Monday 23 December 2019

Our Lady of Zeitoun and the Slaughter of the Innocents

Below is a repost of material I originally wrote in 2011 concerning the significance of the Church approved apparitions of Our Lady of Zeitoun.  Following the recent legalisation of abortion here in the north of Ireland, I think contemplation of these apparitions are extremely timely.  Despite being witnessed on an unprecedented scale by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of individuals, the apparitions of Our Lady of Zeitoun have been widely overlooked by the Western media, and indeed by many Catholics. The apparitions of Our Lady of Light, which began to appear April 1968 to the present are the only known precedent of the category of visions known in Catholic theology as visio sensibilis to be witnessed on such an extraordinary scale. This refers to an objective physical manifestation, rather than a purely subjective psychological apparition, which is by far the most common form of such phenomena.

The only other major Marian apparition witnessed on a comparable scale is that of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, which again is to be differentiated from those of Our Lady of Light in the fact that the Virgin Mary could only be seen by the three shepherd children.  Instead of receiving visions of Our Lady, the crowds at Fatima witnessed the Sun spinning and dancing in the sky at the Cova de Iria .The Miracle of the Sun itself may have been a combination of unusual weather phenomena with the visio imaginativa class of vision (which whilst fully visible to the seer, these apparitions are perceived only through the mind's eye), since there was a small minority of people who could not see what the rest of the crowd were experiencing.  We must also keep in mind that the numbers of those who have witnessed the apparitions of Our Lady of Light far outweigh the estimated 70,000 people present during the Miracle of the Sun.

Despite being officially recognised as authentic by the local Cardinal Patriarch, the fact that Our Lady chose to appear over Coptic churches in Egypt, rather than Catholic churches elsewhere in the world has baffled some commentators, and can perhaps explain the lack of adequate devotion to these apparitions amongst Catholics.  It seems that many have failed to recognise the true significance of these apparitions lies above all in their timing and location. The Virgin Mary chose to appear over Coptic churches for two very simple reasons - firstly because she is re-tracing the steps of the Holy Family's flight into Egypt (and the vast majority of churches in Egypt are Coptic, especially those in locations associated with the sojourn of the Holy Family), and secondly, that despite not being in full communion with Rome, they show that Our Lady has deep love and respect for the Coptic Church, which like the rest of Oriental Orthodoxy, as well as the Eastern Orthodox Church, offers a great devotion to her.

While some have recognised that Our Lady is in some way re-enacting the journey of the Holy Family during their flight into Egypt, none (to my knowledge) have went on to ponder the primary reason for their escape into the Egyptian wilderness and attempt to re-apply the same conditions to a modern context; or compare them with the account of Woman adorned with the Sun given in Rev 12 - which is basically the story of the nativity seen through an apocalyptic lens. The reason that the Holy Family fled into Egypt was in order to escape from King Herod, who in an attempt to quash any potential Messianic usurpers to his throne, had ordered the massacre of any infants in the vicinity of Bethlehem under two years of age:

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.
(Matt 2:13-21)

If we compare the above passage in the Gospel of Matthew with the account of the Woman adorned with the Sun in Rev 12, we can see that this portion of the Book of Revelation is an apocalyptic version of the story of the nativity:

And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days. (Rev 12:1-6)

This portion of the Apocalypse is recapitulated again after a brief interlude describing the "War in Heaven" between the archangel Michael and Satan, who is cast from the heavenly throne room to earth:

And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea. (Rev 12:13-17)

The equation of the Woman adorned with the Sun with the Virgin Mary is a long standing tradition in the Catholic Church, as is attested by the various icons (such as Our Lady of Guadalupe) which depict her as arrayed with the radiance of the Sun, a crown of stars, and with a cresent moon at her feet. This asssociation has recently been re-affirmed by Pope Benedict XVI during his address honouring Our Lady at the feast of the Immaculate Conception on 8th December 2011 (see here).

The Crescent Moon under the feet of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The "horns" of this crescent shape most likely represent Satan, who positions himself at Our Lady's feet in an attempt to devour her offspring. But ultimately Our Lady is the one who crushes the Serpent's head. The word Guadalupe is thought to be taken from the Aztec Nahuatl word Coatlaxopeuh (pronounced "quatlachupe") which means "the one who crushes the serpent".

The seven-headed dragon which positions itself at the woman's feet, ready to devour her child upon birth represents Herod's intentions to destroy the Child Jesus after his birth in Bethlehem. Herod's attempt to kill Our Lord at birth is also hinted at again later in the chapter, when the serpent pours out flood waters to sweep away the Woman and Child. To escape from this threat the Woman is given the "two wings of the great eagle" and escapes into the wilderness for a "time, times and half a time", or three and a half years - which according to Coptic tradition is exactly the length of time the Holy Family sojourned in Egypt. According to this tradition, after the Holy Family reached Assiut (the location of the apparitions in the year 2000), they turned back to re-trace their journey in the Egyptian wilderness, and when they reached Gabal Dranka (the location of the apparitons during the year 2001) Joseph recieved his dream telling them to go back to the land of Israel. This has led many commentators to suggest  that the year 2000 was the turning point of this re-enactment of the flight into Egypt, with the apparitions now making the homeward journey.

The backdrop of Egypt is doubly significant, as this is the location of the original "slaughter of the innocents" as recounted in the Book of Exodus, which acts as a precusor to Herod's massacre of the infants of Bethlehem:

 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land...”

 ...Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.” (Exod 1:8-10; 22)

And then again later in the Book of Exodus, we are told how the angel of death, or "Destroyer" as he is called in the original Hebrew (which recalls the Destroyer - "Apolloyon" or "Abaddon" of Rev 9), kills the Egyptian firstborn:

 Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you...
(Exod 12:21-23)

 ...At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead. (Exod 12:29-30)

It is also interesting to note that the Greek word used for "place" in Rev 12 - topos, is used elsewhere in the New Testament with the meaning of "temple" or "sanctuary". So the passage in Rev 12 could also be translated as "But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the temple where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time" - a translation which certainly evokes imagery of the apparitions of Our Lady of Light, which to date have almost exclusively occurred over church buildings.

