful, enlightened and holy. They will be open to one another.  Cosmopolitan. The people of the Earth will be sincere toward one another and unified like a harmonious family, at least for some time, at least a generation. The main focus will be brotherly love fueled by Spirit.  Also, the teachings of the Second Vatican Council will also be realized in a new and more authentic manner than today.

Perhaps today one can start to see glimpses of Philadelphia. She wants to spring up but she can't quite do it on her own. Too many obstacles that need to be removed first. Too much old, and fossilic evil in high places as well as errors. God will eradicate and repair all this in a fairly brief duration. It will be wonderful, I promise, or terrible, pending one's disposition.

Newness of Philadelphia

The ancient city of Philadelphia was, in context to Antiquity, fairly new. This is significant in our prophetic context.  This ancient Philadelphia serves as a prophetic model of our future Church.  Philadelphia will be the new Church, perhaps starting to spring up in our time, and yet forged, so to speak, by a minor Tribulation, which is sort of fermenting now, and will be officially inaugurated by Jesus when he breaks the seals in an astonishing succession of events that will miraculously affect all.

But Philadelphia is NEW. Its like the Church and the world will become fresh and young again.  Like a child. This new Church is forward thinking. It is not a return to the good old days like some myopic ultra-conservative suffering mental illness would think. God no. We are moving toward the Return of Jesus, I hope. Zeal and love of the Lord and one's neighbor will be reignited like in certain times past. And there is an inevitable continuation. Its not like the Church of Philly will change dogma and doctrine like the old ultra-liberal hags desire. However with Philly is a development, a genuine renewal. The Old Testament parallel is the deliverance of the Jews from their Babylonian captivity by the prophetically motivated Cyrus the Great, and the subsequent Jewish renewal.

But to reiterate the point, the newness of prophetic Philadelphia is sort of foreshadowed by literal Philadelphia which in the context of Antiquity was not so ancient as the other cities of Asia Minor. It was founded after 189 BC on one of the highways which led to the interior of Asia Minor. So it was built up in context to an already advanced and old society that had roads, currency, etc. just like our prophetic Philadelphia will be built up from the ashes of this old and foul evil we are suffering under today.

Definition of the Philadelphia and the Angel of Philadelphia

In this third chapter of Revelation, Philadelphia refers to the generations of Christians beginning around the time of the Angelic Pope and Great Monarch both prophesied by many saints and mystics from the Churches of Pergamon, Thyatira and Sardis, respectively (see my previous interpretations). Again, the Angel of the Church of Philadelphia, addressed to by Jesus in the letter refers to the Pope, and to all successive Popes who reign over her for the duration of the sixth age conceived and willed by Christ Jesus, from Heaven. The letter is addressed first and foremost to the Pope(s) and through him the Church and the world. So some of these verses could especially target the Pope or the people or both.

The first Pope addressed to in this prophetic letter is not just any Pope, but the prophetic figure of Roman Catholic Prophecy known as the Angelic Pope, or Angelic Shepherd. He will be elected during the little Tribulation. The Angelic Shepherd will have a class of holiness that is out of this world. He will work many miracles and be beyond world famous. He will be famous among the Angels. He will be a winner. He will win many over including Christians separated from the Roman Catholic Church. He will be more like Jesus than anyone and ALL will love him excepting those who are against Jesus. And he most certainly will bear the Seal of the Living God*, predicted later in Revelation (as will the Great Monarch who is figuratively related in the next verse!).

For anyone more or less versed in Roman Catholic eschatology, it is important to bear the Angelic Pope, the Church and world passing out or passed out of the little Tribulation IN MIND whilst reading Jesus' address to Philadelphia.

Holzhauser who is one of my inspirations for these interpretive commentaries calls this sixth age of Philadelphia: state of consolation. His own words:

The sixth period of the church—the status consolationis—begins with the Holy Pope and the Powerful Emperor, and terminates with the birth of Antichrist.
This will be an age of solace, wherein God will console His church after the many mortifications and afflictions she had endured in the fifth period. For all nations will be brought to the unity of the true Catholic faith.

Comparing with the previous articles in this series, notice the sort of parallel between the Church of Sardis and the Church of Philadelphia. Sardis began with a lackluster Pope and Emperor, Leo X and Charles V, respectively. Philadelphia will begin with a pair of saintly mystics in the Angelic Pope and Great Catholic Monarch.

The Key and David

Thus says the Holy One, the True One, he who holds the key of David. He opens and no one closes. He closes and no one opens.

A key figuratively refers to power. He who holds the key has the power to do that which no one can oppose or contradict. Now it would be easy to think that David refers to the ancient Jewish king that Jesus rightfully took the throne of. This is all true. But I'm forward thinking. David is a foreshadowing of the Great Monarch. And in this prophetic context David figuratively refers to the Great Catholic Monarch of Prophecy, also known by various other names (emperor, duke, etc.). Jesus is saying that he is the One from whom the Great Catholic Monarch derives his power.

This Great Monarch will assume a profound role for the Church and the world. He is anointed to to assume some sort of mystical and extraordinary partaking of Jesus' Kingship, as a harbinger of His Return.  He will be given a miraculous power to help change the world for the better. He is one of the answer to our prayers for peace in the Middle East and around the world. He will be a winner. It is said by Saint Francis of Paola that he will found the most perfect religious order ever to grace this Earth. Many will leave everything to follow him. The Great Catholic Monarch will spearhead a fight for freedom from all secular powers who have enslaved the masses prior to and during the Tribulation. For example from the elite ruling cliques who hide in the shadows, the greedy, elite think tanks, top tier bankers, governments, covert agencies, tyrants, religious extremists, secular extremists, kings and empires and so on. It is strange because the prophecies suggest that he and his army will conquer all lands and all modes of evil across Europe and the Middle East (and perhaps North Africa), from England to the Holy Land and even into the heart of the Arab world.  Its not as if he is just fighting one enemy but many without prejudice.   

I know your works. Behold, I have set an open door before you, which no one is able to close. For you have little power, and you have observed my word, and you have not denied my name.

Up to and during the little Tribulation it will be like the nascent Church of Philadelphia and her soon to be Pope, is stuck in a room without any electricity, food or water. She is enslaved. She can't break free. Sardis will be dragging her down. But they will continue to observe the Gospel and remain faithful. And as the events unfold, Jesus will slowly inspire all the separated Churches and those of good will in all the nations to change and pour into this sort of nascent prophetic Church which will ultimately led by the Angelic Shepherd. Jesus will empower the Great Monarch to free the children of God so that they can live again. And Jesus will finish the little Tribulation and there will be peace.

Please note that in all these interpretations and commentaries I am playing off of the prophetic names used by Jesus in the letters. I'm not suggesting a different Church other than the universal Church, the Catholic Church who is led by the Bishop of Rome, Peter's successor. In the Church of Philadelphia there is still the seven Sacraments, the Magisterial teachings, Bishops, priest, religious, laity, some modified infrastructure, etc. And like I said above there will be no more Christian divisions. The Church will always be a Divine institution tracing back to Jesus via the Apostles. However those of Philly will perhaps have radically different lifestyles than those of Sardis. For example, priests might not own anything or have any money. They will have to live close to the ordinary folk. There won't be any sordid banks, governments, or corporations in Rome or Jerusalem or anywhere for a time. People will have different life interests and goals.

The Synagogue of Satan
Behold, I will take from the synagogue of Satan those who declare themselves to be Jews and are not, for they are lying. Behold, I will cause them to approach and to reverence before your feet. And they shall know that I have loved you.

Synagogue is a derogatory term used by Jesus as opposed to ekklesia, Church, which implies a holy assembly [or is supposed to].

