The Church and the world stand on the brink of the first part of the tribulation. It is not the end of the world, but only the beginning of the end times. But one of the most difficult sufferings of the tribulation for the Church is the great apostasy: an event in which most Catholics, many religious, many priests, and more than a few Bishops depart from the one true Church.
Those who depart will be more numerous than those who remain. And these apostates and heretics will eventually attempt to set up their own Church, with their own Pope (an antipope). The true Church will continue with one true Pope after another as her Head. But the members of the Church will be thrown into confusion and consternation as to what they should believe. Numerous incompetent teachers will rise up, claiming to show the way. Numerous false teachers and false visionaries will lead many astray. The faithful will have great difficulty discerning whom they should believe.
What can you do to remain faithful during this difficult time?
1. Have faith in the teaching authority (the Magisterium) of the Pope and the body of Bishops in communion with the Pope. For neither Pope, nor the body of Bishops, nor any Ecumenical Council can ever fall into apostasy or heresy or schism. God absolutely prevents this from happening, so that the Church will be the indefectible Rock of our salvation.
2. Do not adhere to any particular teacher or author or group of Catholics — not myself, not any priest who seems holy, not any author or speaker — more than to Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the authoritative interpretation of Tradition and Scripture found in magisterial teachings. And beware of false visionaries and their messages.
3. Do not insist on only one liturgical form, nor on any one set of disciplines. Do not insist on the Latin Mass only, or Communion on the tongue only, or Communion kneeling only, or any other point of liturgical form. The Church is about to pass through a time of great changes. The Protestants and Orthodox will repent and join the one true Church. There will be many different approved forms of liturgical service. The Church will not enforce one rigid form for the Mass.
4. No longer be content to have a limited understanding of Catholic teaching on faith, morals, and salvation. You will need to understand the basic principles of ethics taught by the Church, as well as the main teachings on salvation, grace, the Sacraments, the Trinity, and more. You will not be able to depend upon what seems to be the majority view of Catholics who seem to be faithful. You will need to have your own understanding, firmly rooted in Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium.
5. You will need to be able to distinguish between infallible teachings and non-infallible teachings. The infallible teachings of the Magisterium require the full assent of faith and allow for no faithful dissent. The non-infallible teachings of the Magisterium require a different type and degree of assent (religious assent) and allow for some licit faithful dissent. There will be a succession of Popes with short reigns, one liberal and the next conservative, with varying and contradictory non-infallible teachings and decisions of the prudential order. You must understand and distinguish between infallible teachings, non-infallible teachings, and theological opinion. And on open questions, you must keep an open mind, until the Magisterium decides the question.
6. Shun the many teachers of heresy who have become so popular with Catholics online. And do not assume that a conservative teacher is necessarily an orthodox teacher. There are grave doctrinal errors on both the right and the left among teachers of Catholicism today.
7. Shun all those who teach the Faith under cover of anonymity. Much harm is being done to the Church by the plethora of Catholics who tell their fellow Catholics what to believe and how to live, as if with great certitude and authority, while remaining anonymous. If anyone will not put their own real name on their claims about faith, moral and salvation, then you should ignore them.
8. Read the writings of Saints. Read Sacred Scripture. Pray the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Attend Mass regularly and GO TO CONFESSION at least once a month. You will need a strong prayer life and the support of the Sacraments in order to endure faithfully during the great apostasy.
9. Humility. You must not place your own opinions, reasonings, or understanding above the teachings of Jesus and His Church. I have noticed that the many Catholics who have gone astray from the faith all have one thing in common: a lack of humility. They do not submit their will and intellect to the teaching authority of the Church. Some pretend to do so, by means of a radical re-interpretation of any Church teaching they dislike. But their arrogance is all too apparent.
“We have met the enemy, and he is us.” During the great apostasy, you could be your own worst enemy.
If you only believe the ideas that seem right to your own mind, you do not have faith at all. If you adhere to your own understanding in opposition to the definitive teachings of the Pope, or any Ecumenical Council (including Vatican II), or the ordinary and universal Magisterium, then you have gone astray. Some licit dissent from a non-infallible teaching is faithful and without sin. But the vast majority of the dissent that occurs today, and will occur during the great apostasy, will be illicit and unfaithful.