The Apocalypse of St. John by Rev. E. Sylvester Berry [1921]
The Apocalypse of St. John 
by Rev. E. Sylvester Berry [1921]
Taken from here.

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Censor Deputatus

Bishop of Columbus
June 15, 1921


The book of the Apocalypse is unlike any other book of the New Testament and is full of consolation and instruction to all who read its inspired and prophetic words. It lifts the soul up to the beauty and grandeur of Heaven shows us in all their glory the joys and triumphs of those who were once like our selves but who are now changed and happy with those "who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." How consoling it is to turn from the sordid things of earth to be carried away with the sublime words that lead us to the throne of God to the company of the Angels and Saints to the new Jerusalem with streets of gold to the river and tree of life to hear the voice of God Himself saying "Blessed is he that keepeth the words of the prophecy of this book."

The following pages will be most interesting to those who love to study the word of God. Father Berry has entered a new field for there is practically no study of the Apocalypse in the English language and the points and explanations he has placed before us are both interesting and instructive. The student will read it with pleasure and profit. St. Jerome tells us "The Apocalypse has as many mysteries as words or rather mysteries in every word." The author has tried in a simple scholarly way to help us view them all with pleasure and understanding. 

Bishop of Columbus. Columbus, Ohio, June 18th, 1921.



In the study of Holy Scripture it is necessary to bear in mind that its various books are not separate and independent works. It is true, they were written by persons widely distant from one another in time and place, yet the Holy Ghost, their true Author, coordinates them all to one common purpose. The different books are but so many chapters of one and the same great work whose first chapter recounts the origin of the world by creation; its last, foretells the final consummation of all things. The intervening chapters relate in order various happenings between these two extremes. 

The Bible does not give a complete history of mankind; in fact it is not intended to teach history as such. The Holy Ghost wishes to strengthen our faith, arouse our hopes in the mercies of God, and instill our hearts with the fear of His punishments. For this purpose He gives a summary view of God s dealings with mankind. There is only an occasional glimpse of things not closely connected with this main purpose. The origin of the material world is briefly sketched while the creation of the angels is only referred to incidentally. But the questions which concern us more directly are treated at length. Our nature, our origin, and our destiny summarize the content of Holy Scripture. It teaches that man is a free and intelligent being created in a state of grace and destined to be united with God in Heaven for all eternity. Through abuse of free will man fell from this high estate and is daily exposed to sin and suffering, but the merits of Christ's death on the cross have redeemed man s fallen nature and placed him once more upon the way of salvation. 

The person of Christ thus becomes the central figure of all Scripture. He is the "alpha and omega, the be ginning and the end. " As God, He created all things "and without Him was made nothing that was made, in Him was life and the life was the light of men." 2 As man, Christ is the greatest handiwork of God, the "first-born of every creature.3 As the God-man, He is our Redeemer, the "only name under Heaven given to men whereby we must be saved."4 Thus is Jesus Christ the centre from which all things radiate, around which all revolve, and in which all must finally converge. 

After recounting the creation and fall of man, the Old Testament announces the coming of the Saviour and narrates the preparation of mankind for this great event. 

The Gospels and Epistles give the life of our Lord and rehearse His teachings. The Acts of the Apostles outline the first years of the new-born Church. The Apocalypse gives a prophetic history of the Church from the days of St. John to the final consummation of the world. 

In its general purpose the Apocalypse does not differ from the other Scriptures. It is to teach men a knowledge of God, enlighten their faith, strengthen their hopes, and give them a rule of conduct by which they may obtain eternal salvation. It is also intended to fortify the faithful in time of trial and temptation, and to guide the Church in every age. In this respect the Apocalypse simply enlarges upon the warnings of Christ concerning persecution of His Church. "The servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me they will also persecute you. . . . They will put you out of the synagogue; yea the hour cometh that whosoever I killeth you, will think that he doth a service to God."5 

Christ has promised that the gates of hell shall never pre vail against His Church,6 but this very promise fore shadows a mighty conflict with the powers of darkness. The Apocalypse tells of the trials and sufferings of the Church in this great conflict and prophesies her final triumph according to the promise of Christ: "Behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world." Hence the prophecies of the Apocalypse should be a source of consolation when we see the Church opposed and persecuted for we have the assurance of the Holy Ghost that she shall come forth triumphant and reign peacefully over all nations.

In other parts of Scripture, purely historical events serve merely as a background upon which are depicted the designs of Providence. St. John pursues a similar method in the Apocalypse. He does not intend to give a detailed prophetic history of the Church. He singles out the more important points to serve as guide-posts along the course of centuries. It may be said that he" gives only the philosophy of the Church s history, the underlying causes of all its outward events. 

The laws of sacred and profane history are alike; similar causes must produce similar effects. Hence all history repeats itself in general outlines. Only accidental circumstances differ. This explains why the Apocalypse is written under the form of symbolic visions instead of ordinary discourse. It must give in a few pages a resume of many centuries. One and the same prophecy often announces many similar events separated in time by centuries. The account must be limited to the barest outlines and stripped of every accidental circumstance. 

Symbolic visions are best suited to this purpose. More over they admit of mystic and moral interpretations profitable to the faithful of every age.

The prophecies of the Apocalypse consist almost entirely of symbolic visions whose allegorical sense must be the sense intended by the Holy Ghost. Any other interpretation is unwarranted except where the Apostle has evidently abandoned allegory for ordinary discourse. The chief duty of the interpreter is to search out the key of each symbol. The prophetic writings of the Old Testament greatly facilitate this work because the Apocalypse is strongly tinged with the imagery of the prophets of old and in many instances it further develops prophecies first announced by them.

A study of the Gospels and Epistles also gives a clue to the proper interpretation of many things in the Apocalypse. Thus, for example, the Gospels make it plain that the "kingdom of God" or the "kingdom of Heaven" is the Church in time or in eternity. Again it is evident from the Epistles and from the Acts of the Apostles that the ancients [illegible] are the Apostles, and the bishops and priests of the church.8 

In some cases St. John himself gives the key to his visions. Thus, an angel is an Apostle or bishop sent by Christ to, teach and govern His Church. In a similar sense our Lord calls St. John the Baptist an "angel. " In other cases the meaning is evident from the context. The "Lamb standing as it were slain10 can be none other than Christ triumphant at the right hand of God the Father. Hence the words "as it were slain must refer to Christ mystically slain in the Holy Eucharist. 

It has been customary to divide the Apocalypse into seven visions with a prologue and an epilogue, as follows:

Prologue I, 1-8

1st Vision. Letters to the seven churches. 1, 9 iii, 22.

2nd Vision. The seven seals, iv, 1 viii, 1.

3rd Vision The seven trumpets, viii, 2 xi, 18.

4th Vision,
(a) The woman and the dragon.
(b) The beast of the sea.
© The beast of the earth.
(d) The harvest and the vintage, xi. 19 xiv, 8.

5th Vision. The seven angels with seven plagues, xv, 1 xix, 2 1 .

6th Vision. The binding and loosing of Satan, xx, 1-15.

7th Vision. The resurrection, general judgment, and the heavenly Jerusalem, xxi, 1 xxii, 5.

Epilogue XXII, 6-21

Instead of this commonly received division, the following is here submitted in the belief that it is justified by the commentary which follows. Yet in
this, as in all things, we submit to the unerring judgment of the Church, the "pillar and ground of the truth." 12

Prologue I, 1-8

Part I From the Days of St. John to the Opening of the Abyss

i. General warning to the churches, i, 9 iii, 22. ii. Constitution of the Church, chs. iv-v.

iii. Persecution of the Church, and fall of the pagan Empire of Rome. ch. vi.

iv. The Church firmly established, ch. vii. v. The Vicissitudes of the Church, eh. viii.

Part II. From the Opening of the Abyss to its Closing

i. Preparation for the Reign of Antichrist.

(a) Heresies and Religious Wars. eh. ix.

(b) A Preparatory Vision, ch. x.

(c ) The Two Witnesses, ch. xi.

(d) Conflict between the Church and Satan, ch. xii.

ii. The Reign of Antichrist and his Overthrow.

(a) Antichrist and his Prophet, ch. xiii.

(b) Prophets of Victory, ch. xiv.

(c ) Seven Plagues on the Empire of Antichrist, chs. xv-xvi.

(d) The Beast and the Harlot, ch. xvii.

(e) The Fall of Babylon, ch. xviii.

(f ) The Hymn of Victory, and the Condemnation of Antichrist and his Prophet, ch. xix.

Part III From the Closing of the Abyss to the End of the World

i. The Universal Reign of Jesus Christ, xx, 1-6.

ii. The Loosing of Satan and the Last Persecution, xx, 7-10.

iii. The Resurrection and General Judgment, xx, 11-15. iv. The Heavenly Jerusalem, xxi, 1 xxii, 5.

Epilogue XX, 6-20

According to tins division the three parts of the Apocalypse correspond to three successive periods in the history of the Church and furnish a prophetic history that extends from the time of St. John to the final triumph of the Church in glory. 

The above division of the Apocalypse and the explanation which follows are based upon an article by Pere Gallois, 0. R, which first appeared in the Revue Biblique. It was then issued in pamphlet form by P. Lethielleux, Paris, in 1895, with a prefatory letter by Pere Monsabre, 0. P., which, we believe, is sufficient guaranty for its complete orthodoxy. The present work is practically an enlarged adaptation of the article by Pere Gallois, but many departures from his opinions demand that it be issued as a separate work with due acknowledgment to the original author. It is not intended to be a complete exegesis of the Apocalypse, yet we hope it may lead to a better understanding of those obscure prophecies in which the Holy Ghost foretells the vicissitudes of the Church and its final triumph over all enemies. 

(1) Apocalypse i, 8. 
(2) St. John i, 3, 4.
(3) Colossians i, 15. 
(4) Acts of the Apostles iv, 12. 
(5) St. John xv, 18-20; xvi, 2.
(6) St. Matthew xvi, 18.
(7) St. Matthew xxviii, 20.
(8) Cf. Acts xi, 30; xiv, 23; Titus i, 5; 1 Timothy v. 19; 1 Peter v. 1.
(9) St. Matthew xi, 10.
(10) Apocalypse v, 6.
(11) Cf. Comely, "Cursus Scripturae Sacrae" vol. iii, page 715 sq.; Gigot, "Apocalypse of St. John" in Westminster version.
(12) 1 Timothy iii, 15.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

Blessed is he that readeth and heareth the words of this prophecy; and keepeth those things which are written in it. APOCALYPSE iv : i.


1. The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to make known to his servants the things which must shortly come to pass and signified, sending by his angel to his servant John,

2. who hath given testimony to the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ, what things soever he hath seen. 

3. Blessed is he that readeth and heareth the words of this prophecy: and keepeth those things which are written in it. For the time is at hand.

1. The revelation (Apocalypse) of Jesus Christ. The Greek word apocalypse signifies a revelation; a making known. It also means the revealing of one s self, a coming. Both meanings are appropriate here. It is a revelation which Christ has made concerning His Coming in power and majesty. It is also a prophecy of events leading up to this second coming. 

These things must shortly come to pass. They comprise the whole history of the Church from the time of Christ until the end of the world. Hence their accomplishment was already beginning in the days of St. John. 

This revelation has been confided to Jesus Christ by God the Father. Christ in turn sends an angel to impart it to His servant John. Angels are the natural intermediaries between God and man. 

They often fulfilled this mission before the time of Christ. Today their ministry is less needed for this purpose since we have the unerring Church of Christ as our teacher and guide in all things pertaining to salvation.

2. By writing these revelations St. John has given testimony to God and to Jesus Christ. Testimony may be given by word or by works, especially by
martyrdom. St. John here gives testimony by written word.

3. Whoever reads this book, opens his heart to its teachings, and conforms his life to its precepts is worthy of eternal happiness. Let no one say that the book was written for future ages only. It is already being fulfilled and every Christian should find therein a rule of life suited to the circumstances in which God has placed him.

4. John to the seven churches which are in Asia. Grace be to you and peace from him that is, and that was, and that is to come, and from the seven spirits which are before his throne. 

5. And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth, who hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,6, and hath made us a kingdom and priests to God and his Father, to him be glory and empire for ever and ever. Amen.

