Right from the time of the Apostles, the Catholic Church has preserved the Christian faith infallibly through scripture and sacred tradition authentically interpreted by the magisterium of the Church. Besides preserving the Christian faith, it has always stood firm as far as its teachings on morality are concerned. However, the wickedness in the world has grown over the years to such an extent that it has even entered inside the Church. Pope Bl. Paul VI said it so well. He said, “The smoke of Satan has entered the Church of God through some crack.”
In recent times, the crack in the Church is becoming more and more visible for everyone to see. At the recent ‘Synodal Way’ held in Germany, ideas have been expressed to bring about reform in the Catholic Church. About sixty percent of the bishops are supporting changing Church teaching on chastity, marriage, contraception, sexuality, and Holy Orders. The Synod voted in favour of ordaining women, blessing same-sex unions and allowing priests to get married.
After Germany came Belgium. The Bishops’ Conference of Belgium has approved a “blessing” and ritual service for same-sex couples. While the Vatican has expressed great concern and is totally against such ideas, the recent developments clearly indicate that there is a division existing in the Church – a division that is definitely going to upset the faith of many.
Divisions in the Church are nothing new. The Church in its infant stage faced similar problems. St. Paul mentions about such divisions in his letter to the Romans... I urge you, my friends: watch out for those who cause divisions and upset people's faith and go against the teaching which you have received. Keep away from them! For those who do such things are not serving Christ our Lord, but their own appetites. By their fine words and flattering speech they deceive innocent people. (Romans 16:17-18). Being a true apostle of Christ, Paul could see how the devil and his agents were trying to deceive God’s people. In fact, he was writing all this to those who had remained loyal to the gospel (Romans 16:19) – the gospel of Christ that he had preached to them by the power of the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
Again, we find Paul warning the church in Corinth because the Christians there were getting swept away by the lies of the devil. He wrote to them saying… I am afraid that your minds will be corrupted and that you will abandon your full and pure devotion to Christ—in the same way that Eve was deceived by the snake's clever lies. For you gladly tolerate anyone who comes to you and preaches a different Jesus, not the one we preached; and you accept a spirit and a gospel completely different from the Spirit and the gospel you received from us! (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). Therefore, it is very clear that the devil strives to deceive all those who have heard the gospel; because he knows that the gospel is God’s power to save all who believe. (Romans 1:16-17). This always remained a concern for Paul even when he reached the end of his life… I know that after I leave, fierce wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. The time will come when some men from your own group will tell lies to lead the believers away after them. (Acts 20:29-30).
Now, concerning the period of chastisement that we are living in, although one of the signs given by Our Lord is that the gospel will be preached everywhere (Matthew 24: 14), we must bear in mind that many will be deceived into accepting a different Jesus, a different spirit and a different gospel. The disciples once asked Jesus about what will happen to show that it is the time for His second coming and the end of the age (Matthew 24:3). Interestingly, Jesus did not start straightaway with telling them about the coming events. Instead, He began by saying, "See to it that no one deceives you, because many will come in my name… and they will deceive many people.” (Matthew 24:4-5). Then He went on to explain about the many events that would take place, one of them being the appearance of many false prophets who will deceive many people (Matthew 24:11). And Jesus went on further, “…false messiahs and false prophets will appear and display great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24). This very much serves as a warning to us who have remained loyal to the gospel till now.
St. Paul too wrote about how people would be deceived in the last days… The Wicked One will come with the power of Satan and perform all kinds of false miracles and wonders, and use every kind of wicked deceit on those who will perish. They will perish because they did not welcome and love the truth so as to be saved. And so God sends the power of error to work in them so that they believe what is false. The result is that all who have not believed the truth, but have taken pleasure in sin, will be condemned. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).
Therefore, many will die due to wars, earthquakes, famines, etc. But worse is that most of those who die will be condemned to hell simply because they got deceived by the devil and rejected the gospel. In fact, they got deceived because of their appetite for sin. God does not want this to happen to us, we who are His children. He has given us His Spirit so that we may not be deceived. St. John writes… I am writing this to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But as for you, Christ has poured out His Spirit on you. As long as His Spirit remains in you, you do not need anyone to teach you. For His Spirit teaches you about everything, and what He teaches is true, not false. Obey the Spirit's teaching, then, and remain in union with Christ. (1 John 2:26-27).