Now there are different modes of severe evil in this world and within of these there are degrees. Perhaps those in the synagogue of Satan refer to the top tier elite.  The ruling cliques of this world who hide behind the shadows and make puppets of even governments.  Top tier banking is one of the most sadistic and epic manners of greed, an evil beyond petty corporate greed and perhaps even religious extremism, and cults [though not beyond sexual slavery]. The objective of a world class bank is to make us all, whether nations or individuals, slaves of debt. Their principle is “if you control the debt you control everything”. Users have understood this from time immemorial. In this world, if you get one indebted to you, then you can control his or her destiny. Before they even think of making profit, they now scheme to make whole nations indebted to them with the intent of controlling their destiny. And this is how they compete with one another.

In these advanced modern times, banking is an incredibly successful industry. Most of the top 50 transnational corporations (TNC) are banks. The main result is that nearly 4/10 of the control over the economic value of TNCs in the world is held, via a complicated web of ownership relations, by a group of 147 TNCs in the core, which has almost full control over itself. Most are banks and other financial institutions.**

One of the manners they do to accomplish their goals is gamble in developing nations via conflict.  Note that both Libya and Syria were debt free prior to their civil conflicts, and there is an awful lot of speculation about proxy armies there.  The ruling cliques want to be in control of the debt produced in a conflict. And they probably work together with developed nations to induce conflict, via indebtedness. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Banking is mixed up with all governments, corporations, companies, agencies, revolutionaries, associations, churches, mafias, mass media, families . . . in short every pound of flesh, and every ounce of dirt . . . for hundreds of years now. We are all slaves in this current world. For generations now, we have been very unwise, and essentially conditioned from youth to make this all possible. We made this by our own hands. The greed demons have a field day with us. And there is no way of stopping them by mere human efforts. The only way not to be a slave is to choose not to be of this Earth which is impossible apart from Christ Jesus. And learning critical thinking and rational analysis helps free the brain.

Anyway, this almost inconceivable mode of evil practiced in this world by those in high places and perpetrated by the masses, those of the synagogue of Satan, is one of the reasons why we will eventually need a holy Catholic Monarch who with the help of Heaven can do the impossible in the affairs of the nations. The downfall of tyrants will also be aided and abetted by the events of the little Tribulation which will eventually destroy the infrastructure built to figuratively rape and enslave every human on this Earth. There are enormous battles and suffering coming, because these people won’t easily let go of what they have worked so hard to accomplish. It’s time to grow up. Time to start seeing the big picture. We can be children before God, but before the synagogue of Satan we have to be serpents.

Why does Jesus say that these declare themselves Jews but are lying? Some in the banking industry could be mixed descendants of Jacob, and yet they are not practicing Jews, like the orthodox Jews. The orthodox Jews are those who practice religion and are more or less holy. But not all the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob practice the Jewish religion or any other religion whose relational object is the One God. Some of these mixed descendants are atheists.  There is a lot of speculation about all this, but I will forego this here.        

But if this word of Jesus is true, and I believe it is, eventually some of this elite clique will be brought to fall prostrate and perhaps even confess before the Angelic Shepherd. Remember this letter is first and foremost addressed to the Pope, especially the first Pope of Philly who is synonymous with the Angelic Pope of Prophecy. I’ve been interpreting sort of loosely and for everyone, but I really believe that these letters are first intended for the Pope, and through the Pope for the rest of practicing Christians and those of the entire world. It would be good if a Pope or the faithful understood this or at least considered this a viable interpretation.

The Hour of Temptation         

Since you have kept the word of my patient endurance, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall overcome the whole world in order to test those living upon the earth.

Here Jesus is forward thinking. The hour of temptation, etc. references the future time of Antichrist, when he forces his name to be artificially sealed on all who would buy and sell, and then eventually assumes the Church infrastructure and sets up the abomination of desolation (a false and evil imitation of the Eucharist). This and other events that happen during Antichrist's reign will tempt and test the entire world in a more intense way than the little Tribulation.  But this time is brief, and so Jesus uses the figure of an hour as opposed to a day.  And this is why Roman Catholic eschatology modifies the Tribulations into two: a minor and a major, lesser and greater, little and great, etc.  In between the two there is a generation of profound peace and holiness during the reign of the Angelic Shepherd and Great Monarch.  This is figured later in Revelation Chapter 10 when there is a sort of interlude where the events cut off at the sixth trumpet of the seventh seal, and an Angel descends from Heaven with a rainbow upon his head.

Jesus will prevent the Church of Philadelphia from the advent of Antichrist by performing various acts from Heaven and on Earth in the Eucharist. At the culmination of the little Tribulation there will be a generation of profound peace and holiness and Jesus will continue to enlighten the Church and the world until sin and darkness ever so subtly creeps its way back into the hearts and brains of men, so to speak. Eventually, a new lukewarm Church will spring up from Philadelphia, named Laodicea. This is the future Church that Jesus wants to vomit out of his mouth. And Jesus will allow Antichrist to be born and rise up in the midst of Laodicea.

The Crown of Revelation 3:11 compared to the Crown of Revelation 6:2

Behold, I am approaching quickly. Hold on to what you have, so that no one may take your crown.

By the time Philadelphia has cycled through several generations the Return of Jesus will be approaching ever closer. Time will fly in Philly. And I think that the faithful of Philadelphia will understand this well. But toward the end of Philadelphia's age many, probably most Catholics will become lukewarm and immersed in what will probably be a super advanced society. They will forget about the Sacred Script and past events.

But in the meantime compare the crown imparted to the white horse and rider of Revelation 6:2 to the crown Jesus speaks of above in 3:11. The crowned rider of the white horse is the Great Catholic Monarch and the horse he rides is his holy religious order and the people of his kingdom he establishes across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.  He and his followers for many generations will have a power for good in the Church and the world that flows from the victory of Jesus on the Cross.  The new kings of the Earth will be the right arm of the Church and will successfully keep watch over a genuinely peaceful society without religious persecution, racism, slavery, forced poverty, trafficking, etc.

Jerusalem Themes

Whoever prevails, I will set him as a column in the temple of my God, and he shall not depart from it anymore. And I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem that descends out of heaven from my God, and my new name.

Notice the themes of the city New Jerusalem and of the heavenly temple.

The Holy Land will be destroyed during the little Tribulation, and we already see a foreshadowing of this in the destruction of so many holy sites in Syria and all the war refugees. After the little Tribulation, the remaining peoples will freely donate and desire to take part in this work of rebuilding. Many from all over the world will stream into the Holy Land and environs, returning to their homes, helping to rebuild, establish roots, etc. It is said that the Great Monarch will retire and pass on in Jerusalem.

Philadelphia, under the guidance of the Great Monarch and Angelic Shepherd will rebuild Jerusalem, the Holy Land and environs.  This may very well include building a new Roman Catholic Basilica, a new Mosque for the Muslims, and a Temple for the Jews.  There may even be a single structure built where all the Christians, Muslims, and Jews can come to worship together.

So you see these themes of the column, temple, and New Jerusalem conveyed by Jesus, would seem especially resonant with them, that is the people of prophetic Philly. Of course there is no ideal Church or world until God concludes the human family with the Resurrection, Last Judgment, the New Heaven, New Earth and descent of the New Jerusalem. As Philly gets older, hearts grow colder. Centuries pass, people forget about the past, make comprises, wander astray, become lukewarm, etc. Eventually a new Church Jesus calls Laodicea will spring up and Antichrist will be born. 

From "Coming Soon" to "Knocking at the Door"

When one does a comparative analysis of Jesus' address to the Seven Churches of Asia one will notice a little progression which lends an argument in favor of each Church succeeding one another, and each Church having a time figuratively represented by the seven golden lampstands. Jesus says to John "the seven lampstands are the seven Churches" recorded in verse 19 of chapter 1. We could imagine that each stand has oil or a candle and these will only burn for so long on Earth.

After not having focused on his return in his address to the first five, in the sixth and seventh Churches, Philadelphia and Laodicea respectively, we see that Jesus hints that his Return is imminent.

To Philadelphia he says,

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have so that no one can take away your crown. (Rev 3:11)

Then to Laodicea he says,

Listen! I am standing at the door and knocking! (Rev 3:20)

And so it seems like that in the time of Philadelphia Jesus is on the way to the house, the Church on Earth, approaching quickly so to speak. But when Laodicea succeeds Philadelphia, Jesus is standing at the door and knocking, indicating that he will Return from Heaven in the time of Laodicea.

Like I mentioned above, I also noticed that Jesus gives a singular favor to Philadelphia. He promises Philly that he will "keep them from the hour of temptation, which shall overcome the whole world in order to test those living upon the earth." This hour of temptation which will overcome the whole world seems to clearly reference the reign of Antichrist. This time of Antichrist's reign is brief less than a decade and so Jesus fittingly uses the figure of an hour. This is in opposition to the tribulation for ten days in the Church of Smyrna which I think represents ten major persecutions led by ten Roman Emperors in the nascent Church. Some of these Roman Emperors reigned for two decades, for example Diocletian from 284 to 305 in addition to the general persecution lasting for centuries with the intensity increasing and decreasing pending emperor. Antichrist on the other hand will overcome the whole world for no more than seven years, and then Jesus will return. Jesus will prevent the Church of Philadelphia from the advent of Antichrist, but he will not prevent Laodicea.

Ven. Bartholomew Holzhauser's Comments on the Age of Philadelphia
(note: Holzhauser lived hundreds of years ago)

"The sixth period of the church—the status consolationis—begins with the Holy Pope and the Powerful Emperor, and terminates with the birth of Antichrist.

This will be an age of solace, wherein God will console His church after the many mortifications and afflictions she had endured in the fifth period. For all nations will be brought to the unity of the true Catholic faith.

A type of this period was the sixth age of the old world, from the deliverance of the Israelites out of the Babylonian captivity, and the rebuilding of the city and of the temple of Jerusalem, down to the coming of Christ. As God gladdened His people by the rebuilding of the temple and of the holy city; as all kingdoms and nations were subjected to the Roman empire; and Caesar Augustus, the most powerful and excellent monarch after vanquishing all his enemies, gave for fifty-six years, peace to the world; so will God pour out upon His church, that witnessed in the fifth period nought but affliction, the most abundant consolations. But this happy age will be ushered in the following circumstances. When all is desolated with war; when the church and priests must pay taxes; when Catholics are oppressed by heretics, and their faithless fellow religionists; when monarchs are murdered; subjects oppressed; when riches extirpated; when every thing concurs to bring about the establishment of Republics; then will the hand of the Almighty produce a marvelous change, according to human notions seemingly impossible. For that strong monarch, (whose name is to be (the help of God), will, as the envoy of the Almighty, root up these Republics. He will subject all things to himself, and will zealously assist the true Church of Christ. All heresies will be banished into hell; the Turkish empire will be overthrown to its foundations, and his dominion will extend from east to west. All nations will come, and will worship the Lord in the one true Catholic Faith. Many righteous men will flourish, and many learned men will arise. Men will love justice and righteousness, and peace will dwell on the whole earth. For the Omnipotent will bind satan for many years, until the advent of him who is to come, --- the son of perdition [Antichrist].

“In respect to perfection, this period corresponds to the sixth day of creation, on which God created man after His own image and subjected to him, as lord of creation, all creatures of the earth. So will man be now a true image of God, (in righteousness and holiness), and the strong monarch will rule over all nations.

The sixth gift of the Spirit, the fear of the Lord, will in this period be poured out upon the church; for men will fear the Lord their God, keep His commandments, and serve him with their whole heart. The scriptures will be understood after one uniform fashion, without contradiction and error, so that all will marvel they had so long misunderstood the clear sense of holy writ. The sciences will be multiplied and completed, and men will receive extraordinary illumination in natural, as well as divine knowledge.” (Beykirch p. 27-9)

* Note that some think that Zlatko Sudac a priest and mystic of the diocese of Krk, Croatia is the soon to be Angelic Shepherd. His location fulfills a prophecy going back hundreds of years, "a pastor of the universal church will come from the shore of Dalmatia" (Rudolf Gekner, 1675). Dalmatia is synonymous with Croatia and he came from an island off its shores. He is famous in his country for his stigmata like Saint Francis of Assisi. In addition to the miraculous wounds on hands and feet he has a wound in the form of the cross on his forehead suggesting the Seal of the Living God predicted in Revelation. I've watched many of his homilies. His manner in many ways also seems to fit what is said about the Angelic Shepherd in all the prophecies. I can see him leading Philadelphia.

** see: Who Controls the World? James B. Glattfelder

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Seven Churches of Asia: Sardis

Once upon a time there was a queen.  Her name was Sardis.  Sardis was full, proud and beautiful. And she was elegant, yet in her boldness she often wandered in the forest away from the citadel where her lover and protector dwelt. One day, in her meanderings, she was captured by her enemies. And they bound her in a dungeon. And they starved and raped her. And they suffocated her with evils. She became thin and pale. And as the years passed she became like her enemies, so that they let her roam in their halls with no fear of her escape. And she let them do whatever they pleased with her. And she no longer remembered that she was captured and tormented. Furthermore, she did not remember or respond to her own name.  And she could not recall her story.  
 The inhabitants of this city (i.e. Sardis) had a reputation of living luxuriously and licentiously.  (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, p. 474) 

Prelude:  Black Gold

Literal Sardis was an ancient city of the kingdom of Lydia. It was the seat of an advanced society, sort of like our own. In ancient Sardis there was a stream that deposited gold nuggets from a nearby mount. These nuggets were used as currency. However, there value was always suspect because the gold had substantial impurities of silver. The metallurgists soon discovered the secret of separating the silver from the gold and this sparked an economic revolution. The coinage of Sardis was respected throughout the ancient world.  Sardis became synonymous with wealth sort of like our modern societies have developed.  And yet for all its wealth, this ancient city-state was not able to overcome the brilliance of Cyrus the Great*.  Ancient Sardis would be incorporated into the Acheamenid Empire in spite of her wealth.

When I compare ancient Sardis with our contemporary prophetic Sardis, I think of black gold.  The precious crude oil sucked out of the ground like a babe on her mother's breast.  Like the gold nuggets of ancient Sardis a barrel of crude (42 gallons) is refined to about 12 gallons of diesel, 19 gallons of gas and the rest into many other petroleum products.  We live in the oil age.  We are Petroleum Man.  This is our wealth, our black gold that we worship has sparked not only an economic revolution, but a world revolution.  The wealth of black gold has culminated in new modes of money, for example the petrodollar, as well as a crippling addiction to gas and oil which fills the insatiable greed of the elite and insatiable materialism of the masses. And yet the oil age is coming to its end.  The Black Gold is not infinite and eternal.  Empires are fighting wars for who gets what so that they can become more powerful and last longer.  Meanwhile the innocents get slaughtered on the altar of greed.  Of course all this will eventually end, but perhaps not in a way the elite envision.  Perhaps there is another way, a new beginning and a New Cyrus, a Liberator, to help tie us loose from the monster we have become.

Sardis:  Church of the Fifth Age

And to the Angel of the Church of Sardis write . . .   
The early Christian community of Sardis is not who Jesus targeted in this letter. This would be a shallow and unsubstantiated interpretation. Most of the early Church Fathers and writers considered the seven Churches of Asia to refer to that other than their literal referents. And Saint John clearly states in the first sentences that the contents of this Sacred Book refer to events that not only are occurring but will occur in the future, and that his word is prophecy.  We are Sardis.  Us.

