I am excited to share with you a scholarly write-up on a very important subject, the so-called necessity of having Shepherds and Teachers until the end of time. Everything in theology revolves around words, and here Mr. B.E. Strauss does an adroit job at bringing out what is important in the words many bloggers of the Traditionalist ilk have bantered back and forth without neat considerations taken. He bases his sound reasoning on Holy Scripture, Sacred Councils, and eminent Fathers and Doctors of the Catholic Church. This is an issue affecting Home Alone Catholics and Sedevacantists, as well as Traditionalists, one of which, Mr. Eric Hoyle, has felt so strongly about that he has returned to the Novus Ordo, because he believes there must be Shepherds and Teachers until the Second Coming. Mr. Strauss is offering an alternative interpretation to the Vatican Council language of the same, albeit, not his own interpretation, but rather one rooted in actual teachers in the Church. Read the Appendix. That is where the gold is.
If this topic interests you, I recommend going over to Galaxy Forum, and discussing it there. Leave your comments as well, and be sure to thank Mr. Strauss for his contributions to the CE Log!
Even to the Consummation of the Age
By B. E. Strauss
Pastor stultus, et imperitus, haud dubium quin Antichristus sit; qui in consummatione mundi dicitur esse venturus. Without any doubt, the foolish and unskilled shepherd is Antichrist, who is said to come at the consummation of the world.
St. Jerome, On Zechariah
The idea that the Church shall have a pope, bishops, seminars, etc. until the literal last day of the world, until the Lord returns, is widespread and plays a significant role in debates between Catholics about consequences to be drawn in the face of the Great Apostasy that has become visible since the robber council of the 1960s. Looking at original Latin documents and writings of the Magisterium, the Fathers, Doctors and Saints, and the Vulgate as well as other editions of Holy Scripture, a different picture comes to the fore. As a matter of fact, the Vatican Council solemnly teaches that the Lord promised shepherds and teachers until the consummation of the age which, according to Catholic commentary, begins with the revelation of Antichrist who is announced to reign before the return of the Lord. Hence, apostolic succession seems to have come to an end already, and we deal with shepherds of vengeance:
Zech 11:15-16 And the Lord said to me: Take to thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd. For behold I will raise up a shepherd in the land, who shall not visit what is forsaken, nor seek what is scattered, nor heal what is broken, nor nourish that which standeth, and he shall eat the flesh of the fat ones, and break their hoofs.
1: The Consummation of the Age
The term consummatio saeculi is St. Jerome’s translation of the Greek term syntéleia tou aionos, which appears exclusively in the Gospel of Matthew. Holy Scripture is full of other terms for the same events, which are announced over and over again. Some of these terms are dies novissimi (latter days), dies ultionis (days of vengeance), dies visitationis (days of visitation), and tempus tribulationis (time of tribulation). Whether day or days or time or times, all these terms describe the time of the reign of Antichrist, which is to happen in the second half of the last of seventy weeks of the prophecy of Daniel:
Dan 9:24 Seventy weeks are shortened upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, that transgression may be finished, and sin may have an end, and iniquity may be abolished; and everlasting justice may be brought; and vision and prophecy may be fulfilled; and the saint of saints may be anointed.
St. Jerome quotes a series of commentaries of other Fathers on the seventy weeks in his commentary On Daniel. The first sixty-nine weeks are before the first coming of the Lord, where each prophetic week lasts 7 years. The last week is split into two halves. So far, there is wide consensus. Understandably, with respect to the rest there is less agreement. Prophecy generally is not fully understood until after things happen. It seems that the first half of the last week signifies the bimillennial time of the Church up to Antichrist, the second half the time of the reign of Antichrist.
The Apostle Paul uses the related term consummatio saeculorum, i.e. consummation of the ages.
Hebr 9:26 For then he ought to have suffered often from the beginning of the world: but now once at the end of ages [consummatio saeculorum], he hath appeared for the destruction of sin, by the sacrifice of himself.
The consummation of the ages denotes the last of all ages of the world, the age of the Church. This last age consummates the ages that came before, and it is itself consummated by the consummatio saeculi, by the consummation of the (last) age.
Proving the point of this article, many Fathers and Doctors of the Church equate the consummation of the age and the time of Antichrist:
St. John of Damascus, An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book IV It should be known that the Antichrist is bound to come. Every one, therefore, who confesses not that the Son of God came in the flesh and is perfect God and became perfect man, after being God, is Antichrist (1 John 2:22). But in a peculiar and special sense he who comes at the consummation of the age is called Antichrist. newadvent.org
Several (screen) pages of further quotes which show that many Fathers and Doctors equate the time of Antichrist and the consummation of the age can be found in the appendix below.