So once we have determined that the primary reason for the the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt was the "slaughter of the innocents", we can see that this heavenly re-enactment of the nativity was to announce to the world that it was about to partake in a modern day "slaughter of the innocents". I will post a quote from my book Unveiling the Apocalypse: The Final Passover of the Church on this subject below:

Just as the original flight of the Holy Family into Egypt was necessitated by an act of mass infanticide, these apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Egypt began to appear amidst the backdrop of what was the beginning of the greatest act of infanticide the world has ever known – the legalisation of abortion. The year in which the apparitions in Zeitoun first occurred was a pivotal moment in process behind the legalisation of abortion. The Abortion Act in the UK came into effect during April 1968, the same month the apparitions began to take place. This year also saw President Lyndon Johnson's Committee on The Status of Women publishing a report calling for a repeal of all abortion laws in the US. The implementation of the UK Abortion Act was the major turning point in international abortion law, and was soon to be followed by a host of other nations. By mid-1969 ten US states had loosened their abortion laws, including Colorado, North Carolina, California, Georgia, Maryland, Arkansas, Kansas, Delaware, Oregon and New Mexico. Abortion on demand was eventually established after the US Supreme Court deemed individual state bans on abortion to be unconstitutional following the Roe v Wade case in 1973.

In France, women seeking an abortion began to travel to the UK to have the procedure after the Abortion Act came into effect in 1968. The relative ease of travelling to the UK to procure an abortion would lead to France revising its own abortion laws, and abortion was finally legalised in France in 1975. 

Therefore the appearances of the Virgin Mary in Egypt occurred at the exact moment the floodgates in abortion law had been opened. Was this a heavenly response to the blood of millions of innocents crying from the ground? 

Marian apparitions often occur before periods of great upheaval. Perhaps most famously, Our Lady appeared at Fatima just before the rise of communist Russia - with the Miracle of the Sun on the 13th October 1917 directly coinciding with the October Revolution which saw the Bolsheviks rise to power within a month. The other Church approved apparition at Beauraing and Banneux, in Belgium during the years 1932 and 1933 respectively appeared just before the rise to power of Hitler, who was made chancellor of Germany on 30th January 1933 - the same month when the first apparitions at Banneux occurred on the 15th. The apparitions at Kibeho, Rwanda, between 1981-1989 prophesied the Rwandian genocide, which was to claim the lives of an estimated 800,000 people in 1994, including one of the visionaries - Marie Claire. While the significance of the apparitions at Zeitoun are thought by some to be related to the Six Day War of 1967, it is much more likely to concern the legalisation of abortion, given the above background context. The fact that the Six Day War took place before these apparitions would also indicate that the Zeitoun apparitions were not related to this event, since all the other apparitions appeared before the events occurred. Our Lady first began to appear at Zeitoun on 2nd April 1968, and the UK Abortion Act was brought into effect just weeks later on 27th April.

Now that the apparitions of Our Lady of Light are in the process of making the return journey, we are left to reflect upon Matthew's quote of Hosea 11:1: "Out of Egypt I called my Son". During the season of Advent, the Church looks not only to the first coming of Christ, but it also focuses on His Second Coming. The birth-pangs of the Woman adorned with the Sun indicates that the Second Advent is near. Could these apparitions, which appear to be the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy of the Woman adorned with the Sun, signal that God is calling his Son out of Egypt to return to His earthly homeland?

Sunday 13 October 2019

The Miracle of the Sun and Our Lady of the Rosary

Today, October 13th, 2019, is the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun.  Looking back at this old blog post from 2014 on the subject of Sr. Lucia's recently published 1944 vision experienced at Tuy (here), it seems to be an even stranger "coincidence" that the earthquake swarm which struck Cumbre Vieja was on 7th October, 2017 (the centennial year of Fatima) - the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary.  The above blog post, which notes the importance of the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, has been left unedited since 2014. This is noteworthy, since my material on the significance of the 1999 solar eclipse traversing the site of ancient Nineveh is prevalent at the end of the article.  This is well before my material on the subject of the interpretation of the "sign of Jonah" and the eclipse at Nineveh went viral in 2017, after being plagiarised by Pastor Mark Biltz in the run-up to the Great American Solar Eclipse.

Below is the later article plagiarised by Pastor Mark Biltz, and the relevant YouTube video:

Also worth noting is the fact that my material on Sr. Lucia's 1944 Tuy vision was covered by the British Tabloid The Daily Star just before the centenary of the Miracle of the Sun (here), and a few weeks later, there were fears that Cumbre Vieja was about to erupt after the occurrence of an earthquake swarm began on October 7th - the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary - which was also covered by The Daily Star (here).

Wednesday 17 July 2019

The Sign of Jonah and Millennial Day Theory

St. Augustine of Hippo

As most regular readers of this blog will already know, a post I had published immediately after the publication of the second edition of my book Unveiling the Apocalypse: The Final Passover of the Church in November 2016 went viral in the run-up to the Great American Solar Eclipse, after being plagiarised by Pastor Mark Biltz (see here). I used the core content of this material as supporting evidence of the central thesis presented in my book - i.e. that the prophetic vision of Pope Leo XIII can be used to interpret the unbinding of Satan for the "little while" described in the Apocalypse, which takes place at the end of the "thousand years":

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. (Rev 20:1-3)

I had noted that there was good reason to believe that the Great American Solar Eclipse was also related to the two solar eclipses which appeared over the site of ancient Nineveh in 1914 and 1999, which had bookended the 20th century. It is highly unusual for a total solar eclipse to occur over any single location during the course of just one century, since there is usually a wait of several centuries for such an event to recur. The fact that the site of ancient Nineveh was in the path of totality at these two crucial junctures in history - at the beginning of the First World War and on the eve of the turn of the millennium (which marked the Great Jubilee Year of the Incarnation), gives us serious pause for consideration.

The first of these Nineveh eclipses, at the beginning of World War One, had occurred on the feast day of Our Lady of Knock on Aug 21st, 1914 - an apparition which I also argued had announced the opening of the scroll sealed with seven seals by the Lamb of Revelation described in Rev 5. The opening of the seven seals begins with the release of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which I argue is also recapitulated in the period of the unbinding of Satan at the end of the Millennium in Rev 20. Both events share the theme of the release of evil spirits towards the end of the world, and they should be compared side-by-side as a theological diptych in order to draw out a fuller understanding of the symbolism involved.