7. Behold he cometh with the clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also that pierced him. And all tribes of earth shall bewail themselves because of him. Even so. Amen.

8. I am alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, saith the Lord God, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.

4. St. John begins by laying down a rule of conduct for those of his own times. He is an Apostle, and in particular, the Apostle of Asia Minor. Hence he addresses himself to the bishops and churches of that province; yet his words are of universal application. Through the churches of Asia Minor, he addresses all churches through out the world for all time.

Some interpreters take the seven churches as types of seven ages in the Church. Much can be said in favor of this opinion, but it is difficult to
distinguish periods in the Church corresponding to the characteristics of these seven churches as described in the Apocalypse. Thus, for ex ample,
the church of Ephesus, characterized by lack of fervor and zeal, would represent the Apostolic period of the Church. But it cannot be said with
any historical ac curacy that the Church in that age was especially noted for lack of fervor and zeal.

The simpler and, as we believe, the more correct view likens these letters of St. John to many of St. Paul's Epistles which were written to particular churches for particular purposes, but intended by the Holy Ghost to be documents of warning and instruction for all churches and for all times. The universal character is much more evident in these seven letters than in the Epistles of St. Paul. They were not sent as separate letters to the individual churches, but form an integral part of the Apocalypse which was sent to each church as one complete document. In Holy Scripture "seven" is the most sacred of numbers. The seventh day of the week was consecrated to God in a special manner. The Paschal feast lasted seven days. Seven weeks later came the feast of Pentecost when seven lambs were offered in sacrifice. Seven sprinklings of blood were prescribed for sin. In the Holy Place stood the seven-branched candlestick with its seven lights.

In fact the number seven is found on almost every page of Holy Scripture. It is the perfect number, the symbol of perfection, fullness, or universality. It seems to have acquired this meaning from the fact that God completed the work of creation in six days and rested on the seventh which He blessed and sanctified. 1

The Apostle prays for peace and grace; not such peace as the world can give, but peace and grace from God. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I
give unto you; not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. " This peace from heaven is proclaimed upon earth by the seven spirits who stand before
the throne of God. Three of them are known by name. They are the Archangels Raphael, Gabriel, and Michael. St. Raphael said: "I am the Angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord." He was sent with a message of peace to Tobias of old.1 St. Gabriel announced peace to Daniel, to the Priest Zacharias, and to the Blessed Virgin.4 St. Michael, the special protector of the Jewish nation,5 now guards the Church against her enemies that she too, may enjoy the peace that comes from God.

5. The. seven spirits also represent the ministers of the Church who preach the Gospel of peace and grace to all nations. Jesus Christ, their Master, is the Prince of Peace, and becomes for us the source of all grace through the merits of His life, death and resurrection. All earthly kings and rulers must accept His law and govern according to His precepts because He is King of kings and Lord of lords.

Through the infinite love of Jesus Christ we have been redeemed and cleansed from sin by His Blood. "Having loved his own who were in the
world, he loved them unto the end."1 "And the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin."

6. Christ has established the Church as His kingdom upon earth with the bishops and priests as its teachers and rulers. Hence St. John says to the bishops, his co- laborers in the Church: We have been made kings and co-heirs of His kingdom; we have been chosen priests to render glory to His
eternal Father. To Christ also belongs equal honor through all ages because he is God, equal to the Father in all things.

Those to whom St. John writes are priests and rulers in the Church. This proves that St, John does not write directly to the different churches but to
their bishops. Hence the words of praise or reproof written to the "angels" are personal warnings to the bishops and through them to the churches.

7. Looking down the vista of ages, St. John sees our Lord coming in clouds of glory to judge the living and the dead. With the prophets of old,
clouds were ever symbols of divine majesty. It is worthy of note that the Apocalypse is literally filled with striking expressions of St. John s faith
in the divinity of Christ. This is proof sufficient that this dogma of Faith was not invented after the time of the Apostles as rationalists would have us believe.

At His second corning Christ will be manifest to all; even those who put Him to death on the cross shall behold His power and majesty. Then will all nations mourn be cause of the judgment that awaits them. The last words of this verse express the certainty that these things must come to pass. They are also a prayer: "So let it be. Amen."

8. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and omega the last. Hence Christ calls Himself "alpha and omega, the beginning and the end."

(1) Genesis ii, 1-3.
(2) St. John xiv, 27.
(3) Tobias xii. 15.
(4) Daniel ix, 21; St. Luke i, 19-5
(5) Daniel xii, 1.
(6) Apocalypse xii, 7.
(7) St. John xiii, 1.
(8) 1 John i, 7.
(9) See above, page G.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

From the Time of Christ to the Opening of the Abyss

The voice which I heard, as it were the voice of a trumpet said: Come up hither, and I will show thee the things which must be done hereafter. APOCALYPSE iv: i.


9. 1 John, your brother and your partner in tribulation, and in the kingdom, and patience in Christ Jesus, was in the island which is called Patmos, for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus. 

10. 1 was in the spirit on the Lord s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

11 . Saying: What thou seest, write in a book: and send to the seven churches which are in Asia, to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamus, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea. 

12. And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me And being turned, J saw seven golden candle sticks:

13. "And in the midst of the seven golden candle sticks, one like to the son of man," clothed with a garment down to the feet, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 

14. And his head and his hairs were white, as white wool, and as snow, and his eyes were as a flame of fire.

15. And his feet were like unto fine brass, as in a burning furnace. And his voice as the sound of many waters.

16. And he had in his right hand seven stars. And from his mouth came out a sharp two-edged sword: and his face was as the sun shineth in his power.

17. And when I had seen him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying: Fear not. I am the first and the last,

18. And alive and was dead, and behold I am living for ever and ever and have the keys of death and of hell.

19. Write therefore the things which thou hast seen, and which are and which must be done hereafter.

20. The mystery of the seven stars, which thou sawest in my right hand- and the seven golden candle sticks. The seven stars are the seven angels of the seven churches. And the seven candlesticks are the seven churches. 

9. "For the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus refers to sufferings which St. John endured for his faith. Thus the martyrs were slain "for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held."3 This interpretation is confirmed by the fact that the Apostle shared in the sufferings of his brethren; he was "a partner in their tribulations. He was even then suffering the hard ships of exile in Patmos. 

