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November AD 2010
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin

The Mark of the Beast?


The Mark of the Beast?

    Question:  Revelations 13 refers to the “Mark of the Beast.  What are we to make of it?  Is it in our past (perhaps Roman persecution), or in our future?

    Answer:  Revelation (without an “s”) is the Protestant name for the book Catholics call The Apocalypse.  Both titles refer to the first words of the first chapter, either in English or Greek: The Revelation of Jesus Christ—Αποκάλυψις Ιησος Χριστος.”

    Reading apocalyptic literature can be among the greatest challenges of the Bible.  The Book of Daniel is similar in nature.  Apocalyptic revelations tend to be very fluid in time—past, present, and future seem to merge into an elastic “now” and movement back and forth over centuries may seem instantaneous.  On one level, the Apocalypse is a circular letter to the Churches of Asia Minor, rebuking their faults, but also encouraging them in time of difficulty—on another level it describes the events at the end of the world.

    And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten diadems, and upon his heads names of blasphemy. [2] And the beast, which I saw, was like to a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his own strength, and great power. [3] And I saw one of his heads as it were slain to death: and his death's wound was healed. And all the earth was in admiration after the beast. [4] And they adored the dragon, which gave power to the beast: and they adored the beast, saying: Who is like to the beast? and who shall be able to fight with him? [5] And there was given to him a mouth speaking great things, and blasphemies: and power was given to him to do two and forty months. [6] And he opened his mouth unto blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. [7] And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them. And power was given him over every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation. [8] And all that dwell upon the earth adored him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb, which was slain from the beginning of the world. [9] If any man have an ear, let him hear. [10] He that shall lead into captivity, shall go into captivity: he that shall kill by the sword, must be killed by the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. [11] And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns, like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. [12] And he executed all the power of the former beast in his sight; and he caused the earth, and them that dwell therein, to adore the first beast, whose wound to death was healed. [13] And he did great signs, so that he made also fire to come down from heaven unto the earth in the sight of men. [14] And he seduced them that dwell on the earth, for the signs, which were given him to do in the sight of the beast, saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make the image of the beast, which had the wound by the sword, and lived. [15] And it was given him to give life to the image of the beast, and that the image of the beast should speak; and should cause, that whosoever will not adore the image of the beast, should be slain.  [16] And he shall make all, both little and great, rich and poor, freemen and bondmen, to have a character in their right hand, or on their foreheads. [17] And that no man might buy or sell, but he that hath the character, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. [18] Here is wisdom. He that hath understanding, let him count the number of the beast. For it is the number of a man: and the number of him is six hundred sixty-six.[1]

    This “number of the beast,” which Saint John gives  as εξακόσιοι εξήκοντα εξ—hexakósioi hexēkonta héx—six hundred sixty six has been interpreted by numerologists  over the centuries to refer whomever they considered the great enemy of the time.  Using “Gematria,” where each Greek (or Hebrew) letter corresponds to a number, early numerologists found the number of the beast to correspond to Nero Caesar, who had already killed himself (AD 68) by the time the Apocalypse was written at Patmos, toward the end of the reign of the Emperor Domition (A.D. 81-96).  Since Nero was already dead, many hold that the number referred to the Roman Emperors in general, and that the seven heads of the beast refer to specific Roman Emperors.[2]  Variant readings of the Apocalypse give the number of the beast as 616 rather than 666, but numerologists have managed to find various bad emperors with both numbers.  During the persecutions, people under Roman control required government papers known as a “libellus” in order to buy, sell, or do much of anything—this seeming to relate to verse 17.

    Protestants have attempted to identify the Pope with the beast.  Using an alleged title of the Pope—Vicarius Filii Deus—Vicar of the Son of God, one Andreas Helwig claimed in 1612 to have found the beast's number.  The Seventh Day Adventists claimed to see a bestial mark in the observance of Sunday as the Catholic sabbath.  Martin Luther found the 666 number in the name of “Benedict,” perhaps a future Pope.[3]

    Mohammed, of course, was also branded with the number.  Pope Innocent III was explicit when he launched the Fifth Crusade with the bull Quia maior:

    “Although [Muhammad’s] treachery has prevailed up to the present day, we nevertheless put our trust in the Lord who has already given us a sign that good is to come, that the end of this beast is approaching, whose number, according to the Revelation of St John, will end in 666 years, of which already nearly 600 have passed.[4]

      The Arabic word for “allah” when turned on its side has an eerie resemblance to the first two letters in each of the three Greek words εξακόσιοι εξήκοντα εξ—hexakósioi hexēkonta héx—“hex, hex, hex”—if read from right to left.  And, certainly, the Moslem threat against Christendom is one that can be described as “past,' present, and future.”