2: The Gospel of Matthew
The term consummatio saeculi appears six times in the Gospel of Matthew. The first three mentions occur in the context of the parable of the cockle of the field:
Mt 13:39 And the enemy that sowed them, is the devil. But the harvest is the end of the world [consummatio saeculi]. And the reapers are the angels.
Mt 13:40 Even as cockle therefore is gathered up, and burnt with fire: so shall it be at the end of the world [consummatio saeculi].
Mt 13:49 So shall it be at the end of the world [consummatio saeculi]. The angels shall go out, and shall separate the wicked from among the just.
The quotes are from the Rheims New Testament of A.D. 1582 revised by Bishop Challoner A.D. 1749-1752 Consummatio saeculi is translated as end of the world each time. The next two mentions occur in the Olivet Apocalypse:
Mt 24:3 And when he was sitting on mount Olivet, the disciples came to him privately, saying: Tell us when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the consummation of the world [consummatio saeculi]?
Mt 24:14-15 And this gospel of the kingdom, shall be preached in the whole world, for a testimony to all nations, and then shall the consummation come [consummatio]. When therefore you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth let him understand.
Mt 24:14-15 has just consummatio but refers to consummatio saeculi in 24:3. The last mention occurs in the last verse of the last chapter of the Gospel of Matthew:
Mt 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world [consummatio saeculi].
In translations the original Latin term consummatio saeculi is most frequently rendered as end of the world. Consummation of the world is less frequent, and consummation of the age is comparatively rare. This is also the case for translations of original Latin versions of Catholic commentaries and other writings including magisterial documents quoting the above verses. Also, the situation is similar with respect to translations to Spanish, Portuguese, French, German and probably more languages. The Latin Fathers use finis saeculi, finis mundi, and consummatio mundi beside consummatio saeculi, only if they don’t directly quote one of the listed Verses of the Gospel of Matthew.
3: The Indefectibility of the Church
Ecclesia a perfectione sua fulget in decore justitiae usque ad tempus Antichristi. By her perfection the Church sparkles in the adornment of justice up to the time of Antichrist.
Scivias Hildegardis, Visio undecima
The indefectibility of the Church has been a topic treated by theologians for centuries. A.D. 1870 the Vatican Council supplied them additional definitive teaching on the topic. Particularly, the existence of shepherds and teachers even to the consummation of the age was emphasized. As far as I am aware, theologians don’t seem to care much about what exactly consummation of the age means. E.g. Ludwig Ott writes
Grundriß der Katholischen Dogmatik. Der Fortbestand der hierarchischen Gewalten folgt notwendigerweise aus der von Christus gewollten Indefektibilität der Kirche. Die den Aposteln gegebene Verheißung seines Beistandes ,,bis ans Ende der Welt” (Mt 28,20) setzt voraus, daß das apostolische Amt in den Nachfolgern fortbesteht.
The continuance of the hierarchical authorities follows necessarily from the indefectibility of the Church, willed by Christ. The promise of his aid, given to the Apostles, until the end of the world” (Mt 28:20) presupposes that the apostolic office continues in their successors.
Such statements can be read as if the hierarchy of the Church had to be up and running until the moment of the second coming of the Lord. On the other hand, Bl. Hildegard of Bingen has a different perspective (see quote above).
4: The Vatican Council
Both dogmatic constitutions of the Vatican Council, Dei Filius (April 1870) and Pastor aeternus (July 1870), begin with a reference to Mt 28:20 behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the age. The dogmatic constitution on the Church of Christ emphasizes the will of the Lord …
Pastor aeternus, Vatican Council: The eternal shepherd and guardian of our souls … willed that … in his church there should be shepherds and teachers even to the consummation of the age.
… while the dogmatic constitution on the Catholic faith calls it a promise:
Dei filius, Vatican Council: The Son of God, redeemer of the human race, our lord Jesus Christ, promised, when about to return to his heavenly Father, that he would be with this church militant upon earth all days even to the consummation of the age.
In both cases, the original Latin of the Vulgate usque ad consummationem saeculi (Mt 28:20) is used, which means up to the consummation of the age.
The sacrosanct Council neither explains what exactly the consummation of the age is, nor does it say anything about shepherds and teachers during the consummation. But there is not only no reason to expect true shepherds and teachers during the consummation of the age. On the contrary, biblical prophecy, as expounded by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, announces false shepherds and teachers as well as Antichrist, sent by the Lord, sitting in the holy place, slaughtering, selling, and devouring the sheep.
I’ll leave the reader with the quotes in the now following appendix.
About the Author
Mr. Strauss is a Catholic layman who believes to be witness of the days of vengeance, that all things may be fulfilled, that are written (Lk 21:22). Professionally he is an engineer, freelancing since the 1980s.
A. Fathers and Doctors equating the consummation or the end of the age or the world and the reign of Antichrist
A.1 Ps. Hippolytus
De consummatione mundi is a discourse on the consummation of the world which is said to be a 7th century adaption of De Antichristo of St. Hippolytus of Rome. The consummation is presented as a time of seduction followed by the second coming of the Lord.
De consummation mundi, Section 2 For I shall unfold to you today a narration full of horror and fear, to wit, the account of the consummation, and in particular, of the seduction of the whole world by the enemy and devil; and after these things, the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Quoting two prophets, Isaiah and Osea, the author identifies their descriptions with the raging of Antichrist during the consummation.
De consummation mundi, Section 4 And what else is this burning wind from the east (Osea 13:15), than the Antichrist that is to destroy and dry up the veins of the waters and the fruits of the trees in his times, because men set their hearts on his works? For which reason he shall indeed destroy them, and they shall serve him in his pollution.
The terms day of the consummation, times of the consummation, time of the consummation, and last day of the consummation are used synonymously. In that time, false Christs will arise. E.g.:
De consummation mundi, Section 9 Wherefore also in the last day of the consummation, it must needs be that false Christs will arise again.
A.2 St. Cyprian of Carthage
St. Cyprian of Carthage is considered the pre-eminent Latin writer of Western Christianity until Jerome and Augustine.
Testimonia adversus Iudaeos Apud Esaiam: Et erunt vobis hi omnes sermones sicut sermones libri qui signatus est: quem si dederis homini scienti litteras ad legendum, dicet: Nonpossum legere, Signatus est enim. Sed in illa die audient surdi sermones libri ; et qui in tenebris et qui in nebula sunt, oculi caecorum videbunt (Isa. XXIX, 11, 18). Item apud Hieremiam: In novissimo dierum cognoscetis ea (Hier. XXIII, 20). Item apud Danielem: Muni sermones et signa librum usque ad tempus consummationis, quoad discant multi, et impleatur agnitio ; quoniam cum fiet dispersio, cognoscent omnia haec (Dan. XII, 4, 7) .
Comparing Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel, Cyprian equates that day (Is 29:18), the latter days (Jer 23:20), and the time of the consummation (Dan 12:4). In that time, not the wicked but learned people will understood prophecy: the deaf shall hear the words of the book (Is 29:18), in the latter days you shall understand his counsel (Jer 23:20), the learned shall understand (Dan 12:10). (Note that Cyprian is ignorant of the Vulgate, where Dan 12:4 reads usque ad tempus statutum (even to the time appointed) while Cyprian quotes usque ad tempus consummationis (even to the time of the consummation).
A.3 Ps. Chrysostom
The Opus Imperfectum in Matthaeum is an uncomplete early commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. Up to the 16th century the author was thought to be St. John Chrysostom. The Opus is extensively quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas in the Catena Aurea.
The consummation of the world is presented as the time of tribulation, when the Church will be destroyed like Jerusalem has been destroyed A.D. 70.
Opus Imperfectum in Matthaeum, Hom. XLIX Sicut illi tale facinus commiserunt, quale numquam commissum est, nec est committendum: sic et super illos talis sententia venit, qualis numquam venit, nec veniet. Haec aptius est de consummatione mundi suscipere, cujus figura fuit tribulatio illa. Tunc vere talis erit tribulatio, qualis numquam fuit.
For just as they committed such a crime as has never been committed nor ever will be again, so also such a sentence came on them as never has come nor ever will. But it is more fitting to understand this about the consummation of the world, which was prefigured by that tribulation. Then there will truly be a tribulation as never was.
Opus Imperfectum in Matthaeum, Hom. XLVIII In consummatione enim gentis Judaeae Jerusalem destructa est, quae tamen videbatur esse Jerusalem, non autem vera erat. In consummatione autem mundi Ecclesia aut desolata, aut desolanda est: adhuc tamen illa quae videbatur Ecclesia, non autem quae vera erat, aut est.
For at the consummation of the Jewish nation Jerusalem was destroyed, which still was perceived to be Jerusalem but really was not. At the consummation of the world the church will either be desolate or to be made desolate: That is, that which is perceived to be the church, not that which truely was and is the church.
A.4 St. Jerome
St. Jerome, one of the four Great Latin Church Fathers, frequently identifies the consummation of the age with the time of the reign of Antichrist.
Commentaria in Zachariam. Pastor stultus, et imperitus, haud dubium quin Antichristus sit; qui in consummatione mundi dicitur esse venturus.