Many authors take the words of St. John to mean that he was on the Island of Patmos for the purpose of receiving the "word of God" and to give testimony by his writing. But in the Apocalypse St. John does not use the Greek word "dia" in connection with the "word of God" to express a purpose. It always means "for the sake of' or "in consequence of." No doubt, St. John would also look upon his banishment as an act of divine Providence preparing him for these great revelations. 

Toward the end of Domitian s reign, St. John was brought to Rome and cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. Miraculously escaping from this he was banished to the Island of Patmos about the year 95 A. D.2 Upon the death of Domitian the following year, St. John returned to Ephesus where he died a peaceful death about 100 A. D. 

Patmos is a desolate island of volcanic rocks in the Aegean Sea, about sixty miles southwest of Ephesus. Its excellent harbor made it a stopping place for vessels on the way from Rome to Ephesus. Pliny informs us that it was used as a place of exile. 3 A cave about half way between the shore and the modern town of Patmos is pointed out as the spot where St. John received his revelations. 

10. St. John received this revelation on Sunday the Lord s day. This fact is interesting because it shows at what an early date the Christians dedicated the first day of the week to the service of God as indicated by the name Lord s day.4 Perhaps St. John had withdrawn from his fellow exiles on that day to devote himself to prayer. 

11. While thus engaged in prayer he heard a voice clear and piercing as a trumpet blast. It was a voice to be heard to the uttermost parts of the earth.

12, 13. Turning to see whence the voice came, St. John beheld a vision of seven golden candlesticks, and in the midst of them our Lord, clothed in the white robe of the priesthood. He appeared to St. John in his human form like to the son of man."

The seven candlesticks represent the seven churches of Asia. As noted above, seven is the perfect number which denotes universality. Hence by extension the seven candlesticks represent all churches throughout the world for all time. Gold signifies the charity of Christ which pervades and vivifies the Church. 

14. The snow-white locks are a symbol of wisdom and eternity. The all-seeing eyes were as flames of fire- terrible to the wicked, but a symbol of all-consuming love for the faithful. Fire is one of God's great gifts to man, yet it is also man's most destructive enemy.

15. The feet of glowing brass remind us of the rigorous justice of divine judgments. The voice, like the roar of mighty waters, proclaims mercy and love to the faithful, but threatens punishment to the wicked. Water, like fire, is a great good, or a terrible evil according to circumstances.

16. The seven stars represent the seven bishops of Asia and through them all bishops of the Church. Bishops are stars set in the firmament of the Church to enlighten and direct the faithful through the dark sea of life. Christ holds the stars in His right hand to show His great solicitude for those charged with the government of His Church and the care of souls.

The sharp two-edged sword is the Gospel which destroys sin and heresy. "The word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any two-edged sword. * 

The countenance, bright as noon-day sun, reveals the glory of Christ s risen body. It is also a symbol of the enlightening power of the Gospel which leaves the wicked without excuse for their wilful blindness. "If I had not come and spoken to them. they would not have sin : but now they have no excuse for their sin."6 

17, 18. Overcome with fear and admiration St. John fell to the ground. Our Lord then revealed His identity with words of reassurance: "Fear not, for I am the Lord who arose from the dead to die no more." "Christ rising again from the dead, dieth now no more; death shall no more have dominion over him"7 because He holds the keys of death and hell. The words of Christ must certainly have carried St. John back to that other scene on Mount Tabor where our Lord revealed His glory to the three Apostles some sixty-five years before.8

19, 20. Christ Himself explains the meaning of the candlesticks and stars. He thus shows that the prophecies of the Apocalypse are to be understood in an allegorical sense unless the text clearly indicates a different interpretation. In some few passages the meaning is explained. In most cases the interpretation must be sought in the writings of the prophets who used like symbols to express similar truths.

(1) Apocalypse vi, 9.
(2) Eusebius, "Church History" iii, 18; Tertullian, "Prescriptions against Heretics" xxxvi.
(3) Pliny, "Natural History" iv, 12,13.
(4) Cf. also Acts of the Apostles xx, 7; 1 Corinthians xvi 2
(5) Hebrews iv, 12.
(6) St. John xv, 22.
(7) Romans vi, 9.
(8) St. Matthew xvii, 1-8.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre


1. Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write: These things saith he, who holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks:

2. 1 know thy work, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them that are evil, and thou hast tried them who say they are apostles, are not, and hast found them liars;

3. And thou hast patience, and hast endured for my name and hast not fainted.

4. But I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first charity.

5. Be mindful therefore from whence thou art fallen: and do penance, and do thy first works. Or else I will come to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou do penance.

6. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaites, which I also hate.

7. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saithto the churches. To him that overcometh, I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of my God.

1. The angels addressed by St. John are the bishops of the churches to which he writes. The Greek word ἄγγελος means "one sent," a "messenger." Bishops are ministers sent by Christ to rule His Church.

Ephesus was an important city on the western coast of Asia Minor. It was chiefly noted for the temple of Diana which was counted among the seven wonders of the world. The temple was stripped of its riches by Nero and finally destroyed by the Goths in 262 A. D. St. Paul preached the Gospel in Ephesus for three years and left his disciple, St. Timothy, as bishop, to carry on the work. St. John also spent his last years at Ephesus where he wrote the fourth Gospel. An ancient tradition says that Mary Magdalene also died at Ephesus. Today Ephesus is represented by Aya Solouk, a village of 3000 inhabitants. Below the village lie the ruins of the ancient city. Remains of the temple and theater are still pointed out to the visitor. 

St. Timothy was probably the "angel" of Ephesus to whom St. John writes in the Apocalypse. He is praised for his untiring labors in preaching the Gospel and his zeal in rooting out false teachers. He has also suffered persecution for Christ's name. St. Paul informs us that St. Timothy had been imprisoned for his faith, but he gives none of the circumstances. 1 

St. Timothy is now reprimanded because he has lost much of his former zeal. St. Paul had recognized in his beloved disciple a gentleness of nature that easily leads to the lack of that zeal and firmness so necessary in a bishop. Hence he wrote to St. Timothy : Stir up the grace of God which is in thee by the imposition of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of sobriety." And again:14 Preach the word. Be instant in season and out of sea son. Reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doc trine."3 

What St. Paul feared has come to pass. The words of St. John leave the impression that there has been a serious falling off in fervor and zeal. The consequences will be all the greater now that persecution is at hand. St. John takes the place of the former master to warn St. Timothy. His words were fruitful and St. Timothy won the martyrs crown soon after. 

