Rembrandt: “Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem.” (Detail)

I have been thinking about The Book of the Prophet Daniel for decades but something rather strange has been happening lately: these visions and declarations of the ancient prophets are beginning to match actual events we read about in the newspapers and other media. Something is afoot although I can’t quite put my finger on it. A word of caution: I am not writing doctrine here. These are only my personal thoughts or comments on the thoughts of wiser men.

I believe I was five years old when my grandmother presented me with a small Bible. It was a Reyna-Valera translation (Protestant) which I took to read constantly. In time, I centered upon certain favorite parts: the Gospels, the life of King David, the Prophet Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John the Divine. Not that I understood much but I was fascinated by the sound and strong rhythm of the words I was reading. In time, when I was about eleven years old, my mother bought a copy of the Encyclopædia Barsa, the abridged Spanish version of the Encyclopædia Britannica. The purchase included a Bible (I still own a precious copy) translated by one of the great Catholic scholars of all time, Monsignor Johann Straubinger. The translation is a gem I will never tire of praising. The footnotes are quite close to inspired, I must say. Reading those footnotes I learned to think about Sacred Scripture in a Catholic way. I came to the full realization of that odd fact in the years previous to my conversion some three decades ago: I was not yet a Catholic back then. I realize now that I had been thinking Catholic for quite a long time.

Recently, I came across a wonderful essay in Spanish by Mr. Juan Suárez Falcó. I will try to share with you here some highlights of that great article that taught me so much. There, the author mentions Monsignor Straubinger while introducing the readers to the work of a Spanish scholarly priest D.  Pablo Caballero Sánchez Paúl  who, in 1946 wrote an great book: Las Setenta Semanas Daniélicas y el Pueblo Judío (transl. “The Danielic Seventy Weeks and the Jewish People” published by Editorial Luz, Madrid, Spain, 1946.) That succinct but precious article will help us understand the first converging prophecy.

During the years I was gradually introduced to Catholic life I was intrigued by the Prophecy of the Popes by St. Malachy of Armagh (b.1094 – d.1190). When I mentioned said prophecy in recent years I was quickly informed of its dubious origins but … (there is always a “but”) in analyzing the last five Popes –cryptically described in the prophecy discovered in 1590– I became convinced of its prophetic validity.

Last but not least, I found in the Italian site La Finanza Sul Web an interview of Andrea Cionci (brilliant journalist, art historian and writer who deals with history, archeology and religion) that opened my eyes to some aspects of the Prophecy of the Two Popes (1824, by Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich) and the Vision of the Hill With a Cross (1917, by the Little Shepherds of Fatima.)

In this long article I will attempt to explain how all those different prophetic items began converging in my mind during the last few weeks. Please, fetch a cup of tea and cookies that will help you bear the inevitable length. Again, these are my personal musings and should never be read as doctrine. These are the honest thoughts of an old convert living in the peripheries of the world. I promise you that there is a method to my well known madness. Read the three articles all the way to the end and it will make sense. Transcribing and translating the Italian interview is no light task. When I publish it, (soon, I promise) please read it carefully because –to my knowledge– this is the only translation available of an interview fraught with important thoughts. Some of the colloquial expressions were hard to translate clearly. If you have a better way of translating some of it, please let me know and I’ll be glad to correct the text. Again, several matters emerged that prevented me from finishing the transcription but I am sure that with your prayers and a bit of effort on my part we will have the three articles ready soon.

Buenos Aires, 6 February, 2022.

First  converging prophecy: the seventy weeks of Daniel

About that essay in Spanish by Mr. Juan Suárez Falcó: it is no wonder that brief book caught the attention (and was admired by) Monsignor Straubinger. There Fr. Caballero Sánchez resolves the intricate threads of the Book of Daniel in a clear and quite inspired manner. Unlike other exegetes of the modern persuasion, the author follows Patristic Tradition –how original these days!– and the thoughts of St. Cyrill of Jerusalem, St. Jeremiah, St. Athanasius, and others. Those giants on whose shoulders we stand, understood the Seventy Weeks as a Messianic text that illuminates not only the earthly life of Our Lord but goes beyond that, all the way to the days of the parousia, the Second Coming.

Fr. Caballero Sánchez agrees with the traditional opinion of the Early Fathers while adding insights of his own that illuminate the prophetic text. Mr. Suárez Falcó explains and adds considerable depth to the work of the author. Here’s the text of Daniel 9:20-27 as presented in the NRSVACE translation.

While I was speaking, and was praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God on behalf of the holy mountain of my God— while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen before in a vision, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice.  He came and said to me, ‘Daniel, I have now come out to give you wisdom and understanding. At the beginning of your supplications a word went out, and I have come to declare it, for you are greatly beloved. So consider the word and understand the vision:  ‘Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city: to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. Know therefore and understand: from the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with streets and moat, but in a troubled time. After the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing, and the troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator.’

The prophet Daniel is understandably concerned about the duration of Israel’s exile. Here he appears to us begging for divine mercy upon the sins of his nation.  The prayer and sacrifice Daniel is referring to takes place at 3:00 pm. Yes, that is the same hour Our Lord would surrender his spirit many centuries after: the Hour of Divine Mercy. The angel Gabriel comes to Daniel to instruct him by order of God, not only about the end of the Babylonian exile. He will also explain the time of the Messiah’s first coming and also the time of the parousia or Second Coming. The prophecy is a short version of how the chosen people of God will be saved, how they will find the universal destiny of Israel in Christianity, and how even men of the gentile nations will be saved for God and His Kingdom.