I had noted that a solar eclipse occurring over the site of ancient Nineveh was the most likely explanation for the original meaning behind the "sign of Jonah" - the historical Bur Sagale Eclipse which had appeared over the site of ancient Nineveh during the ministry of the Prophet Jonah. This event is thought by some theologians to be the primary cause of the repentance of the Ninevites, which is left unexplained in the Book of Jonah itself.

In my book, I argue that the mysterious "sign of Jonah" mentioned by Christ is one of the principle signs that marks the period of the unbinding of Satan at the end of the Millennium described in Rev 20. This was primarily because the sign of Jonah is mentioned in the immediate context of the "binding of the strong man" in Matt 12 - a passage which St. Augustine of Hippo had linked to the period of the unbinding of Satan described in Rev 20 while he was formulating his amilliennial view of the Apocalypse.

In turn, I also argue that the element of the "sign of Jonah" concerning the three days the prophet is said to have spent in the "belly of the great fish" provides an interpretive key to the "millennial day" theory discussed by the Early Church Fathers. Each of the days represented in the Sign of Jonah also represents a thousand years, indicating there is to be a separate division of a period of three thousand years to be made in the concept of the "Great Week" discussed by the Early Church Fathers. So the "sign of Jonah" factors into the symbolism of the prophetic understanding of the Sabbath Millennium, which St. Augustine had proposed would usher in the period of the unbinding of Satan at the end of the thousand years described in Rev 20:

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself says, No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man — meaning by the strong man the devil, because he had power to take captive the human race; and meaning by his goods which he was to take, those who had been held by the devil in various sins and iniquities, but were to become believers in Himself. It was then for the binding of this strong one that the apostle saw in the Apocalypse an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss, and a chain in his hand. And he laid hold, he says, on the dragon, that old serpent, which is called the devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,— that is, bridled and restrained his power so that he could not seduce and gain possession of those who were to be freed. Now the thousand years may be understood in two ways, so far as occurs to me: either because these things happen in the sixth thousand of years or sixth millennium (the latter part of which is now passing), as if during the sixth day, which is to be followed by a Sabbath which has no evening, the endless rest of the saints, so that, speaking of a part under the name of the whole, he calls the last part of the millennium — the part, that is, which had yet to expire before the end of the world — a thousand years; or he used the thousand years as an equivalent for the whole duration of this world, employing the number of perfection to mark the fullness of time....

The devil, then, is bound and shut up in the abyss that he may not seduce the nations from which the Church is gathered, and which he formerly seduced before the Church existed. For it is not said that he should not seduce any man, but that he should not seduce the nations — meaning, no doubt, those among which the Church exists — till the thousand years should be fulfilled,— i.e., either what remains of the sixth day which consists of a thousand years, or all the years which are to elapse till the end of the world.

(St. Augustine of Hippo, City of God XX:7)

As the Catechism points out, Christ had compared the sign of Jonah with His own resurrection three days after His death on the Cross:

It is Jesus himself who on the last day will raise up those who have believed in him, who have eaten his body and drunk his blood. Already now in this present life he gives a sign and pledge of this by restoring some of the dead to life, announcing thereby his own Resurrection, though it was to be of another order. He speaks of this unique event as the "sign of Jonah," the sign of the temple: he announces that he will be put to death but rise thereafter on the third day… (CCC 994)

The Early Church Fathers had discussed the possibility that the biblical chronology pointed to a prophetic week of millennia, which they had widely concurred was of major prophetic importance. The Epistle of Barnabas was one of the earliest such works to use the "sexta-septamillennial tradition" to interpret the significance of the Millennium described in the Apocalypse:

Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, “He finished in six days.” This implieth that the Lord will finish all things in six thousand years, for a day is with Him a thousand years. And He Himself testifieth, saying, “Behold, to-day will be as a thousand years.” Therefore, my children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, all things will be finished. “And He rested on the seventh day.” This meaneth: when His Son, coming [again], shall destroy the time of the wicked man, and judge the ungodly, and change the-sun, and the moon, and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the seventh day. Ye perceive how He speaks…I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world. (The Epistle of Barnabas Chap XV)

While some of the Early Church Fathers had proposed that Satan would be bound at the end of the six thousand year mark in the millennial day system (including the author of the Epistle of Barnabas himself), St. Augustine proposed that the binding of Satan had already occurred through the ministry of Christ, implying that it was the period of the unbinding of Satan that would take place at the end of the millennial week - as we can see from the above passage in City of God.

It has long been noted that there appears to be a division of this prophetic week of millennia into two separate sets - four millennial "days" leading up to the Advent of Christ, and then three other millennial "days" pointing towards the period of the unbinding of Satan before the restoration of the Church.

The kernel of the millennial day theory discussed by the Early Church Fathers can be found in Psalm 90:4 and 2 Pet 3:8: "But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." Some Protestant dispensationialists incorporate a further passage found in the Book of Hosea into the millennial day theory, in order to provide a bridging connection between the three days of the Sign of Jonah and the three days of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ.

After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. (Hos 6:2)

During the approach of the turn of the third millennium, Protestant dispensationalists had typically used the above passage in order to suggest that the "first resurrection" of the dead would soon take place during the Second Coming of Christ. This understanding led to the view that Christ would return around the turn of the millennium in order to establish a thousand year reign on earth after the resurrection of the righteous dead, during which Satan would be bound for the duration of the Sabbath Millennium. Once we apply St. Augustine's view concerning the significance of the Sabbath Millennium to the millennial day theory, a significantly different scenario emerges.

St. Augustine had suggested that the Sabbath Millennium should be used to interpret the timing of the period of the unbinding of Satan at the end of the thousand years. For St. Augustine, Satan was already bound through the sacrificial death of Christ, and he would be until the period of his unbinding at the end of the Millennium of Rev 20. For St. Augustine, the "first resurrection" was the resurrection of the soul after baptism, so there was no need to posit two separate periods of resurrections in the Apocalypse, before and after the thousand years, as is forwarded by the dispensationalists. According to St. Augustine's amillennial view, there will only be one resurrection of the dead at the end of the world, just before the Last Judgment.

So the resurrection after three days being described in the Book of Hosea isn't necessarily limited to the general resurrection of the dead at the end of the world, as it could also point to the restoration of the Church after the period of Satan's unbinding, since St. Augustine held that the Devil would once again be spoiled after the period of his unbinding, in order to allow for the Gospel to be proclaimed to the ends of the earth before the Second Coming of Christ:

For in accordance with this true saying that order is observed — the strong one first bound, and then his goods spoiled; for the Church is so increased by the weak and strong from all nations far and near, that by its most robust faith in things divinely predicted and accomplished, it shall be able to spoil the goods of even the unbound devil. For as we must own that, when iniquity abounds, the love of many waxes cold, Matthew 24:12 and that those who have not been written in the book of life shall in large numbers yield to the severe and unprecedented persecutions and stratagems of the devil now loosed, so we cannot but think that not only those whom that time shall find sound in the faith, but also some who till then shall be without, shall become firm in the faith they have hitherto rejected and mighty to conquer the devil even though unbound, God's grace aiding them to understand the Scriptures, in which, among other things, there is foretold that very end which they themselves see to be arriving. And if this shall be so, his binding is to be spoken of as preceding, that there might follow a spoiling of him both bound and loosed; for it is of this it is said, Who shall enter into the house of the strong one to spoil his goods, unless he shall first have bound the strong one?
(St. Augustine, City of God XX:8)

I had previously identified the tumultuous events of the 20th century with the unbinding of Satan at the end of the Millennium described in Rev 20 with the famous prophetic vision of Pope Leo XIII. After experiencing a vision of a horde of demonic entities surrounding the city of Rome (reflecting the scene of the camp of the saints being surrounded by the forces of Satan at the end of the Millennium in Rev 20), Pope Leo XIII had composed the Prayer to St. Michael, which was said at the end of every low mass up until the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. In my book, I argue that the beginning of this time period was most likely indicated by Pope Leo XIII himself, when he consecrated the entire human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1899. He called this consecration "the greatest act of my pontificate".

The link between a 100 year time frame and the act of consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was famously made by St. Margret Mary Alocoque. Exactly 100 years to the day after Christ had appeared to St. Margret Mary on 17th June, 1689, requesting the king of France to consecrate his country to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Third Estate rose up against the French Monarchy during the Revolution, stripping the king of his legislative powers on 17th June, 1789. This 100 year period in relation to the consecration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was also alluded to by Sr. Lucia:

Make it known to My ministers, given that they follow the example of the King of France in delaying the execution of My command, they will follow him into misfortune. It is never too late to have recourse to Jesus and Mary.’ (Sr. Lucia, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, p199)

It is surely no coincidence that another solar eclipse took place over the site of ancient Nineveh on 11th August, 1999 - 100 years after Pope Leo XIII consecrated the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This means that the "sign of Jonah" had once again appeared to delineate the boundaries of the "short time" given to Satan at the end of the "thousand years". The beginning of which was augured by the outbreak of the First World War, timed to coincide with yet another solar eclipse over Nineveh on 21st, August, 1914. The fact that the "three days" aspect of the sign of Jonah is so closely associated with the concept of the millennial day theory in Hosea 6:2 leads us to the conclusion that the period of revival on the "third day" described in this biblical passage is linked to the various prophecies of the restoration of the Church during the Second Pentecost, commonly described in the Middle Ages as the renovatio mundi.

In my book, I attempt to show how the chronology of the short time given to Satan can actually be broken down into several different components, just as the period of the Great Week is itself divided into two separate lots consisting of four thousand years and three thousand years. In his recently published book Pope Leo XIII and the Prayer to St. Michael, Catholic author and seminarian Kevin Symonds examines the history behind the composition of the Prayer to St. Michael. Here, Symonds presents a wealth of scholarly evidence which attests to the authenticity of the vision of Pope Leo XIII. The author has obviously undertaken a painstaking amount of research for this book, and has translated several key documents which were previously unavailable in English. A fresh batch of information is brought to light here, including additional material emanating from the eyewitness testimony provided by Fr. Pechenino, and a homily on Pope Leo's vision attributed to Cardinal Pedro Segura y Saenz. Among these new findings we find the surprising fact that the earliest accounts of this vision records that Satan had actually requested a period of 50-60 years in which to destroy the Church, rather than in the later versions which assert a 75-100 timeframe.

While these documents which Symonds has unearthed are undoubtedly the earliest of their kind, and therefore possess the strongest claim to the full truth on this matter, we cannot fail to notice that this contradicts the common perception that Pope Leo's prophetic vision comprised the entirety of the 20th century, rather than just the first half of it. On the surface, this discovery appears to indicate that the period of Satan's greater power ended around the middle of the 20th century, at the close of the Second World War. Once again, such a scenario appears to contradict the actual sequence of historical events, and it is plainly evident that the true grip of Satan's greater power only seemed to really take hold in the latter half of the 20th century, after the events of the Second World War, when the Sexual Revolution which took place in the 1960's coincided with a massive decline in the Church - paving the way for current apostasy we are still enduring today.

Symonds is solely concerned with presenting the facts on this matter however, and his efforts are to be commended, as they allow us to see this prophecy from a completely fresh perspective. In my book, I argue that the 50-60 years requested by Satan during Pope Leo's vision was actually only Satan's first attempt to destroy the Church. The vision of Pope Leo XIII is directly based on the story of the trials of Job described in the Old Testament. If we compare this prophecy with its primary inspiration in the Book of Job, the exact manner in which Satan tests Job is comprised of two distinct parts. In his first attempt, Satan claims Job's children by tearing down the house of their elder brother. After Satan's first attempt fails, he then comes back to request another chance to destroy Job's faith, this time by afflicting the prophet himself with a plague of terrible sores:

And the LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. 
(Job 2:2-10)

So if the prophecy of Leo XIII corresponds with the trials of Job, it would follow that Satan would have returned before the throne of God to request another attempt to destroy the Church after the period of 50-60 years had elapsed, this time by changing tack - manifesting a plague of sores upon the Church itself, rather than the physical destruction of its children through war. Such an interpretation would explain why there was such a sudden swerve in the middle of the 20th century, going from the two world wars in the first half, to the modern apostasy in the second, which yielded not only great changes within the Church itself, but also saw the rise of the sexual abuse crisis, as well as the worldwide resurgence in occultism brought about by the New Age Movement.