To persevere in fervor and zeal is one of the greatest difficulties of an apostolic life. Yet it is the strict duty of every apostle worthy the name.

5. A terrible punishment awaits St. Timothy unless he regain his former zeal in the ministry. The nature of this chastisement indicates that the faithful were at fault even more than their bishop. "I will remove thy candle stick (church) out of its place" by means of persecution, heresy, schism, and apostacy. Only too often has this threat been carried out in the history of the Church. It is a menace hanging over every church that loses its first fervor and abandons its first works.

6. Our Lord commends St. Timothy for his hatred of the Nicolaite heresy. The Nicolaites were noted for their corrupt teachings and manner of life. The sect probably took its name from the founder. Some wish to identify him with Nicholas, one of the seven deacons ordained at Jerusalem. 3 St. Paul had warned Timothy of errors similar to those of the Nicolaites: "Some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error and doc trines of devils. Speaking lies and hypocrisy and having their conscience seared. Forbidding to marry, to abstain from meats."4

Christ does not say that He hates the Nicolaites. He hates only their evil works and their errors. This teaches us that we must ever hate all error, but love the erring, especially those who err through no fault of their own. Our love for them should show itself in earnest efforts to bring them to the knowledge and love of truth.

7. A great reward is promised to those who over come heresy and sin by reclaiming the wandering to the true Faith. "To him that overcometh I will give to eat of the tree of life." Christ Himself is this tree of life whose fruit is the Holy Eucharist on earth, and eternal union with Him in heaven.

(1) Hebrews xiii, 23.
(2) II Timothy i, 7; iv, 2.
(3) Acts of the Apostles vi, 5.
(4) I Timothy iv, 1-3; cf. also Irenaeus "Adversus Haeresas" xxvi, 3.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

12. And to the angel of the church of Pergamus write: These things saith he that hath the sharp two-edged sword:

13. I know where thou dwellest, where the seat of Satan is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith. Even in those days when Antipas was my faithful witness, who was slain amongst you where Satan dwelleth.

14. But I have against thee a few things: because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, to eat and to commit fornication.

15. So thou hast also them that hold the doctrines of the Nicolaites.

l6. In like manner do penance: or else I will come to thee quickly and will fight against thee with the sword of my mouth.

17. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith to the churches. To him that overcometh, I will give the hidden manna, and will give him a white counter, and in the counter, a new name written, which no man knoweth, but he that receiveth it.

12. Pergamus, one of the most magnificent cities of ancient times, was located on the River Caicue about fifteen miles from the sea and sixty miles north of Smyrna. It seems that paganism was deeply rooted at Pergamus. Tacitus mentions its famous temple to Aesculapius, the god of medicine.1 There was also a number of the im moral Nicolaites at Pergamus. Persecution had already broken out there in the time of St. John. At least one Christian had valiantly met death for his Faith. In later times Pergamus gave other martyrs for Christ. Eusebius mentions Carpus, Papylus and Agathonice who were executed in March 250 A. D.2

Today the city is known as Bergama arid numbers about 20,000 inhabitants, mostly Turks and Greek schismatics. The ruins of three ancient churches were discovered in 1878-86. One of them had been a magnificent basilica dedicated to St. John. Gaius, to whom St. John addressed his third Epistle, is said to have been the first bishop of Pergamus. 3 If this be true, he was most probably the "angel to whom St. John now writes. 

13. Pergamus is called "Satan's Throne," on account of its deep-rooted paganism, its persecution of the Christians, and the immoralities of the Nicolaites. There may also be a reference to worship offered to the statue of the emperor. It seems that Pergamus was still the capital of proconsular Asia at that time. If so, it had a statue of the emperor to which sacrifice must be offered under pain of death. This would account for the persecution in which Antipas suffered martyrdom.* 

14, 15. The bishop of Pergamus is praised for his zeal and constancy in the face of persecution. Yet there is some room for complaint. He has not been sufficiently energetic in rooting out the hated Nicolaite heresy. Some of his flock are holding this evil doctrine. On account of their immoral teachings and practices they are called disciples of Balaam, This is a reference to the Moabites who went among the Israelites at Balaam's suggestion to seduce them into idolatry and adultery.5 In like manner the Nicolaites are seducing the faithful into sin and error.

16. Unless those wicked ones do penance they shall be smitten with the two-edged sword which breaks the obstinate and confounds all sin and error. There may also be a reference here to the fate of the Moabites who had seduced the children of Israel.6

17. He who overcomes sin and error shall receive the hidden manna of eternal joy through union with Christ in heaven a union that begins on earth in the worthy reception of the Holy Eucharist. The same reward was promised to the bishop of Ephesus under the symbol of the tree of life. The eternal joys of heaven are also symbolized by a white pebble ("counter" in the Douay version) upon which a new name is written. It were useless to speculate on this name since Christ says "no man knoweth but he that receiveth it." It is probably the "new name" mentioned below in chapter xix, 12. 8 Why the joys of heaven should be symbolized by a white pebble is not known. Gigot says there is probably a reference to some use of a "white stone" familiar to St. John's readers, but unknown to us.*

(1) Tacitus "Annales" iii, 63.
(2) Eusebius, "Church History" iy xv, 48.
(3) Apostolic Constitutions vii, 46.
(4) Cf. below, onxiii, 17.
(5) Numbers xxxi, 16.
(6) Numbers xxxi, 17.
(7) See above, page 35.
(8) See below, onxix, 12.
(9) "The Apocalypse of St. John," Westminster version, page 6.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre


18. And to the angel of the church of Thyatira write: These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like to a flame of fire, and his feet like fine brass.

19.1 know thy works, and thy faith, and thy charity, and thy ministry, and thy patience, and thy last works which are more than the former.

20. But I have against thee a few things: because thou sutferest the woman Jezabel, who calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants, to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols.

21. And I gave her a time that she might do penance, and she will not repeat of her fornication.

22. Behold, I will cast her into a bed: and they that commit adultery with her shall be in great tribulation, except they do penance from their deeds.