The word origin of 'Sardis' is unknown. Perhaps it has roots in the ancient Anatolian language called Lydian. Some have tried to compare the word Sardis with the 'sardine stone' or 'sardius' which John used to describe the appearance of God in Revelation 4:3. Sardine stone is said to be synonymous with carnelian. It is a brownish red mineral used as a semi-precious gemstone. This comparison seems a bit of a stretch. Looking ahead to the next Church in line, named Philadelphia, Holzhauser said that word sardis signifies the ‘beginning of beauty’. This successor Church of Philadelphia begins with the co-reign of the Great Monarch and Angelic Pope, both of whom were predicted by saints and mystics from the Churches of Thyatira and of Pergamon. According to the incredible deeds foreseen of them, it would seem that they have not yet arrived. Now they are reduced to a medieval folk legend, sort of like how the Sacred Script is often treated. But these predictions clearly were to come in a little tribulation of the future with apocalyptic implications. In any case, I do not know from where Holzhauser makes this claim about the word Sardis signifying 'beginning of beauty'. They say that the word origin is unknown.

The Lamp-Stands and Burning Oil

And in the midst of the seven golden lampstands was one resembling the Son of man,. . .the mystery of the seven stars, which you have seen in my right hand, and of the seven golden lampstands. The seven stars are the Angels of the seven Churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven Churches.

In our prophetic context from the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Sardis represents the successive generations of Christians from about the time of Protestant Reformation, say around AD 1500 to roughly our generation. In the first chapter of Revelation, each Church is compared to a lamp-stand, containing oil that burns, figuring the concept of a temporal scalar quantity. The lamp-stand refers to the Church, and the burning oil refers to the time of the Church.  The oil of Sardis is almost burned out and soon Jesus will light a new lamp called Philadelphia.  The transition will be a struggle because the enemies and fossils will hate to let go of Sardis.

The Angel of the Assembly of Sardis refers to each individual successor of Saint Peter who reigned as if a star illuminating the Earth. The letter is addressed to each of them, every Pope who led, including Pope Francis, for the duration of Church of Sardis. Holzhauser calls the age of Sardis—status tribulationes—state of tribulation. Sardis has been in trouble from her birth back in the time colonialism began.  I could get into all sorts of details, for example Charles V opening the trans-Atlantic slave-trade on a massive scale.  This was really the beginning of Sardis.  And in spite of some genuine progress, I can honestly say that these troubles are finally catching up with her as well as the entire world.

To some degree the Church embraces every single living person whether baptized and practicing, or not, since Jesus died to make all new. So in a very loose manner we could say that these criticisms and admonitions sent by Jesus are also meant for the entire world. And they are all criticisms and warnings. Sardis, in relation to the other six Churches of Asia has the joint distinction with Laodicea of receiving little or no praise and encouragement from Jesus. He only sends critique and advice.

The Seven Spirits and the Name

Thus says he who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: I know your works, that you have a name which is alive, but you are dead.

Seven Spirits: The seven spirits of God refer to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, prophesied in Isaiah and filled to the full in Christ Jesus. The Spirit sent by Jesus, stimulates the Church as a whole to certain actions in which she works together with the Spirit. According to Holzhauser, the gift unique to Sardis is counsel [note: this is not to imply Catholics and others of this age did not exercise the other six gifts of the Holy Spirit]. Sardis is meant to apply wisdom in her tribulations. Thus we see that in the age of Sardis we have had three ecumenical Church Councils: Trent, Vatican I & II. We also see a marked increase in Papal teaching encyclicals, especially from the 1800's onward. In spite of this, Sardis seems lost and confused at times. In more recent times she seems naïve and shallow.

Name: God, an Angel, a Man perform this primal relation we name:  naming.  All names are first and foremost concepts, relations.  They relate the one who names to an Object or a Concept. In other words we can name objects (that which have form) or concepts (relations between two or more objects worked out by the brain).  We name concepts by surreptitiously treating them as if they were objects.  The chosen name can possibly assume some unique significance to he who names and/or to the object or concept named. Think of a name as a relation or an affinity between the one who names and the target object, or concept named.  The names God conceives and conveys tend to assume profound significance, some of which are figurative or prophetic. In this letter, Jesus uses the word 'name' three times as a theme woven through the entire letter: "You have a name that is alive . . . I will not delete your name from the Book of Life. . . I will confess your name to my Father . . ."

This to me is tantalizing. I have the referent of the name 'Sardis' defined as multiple successive generations of Christians from roughly about the time of the Protestant Revolution to our generation. Clearly, in the first context there is a play of sarcasm coming from the lips of Jesus: you have a name that is alive, i.e. Sardis, but you the referent that is the generations of Christians are dead so to speak. The relation or affinity implied in the first context is one of deprivation.

I thought about this and the fact that in the past five hundred years, almost no one that I know of (Pope, Bishops, priests, theologians, laity, included) of the Catholic Church has been able to penetrate the enigma of the Seven Churches of Asia, let alone Sardis! Sardis does not even know her own name! And if one does not even know ones own name how could one possibly understand his story?  The fact that you cannot even discern your own name conceived and communicated by Jesus demonstrates that you are lacking in insight dear Sardis! You are not even in denial because you can not recall your name as well as your story. Your name lives in Sacred Scripture, so to speak, but you do not understand for you are dead to discernment. It is stunning how shallow and immature, if not outright erroneous, our interpretations of Sacred Scripture can possibly be at times. And the modern scholars make a travesty of them. Later we will see that Holzhauser predicted that those of the next Church, named Philadelphia will be enlightened and marvel at how long they misunderstood the clear meaning of the Sacred Script.

The Things that Remain

Be vigilant, and confirm the things that remain, lest they soon die out.

The things that remain refer to the Sacraments, as well as the pure and true teachings of Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and Sacred Magisterium, prayers passed down, works of mercy, practices of self-denials, what God did with Mary, the liturgy, etc. Over the past five hundred years, many Popes have been vigilant and confirmed these, to keep the fire going and the faith strong lest they die out, so to speak.  In the face of endless troubles they have done an excellent job.  I think of the likes of Pope Pius V, Leo XIII, Pius X & XI, John Paul II, etc. These have worked together with the Spirit in exercising counsel.  Cardinals, Bishops, priests, and laity have been less vigilant. And the world, as one would expect, has been more or less oblivious although there has always been some bright sparks.  At times it seems that some relations are getting better while others are getting worse.

Works in the Sight of God

For I do not find your works to be full in the sight of my God.
I could take this to mean many things. Jesus is admonishing a Church which spans centuries. Obviously the Protestant schism induced a profound deprivation in the lives of many Christians. It was like the break up of the Kingdoms of Juda and Israel in the Old Testament. Many Christian denominations and non-denominations lack some of the Sacraments, prayers, teachings, etc. They do not pray to Mary and so lose out on many graces (although Mary still helps them of course).

But this verse does not merely refer to the effects of the Protestant breach. The works of Roman Catholic Christians over the past five hundred years, and especially the past 50 to 100 years have been especially deprived and this seems to be on an exponential increase as Sardis.  For a while the Church has seem strangely deprived and closed in on itself.  It is not even clear what most current day Catholics believe anymore.  Think of the severe sexual sins, abuses and general lack of vigilance or care in both the clergy and laity, in matters of the Spirit, the dogmas, morals, the Sacraments and so forth.