We can find some evidence to support this hypothesis in Symonds' work, which contains the account of the vision of Pope Leo given by Cardinal Segura, who provides an additional detail about Satan's first request of 50-60 years, stating that "God granted that period and said they would talk again at a later time…" (Symonds, K. Pope Leo XIII and the Prayer to St. Michael, p50). This strongly suggests that the conversation between God and the Devil would be continued after the failure of the first attempt, just like during the trials of Job. And if Satan was granted a further period of 50-60 years during this second attempt, this would bring the total amount of time up to 100-120 years, which is much more in line with the more well known version of this prophecy, and this revised figure fits much better with the actual unfolding of historical events.

The beginning of this time period appears to have been signified by Pope Leo's consecration of the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1899, which was requested by Christ Himself when He appeared to Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart in 1898. This parallels the 100-year time period between the request to consecrate France to the Sacred Heart during Christ's apparition to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and the beginning of the French Revolution. This interpretation identifies a major turning point in the period of Satan's greater power (when blemishes would be manifested on the Church itself) at around the year 1960, which ties us into the significance of Our Lady's words concerning when the Third Secret should have been originally published.

Satan's request of 50-60 years to destroy the Church is also extremely similar to Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich's prophecy of the unbinding of Satan towards the end of the world, which she seen during a vision of the binding of Satan during Christ's Descent into Hell:

In the centre of Hell I saw a dark and horrible-looking abyss, and into this Lucifer was cast, after being first strongly secured with chains; thick clouds of sulphureous black smoke arose from its fearful depths, and enveloped his frightful form in the dismal folds, thus effectually concealing him from every beholder. God himself had decreed this; and I was likewise told, if I remember right, that he will be unchained for a time fifty or sixty years before the year of Christ 2000. The dates of many other events were pointed out to me which I do not now remember; but a certain number of demons are to be let loose much earlier than Lucifer, in order to tempt men, and to serve as instruments of the divine vengeance. I should think that some must be loosened even in the present day, and others will be set free in a short time.

Blessed Emmerich's vision can therefore be completely reconciled with the vision of Pope Leo XIII if we are to understand the period of the unbinding of Satan above as lasting for 50-60 years, starting at an unspecified date before the year 2000, rather than taking place 50-60 years before the turn of the millennium. This would mean that the 50-60 year timeframe mentioned by Blessed Emmerich is one and the same as the period of Satan's greater power, rather than placing the unleashing of the Devil at around the years 1940-1950. Interpreted in this way, the true meaning of Blessed Emmerich's words would be "he will be unchained for a time [period lasting] fifty or sixty years before the year of Christ 2000".

If the period of Satan's greater power consists of two separate lots, just like the trials of Job (bringing the total up to 100-120 years), then it is interesting to note the timing of the end of this time period points not only to the significance of the turn of the millennium, but also to the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in 1917. In The Final Passover of the Church, I hope to show how both the separate figures of 100 and 120 years are of equal importance in this regard, as the defeat of Satan at the end time is actually also comprised of two separate events. The first is the eschatological expulsion of the Devil from heaven, when Satan is cast down to the earth by the Archangel Michael. This event, which takes place at the end of the period of Satan's unbinding, is the ultimate fulfilment of the Prayer to St. Michael, and is marked on earth by the appearance of the signs in heaven - all of which occurred at the turn of the millennium, hinging on the solar eclipse over the site of ancient Nineveh in 1999 (which corresponds with the millennial day theory espoused in the Epistle of Barnabas).

Once he is cast down to the earth, the Devil becomes even more enraged at the Woman Adorned with the Sun, and spews a flood out from his mouth in a last attempt to completely sweep her away:

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth.
(Rev 12:7-16)

If the appearance of the signs in heaven occurred at the turn of the millennium in order to herald when Satan has been cast down to earth, this means that this is the time period we are currently experiencing, and explains the significance of the 100-year element of this prophecy. However the flood sent out of the mouth of the Ancient Serpent is eventually swallowed up by the earth itself, which marks the second defeat suffered by Satan at the end of the period of his unbinding, and symbolises the restoration of the Church by the Two Witnesses during the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

If the period of the unbinding of Satan is actually broken down into two separate lots consisting of 100-120 years, demarking the timing of casting down of Satan to earth following his defeat in Heaven by the Archangel Michael, and the distinct period relating to the swallowing up of the flood which is sent forth from the mouth of the ancient Serpent after this event, then we have every reason to hope that the spoiling of the unbound Devil which St. Augustine expected to take place at the end of the short time of Satan is rapidly drawing near. 

It is perhaps no coincidence that the story of Noah's flood is similarly related to a 120 year time period. After the description of the fallen angels/Watchers sinning by engaging in sexual relations with human females given in the Book of Genesis, God said He would destroy the world by the Great Flood in 120 years as a consequence of this abomination:

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” (Gen 6:1-3)

So Noah similarly had a period of 120 years between a warning being given and the timing of the flood, which parallels the swallowing up of the flood poured out from the mouth of the Dragon in Rev 12. It is again no coincidence that Noah's Ark is traditionally held to have settled on Mount Ararat in Armenia after the occurrence of the flood, since the Armenian people faced one of the greatest persecution of Christians the world has ever known at the start of the period of the unbinding of Satan, which was perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks at the start of the First World War. The Armenian Genocide is also alluded to in the unbinding of the four angels of the Four Angels at the River Euphrates described in Rev 9:13-15, since this location focuses on the Khabur River, which was the exact site on which the Armenian Genocide was centred in the concentration camps of Deir es-Zor. (See the post The Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the Genocides of the 20th Century for more details on the significance of the Armenian Genocide in relation to the period of the unbinding of Satan).

If the millennial day theory discussed by the Early Church Fathers is concerned with providing us with a prophetic dating of the timing of the period of the short time of Satan rather than giving a literal date of creation, this means we can dispense with the Young Earth Creationist theory. A theory which is frequently used by vocal atheists such as Richard Dawkins as fodder for the whole science versus religion debate.