23. And I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am he that searcheth the reins and hearts, and I will give to every one of you according to your works. But to you I say:

24. And to the rest who are at Thyatira: Who soever have not this doctrine, and who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will not put upon you any other burden.

25. Yet that which you have, hold fast till I come.

26. And he that shali overcome and keep my words unto the end, I will give him power over the nations.

27. And he shall rule them with a rod of iron, and as the vessel of a potter they shall be broken,

28. As I also have received of my Father: and I will give him the morning star.

29. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith to the churches.

18. Fifty miles southeast of Pergamus lay the ancient city of Thyatira. Diana was greatly venerated here as at Ephesus, but Apollo was the chief divinity in whose honor games were celebrated. Lydia, a woman converted by St. Paul at Philippi, was from Thyatira.1 At the beginning of the third century the population was almost entirely Christian.2  In the Middle Ages the Turks changed the name of Thyatira to Ak-Hissar (White Fortress). The population today numbers about 22,000, mostly Mahomedans and Greek schismatics. 

19, 20. The bishop of Thyatira is praised for his faith and for his good work in the ministry. Unlike Timothy, his zeal has increased, yet there is one fault for which he is reproved. He has not sufficiently guarded the faithful against the teachings of a certain false prophetess who is stigmatized as "a Jezabel." Through the influence of Jezabel, King Achab fell into idolatry and became the most wicked of Israel's rulers.3 In like manner the Christians of Thyatira were being led into the doctrines of the Nicolaites by a wicked woman who called herself a prophetess. She was even seducing them to partake of the sacrificial banquets of the pagans.4

21, 22. St. John compares heresy to adultery. This figure of speech is often found in the Old Testament. Christ is the true and only spouse of souls. Heresy is an act of unfaithfulness to Him Our Lord has shown special mercy by giving this false prophetess and her followers time to repent, but they will not repent of their sins. They are now threatened with severe punishments. They shall be stricken down with sickness and death. All the churches must realize that Christ will tolerate neither heresy nor schism. 

24, 25. The faithful of Thyatira are admonished to avoid the doctrines of heretics, and to guard carefully the Faith that has been preached to them. No other commandment is needed for them. The Nicolaites were followers of the Gnostics who boasted of a higher knowledge of divine things possessed by them alone. They called it the "abyss" or "depth" of knowledge. St. John shows the true nature of this so-called knowledge when he names it the "depths of Satan." 

26, 27. The faithful are warned of the necessity of good works for salvation. Those who persevere in them unto the end shall have part with Christ in the judgment of the wicked. They shall participate in the power He has received from the Father power to rule the nations with a rod of iron. 5 St. Paul teaches the same truth: "Know ye not that the saints shall judge this world?"

28.To those who persevere, our Lord will give the eternal glory of the Beatific Vision in heaven. Christ, the Morning Star, shall be the object of this vision be cause He is God, equal in all things to the Father. This same reward was promised to the other churches under slightly different symbols.7 Christ is referred to as a star in the prophecy of Balaam; "A star shall arise out of Jacob."8 In an other passage of the Apocalypse Christ calls Himself the "bright and morning Star."9 By the reflected light of this Star "the just shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father."10

(1) Acts of the Apostles xvi, 13, 14.
(2) St. Epiphanius, "Contra Haereses" li, 33.
(3) in Kings xvi, 31-34; xxi, 25.
(4) Cf. I Corinthians viii.
(5) Cf. Psalm ii, 9.
(6) I Corinthians vi, 2.
(7) Cf. w. 7, 10, 17.
(8) Numbers xxiv, 17.
(9) Apocalypse xxii, 16.
(10) St. Matthew xiii, 43.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre


1 . And to the angel of the church of Sardis write: These things saith he that hath the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars: I know thy works, that thou hast the name of being alive: and thou art dead.

2. Be watchful and strengthen the things that remain, which are ready to die. For I find not thy works full before my God.

3. Have in mind therefore in what manner thou hast received and heard: and observe, and do penance. If then thou shalt not watch: I will come to thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know at what hour I will come to thee.

4. But thou hast a few names in Sardis, which have not denied their garments: and they shall walk with me in white, because they are worthy.

5. He that shall overcome shall thus be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before the angels.

6. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith to the churches.

1. Sardis, the capital of Lydia, was a city of considerable importance. It was about thirty miles south of Thyatira on the Pactolus, which flowed through its market-place. It was noted for its commercial activities and for the manufacture of carpets and woolen goods. It was also the residence of the famous Croesus. The straggling village of Sart now marks the site of this ancient city.

"He who has the seven spirits" is the sovereign Lord of the seven spirits who stand before the throne of God. Some interpreters take these words to mean that Christ possesses the fulness of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and fortitude the spirit of knowledge and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord."1

He who has the seven stars is Christ who exercises a special care for the ministers of His Church. He is now manifesting this solicitude for the bishop of Sardis. Christ, the searcher of hearts and reins, knows the true state of this bishop s soul. He appears to be a faithful servant of God and a true shepherd of souls, but in reality he is spiritually dead. These words imply a state of moral sin and a sad neglect of pastoral duty.

2-5. Through the ministry of St. John, Christ now exhorts the bishop of Sardis to arouse himself to a realization of his sad plight. He must do penance for the past and stir up his zeal to save the few members of his flock who remain faithful.

The pastor of souls is responsible to God for their salvation. He must teach and guide them by word and example, "for the lips of the priest shall keep knowledge, and they shall seek the law at his mouth, because he is the angel of the Lord of hosts."2 He is like a watch man set upon a watch-tower; "if he see the sword coming, and sound not the trumpet and the people look not to themselves, and the sword come, and cut oft a soul from among them; he indeed is taken away in his iniquity, but I will require his blood at the hand of the watchman. These words of the prophet are also a warning that no one can make an unworthy pastor an excuse for his sins. He still has the teachings of the Church and the grace of the Sacraments which are always efficacious whether administered by a worthy or an unworthy pastor. Even when the watchman does not give warning the soul that perishes;3 is taken away in his iniquity."

