The temple was the most sacred place for the Jews of the Old Testament since it housed the ark of the covenant and was the place where the priest offered sacrifice (the blood of goats and bulls) for the atonement of the peoples' sins (Hebrews 9:3-5). Thus, the Old Testament Scriptures report: "The priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place beneath the wings of the cherubim in the sanctuary, the holy of holies of the temple" (1 Kgs. 8:6).
All of this was a foreshadowing of the New Covenant and the sacrifice made by Christ "the high priest . . . once and for all . . . not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood" which "achieved eternal redemption " (Heb. 9:11-12). It was a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ who "remains forever" and of his "priesthood which does not pass away" as it is eternally celebrated by the Church in the Eucharist (Heb. 7:24). And the new "holy of holies" is the tabernacle of the Catholic Church where the Real Presence of Jesus Christ is reserved under the appearance of bread.
Now, the Book of Daniel states about the Antichrist during the end times that "Armed forces shall move at his command and defile the sanctuary stronghold, abolishing the daily sacrifice and setting up the horrible abomination" (Dan. 11:31). The reason why the reader knows that Daniel is speaking about the end times and the Antichrist is because Jesus Himself refers to this passage when He states: "When you see the abominable and destructive thing which the prophet Daniel foretold standing on holy ground (let the reader take note!), those in Judea must flee to the mountains" (Mt. 26:15-16). And also St. Paul states:
On the question of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . Let no one seduce you . . . Since the mass apostasy has not yet occurred nor the man of lawlessness been revealed--that son of perdition and adversary who exalts himself above every so-called god proposed for worship, he who seats himself in God's temple and even declares himself to be God. . . " (2 Thes. 2:3-4).
Consequently, it was thought that during the end times, the Antichrist will take over the Jewish temple and replace the Ark of the Covenant with an image of himself to be adored.
While this may occur in the end times, it is probably not the primary and proper meaning of the abomination of the "holy of holies." When the Author of Hebrews speaks about the inner and "outer tabernacle" and the Jewish high priest who used to enter the inner tabernacle called the "holy of holies" (Heb. 9: 3-6), he states: "but only the high priest went into the inner one, and that but once a year, with the blood which he offered for himself and for the sins of the people" (Heb. 9:7). The Jews, therefore, only sacrificed for sins in the "holy of holies" on a yearly basis at the temple -- not on a daily basis. Once more, the Jewish yearly temple sacrifice ended with the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 AD shortly after the death of Jesus. So, because the Scriptures state that the Antichrist will abolish the "daily sacrifice" on "holy ground," this Scriptural passage is more likely a reference to the Antichrist abolishing the daily sacrifice of the Mass in what will appear to be the Catholic Church and to his replacing the Real Presence of Christ in the tabernacles of the Church with his own image. One can see this more clearly if one examines the writings of St. John the apostle in relation to the Eucharist and the end times.
The Antichrist and Jn 6:66
The doctrine of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist in the writings of St. John the apostle is related to St. John's teaching on the antichrists and the coming of the Antichrist. First of all one must realize that the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is the extremity of the "substantial" presence of Jesus Christ in the world. It is the extremity of the Incarnation, or Jesus Christ coming in the flesh.
Consequently, to deliberately exclude all acts of latria from the Eucharist, would be to refuse to acknowledge the Incarnation or Jesus Christ coming in the flesh. And, St. John says about "men who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh" that "such is the antichrist" (2 Jn. 1:7) and his "spirit" is "already in the world" (1 Jn. 4:3). These are the "weeds" which the enemy has sown among the "wheat" (Mt 13:25). They make a "pretense" of being Christian by pretending to "belong to us," but soon they will leave and we will see that "none of them was ours" (1 Jn 2:18-19). But, we have already pointed out that the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is the basis for remaining with Christ or leaving Him. For, after Our Lord "solemnly" taught that "my flesh is real food, my blood real drink" (Jn. 6:53-55), St. John's Gospel relates: "From this time on, many of his disciples broke away and would not remain in his company any longer" (Jn 6:66). The antichrists, then, are those who deny the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
This information, however, is also related to the coming of a single man, the Antichrist. For St. John gives us a clue in his Book of Revelations how we may recognize the "beast" or the Antichrist when he comes: "A certain wisdom is needed here; with a little ingenuity anyone can calculate the number of the beast, for it is a number that stands for a certain man. The man's number is six hundred sixty-six" (Rev. 13:18). It is no mere coincidence, therefore, that the number of the verse in John's Gospel, which reports the disciples breaking away from the Lord over the doctrine of His Real Presence in the Eucharist, comes out to be 666, the very number which symbolizes the "beast" or the Antichrist.