And in the world.  Think of all the horrific wars, the lack of love and care of humans, abortion, slavery, the greed and looting of resources, the lust for money and power, public immodesty, irresponsible sexual and familial relations, darkening of intellectual life, horrid taste in the arts and music, public lies, propaganda, exultation and idolatry of the unholy trinity (the bank-state-corporation), idolatry of concepts and ideologies, unenlightened agricultural practices, destruction of our common home the Earth, the sweat shops and fast fashion, the terror attacks of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the rise of the Jihadi terrorists, people turning on one another, ridiculous politics, millions of laws, prejudice, housing industry scams, Wall Street greed, racism, monopoly on education, and so on.  It seems that evil has mixed together and flew up to inconceivable heights of severity and refinement.  It is all more disturbing than the best independent or mainstream thinkers can even conceive.  And what to do in the face of all this awakening to the "dark side", this eruption of Hell that makes no sense???

It's just like the Wisdom Book sacred writer said of old, (or of new?):

And it was not enough for them to go astray concerning the knowledge of God, but also, while living in a great war of ignorance, they call so many and such great evils ‘peace.’  For either they sacrifice their own sons, or they make dark sacrifices, or they hold vigils full of madness,so that now they neither protect life, nor preserve a clean marriage, but one kills another through envy, or grieves him by adultery.  And all things are mixed together: blood, murder, theft and fraud, corruption and infidelity, disturbances and perjury, disorder within good things, forgetfulness of God, pollution of souls, alteration of procreation, inconstancy of marriage, unnatural adultery and homosexuality. For the worship of unspeakable idols is the cause, and the beginning and the end, of all evil.For they either act with madness while happy, or they insistently speak wild lies, or they live unjustly, or they are quick to commit perjury. (14:22-28)

In spite of this, God has been abundantly merciful and has sent Mary to Earth in order to aid the faithful.  So we see that Sardis has been an age of Marian apparitions, such as that of Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima, Medjugorje, and perhaps others that are true before God.  And God will continue to be merciful and forgive.  


Therefore, keep in mind the way that you have received and heard, and then observe it and repent.  But if you will not be vigilant, I will come to you like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.

First Jesus alludes to Sacred Tradition.  Second, Jesus threatens to initiate the Tribulation, specifically the ltitle Tribulation which precedes the great one jus prior to his Second Coming. Jesus alone is worthy to break the seals and when he does, he will come like a thief. A thief comes to take away that which belongs to another and via the Tribulation Jesus will certainly take away from those of Sardis and from the world. Jesus will certainly initiate what is called the little Tribulation or minor Tribulation so as to change the Church from Sardis to Philadelphia.  Obviously I think this will begin soon, and I have thought this for a fairly long time. The official beginning of the little Tribulation will help bring the new Church of Philadelphia out of the womb. In the next letter it seems that Jesus implies the tribulation which Philadelphia has just passed.

The End of Sardis and Beginning of Philadelphia

When does Sardis end and Philadelphia begin? There is no clear temporal marker. One can argue that Philadelphia begins with the birth of the Great Monarch and Angelic Shepherd, or at the initiation of the little Tribulation in which Jesus breaks the first seal, or at the beginning of the reign of Great Monarch and Angelic Shepherd which happens at the culmination of the little Tribulation. Contrary to the date mongers, I don't think there has to be a clear date for this. Generations of Christians spring up in the midst of others. Some will be of Philadelphia, and others will die of Sardis. Those who die in sanctifying grace will be given a new name.  Also, one could think that Pope John Paul II helped prepare the way for the Church of Philadelphia, etc.  So also Pope Francis seems to be of Philadelphia, and one can witness the fossils of Sardis criticizing him this day.

In any case the above threat should be taken seriously. Let me be abundantly clear. When Jesus comes like a thief in this night we are experiencing so as to break the first seal of Revelation in the last death pangs of Sardis, it will be impossible to bear the sufferings over the span that the world goes mad and God sends his corrections, WITHOUT the help of Heaven, without the special help of our spiritual Mother Mary via the Rosary, without the abundant help of the Sacraments and Sacred Scripture.  There will be a great change via the Seals of Revelation.

A Few Names

But you have a few names in Sardis who have not defiled their garments. And these shall walk with me in white, because they are worthy.

Defiling one's garments refers to severe sins performed by those who have been baptized. Like the 'thief in the night', Jesus used this figure of the garments, when he preached publicly. Over the past five hundred years, there have only been relatively few who have managed never to commit a mortal sin from Baptism to death. But one can also interpret this broadly so as to include those who sincerely repent after committing severe sins and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation or make a perfect act of Contrition. Jesus has the power, and has given the Church the power to cleanse their figurative garments after having failed, and Jesus also has the power to make Christians worthy of himself and his kingdom. And the Church helps him in this work via the Sacraments especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Eucharist, Magisterial teachings, prayers, etc. So one can interpret 'the few', broadly in relation to the billions over the past centuries. God receives back those who are serious about repentance, penance and a desire to change for the new: WITH OPEN ARMS.

And I believe there are non-Christians, like the Muslim brothers and sisters, etc. who walk in white, so to speak, and have a Baptism of Desire, or have made a perfect act of contrition in various manners, either explicitly or implicitly through perfect acts of love. There is certainly reason for profound care and caution in these words of Jesus, however they should not be taken to despair.  Jesus has the power to make us better and he will.

Those Who Prevail

Whoever prevails, so shall he be clothed in white vestments. And I will not delete his name from the Book of Life. And I will confess his name in the presence of my Father and in the presence of his Angels. Whoever has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.

Jesus promises rewards for those who live in the age of Sardis. Like I said previously, Sardis has had trouble from her birth. It has been a perilous journey for Sardis and any true Christian understands the difficulty of living in the world today while trying to remain faithful to Jesus.  When I think of Sardis, I think that she has an incurable wound or one who is throttled by all her enemies. And for various reasons, some clearly obvious others sort of mysterious . . . I think God has also allowed Sardis to be severely tempted by the world and by Satan and the fallen angels. Pope Leo XIII had a vision that Satan and some of the fallen angels would be released upon the Church and the world to tempt men and Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich also had this understanding.  Ultimately, it is our fault.  We have brought the Church low and only God will lift her up and adorn her like never before in the incarnation of Philadelphia.  We as a whole should have and could have been more careful, vigilant, stronger, creative, and understanding of the Sacred Script and of all the warnings, etc. And one can take this advice to the heart, personally. In any case Jesus will soon initiate the little Tribulation and work a change that is seemingly inconceivable and impossible.

And for this why not be grateful.  All will be well in the end.  God's loyal love is forever and runs deep to those who are bound in the New Covenant.  God is our Father.  We his family.  He will never completely abandon us, and there will be joy and happiness even in spite of sorrow.  And there is always the prize of Heaven.  Never despair.  

Holzhauser's Comments on the Age of Sardis
Compare the above with Holzhauser's words below:

“This is a state of trouble, desolation, humiliation and poverty for the church. We may with just reason call it a state of purification, in which the Lord Jesus Christ has sifted His wheat, and will sift it again by wars, by seditions, by famines, by epidemics, and other scourges, by the tribulation and the poverty which He will suffer to weigh on the Latin church, by means of heretics and bad Christians, who will take from her the greater part of her bishoprics and countless monasteries, especially the wealthier ones. She is oppressed even by Catholic princes, and despoiled by means of taxes, imposts, and other extortions; so that we may say, in groaning with the prophet Jeremiah, ‘The queen of nations hath been placed under a yoke.’ The church is become poor and miserable, because she hath been calumniated by heretics, because her ministers are despised by bad Christians, who render them neither honor nor respect. By all these means God will sift his wheat; He will cast the chaff away to be burnt, and will gather the wheat into his barns. The fifth state of the church is the state of tribulation, the state of apostasy, full of miseries of every kind. Few will be spared by sword, by famine and by pestilence. We shall see kingdom rise against kingdom; empires will be divided in themselves and brought to desolation; principalities and monarchies will be overturned, and almost the whole world will sink into poverty. The greatest desolation all this in part has been accomplished ( as of 1656); a part remains yet to be accomplished. These things will come to pass by the very just judgment of God, because of the accumulated mass of our iniquities, whereof our fathers and ourselves have filled up the measure, at the moment when the mercy of Almighty God awaited our doing penance.