The pastor who is negligent in the care of his people is exposed to the danger of being snatched away by sudden death without the grace of the Sacraments. Unfortunately, the church of Sardis is in very sad condition, yet it numbers a few faithful souls who shall be saved. They shall be clothed with the white garments of eternal happiness.

(1) Isaias xi, 2. 3.
(2) Malachias ii, 7.
(3) Isaias xxxiii, 6.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre


7. And to the angel of the church of Philadelphia write: These things saith the Holy One and the true one, he that hath the key of David; he that openeth and no man shutteth; shutteth and no man openeth.

8. 1 know thy works. Behold, I have given before thee a door opened which no man can shut: because thou hast little strength and hast kept my word and hast not denied my name.

9. Behold I will bring of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie. Behold. I will make them come and adore before thy feet. And they shall know that I have loved thee.

10. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I will also keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon the whole world to try them that dwell upon earth.

11. Behold I come quickly: hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

12. He that shall overcome, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God: and he shall go out no more: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and my new name.

13. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith to the churches.

7. By following the valley of the Cogamus south eastward from Sardis for about thirty miles St. John's messenger would come to Philadelphia. The city was founded by Philadelphus, king of Pergamon, but became a Roman possession in 133 B. C. It was practically destroyed by an earthquake in 17 A. D. On account of the assistance then given by Tiberius the name was changed to Neocaesarea. The modern city, known as Ala-Shehr, is a station on the Smyrna-Dinair railway and has a population of about 20,000.

According to the Constitutions of the Apostles, Demetrius was the first bishop of Philadelphia.1 He must have been appointed by St. John and is probably the "angel 7 here addressed. The apologist Miltiades mentions a prophetess Ammia who must have belonged to the primitive church of Philadelphia.2

As true God, Christ calls Himself the True and Holy One. He holds the key of David since He possesses the eternal kingdom promised to David:3 "The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end." 4 In this kingdom our Lord reigns supreme. There is none to challenge His authority; He opens and no man closes; He closes and no man opens.

8-10. The bishop of Philadelphia has but few of those natural qualifications which human wisdom deems necessary for the high office entrusted to him. Yet he has been faithful to his trust: he has kept Christ's commandment of patient perseverance. Christ now promises him protection in time of persecution and temptation. He shall even have the grace to make converts from among the obstinate Jews, from that "synagogue of Satan."

Not to the great and learned, but to the humble and faithful does God promise His graces. The weak things of this world hath God chosen that He may confound the strong." In choosing the weak to overcome the strong our Lord plainly teaches that He is supreme pastor in His Church. He needs not human power nor human wisdom. For this reason did He choose twelve poor ignorant men as Apostles to carry the Gospel to all nations.

Through this faithful bishop our Lord promises special grace and protection to all faithful pastors at the time of Antichrist "that hour of temptation which shall come upon the whole world to try them that dwell upon earth." This is the first intimation that apostacy from the Faith will not be general in the days of Antichrist. There will always be souls faithful to Christ with faithful shepherds to guide them.

11. Grace is always promised on condition of perseverance: "Guard well what thou hast, lest another receive the crown destined for thee."

12. All faithful bishops are apostles and pillars of the Church here on earth.8 They shall also be blessed and honored citizens of the Church
triumphant, the new Jerusalem.

(1) Constitutions of the Apostles vii, 45.
(2) Eusebius, "Church History Y xvii.
(3) II Kings vii, 16.
(4) St. Luke i, 32, 33.
(5) I Corinthians i, 27.
(6) Cf. Galatians ii, 9.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre


14. And to the angel of the church of Laodicea write: These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, who is the beginning of the creation of God:

15.1 know thy works that thou art neither cold nor hot. I would that thou wert cold or hot.

16. But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.

17. Because thou sayest: I am rich, and made wealthy, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.

18.1 counsel thee to buy of me gold fire-tried, that thou mayest be made rich: and mayest be clothed in white garments, and that the shame of thy nakedness may not appear: and anoint thy eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.

19. Such as I love I rebuke and chastise. Be zealous therefore and do penance.

20. Behold, I stand at the gate and knock. If any man shall hear my voice and open to me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

21 . To him that shall overcome, I will give to sit with me in my throne: as I also have overcome, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

22. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith to the churches.

14. Laodicea was an important city of Phrygia about 50 miles southeast of Philadelphia on the river Lycus. Antiochus II colonized it about 250 B.C. and gave it the name of his wife, Laodice. Laodicea was a centre of industries and commerce and especially famous for its woolen goods and sandals. It was also the seat of a medical school.

The Gospel had been preached in Laodicea by St. Paul's disciple Epaphras. The house of Nymphas was used as a place of worship for the little Christian community.1 The Constitutions of the Apostles mentions St. Nymphas as the first bishop of Laodicea.2 St. Paul wrote a letter to the Christians of Laodicea which has been lost.3

Jesus Christ is the Amen, the unchangeable and eternal. By Him were all things created: "Thou in the beginning, Lord, didst found the earth. And the works of thy hands are the heavens."4

15-17. The bishop of Laodicea is lukewarm and in different. Hence our Lord is about to reject him He withdraws the graces that have been neglected. Christ would prefer to find the bishop entirely cold, because there would be more hopes for him. He would more easily realize his condition and do penance. Tepid souls easily deceive themselves, believing they are rich in God's grace when in reality they are in a miserable state, stripped of God's grace and blinded to their true condition.

The reference to riches may also imply that the bishop of Laodicea had given himself too much to the acquisition of worldly goods. He thus became the very opposite of St. Polycarp who was poor in material goods, but rich in the grace and love of God.5

18. The bishop is commanded to arouse himself from this spiritual lethargy. Instead of the base gold of earthly riches, he must obtain the pure gold of charity and zeal, a gold purified in the fire of trials and temptations. Thus shall he clothe himself with the white garments of grace. Then will his eyes be opened to a proper knowledge of the things of God.

19, 20. Trials and afflictions are proof of God's mercy and love. They arouse the soul to greater fervor. Christ is ever patient and loving. He stands at the door of our soul ready to bestow His graces and blessings. But the soul must cooperate; it must open the door to Him.

21. A share in the glories of Christ in heaven is promised to those who cooperate with His graces and persevere unto the end. These warnings to the churches show Christ s solicitude for our salvation. They also prove His deep concern for those charged with the care of souls.

