When I did those two posts about politics and the anti-Christ a few months ago (here and here), I kept asking myself if I was being overly pessimistic and paranoid. There is certainly a good deal of fear and hysteria among Christians in our time, and I didn't want to be drawn into it, or encourage it in others. Yet one can be aware of the signs of the times, and realistic about what's going on, without losing one's balance. And I felt somewhat vindicated when Janet Cupo sent me the following passages from the Catechism. Note paragraph 676 in particular.
The Church's ultimate trial
675 Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.
676 The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.
677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.
That secular messianism is a powerful force in our society can't reasonably be denied. That doesn't mean these are the end times, but it is certainly something that bears identifying and watching; there's nothing to be gained by refusing to face the reality. In any case our duty doesn't change very much, and we must remain hopeful and confident.