Without any doubt, the foolish and unskilled shepherd is Antichrist, who is said to come at the consummation of the world.
This comment of Jerome is reiterated by
- Rupert of Deutz, Commentaria in duodecim prophetas minores mlat.uzh.ch
- Haymo Halberstatensis, Enarratio in duodecim prophetas minores mlat.uzh.ch
Commentaria in Isaiam. In consummatione mundi, quando orbis redactus fuerit in solitudinem et obtenebratus sol in ortu suo et luna splendorem suum non dederit, tanta fient ab Antichristo signa atque portenta, ut iniquitate crescente, refrigescat caritas multorum, ad decipiendos etiam si fieri potest electos Dei.
In the consummation of the world, when … the sun will be darkened …, so many signs and wonders will be made by Antichrist …
The abomination of desolation of Mt 24:15 is identified as Antichrist in the Church.
Commentaria in Matthaeum, 24:15 “Cum ergo videritis abominationem desolationis, quae dicta est a Daniele propheta, stantem in loco sancto, qui legit, intelligat.” … Potest autemsimpliciter aut de Antichristo accipi … stare in loco sancto, hoc est, in Ecclesia.
“When therefore you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth let him understand.” … This also can simply be understood of Antichrist … standing in the holy place, that is in the Church.
During the consummation of the age we should beware that our Faith and our love of the Lord won’t grow cold.
Commentaria in Matthaeum, 24:20 Si autem de consummatione mundi intelligitur, hoc praecipit, ut non refrigescat fides nostra et in Christum charitas …
But if understood of the consummation of the world, beware that our faith and our love of Christ won’t grow cold …
This comment by Jerome is reiterated by
A.5 St. Augustine
St. Augustine, one of the four Great Latin Church Fathers, identifies the end of the age and the time of Antichrist.
De civitate Dei, Liber XXI, Caput XXVI Erit etiam in fine saeculi tribulatio tempore Antichristi, qualis nunquam antea fuit.
Moreover, in the end of the age there shall be tribulation during the time of Antichrist, such as has never before been.
A.6 Venerable Bede
The end of the age is the time when Antichrist will reign.
Explanatio Apocalypsis, Liber tertius, Caput XVII Antichristus qui in fine saeculi regnaturus est, …
Antichrist, who is to reign in the end of the age, …
A.7 St. John of Damascus
St. John of Damascus says that Antichrist comes at the consummation of the age.
An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book IV It should be known that the Antichrist is bound to come. Every one, therefore, who confesses not that the Son of God came in the flesh and is perfect God and became perfect man, after being God, is Antichrist (1 John 2:22). But in a peculiar and special sense he who comes at the consummation of the age is called Antichrist.
Carolus Magnus, Holy Roman Emperor, says that Antichrist will arrive at the very end of the age (finem saeculi extremi):
De imaginibus, Liber Primus, Caput XX Adventum vero Antichristi, finem saeculi extremi, discrimen iudicii et aeternam bonorum gloriam, poenamque reproborum, concordi utrumque Testamentum veritate profatur.
The actual arrival of Antichrist, at the very end of the age, the judgment separating, the eternal glory of the good and the punishment of the reprobate, is truely spelled out in bothtestaments concordantly.
A.9 Remigius of Auxerre
Remigius of Auxerre, commenting on Gen 15:14, says that during the end of the age Antichrist will rage.
Gen 15:12 And when the sun was setting, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a great and darksome horror seized upon him.
Commentarius in Genesim, 15:12 Solis occubitus finem saeculi significat, quando per Antichristum tenebrosus horror, id est persecutio vel perturbatio futura est.
The setting of the sun signifies the end of the age, when due to Antichrist there shall be gloomy trembling, that is persecution or confusion.
A.10 Anselm of Laon and Schola
Anselm of Laon is the founder of a school of scholars who produced the Glossa ordinaria, an interlinear and marginal gloss. The Schola says that Antichrist rages in the consummation of the age.
Glossa ordina, Liber Iudith, CAPUT II. VERS. 17. – “Descendit in campos.” Damascus potus sanguinis interpretatur, in qua principes gentium exprimuntur, who thirst for the bloodof the faithful: qui sitiunt sanguinem fidelium: maxime in tempore messis, id est, in consummatione saeculi debacchante per latitudinem orbis furore Antichristi.
“Went down into the plains.” Damascus is understood to be a drinking of blood, in which the princes of the Gentiles are pictured, who thirst for the blood of the faithful: above all in the time of the harvest, that is, in the consummation of the age when the madness of Antichrist is raging all over the world.