In the last times according to the Bible and Catholic Teaching, there will come an apostasy worse than any time in history. Rebellion will be seen as a right and a personal interpretation. People will fall away for less than 30 pieces of silver, sometimes simply for a handshake and a smile.
2 Thessalonians 2:3 warns, "Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God."
In those times some will follow people who have darkened their light to believe every form of lie. The deception will sometimes be blatant and other times seem harmless, but unlike pain, sin and rebellion may not register through the senses. People will be led astray being carried away by delusion. Like the story of the Pied Piper, many of our young are being lead astray by those who tickle their ears. Sometimes the older are deceived.
1 Timothy 4:1 states in part, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons..."
In the last days there will be strong delusion to believe the lie, today within Protestantism, there are literally thousands of churches that men have founded based from their own interpretations. As Catholics, we have been warned:
1 John 4:1 states, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world."
What is the test that we should use to know what is the truth and what is not? St. Paul gives the right answer:
"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter." 2 Thessalonians 2:15
The bible is loaded with warning against falling away which is another way of simply challenging the Church. St. Luke gives this warning:
"He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." Luke 10:16
Who is the rightful authority? Does it come from a "calling" a person feels? Does it come from a sudden "revelation"? What is valid and what is not?
In the Old Testament, we see God telling Moses to anoint Joshua before the assembly. There is good reason for it. There was no one who challenged Joshua once Moses had died. Everyone remembered what happened to Dathan and his companions (Numbers 16:1-50).
When Elijah anointed Elisha, there were 50 Levi Priests watching from a distance, after the river spit letting Elisha walk on dry land, no one dared challenge him of his succession (2 Kings 2:8-16).
In the New Testament, this does not change, St. Paul reminds St. Timothy about his ordination (1 Timothy 4:11-16, 2 Timothy 1:6) and warns the Galatians 1:6-9 about apostasy:
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel--not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed."
St. John is very clear addressing those in apostasy and the last times:
"Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that anti-Christ is coming, so now many anti-Christs have come; therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out, that it might be plain that they all are not of us." 1 John 2:18-20
We are living is terrible times as many have abandoned the Catholic Faith. It is very important that a person comes back. The Apostle James (James 5:19-20) writes, "My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins."
The scary reality here is that a person is spiritually dead unless they repent and come back to God. Are we truly living in the last times? Today, about 1 out of every 10 Americans would statistically be a fallen away Catholic. About 1 in 4 Americans would be classified as a "practicing" Catholic. Of those who try to corrupt the Church from within, St. Paul warns, "As for a man who is (Heretic) factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned." That does not speak well for the "cafeteria" Catholic.
It is a difficult problem that really feels a lot like a divorce when close relatives and friends fall. We know that Heaven prays for them, Jesus calls us to go searching for the Prodigals:
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. "Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.' Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents."