Father Dwight Longenecker tackles the question of whether we are living in the end times:
In the fundamentalist Bible church I attended as a child we would regularly have long sermons about the “end times”. These were based on an interpretative system of the Bible called “Dispensationalism”.
The roots of this theology were the idea that history could be broken down into various “dispensations” or time periods and that God behaved differently and different things happened to the human race in these different dispensations. Part of this teaching was that the “rapture” would take place in which all the Christian people would be supernaturally whisked up into heaven and the sinners would remain behind. Thus the “Left Behind” series of books and films.
From a Catholic point of view dispensationalism is bogus, shallow and just a later modern man made theology.
Nevertheless, we do believe in an end-point in human history and it is interesting to read of Pope St John Paul II’s take on this. Fr CJ McCloskey comments on it in this article for The Catholic Thing. In 1976 on a visit to the US, then Cardinal Karol Wotyła made these observations in a speech:
“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel.We must be prepared to undergo great trials in the not-too-distant future; trials that will require us to be ready to give up even our lives, and a total gift of self to Christ and for Christ. Through your prayers and mine, it is possible to alleviate this tribulation, but it is no longer possible to avert it. . . How many times has the renewal of the Church been brought about in blood! It will not be different this time.”