Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Adult Ed, July 2nd -- Catholic Commentary on the Apocalypse, Session 5, The Seven Trumpets, The Two Witnesses, Chapters 8-11 (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Outline of Session 5:  Commentary on Revelation chapters 8-11. The punishments upon the earth in the seven trumpets as bringing about the victory of the Lamb. The two witnesses, Enoch and Elijah. 

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Catholic Commentary on the Apocalypse
Studying the most perplexing book of the Bible with the great Catholic Scholars
Session 5 – The Seven Trumpets, the Two Witnesses
And the Judgment, Revelation 8-11

Outline of Session 5:  Commentary on Revelation chapters 8-11. The punishments upon the earth in the seven trumpets as bringing about the victory of the Lamb. The two witnesses, Enoch and Elijah.

I. Review of last week: The Heavenly Liturgy, the Four Creatures, the Four Horsemen

II. The Seventh Seal opens to Seven Trumpets
A. The image of the trumpets reminds us of the fall of Jericho after seven days marching around the city and the blasting of the trumpets to destroy the walls.
8:2 “And I saw seven angels standing in the presence of God” – These could be the seven archangels referenced in the book of Tobit. (“I am Raphael, one of the seven angels…” Tobit 12:15)
8:3 “And another angel came, and stood before the altar, having a gold censer … that he should offer the prayers of all the saints…”  -- This calls to mind the prayer when blessing incense at the offertory in the Traditional Latin Mass “By the intercession of blessed Michael the Archangel, who stands at the right hand of the altar of incense and of all his elect, my the Lord deign to bless this incense, and to receive it as a sweet fragrance, through Christ our Lord.”

8:7 “And the first angel sounded the trumpet…”
Haydock: “From this place to 20:11, the visions are differently expounded. Some interpret them, without applying them to any particular events, as general comminations, in a mystical and allegorical sense, of the many persecutions which God permits to happen to his Church. Others think that they are all predictions, which shall not happen till a little time before the end of the world, in antichrist's time, after which will follow the day of the general judgment, the punishment of the wicked, and the reward of the just. But there are others, according to the interpretations which these writers have followed, these predictions of St. John (except the last persecution, when the devil shall be let loose, Rev. 20:7, in the time of the great antichrist) have already happened in the three first centuries, during the persecutions of the heathen emperors.”

The Seven Trumpets as representing the Seven Ages of the Church:
1) The First Trumpet: The suffering of the Church in the first 300 years, especially the persecutions by the sword (blood), by being stoned (hail), by fire (trees burnt).
2) The Second Trumpet,  8:8 “A great mountain” – the Heresy of Arius.
3) The Third Trumpet points out to us the punishment that falls upon the Roman empire, in its destruction by the northern nations. These people spread themselves over the third part of the rivers and provinces of ancient Rome. The star is called wormwood, from the bitter calamities and miseries which they inflicted upon the Roman empire.
4) The Fourth Trumpet, 8:12 “A third part of the sun was smitten…” The schism of the East from the West around the late 800s.
5) The Fifth Trumpet, 9:1 “I saw a star fall”  The heresy of the Protestants, especially of Luther who is a star fallen as a priest fallen from his vows. 1500s
6) The Sixth Trumpet, 9:13: The four angels loose the river Euphrates, and 200 million horses are leased with fire. This symbolizes the wars after the advent of gunpowder.
The Little Scroll (chapter 10): signifies the conversion of the Jews to the Faith.
7) The Seventh Trumpet (chapter 11): After the final great persecution of the Church, the Lord himself will return.

8:13 “one eagle flying through the midst of heaven” or in the Greek “an angel” – This seems to be the “angel of the Apocalypse” who appears in various places throughout the book. St Vincent Ferrer (1350-1490) was considered to have fulfilled this in part – he claimed to be and was called the “Angel of the Apocalypse” by the Pope when he was canonized! “Woe, woe, woe” – The triple superlative.

9:1 “I saw a star fall from heaven upon the earth” – This could signify the fall of Martin Luther, or of the other heresiarchs. Or the fall of whole nations into heresy (especially England). On the other hand, there were Greek Emperors whom Church Fathers thought were this fallen star as well.
9:1 “There was given to him the key of the bottomless pit” – Not to the fallen star but to the angel. All these trials and punishments come from God.
9:3 “There came out locusts” – Haydock interprets this and what follows of the Protestant Revolution, and there are extraordinary similarities.  However, surely, the locusts represent all the heresies and attacks of the demons that the Church must suffer until the end of time.
9:7 “crowns like gold” The wealth of the world and influence of worldly powers (which helped spread the Protestant heresy. “hair of women” Many of the Protestant leaders had given over to lust and abandoned their vows of celibacy, some even taking nuns as their wives! (Like Luther). “teeth were as lions” By their preaching they tore apart the Christian world.
9:7-10  Haydock cautions against trying to interpret every aspect of the locusts appearance in a one-to-one manner. The point is that they were hideous and caused great harm.

9:16ff Haydock interprets what is said of the army of horsemen as referring to modern warfare.
“The horsemen appeared to St. John with breastplates of fire, and of hyacinth, and of brimstone. By this expression is indicated the firing of carabines, or such firearms as cavalry use, which are applied to the breast when shot off. St. John took the fire that issued out of the muskets to come from the horsemen's breast, on which the muskets rested, and so thought the horsemen had breastplates of fire. The prophet here even describes to us the composition of gunpowder, with its three ingredients, viz. brimstone, fire, and hyacinth. Here then we see revealed to St. John both the composition and use of gunpowder, to which he and all mankind at that time were strangers. Then it is said: And the heads of the horses, &c. Here is pointed out the artillery of the army, or cannon. He saw in this vision the whole army drawn up at a distance, and the artillery placed upon a line with the cavalry. He seemed to confound the cannon with the horses, and the cannons' mouths with the mouths of the horses, as the height of both from the ground is nearly the same. He describes the appearances as he saw in the vision, not the reality. When therefore he says, the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions, it is the same as if, the mouths of the cannon were as to the noise they made, like the mouths of roaring lions. Hence it appears that St. John saw the fire of the cannon, and heard the explosion.”

10:1 “And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven” – This seems to be the Lord Jesus.
10:10 “And I took the book from the hand of the angel, and ate it up: and it was in my mouth, sweet as honey: and when I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.”  This could refer to the conversion of the Jews (or the conversion of any soul) for whom the Gospel is sweet, but the sorrow for sins is bitter.  Or again, this may refer to the sweetness of those who are to be saved, but bitter sorrow for those who will not repent and will be damned.

11:3 “my two witnesses” – These are commonly understood to be Enoch and Elijah. They have not died, but were taken up and away from the earth. They will return at the end of time. Enoch will preach to the gentiles and Elijah to the Jews – and they will be killed and then raised form the dead.

11:8 “their bodies shall lie in the streets of the great city … where their Lord also was crucified.” This seems to refer to Jerusalem, though it could mean the world generally or Rome.


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