The anointing of “a most holy place” is the Kingdom of God announced throughout Scripture, the New Heaven and the New Earth where perfect justice will reside after wickedness and evil are eliminated by God forever. There are several essential elements to this prophecy.

  • The starting point: “from the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem” that is the month of Nisan of 453 B.C.
  • 7 weeks, dedicated to the reconstruction of the walls and squares of Jerusalem.
  • 62 weeks, until Jesus Christ, the Anointed One is removed from the midst of the Jewish people.
  • 1 final week, the week of the Antichrist, before the parousia or Second Coming of Christ.

Juan Suárez Falcó explains: “These three periods are separated in the prophecy because each of them has its own meaning, a sense of inner unity that differentiates them from the others.” (NOTE: My translation. Please remember this is not a comprehensive analysis of the profound essay by Mr. Suárez Falcó but merely a bird’s eye view.)

The first period 453 B.C – 404 B.C.

“Nehemiah, Jewish cupbearer of King Artaxerxes, after the permission issued by his Edict in the month of Nisan in the year 453 B.C. returns with a faithful remnant from Babylon to rebuild the walls and squares of the city of Jerusalem. This was finally achieved ‘in the midst of great anguish’ (in angustia temporum), since the reconstruction work had to be carried out while fighting with the surrounding peoples (Arabs, Ammonites and Ashdodites), who did not want Judah to raise from its ashes, as Nehemiah himself tells in his book (See Nehemiah 4:6-23).” (NOTE: Again, my own translation.)

This is the time of the return of “the faithful remnant” and also the time when the Northern Kingdom, the Ten Tribes are lost. One observation of my own here: it is quite remarkable that the Ten Tribes are lost to what later will become the Asian-European part of the Roman Empire. We are told that in the End Times they will be recalled to the Promised Land. Those final days also see the emergence of another group of ten: the Ten Kings that “reign for one hour with the Beast.” The Beast being presumably the last king that will be defeated by Christ Himself. (See 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8)

The second period of 62 weeks or 434 years. From 404 B.C to 31 A.D.

“The other sixty-two weeks reach the “Anointed-Prince,” that is, Jesus Christ, who dies [ … ] 483 years after Nehemiah’s mission. The count of those 434 years, starting from the year 404 B.C. ends year 31 A.D. and excludes the year 0, as all historians indicate, because the year 0 does not exist.” (NOTE: My translation. Other calculations assign the death of Christ to April 4, 33 A.D. but even so, that does not alter the number of years conforming the prophetic weeks. I hope to explain that detail in a future post.)

The second period of 62 weeks ends in Calvary with the sacrificial death of the Lamb of God. Only a few of the tribe of Judah recognized the Messiah in Jesus the Nazarene. By the year 70 A.D. the Temple was destroyed by the Roman legions of Titus Vespasianus. After that point in time, the Christian Church begins a long period of persecutions and evangelization that would change the face of the Roman Empire. Few realized that the Empire of Caesar was nothing but an empty husk that would crumble and be replaced by something new: Christendom. The Catholic Church would then reach the most distant corners of the world with the Gospel of Christ. The universal destiny of Israel was achieved by the millions of Gentiles who accepted the Messiah rejected by the Jewish people .

“That is why the text of Daniel’s prophecy ends abruptly: et non ei (and there will be no more), in reference to the Jewish people, before the habitation of God, who was disapproved, his priesthood execrated, unilaterally breaking his alliance with Him (Jeremiah 11: 10-11), of which the torn veil of the Temple, which ended up being destroyed, is an unequivocal symbol.” (NOTE: My translation. Paragraph taken from the essay by Mr. Suárez Falcó.)

The third period: the week of the antichrist

After the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, the Catholic Church bloomed like a New Israel. Remember the instruction of St. Paul in  2nd Thessalonians: the Christian gentiles are the branch grafted onto the trunk of the original olive tree. This last week –the week of the antichrist– is the time for the Great Apostasy typified by the apostasy of the Jewish nation in the first century.  It is the time to separate the goats from the sheep. (Matthew 25:31-46) As the terrifying Beast from the Apocalypse of St. John emerges from the sea, an apostate Church will replay the last infidelity of Israel. In the last days the faithful Church will be persecuted until the Second Coming puts an end to the enemies of God forever. That is the End of History as we know it and the beginning of the glorious “day with no sunset” that is the Kingdom of God.

“[In 1946, in his book] Father Caballero explains it very well, saying that a false pontiff will usurp the chair of Peter, becoming the false prophet of the Apocalypse, the Beast of the earth or religion leading the Church to apostasy, and preparing the way for the political antichrist. In the middle of the week the perpetual sacrifice, the Host, the Mass, will be removed from the central place, the Sanctuary, the most holy (in Latin, pinnaculum, sacrum; in Greek pterugion, ieron [πτερύγιο, έρων]).” (NOTE: My translation. Paragraph taken from the essay by Mr. Suárez Falcó.)

There is much more information to come from Mr. Suárez Falcó essay and Fr. Caballero’s fascinating book but we will save that for last when we tie up their conclusions with the message of the Fatima visionaries and various other prophecies referred to the Popes of the last days.