Friday 25 January 2019

The Russian Patriarch on the Antichrist and the World Wide Web

Rather amazingly, Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, has basically confirmed the theory I present in my book concerning the dangers of the World Wide Web in relation to the appearance of the Antichrist. Below is a report taken from The Daily Telegraph:

The Russian Orthodox patriarch has warned that the popularity of smartphones is paving the way for the coming of the Antichrist.
In an interview on state television for Russian Orthodox Christmas on Monday, Patriarch Kirill warned that the widespread use of gadgets connected to the Internet has opened the possibility for “universal control over humanity”. The “devil acts very wisely” in offering people such a “toy”, he said.
"Such control from one place forebodes the coming of the Antichrist,” Patriarch Kirill said. “The Antichrist is the person that will be at the head of the world wide web controlling all of humanity. That means that the structure itself poses a danger. There shouldn't be a single centre, at least not in the foreseeable future, if we don't want to bring on the apocalypse."
The patriarch maintained he wasn't categorically against gadgets, but warned that people should be careful not to “fall into slavery to what's in your hands”.
(See here for the full article.)

Even though Patriarch Kirill does not explicitly mention anything to do with the link between www and the number 666 in Hebrew gematria, there are clearly quite strong suggestions that the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church is a lot more informed on this subject than he is revealing on the surface. His remarkable claims are clearly based on something much more deeper than a mere "gut instinct" reacting against the dangers of modern technology.

I go into the link between the number of the beast and the letters www using Hebrew gematria in some considerable depth in my book Unveiling the Apocalypse: The Final Passover of the Church, and I even studied the Hebrew language at university level in order to better grasp the significance of this connection. My theory on this subject received the support of the late Catholic theologian Stratford Caldecott, whose studies also concentrated on the Apocalypse and Hebrew gematria. Stratford, whose work is widely lauded by many Catholic intellectuals, cited my theory in his book All Things Made New: The Mysteries of the World in Christ (Angelico/Sophia Perennis, 2011) and he alludes to my theories in several blog posts (see here and here for example). A whole issue of Humanum Review in which Stratford both edited and contributed to was based around the dangers of the internet and modern technology (see here).

In my book, I argue that given that we already have the very real possibility that all future commerce will be conducted electronically through smartphones, we don't need to look any further than this recent technological development to find the fulfilment of the prophecy of the "mark" of the beast. Given the fact that this prophecy was deliberately formulated as an antithetical parallelism of the Jewish practice of wearing phylacteries - small boxes containing pieces of Scripture worn on the forehead and arms, we can dispense with the more popular idea that this prophecy will only be fulfilled when the world's governments start forcing their populace to accept RFID microchip implants in order to participate in electronic commerce.

When I first developed this theory during a Hebrew class in 2005, the possibility that all future commerce would be conducted through smartphone devices was only a distant and somewhat abstract thought. Now that the use of smartphones in this capacity is an already widespread practice, we can clearly see this as rapidly approaching reality.

This doesn't mean that we should all collectively abandon our technological devices and suddenly retreat to self-sustaining farms in the countryside. It is only during the coming of the Antichrist that this technology will be exploited as a means of systematic control, as was pointed out by Patriarch Kirill. I have already argued extensively elsewhere that the time of the Antichrist is not imminent, since the period of the restoration of the Church foretold by many Catholic saints and mystics has to occur before the appearance of the Man of Sin. But given the non-neutral aspect of such technology, we must acknowledge that there are inherent dangers already built into the use of these devices, such as the corruption of childhood innocence, the use of explicit images to blackmail and peer pressure/psychological abuse on social media contributing to higher suicide rates, etc.

Now that the inherent dangers of the use of the world wide web and smartphone technology as a means of totalitarian control has been spelled out by one of the most important Church leaders in Christianity, it is surely only a matter of time before the Roman Catholic Pontiff will have to properly address this exact subject in a magisterial document. Patriarch Kirill has obviously carefully considered this rather controversial assessment of the risks of modern technology, and if an eventual consensus among Church leaders begins to develop on this issue in a similar vein, we could very well expect that its use will be condemned at some point in the future, when it becomes fully evident that the Antichrist will harness it as a means of control.

Below is some material on this subject that I have recycled from an older blog post:

I recently received a comment on the post A Cashless Society - Closer than you may think... which requires a rather lengthy answer, so I thought I would post it on the main section of the blog so that everyone can read. It concerns the primary argument I forward in my book Unveiling the Apocalypse - which attempts to show how the prophecy of the mark of the Beast may have already been fulfilled in the advent of internet-enabled mobile phones. The answer to the question below addresses a number of points that have been raised recently, mostly by people asking that if the prophecy of the mark of the Beast has already been fulfilled, then what are the direct spiritual implications of using these devices now in the present. The original question is given below:

OK--this is my question. If the Mark of the Beast is the cell phone as you say... well... aren't we all now under the mark of the Beast? (Or most of us. I actually don't have a cell phone--but I use a computer!) Aren't we all being decieved now? And does this mean we are putting our salvation in jeopardy if we use one? This is just not clear to me why using a cell phone (and I understand it's not quite up to the sophisticated level you are explaining on your blog--but it's coming along with a cashless society) is somehow sinister and evil. I understand the lack of interaction with people although that's happening now. Families are falling apart, sin is rampant... it's here already!
I also understand that your every move can be detected by someone by these devices, but we're really not that far from that now also. So... I need something to see how spiritualy this sophisticated cell phone Mark of the Beast is going to make me lose the salvation of my soul. Thanks for the interesting blog.

The most fundamental question raised above is that if the mark of the Beast has been fulfilled in the advent of cell phones, then how could the use of mobile phones cause spiritual harm? To answer this, we first need to deconstruct the question itself. The quite reasonable objection that it "is just not clear to me why using a cell phone... is somehow sinister and evil", can just as easily apply to receiving a microchip implant as the mark of the Beast. The word "cell phone" (underlined above) can justifiably be replaced with the word "microchip implant", to form the statement "is just not clear to me why using a microchip implant... is somehow sinister and evil" - since the same logic applies to both. The sole difference is that we have become psychologically conditioned over the past twenty years (since the theory was first introduced) to envision the reception of a microchip implant as the mark of the Beast. This conditioning has generated a considerable amount of fear around the act of receiving a microchip implant itself, to the point where this act has become inextricably equated with the reception of the mark of the Beast, and no other possible fulfilments of this prophecy have been considered. In fact the focus has been concentrated on microchip implants so much that it has blinded the vast majority of Christians to considering any alternatives, allowing for the implementation of the prophecy to be "sneaked through the back door" in a manner which is much more consistent with how the mark of the Beast would have been conceived by Jewish Christians in the first century AD - i.e. as a diabolical inversion of the practise of wearing phylacteries - physical objects bearing the name of God which were only worn temporarily during prayer services. But both the cell phone and the postulated future microchip implant are merely pieces of technology, and both are therefore essentially the same thing. The difference resides solely in how they are worn - if you were to somehow shrink a cell phone and pop it under the skin on your hand it would basically be a much more highly sophisticated version of a "mircochip implant".