The fifth day of creation, on which the earth brought forth birds, fishes and beasts of the field, is a type of this epoch, wherin men, like to the birds of the air and fishes of the water, give themselves up to license, sink to the levels of the brute, and wallow in lust. In this lamentable state of the church, divine and human laws are without force, and made of light account; the doctrines and precepts of the church are despised; ecclesiastical discipline is not better observed by the priests, than political order is maintained by the people. Every one, like the beasts of the field, believes what he pleases, and doth what he wills.

The correspondence of this period with the fifth age of the ancient world, from Solomon down to the Babylonian captivity, is extremely striking. Then Israel fell into idolatry, and Judah and Benjamin were alone true to the covenant. So in the times we speak of, a large portion of the Catholic population has fallen away from the true church; while a small number only of good Christians hath survived. The Jewish state was then ruined, and was harassed and oppressed by heathens; so also has the holy Roman empire of Germany been ravaged and dismembered by the neighboring nations.

To this age has been accorded the gift of counsel; for counsel did the church need in order to counteract such fearful calamities, and uphold the Catholic faith. This gift of counsel was revealed in the Council of Trent, in the institution of the Society of Jesus, by whose exertions, learning and sanctity, the Catholic faith and the church throughout Europe, were rescued from destruction.

A type of this epoch is the Church of Sardis—a word that signifieth the beginning of beauty; for the calamities of this period will be the beginning of a better time. Divine providence has wisely ordained that the church which He will cause to endure unto the end of the world, should be moistened from time to time with the waters of tribulation, as the gardener watereth his garden in the time of draught.” --Beykirch pp. 21-3

* Cyrus the Great is a foreshadowing of the Great Monarch predicted by many Catholic Saints and Mystics.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Seven Churches of Asia: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamon, Thyatira

This remarkable expression, "The Seven Churches," must arrest the attention of every reader. At the first glance one might gather that only those Seven Churches existed in the Province Asia, and that the Revelation had been composed at an early date when there were no more Churches than the Seven. But that is impossible. There never was a time when those Seven Churches existed, and no others. (The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia, W.M. Ramsey, 1904)
 It is important to see this connection between the vision of the Son of Man and the seven letters, as without it the most immediate point of referral to what is written in the letters is lost.  The vision is then seen as some sort of inaugural vision, standing on its own, and the letters also remain somewhat of an enigma, whose presence in the overall structure and message of the book becomes almost impossible to decipher.  Tying them together, I believe, helps one to explain the other.  (The Apocalypse:  A Perennial Revelation of Jesus Christ by Eugenio Corsini, p. 81) 
[The "Prophetic" Interpretation of the Letters]  Reduced to its essentials, this method of interpreting the letters sees in them a prefiguring of various epochs in the history of the Church.  It still has adherents, but it was particularly popular among the Fathers, and was continued to Bede the Venerable (7th to 8th Century) and then among various medieval and more recent commentators.  (The Apocalypse: The Perennial Revelation of Jesus Christ by Eugenio Corsini, p. 103)
He addressed some words to Peter on the subject of penance and absolution, and afterward spoke to them all about the end of the world and of the signs that would precede it. A man enlightened by God would have visions on that subject. By these words, Jesus referred to John's revelations, and He Himself made use of several similar illustrations. He spoke, for instance, of those that would be marked with the sign on their forehead, and said that the fountain of living water which flowed from Calvary's mount would at the end of the world appear to be almost entirely poisoned, though all the good waters would finally be gathered into the Valley of Jehoshaphat. (from the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich)
Just as eschatology is a certain kind of thinking about God's providence, so for our purposes in understanding Revelation, apocalyptic may be thought of as a certain kind of thinking about eschatology. Apocalyptic thought, as represented in Revelation, affirms that God is guiding history to a final goal which God himself will bring about in the near future, in a particular way that is already revealed. (From Revelation, M. Eugene Boring, p. 38)
He {Jesus} spoke for some time to John alone {at the last supper}. Of this I remember only that Jesus told him that his life would be longer than that of the others, and that He said something about seven churches, something about crowns and angels and similar significant symbols by which, as well as I know, He designated certain epochs. The other Apostles felt slightly jealous at this special communication to John. (From the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich)

Seven. God acts in a mode of sevens. Seven days of work at the light event. Seven Sacraments. Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Some take numerology WAY to far, but understanding how God acts, I would imagine the significance of seven is in the concept 3:1:3. Three Persons who thoroughly exist as One God.  Three Forms which are thoroughly One Form.  One God, who is Three distinct personal identities, each wholly God . . . each wholly in the other. They take the names Father, Son, Spirit.  Jesus is the Son of the Father.  The Father eternally generates the Son and so it was significant that he died at the age of 33.

Seven, we are told is God's way of communicating perfection, completion, and a fulfillment.  With the Seven Churches of Asia we are given a prophetic itinerary of Jesus' plan of perfecting his Church on Earth.

The Seven Churches of Asia

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a great voice, like that of a trumpet, saying, “What you see, write in a book, and send it to the seven Churches, which are in Asia: to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamus, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” (Revelation 1:10-11)

The Seven Churches of Asia, whom Jesus addresses in the Book of Revelation refer to multiple successive generations of the New Testament Church (specifically Roman Catholic Church, but also to all Christians and all men of good will, including the Muslims and the Jews).  Asia, land of the rising sun, figuratively refers to the Earth in contradistinction to Heaven, and the Church of Heaven. Each successive multiple generations of the New Testament Church of the Earth corresponds to seven ages which God conceives, foresees and applies from Heaven.  Each Church includes multiple generations of Christians: from several in Ephesus to many in Sardis.  Each successive set of generations is a figured using a city as a model in what was known as Asia Minor. Jesus chose the cities as prophetic models and he just these with powerful clarity and foresight.

We now live at the twilight of the fifth Church. Jesus named our Church: Sardis. We are Sardis. The journey of Sardis has been difficult to say the least, and this has been God's will. Now, Sardis is dying, so to speak.  The new Church and age which name is Philadelphia is dawning.  We will live in the darkness and tribulation between the twilight of Sardis and the dawn of Philadelphia. Some who remain from Sardis will be renewed, and by the grace of Jesus and Mary, help inaugurate Philadelphia. Philadelphia will enjoy a generation of profound peace, consolation, clarity and of course brotherly love! . . . ushered in by Jesus and Mary.

All Roads Lead to Rome

It is not clear why these seven were chosen to represent the whole church, though they are connected by being located on the main Roman road at intervals of about thirty or forty miles. ---(M. Eugene Boring, Revelation, p. 87)

All seven cities chosen by Jesus to prophetically model the Church, were all connected by a main Roman road is of great significance. This signifies that the whole Church on Earth, passing from generation to generation is unified, connected, and continued without fail by the Bishop of Rome, the Pope.  The Angel of each Church serves as a moniker, a collective noun, for every single Pope who led for the duration of each respective Church.  I will reiterate this as the interpretation goes on.    

The Golden Lamp-Stands and Stars

And in the midst of the seven golden lampstands was one resembling the Son of man,. . .the mystery of the seven stars, which you have seen in my right hand, and of the seven golden lampstands. The seven stars are the Angels of the seven Churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven Churches.