Perhaps, then, part of this "certain wisdom needed here" for knowing who is the Antichrist, as mentioned in the Book of Revelations, is connected to John 6:66. In other words the antichrists will be those who spearhead the "mass apostasy" from the Church during the end times by denying the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and the Antichrist will be that "man of lawlessness," who then "seats himself in God's temple, and even declares himself to be God" (2 Thess. 2:3). So, this is how the "man" will "defile the sanctuary stronghold, abolishing the daily sacrifice and setting up the horrible abomination" (Dan. 11:31).
This information about the Antichrist and the rejection of the dogma of the Real Presence is most important for us today. For both Paul VI and John Paul II suggest in their non official writings that we are in the last period of history when the Antichrist comes. Paul VI has stated:
"There is a great uneasiness, at this time, in the world and in the church, and that which is in question is the faith. It so happens now that I repeat to myself the obscure phrase of Jesus in the Gospel of St. Luke: "When the Son of Man returns, will He still find faith on the earth?" It so happens that there are books coming out in which the faith is in retreat on some important points, that the episcopates are remaining silent and these books are not looked upon as strange. This, to me, is strange. I sometimes read the Gospel passage of the end times and I attest that, at this time, some signs of this end are emerging."
So, does this mean that we have arrived at the end of the world? Paul VI continues:
"We must always hold ourselves in readiness, but everything could last a very long time yet. What strikes me, when I think of the Catholic world, is that within Catholicism, there seems sometimes to predominate a non-Catholic way of thinking, and it can happen that this non-Catholic thought within Catholicism, will tomorrow become the stronger. But it will never represent the thought of the Church. It is necessary that a small flock subsist, no matter how small it might be."
Again, Paul VI stated about the sign of the sun spinning and falling to the earth in the 1917 apparition at Fatima that "It was eschatological in the sense that it was like a repetition or an annunciation of a scene at the end of time for all humanity assembled together." And, John Paul II, as Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, stated:
"We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the 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."
So, are we at the point of the "great apostasy" which St. Paul speaks about in Second Thesalonians? It all depends on whether or not we can turn this lack of faith in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist into belief in this Presence. If we do turn it around, then perhaps it will be some time yet before the final battle. If we do not, then we probably have arrived at the final battle of the end time.
But, whatever the case, there is no reason to fear, for the Scriptures state: "They (Gog and Magog) invaded the whole country and surrounded the beloved city where God's people were encamped; but fire came down from heaven and devoured them" (Rev. 20:8-9). So, even if most so-called Catholics apostatize and set up a "harlot" church larger than the true Church, this little Church made up of the Pope and a remnant will be victorious in the end (Rev. 17:16)!
So, there is even reason to rejoice if we have arrived at the end times. For that time will be the time when God will raise up the strongest and most courageous of Christians. These will be the "seed" of the "woman" (Mary and the Church) and they will defeat the "seed" of Satan in the triumph of the "woman" over the "dragon" (Gen. 3:15; Rev. 12:1-3). St. Louis de Montfort expressed the spirit of longing that each Christian should have in expectation of the end times when he said about the valiant soldiers that God will raise up in the last days:
Such are the great men who are to come. By the will of God Mary is to prepare them to extend His rule over the impious and unbelievers. But when and how will this come about? Only God knows. For our part we must yearn and wait for it in silence and in prayer: "I have waited and waited."
Until this time arrives, however, everyone ought to prepare for this "waited" moment by heeding the words of John Paul II when he said: "every genuflection that you make before the Blessed Sacrament is important because it is an act of faith in Christ, an act of love for Christ."