One of the primary psychological factors which has enabled the mircochip implant to be perceived as the mark of the Beast is that it is a more permanent mark, and there is also a certain fear over the bodily intrusion this would cause - as if it would be like some form of technological parasite. Over time, the equation of the mark of the Beast with its original inspiration in the Jewish practise of wearing phylacteries was forgotten by Christians, as they became more distanced from their Judaic roots. This led to the development of a more literal conception of the mark of the Beast as the actual number 666 being branded or tattooed onto the subjects of the Antichrist - and these forms of brandishings are permanent and indelible marks. So gradually, the mark became considered to be permanent, and when the barcode hypothesis surfaced in the early 1980's after the publication of Mary Stewart Relfe's books When Your Money Fails and The New Money System, which was then combined with the RFID implant theory by Peter Lalonde in his 1991 book One World Under Anti-Christ, this appeared to provide a solution as to how the Antichrist could covertly brandish his subjects with a permanent mark that would be necessary in order to engage in commerce. This idea was then wildly popularised by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins' bestselling Left Behind series, and has since become so deeply entrenched in Christian apocalyptic thought that it is almost impossible to grasp any other alternative way in which this prophecy could be fulfilled. 

Yet the advent of non-intrusive biometric mapping (which is already being rolled out en masse in India) renders the use of RFID implants for identification purposes completely redundant. The use of iris and fingerprint scanning by the inbuilt camera in smartphones is already being touted as the most effective way of safeguarding NFC transactions from taking place through a stolen phone (see here). By using biometrics, the smartphone would automatically scan your iris or fingerprint before allowing any transactions to take place, bypassing the need for PIN codes.

When we look to the original practise that the prophecy of the mark of the Beast was based on, we find that phylacteries are physical box-shaped objects worn externally on the person, and they are only used temporarily. The idea of tiny objects containing barcodes being inserted under the skin (so that they would effectively be invisible), would have been extremely foreign to the mind of the original author of the Apocalypse. On a symbolic level, the mark of the Beast was meant to be understood as an open, fully visible display of allegiance to the Beast, just as the practice of wearing phylacteries was a public show of allegiance to God. This is why some Jews indulged in "keeping up with the Jones'" type behaviour, wearing ever bigger and more elaborate phylacteries to show that they honoured God more than anyone else - a practise which was condemned by Jesus:

They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.
(Matt 23:5-7)

There is nothing in the original Greek text of the Book of Revelation which would suggest that the mark of the Beast would be worn invisibly inside the hand. In fact we find the complete opposite. The original Greek of the Apocalypse concerning the mark of the Beast reads "ἵνα δῶσιν αὐτοῖς χάραγμα ἐπὶ τῆς χειρὸς αὐτῶν τῆς δεξιᾶς" "hina dosin autois charagma epi tes cheiros auton tes dexias". The word epi used here has the primary meaning of "upon" or "on", giving the meaning of "on" or "upon" their "right hand", rather than "inside" (which would require the word mesa). Moreover, the word charagma, as well as meaning a "mark" or "stamp", can also be translated as "sculpture", or "graven image". The NAS Greek Lexicon gives the definition of the word charagma as follows:

  1. a stamp, an imprinted mark
  2. of the mark stamped on the forehead or the right hand as the badge of the followers of the Antichrist
  3. the mark branded upon horses
  4. thing carved, sculpture, graven work
    1. of idolatrous images
(See here).

And in the one of the other instances in which this word is used in the Bible, in the Book of Acts, we find that charagma is also used in the sense of "graven image".

Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image [chargama] formed by the art and imagination of man.
(Acts 17:29)

Also the word dosin "to give" is usually translated in the sense of the giving of an object, rather than branding with a mark. So the word we have translated into English as "mark" was quite probably originally intended to mean "graven image". Indeed this translation makes better sense in context with the earlier reference to the image of the Beast which is fashioned by the False Prophet:

It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived.
And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.

(Rev 13:13-15)

The only difference being that the word used for "image" above is εἰκόνα eikona.
So the true translation of the passage concerning the "mark" or charagma of the Beast can just as easily be (and was most likely originally intended) as follows:

Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be given a graven image on the right hand or the forehead...
(Rev 13:16)

The significance of the mark being given in the "right hand" (dexias - from which we derive the word dexterity), could suggest that the "graven image" was in some way usable - as a tool for instance, since the vast majority of people are right-handed. And if the charagma of the Beast is to be directly identified with the image of the Beast fashioned by the inhabitants of the earth at the behest of the False Prophet in Rev 13:13-15, then we are informed that this graven image has the ability to speak, and would in some way lead to a persecution of the Church (to "cause those who would not worship the image of the Beast to be slain"). But those who remain steadfast during this trial to the point of martyrdom would eventually conquer the Beast, along with its image and the number of its name (which are directly linked here), through the reckoning of the seven bowl judgments:

And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands.
(Rev 15:2)

Furthermore, the "mark" or "graven image" of the Beast is presented in the Apocalypse as a parody of the sealing of the saints after the opening of the sixth seal in Rev 7. The first time the Seal of God is alluded to in the Apocalypse is in the letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor, which is described as a white stone with a name inscribed upon it - meaning that it is a physical object like the Jewish phylactery:

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.
(Rev 2:17)

We find that this theme of the sealing with a name recurs a number of times in the Apocalypse, and that it is parodied by the mark of the Beast, which is said to contain a number which represents the name of the Beast.