    Perhaps it would be more fruitful to consider the consequences of the mark of the beast, rather than the exact appearance of the mark itself.  The Roman libellus may not have been exactly a “character on the right hand,” although anyone called upon to show his papers will hold them in his hand—and the ability to rigidly control buying and selling is tantamount to the power of life and death.

    Many years ago I was acquainted with a woman, whom I will identify only as Martha, who had escaped Castro's Communist Cuba.  She indicated that the regime's most powerful control over dissidents was precisely its control over identity papers and ration stamps—one had to have both, and they had better be current, in order to buy the basic necessities of food and clothing.  Survival was possible for political dissenters, only if they had loyal and generous friends and families willing to share the few things they could buy for themselves—and. of course, willing to take the risks of doing so.

Martha had escaped Cuba sometime in the 1960s.  In those days, identity papers and ration coupons were printed on paper—conceivably, they could be stolen or forged—and they took a while to get back to “headquarters” for anyone to use them to track the users' movements.  Today Martha's grandchildren—all of us and our grandchildren—are increasingly subject to techno­logical monitoring that makes papers and coupons seem like stone age artifacts.  Your credit or debit card provides a comprehensive record of where you went and what you did, and denying or permitting its use takes nothing more than bit or two in some computer's file.  Retinal scans, iris scans, face recognition, finger-print, and palm-print  software—euphemistically called photometric descriptors—and perhaps even implanted microchips will make the use of someone else's “papers” virtually impossible.  Your cell phone can broadcast your location with deadly accuracy, as can certain automobile GPS devices.  Any wireline or wireless communication can be intercepted and decoded or listened to.  All of this technology is available today, and the more paranoid governments are making use of it without regard to anything like “probable cause.”  Perhaps these things can be thought of as “the mark of the best.”

    Part of the problem is gradualism. We have not been rounded up and tattooed on the forehead, and we may never be, for technology makes that unnecessary. The Social Security number, the ZIP+4 code, the simple credit card account, and other such numbers may not be the “number of the beast” as such – but they each contribute to a greater possibility of abuse by those who can demand to see what corresponds to each of those numbers. Technology makes each of these numbers more useful to the persecutor, now capable of gathering information on specific individuals out of a multitude of data bases – finding out about you or me out of a universe of a Zillion bytes of information.
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    One final bestial candidate is the global currency being urged by the International Bankers and the usual suspects at the United Nations and the World Bank.[5]  The infamous John Maynard Keynes proposed such a currency during the Breton Woods negotiations that created the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—it was to be a fiat money backed by nothing other than the say so of the IMF, and called the “bancor.”  Keynesian economics have been responsible for economic ills of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

    Today, even after the economic disasters of the past three or four years, many Americans are under the illusion that the dollar is backed by gold, silver, or some other assets of stable value—they are shocked to hear that the dollar is backed by nothing other than the debt of the Federal government, and that the dollar is further devalued through the monetary magic of fractional reserve banking. 

    (The Federal Reserve takes interest bearing U.S. bonds (debt) and, in exchange, grants the Federal government dollar credits in the government's accounts drawn on the Fed.  When these credits are spent they are paid out as checks which propagate through the banking system, in which the banks can repeatedly loan most of the demand deposits left with them by the recipients of these checks and by those who have received loans from other banks.  This so-called “money multiplier” effect can expand the money supply by a factor of five or ten—in effect devaluing the dollar by that same factor.)

    While the Federal Reserve Bank is not part of the Federal government, the two have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship since the Bank's charter in 1913.  In exchange for interest on an ever increasing debt, the Bank enables  the politicians to have virtually unlimited amounts of money without having to directly tax the voters.  The voters and all who hold dollars pay indirectly through inflation, as the continuous supply of new money makes the old money worth less and less.

    Americans have suffered under this symbiosis between politicians and bankers for nearly a hundred years—and have done so in spite of the fact that our electoral system would allow a complete house cleaning of the Administration and Legislature in six years time.  We pride ourselves on being the most self-governing people in the world.

    Now just imagine the Federal Reserve writ large—a global central bank doing the same things to all the people of the world—a world in which significant portions of the population are accustomed to live as direct slaves of the government, and where the vast majority are accustomed to having government directly control the economy.  Imagine the United Nations able to levy a direct tax on every soul on Earth.  And imagine them using that “infinite money supply” to do all of the things they have done on only a small scale with money donated by “free-world” members.  Imagine a world just filled with “peacekeeping” missions, abortion, birth control, sterilization, rationed medical care, and redistribution of private wealth.  Imagine a United Nations “with teeth.”[6]  Imagine the “bancor.”  Shake hands with The Beast!



[1]  Apocalypse xiii

[2]  Catholic Encyclopedia s.v. “Apocalypse”

[4]  In Norman Housley, “The Crusades and Islam”  pg. 203

[5]  Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr., “The New Push for a Global Currency” Mises Daily: August 06, 2010





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