(1) Colossians iv, 13-15.
(2) Constitutions of the Apostles vii, 46.
(3) Colossians iv, 16.
(4) Hebrews i, 10.
(5) See above, page 37.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre


1. After these things, I looked and behold, a door was opened in heaven, and the first voice which I heard, as it were the voice of a trumpet speaking with me, said: Come up hither, and I will shew thee the things which must be done hereafter.

2. And immediately I was in the spirit: and be hold there was a throne set in heaven, and upon the throne one sitting.

3. And he that sat was to the sight like jasper and the sardine stone: and there was a rainbow about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.

4. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats, four and twenty ancients sitting, clothed in white garments, and on their heads were crowns of gold.

1. Chapters iv-v serve as an introduction to the visions which follow. They describe the constitution of the church on earth, and the worship which it gives to Jesus Christ the Lamb of God.

The prophet sees the throne of God surrounded by the Apostles, the Evangelists, the faithful, and angels with censers of sweet-smelling incense. Beneath the throne are the martyrs who have suffered for their Faith, and in front of it stand the seven burning lamps. In the midst of the throne stands the Lamb of God as if slain. He is worthy of all honor and praise. All bow down in adoration to Him who alone is able to break the seals of the future.

This vision of adoration is a symbol of the worship offered to God in His Church on earth. The throne of God is the altar upon which the Lamb is mystically slain in the holy sacrifice of the Mass. Before Him all the faithful bow down in adoration and sing their canticles of praise. In ancient times the bishop had his throne behind the altar, and round about it on either side sat the priests and other clergy. During solemn Mass lighted lamps stood around the altar and ministers carried vessels of burning incense. Beneath the altar reposed the relics of martyrs who had suffered for their faith.

2. The door opened in heaven is a figure of speech signifying that St. John was wrapped in ecstasy even as St. Paul had been many years before.1 While in this ecstasy he sees the future of the Church unfolded before him in symbolic visions such as were seen by the prophets of old.

3. The red and orange colors of the jasper and sardonyx signify the infinite justice of God. The rainbow of emerald is a symbol of God's mercy and love which save man by calling him to penance. In the days of Noe the bow was set in the heavens as a sign of mercy and forgiveness. Thus at the very beginning of these prophecies God reveals Himself as a just Judge and a kind Father.

4. The four and twenty ancients are the twelve patriarchs of the Old Law and the twelve Apostles of the New Dispensation. By extension they represent the bishops and priests of the Church throughout the centuries. They are seated upon thrones participating with Christ in the government of His Church. They wear the crowns of royalty because they have been chosen kings and princes in the kingdom of God on earth.3 The gold is a symbol of Christian charity. The white garments signify sanctifying grace and the eternal happiness to which it leads.

(1) II Corinthians xii, 2.
(2) Genesis ix, 12-17.
(3) Apocalypse i, 6.

5. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, and voices and thunders: and there were seven lamps burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God.

6. And in the sight of the throne was as it were a sea of glass like to crystal: and in the midst of the throne and round about the throne were four living creatures full of eyes before and behind.

7. And the first living creature was like a lion: and the second living creature like a calf; and the third living creature having the face, as it were, of a man: and the fourth living creature was like an eagle flying.

8. And the four living creatures had each of them six wings; and round about and within they are full of eyes. And they rested not day and night, saying: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come.

9. And when those living creatures gave glory and honour and benediction to him that sitteth on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever.

10. The four and twenty ancients fell down before him that sitteth on the throne, and adored him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne saying:

11. Thou art worthy. O Lord our God, to receive glory and honour, and power: because thou hast created all things, and for thy will they were, and
have been created.

5. As of old on mount Sinai, thunder and lightning are symbols of God s power and majesty.1 On the last day our Lord shall come on the clouds of heaven as the "lightning cometh out of the east and appeareth even into the west."2

The voice is the voice of the Church preaching the Gospel to all nations. The thunders are the warnings of the Gospel against the wicked who
refuse to accept its teachings. The seven lamps are the seven angels who stand before the throne of God, and by extension, all angels. They are the
instructors and enlighteners of men. For this reason they are compared to lighted lamps. The ministry of angels in the Church is apparent on every page of the Apocalypse. They also represent bishop and pastors in the Church.3

6. In Biblical symbolism the sea represents human society.4 Here the sea of crystal is the Church, the society of the faithful permeated by the light of divine truth which Christ brought to earth.

The four living creatures are the four greater prophets of the Old Law and the four Evangelists of the New Law. The number "four" signifies the universality of the Church which carries the Gospel to the four quarters of the earth. The eyes before and behind and round about the living
creatures also refer to the universality of the Church in time and place. They see on all sides and have regard to all times, both before and after
Christ, from the creation of the world until its final consummation.

7. The four creatures symbolize the principal virtues necessary for those who preach the Gospel of Christ. The lion is a symbol of strength and
courage; the ox, of patient labor. The creature with the face of a man denotes reason and prudence. The eagle in flight represents contemplation. From
the earliest times the Evangelists have been represented in art by these four living creatures.

8. Each of the four living creatures has six wings. In this they resemble the seraphim in the vision of Isaias. The symbolism is probably the same. With two wings the seraphim shielded themselves before the majesty of God. These were adoration and reverential awe. With the wings of humility
and temperance they veiled their feet. The two wings which served for flight symbolize faith and prayer.

9, 10. All creatures must ever proclaim the power and majesty of God who is thrice holy in the ever blessed Trinity. But no creature is worthy to wear a crown in the presence of God. The four and twenty ancients lay their crowns at the foot of the throne to acknowledge that God alone is head of the Church. It is only in dependence upon Him that they govern.

11. All power, honor, and glory belong to Him who created all things. What sublime theology the Apocalypse contains! Its every word teaches some exalted truth concerning God, or recalls to mind some noble Christian duty!

(1) Exodus xix, 16-8.
(2) St. Matthew xxiv, 27; xxvi, 64.
(3) See above, page 9.
(4) Cf. Daniel vii, ,2,3; Isaias lvii, 20; lx, 3 sq.; St. Matthew xiii, 47; Apocalypse xvii, 15.
(5) Isaias vi, 2,
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

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