The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.
(Rev 3:12)

“Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel...
(Rev 7:3-4)

Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.
(Rev 14:1)

On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
(Rev 19:16)

Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.
(Rev 13:16-18)

So once we examine the textual evidence, we find that the mark of the Beast is presented as a diabolical inversion of the Jewish practise of wearing phylacteries, which are worn in a manner to symbolically represent the name of God as El Shaddai. In addition, the original Greek wording can just as easily refer to a graven image, which directly links it to the image that the False Prophet deceives the inhabitants of the earth into constructing for themselves, just as the Israelites were deluded into fashioning the Golden Calf. The image which the False Prophet incites the people into constructing has the illusion of life, and also the ability to speak. It also contains the number of the Beast, which by using the process of Hebrew gematria, can also be used to determine the name of the Beast itself. And the Greek word for "beast" - therion, has the numerical value of 666 once transliterated into Hebrew. 

The mark is also the demonic counterpart to white stone engraved with a name in Rev 2:17 - which is to be identified with the Seal of God given to the saints after the opening of the sixth seal in Rev 6. And the opening of the sixth seal, during which these acts of sealings takes place, is marked on earth by a series of astronomical and geophysical signs, including an earthquake, a total solar eclipse, a total lunar eclipse and a meteor shower - all of which occurred around the turn of the millennium at the exact moment of the marriage between cell phone technology and the worldwide web (www) with the introduction of WAP - which will allow for the future of commerce to be conducted solely through the www and mobile phones (see the post Signs in the Sky). In addition, some private revelations have suggested that the prophecy of the sealing of the saints took place during the turn of the millennium (see the post The Seal of God), and Fr Stefano Gobbi predicted that the prophecy of the mark of the Beast would be fulfilled in a time period which would begin in the year 1998 - which is 666 x 3 (see the post Fr Gobbi on the Mark of the Beast).

When we take into consideration that the three letter acronym for the worldwide web (through which all future commerce will be conducted via cell phones) - www, is the numerical equivalent of three sixes once transliterated into Hebrew (using the exact method which the number of the Beast was originally encoded - gematria), then we can conclude that the modern use of mobile phones fulfils every last aspect of the prophecy of the mark of the Beast (for additional information on the equation of www with 666 see the earlier post Hebrew 666?).

Like phylacteries, they are a physical object, temporarily worn externally on the person, and as the original Greek word charagma can suggest, they are a crafted object - or "graven image". In a further correlation to the image which the False Prophet causes the inhabitants of the earth to fashion, they have the appearance of life, and also the ability to speak.

So, in answer to the question if this means that we are "all now under the mark of the Beast?", then we would have to conclude, yes we are - and have been since the first merging of cell phone technology with the worldwide web in the year 1999 (which has a further symbolism in the fact that it resembles three sixes turned upside down - and this was the year after 1998, which is 3 x 666). I understand that this can be a frightening prospect, especially in light of the verses which appear to suggest that those who accepted the mark of the Beast would be eternally condemned to hell, but we have to take into consideration that there is also a symbolic layer to this prophecy which depicts those who have accepted the mark of the Beast as all the evil people who have ever lived - they represent "those whose name was not found written in the book of life" (Rev 20:15). So there is a certain amount of hyperbole included in these verses.

We have to remember that forgiveness is one of the cornerstones of Christianity. It would be extremely difficult to reconcile theodicy (the righteous of God) with the notion that someone would be eternally condemned to hell for accepting the mark of the Beast without any possibility of salvation, especially when they have been tricked into doing so. 

Since this is a Catholic blog, I assume that the majority of the readers are of the same religion. As such, Catholics are required to believe that the keys to heaven and hell - the very means of salvation, reside solely in the papal magesterium - which is protected by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, especially so when speaking ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals. Whatever form it would take, the mark of the Beast would have to be formally identified as such by the Church before it could be considered to have any spiritual effects as to the destiny of the soul. Until it does so, think of the material presented here as the "case for the prosecution". So I don't believe that using cell phones will have any immediate spiritual effects until the Church reaches a formal decision on this matter. For now, as far as I'm aware, no one of any authority in the Church is aware of these arguments - so any decision on this subject appears to be very far off indeed.  So technically speaking (in theory at least), if you own one now (and the vast majority of the readers of this blog almost certainly do) it should be possible to continue using one until the Church issues a verdict itself.

For Protestants however, who adhere to sola scriptura, unfortunately there is no such protection offered - they would have to form their own decisions in the present.

As to the question concerning how the use of cell phones could be evil in itself - this is fairly simple to answer. If the cell phone can be definitely established by the Church as the fulfilment of this prophecy, this identification alone would make using it inherently evil - since it would be tantamount to accepting the mark of the Beast. There is nothing that would distinguish using a cell phone from accepting a RFID microchip implant - the sole difference being that a large number of Christians already expect the mark of the Beast to be the latter. 

Yet the use of microchip implants seems to be positively morally benign compared to the propensity of the cell phone for evil purposes. The cell phone can be used as a medium to browse and upload material onto the www, viewing anything from violent and pornographic images, to arranging hook-ups with random strangers for sex. The lack of face-to-face social interaction often leads to a lack of inhibition and breaking of taboos.  A recent article in the Huffington Post has highlighted the increase in the trend of "sexting" (the sending of intimate photos to partners via cell phones) amongst teenagers - which are very often shared around school yards, and the resultant humiliation and bullying can in turn lead to suicide (see here). And paedophiles are exploiting this craze by pretending to be school children themselves, encouraging children to send them explicit photographs they have taken with their cell phones - which are then circulated around paedophile rings. 

The use of mobile phones is changing the way we act and live; slowly breaking down social boundaries through desensitisation and deforming the concept of moral behaviour. A microchip implant could never achieve such a capacity for leading people into immorality.

Yet, unlike a mircochip implant, everyone actually desires to have one. As well as being central to daily business operations and allowing us to keep in contact with family members, they have also become a fashion statement, with the use of older models often being met by sneers and derision - which brings us back to Jesus' condemnation of the ever more elaborate phylacteries worn by the self-aggrandising Jewish leaders in the 1st century. They have become a "catch-all" device, with in-built functions including internet gateway, gaming, camera, video recorder, and calculator. And this level of covetousness is even before they become central to engaging in commerce. The strong inclinations that will undoubtedly prevail in favour of keeping these devices means that a large number of people will already be programmed to automatically reject the idea that the cell phone could be the ultimate fulfilment of the prophecy of the mark of the Beast. They truly are a temptation worthy of the wiles of the Devil.