In the first chapter of Revelation, each Church is compared to a golden lamp-stand figuring it's precious presence on Earth.  Perhaps we could imply that each contains oil that burns, figuring the concept of a temporal scalar quantity.  Each illuminates for a time.   The stars which Jesus makes equivalent to the Angels figuratively refer to the set of Popes as if one, who reigned during a Church.  

Ephesus:  Church of the First Age

To the Angel of the Church of Ephesus write . . .

The word origin of 'Ephesus' is unknown. But it has been suggested to be derived from a Greek variation meaning “to launch” or “let go”*.  Perhaps this indicates Jesus leaving the Church when he ascended to the Father in Heaven, and then sending the Spirit to guide its journey.  Holzhauser calls the age of Ephesus, by the Latin status seminationes meaning seed-time. The first Christians planted the seeds!

Not long after Jesus ascended to Heaven, there was a Christian colony in Ephesus, an ancient city in modern day Turkey. Some of the Jews who converted to Christianity removed from the Holy Land to Ephesus because they were safer there. It was a peaceful place.  They were less open to persecution and martyrdom.  Some of the Apostles chosen by Jesus visited Ephesus. At times, Saint Paul visited and stirred up Ephesus to faith in Jesus.  His disciple Timothy was a first century bishop of Ephesus.  Against all odds Christianity had great success in Ephesus.

Meryem ana or Meryem Ana Evi, "Mother Mary's House"

Mary, Mother of God, and Immaculate Virgin removed from Jerusalem with the Apostle John, to a house on a mount (translated Mount Nightingale from the Turkish).  This house is a few hours (by walk) away from the city limits of the ancient ruins of Ephesus. This house exists to this day.  It is a Catholic and Muslim shrine.  It was visited by Saint John Paul II.  Recently it was miraculously preserved from a fire.  Near Ephesus Mary died, was raised from the dead and taken up into Heaven from that hill about 13 years after Jesus went to the Father.  Here is a list of quotes taken from Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich's work recording her extraordinary visions:

Thomas and Matthew were dispatched to Ephesus, in order to prepare the country where at a future day Jesus' Mother and many of those that believed in Him were to dwell. They wondered greatly at the fact of Mary's going to live there. 
Three years after the Crucifixion all the Apostles met in Jerusalem, after which Peter and John left the city and Mary accompanied the latter to Ephesus. 
Then it was that the Blessed Virgin, who until that time had dwelt in the small house near the Cenacle (house where Jesus had the Last Supper) and in Bethania, allowed herself to be conducted by John to the region of Ephesus, where the Christians had already made settlements.
He [Saint James the Greater] sailed first to Ephesus in order to visit Mary, and thence to Spain. Shortly before his death, he visited Mary and John a second time in their home at Ephesus. 
I did not see James present at the death of the Blessed Virgin in Ephesus. 
The Blessed Virgins dwelling was not in Ephesus itself, but from three to four hours distant. It stood on a height upon which several Christians from Judea, among them some of the holy women related to her, had taken up their abode. 
The locality was very retired and seldom visited by anyone, for no highway ran through it. The people of Ephesus did not trouble themselves about the little colony, and so they lived as if forgotten. The soil was fruitful, and the settlers owned some gardens and orchards. The only animals I saw in this place were wild goats.  Before John brought the Blessed Virgin to this settlement, he had built for her a dwelling of stone very similar to her own at Nazareth. 
At the prayer of the Blessed Virgin, the Apostles received, through angels, an admonition to repair to her at Ephesus [to be present at her death].

Forgive my long list of quotes from the works of Blessed Anne. The point is in spite of the fact that Jesus uses figures, it is fairly easy to understand why Jesus prophetically names the first Church Ephesus.  Holzhauser has the age of Ephesus marked from the time of Jesus' public ministry to the martyrdom's of Saints Peter and Paul under Nero. However note that the Sacred Script does not make any clear temporal distinctions. One can imagine some overlap between successive Churches where one springs up in the midst of the other. 

One can draw out this figurative interpretation from the encouragements and criticisms Jesus imparts to the Church of Ephesus. The Christians of this Church had to suffer hardships, a few martyrdom's, migrations, etc. with patience. They had to test fraudulent upstarts who called themselves apostles. They were known for their first fire of charity from the event of Pentecost, which Jesus says they lost in a mild criticism. And they hated the works of the Nicolaitians. The Nicolaitians were an early heretical sect who taught and practiced sexual sins as well as eating food dedicated to idols. They took their name after the deacon Nicolas who was among the first seven Deacons. Nicolas was not a member of the sect. No doubt they used his name to bolster their teachings.

Perhaps we could compare Ephesus with the Old Testament Church beginning with Adam and extending through Noah and to Abraham.  This would include Job.

The Angel who the Apostle John is addressed to write to, figuratively refers to a Pope or to each successive Pope who belong to the Church which is Divinely conceived as spanning multiple generations.  Think of it as a collective noun.

Smyrna:  Church of the Second Age

To the Angel of the Church of Smyrna write . . .

Smyrna is a morph on the ancient Greek name for myrrh. The ancient port city was located on the West coast of modern Turkey. It's chief export was none other than myrrh. Holzhauser names the time of Smyrna status irrigationis: irrigation-time. This was the time of the public persecutions of Christians by the Roman Emperors up to the reign of Constantine. 

If you read Jesus' address to Smyrna carefully you will notice that he is clearly encouraging those who would at that time have suffered under the elite of the Roman Empire. The name Smyrna itself could be a morph on the word myrrh, which was used in anointing dead bodies. Myrrh was also exported from the ports of literal ancient Smyrna. Thus its prophetic significance in Revelation. Think of this name as an affectionate one coming from the lips of Jesus, for he associated this Church closely with himself. He was gifted and anointed with myrrh and was put to death like many of this time. Ancient Smyrna is a prophetic model for the nascent Church of the Roman Empire.

Although the Roman persecution was more or less constant, historians tend to divide into ten major persecutions, coinciding with the reign of ten emperors out of the 50 or so between Nero and Constantine. These emperors are listed as

Nero (54-68 AD)
Domitian (81-96)
Trajan (98-117)
Marcus Aurelius (161-180)
Septimius Severus (193-211)
Maximinus (235-238)
Decius (249-251)
Valerian (253-260)
Aurelian (270-275)
Diocletian (284-305)

These ten reigns coinciding with major persecutions are prophesied by Jesus in his address to Smyrna:

Do not be afraid of the things you are about to suffer. The devil is about to have some of you thrown into prison so you may be tested, and you will experience suffering for ten days. Remain faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown that is life itself. (Revelation 2:10)

In context of Sacred Scripture, sometimes the word 'day' is used figuratively to relate an undefined time. Its left to the reader to figure this out. In this context ten days figuratively, even prophetically, represents the time of the reigns of ten Emperors under which there were great persecutions, other then what Christians had to commonly deal with when the Church was first growing. When you see the Roman Martyrology or read the commentaries in your Liturgical text an Emperor will usually be referenced under which the Saint was killed. For example Saints Peter and Paul were martyred under Nero.
In Revelation (2:9-10), Jesus prophetically acknowledges their tribulation and encourages them to endure. With their blood, the Roman Martyrs irrigated the seeds planted by Ephesus. Through the inspiration of the Roman Martyrs the Church of Myrrh grew, and eventually rose to prominence; assisting to change the Roman Empire. The change into Pergamus comes with the favor of Constantine, the edict of Milan, etc. (below). Pergamus is the Church of the third age.  Assuming Faith, this interpretation stands to critical thinking.

Also notice how, in this section, Jesus describes himself as he who died and yet now lives.  He also promises the crown of life, and that those who prevail will not undergo the second death (casting of the resurrected unjust, into Hell at Last Judgment). The resurrection themes are meant to encourage those who would be martyred.  Jesus will permanently anoint their bodies at the Resurrection, with gifts more lavish than myrrh.

Perhaps we could roughly compare Smyrna with the Old Testament Church beginning with Abraham and extending through the Jews slavery under the Egyptians.

Pergamon:  Church of the Third Age

To the Angel of the Church of Pergamon write . . .

In the Greek Pergamon comes from purgos.  Purgos refers to a tower, citadel, fortified structure.  The ancient city of Pergamon was built on a promontory overlooking a river.  Holzhauser calls the age of Pergamon:  status illuminationes, meaning:  state of light, or state of illumination.  The Church had some councils and clarified her teachings in this era.  For Holzhauser, Pergamon extended through the generations from Constantine to Charlemagne. Pergamon was given the freedom to worship in public and she built up like the ancient city-tower.  Following Constantine's favor, public worship was permitted in the Empire. Catholic Churches and later the first Monasteries were built by Pergamon.  Christian culture and custom was cultivated. Many families of the Empire openly became Catholic.  There were many ascetics.  And it is also neat to note that during this epoch and slavery suddenly vanished not only from Europe but also in India and China.  Slavery, as we will see returns in Sardis, although the idea was so appalling to the Europeans that the elite were forced to practice it in colonies.**

Pergamon had the likes as Saint Benedict who inspired a wise, learned and robust community of monks across Italy and Europe. Their motto was work and pray.  Women religious communities were established.  Pergamon also had some Church Fathers and Doctors, in the East and West.  Of course Christianity continued to flourish in the East through Asia Minor. Christian Byzantium (Constantinople) was founded in this time.  The practice of Christianity extended into the Frankish and Germanic kingdoms. And eventually there would arise some saintly Christian kings in the Church of Thyatira.

I know where you dwell, where the seat of Satan is, and that you hold to my name and have not denied my faith, even in those days when Antipas was my faithful witness, who was slain among you, where Satan dwells.

Antipas whom Jesus mentions in this letter.  Antipas does not necessarily have to literally refer to a person by that name. It could serve as a figurative reference to a Church Father who was martyred at some location even prior to Constantine.  In Greek, "Antipas" literally means "like a father."  So I suspect Jesus is referencing a famous Church Father or several Fathers who were martyred at some point.  The dwelling place where the seat of Satan is located doesn't have to reference any specific location or city, but rather in general the entire Earth.  God in his profound plan, has permitted some of the fallen angels as well as the one called Satan to dwell on Earth for a time and exercise some limited power.  So Jesus is making the point that where the Church dwells is a still a place where the enemy is present and exerts some power and influence.  Jesus in his own way also offers some additional criticisms toward heresies that were practiced in this epoch. 

Perhaps we can compare Pergamon to the Old Testament Church who were freed from the reign of Pharoah and entered the Holy Land.  From there, Judges rose up and this led into the Kingdom of David.

Additional Insight into the First Three Churches Taken Together

Also, each of the cities named had a Roman law court, a location where Christians had been or could be charged with memebership in the Christian sect, which was suspected of being subversive; and at least the first three churches addressed were sites of temples dedicated to Caesar (Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum). (M. Eugene Boring, Revelation, p. 87)

Again, Jesus chose the specific names and cities with perfect clarity and foresight. The cities of the first three Churches, i.e. Ephesus, Smyrna and Pergamon are models representing the successive generations of Christians from the time from the ascension of Jesus to about the time of Charlemagne. Ephesus is from the Ascension to the martyrdoms of Saints Peter and Paul. Smyrna is from the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul to Constantine. Pergamon is from Constantine to Charlemagne. Of course within these generations the Roman Empire lasted up until the time of Pergamon. The last Roman Emperor or Caesar, so to speak, was Romulus Augustus in the second half of the 5th century. Beyond that there is no more Caesar just as there are no temples in the citys of the remining Churches (Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea).

Thyatira:  Church of the Fourth Age

To the Angel of the Church of Thyatira write . . .

The word origin of Thyatira is said to be unknown.  It was suggested by a Stephanus, a grammarian of Byzantium, that this city was renamed by its king hundreds of years prior to Christ.  He was at war when he got word his wife had given birth to a daughter and so Stephanus says he renamed his city after an older Lydian name meaning daughter.  If I wanted to get intellectually adventurous I would connect this name with France, often called the "eldest daughter of the Church."  France sort of lead Thyatira although of course the Church was vibrant across Europe.

Holzhauser calls the era of Thyatira:  status pacificus meaning state of peace.  For him Thyatira commences with the re-establishment of the Western Empire under Charlemagne, and terminates with Emporer Charles V and Pope Leo X.

Thyatira is the Church of Christendom, where ideally Jesus was considered the King, and reigns.  This Church is of Catholic civilization as they say.  It was a very different Church (and world) than we live in.  Thyatira had the likes of Saints Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, Louis IX of France, many saintly Christian kings, mystics, prophets, prophetesses, etc.

In Thyatira there was a proliferation of exceptionally talented Christian architects, artisans, artists, and so on as is evidenced by the Cathedrals that were built, the various artifacts as well as the historical records.  There were the Medieval guilds which enabled those of various talents and skills to work together in some common goal that would glorify God. Generations of families would dedicate their lives to building the Cathedrals.  Individuals would dedicate their lives to some work of art with great desire in honor of Jesus.

This above is prophetically foreshadowed in what was literal Thyatira, the ancient city.  Literal Thyatira had more guilds than any other city in Asia Minor.  Inscriptions include:  
wool-workers, linen-workers, makers of outer garments, dyers, leather-workers, tanners, potters, bakers, and bronze-smiths.  So it would seem that Jesus chooses the name Thyatira with great prophetic purpose. They were like inspired bees working together in this vision of Christendom!!!  

In prophetic Thyatira, universities rose up.  Many of Thyatira produced and/or 
practiced works of philosophy, sciences, theology, sacred music, etc.  So much wonderful literature appeared and is studied to this day.

The Old Testament parallel of Thyatira is the Kingdom of David and the beginning of the reign of Solomon when the Temple was built, many of the Psalms were composed, the Twelve Tribes flourished, etc.

In Revelation, Jesus praises Thyatira for "
your works, and your faith and charity, and your ministry and patient endurance, and that your more recent works are greater than the earlier ones."  Notice that Jesus seems to imply the development to the High Medieval Church. Clearly looking back, there was a great output and development of works done in grace of Christ Jesus by the Medieval Church, Thyatira, from Charlemagne, until she faded and changed into the Church of Sardis around the time of the Emperor Charles V and Pope Leo X.  This was the first half of the 16th century. Thus, assuming Faith it stands to reason that Thyatira refers to the successive generations of Catholic Christians from Charlemagne to the dawn of the Protestant revolution, colonial era, and so on.

But Jesus also has criticisms of Thyatira.  These are a bit enigmatic to me.  I'm not sure who Jezebel refers to or perhaps she refers to a group of people, for example a sect of heretics or perhaps a growing influence of the world on the Church which culminated in the Renaissance and subsequent succession of Sardis.

From Thyatira, Sardis, the Church of the fifth age, springs forth. Sardis is a real piece of work as one can imagine. Trouble has plagued her from the day she was born.  Saints and mystics of Thyatira and of Pergamon, spoke of the troubles of Sardis and that one day a Great Monarch and Angelic Pope would arise to help save her and change her.  So I will break this work here.  In the next article I will work an in depth interpretation of Revelation chapter three in regards to Sardis, and then we will proceed to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea which basically brings us to Last Judgment.

*  p. 439, 
The Apocalypse of St. John: a commentary on the Greek text, James Joseph Louis Ratton

** For more on this see David Graeber's Debt:  The First Five Thousand Years.