PART ONE: Following are excerpts (pp 120-123, Kindle edition) from The Apocalypse of St. John by Fr. Sylvester Berry, first publish in 1921. Current 2016 edition and Kindle available HERE.
~CHAPTER XII~ CONFLICT BETWEEN THE CHURCH AND SATAN Apocalypse Ch. XII
It shall be war unto death, between the Church and the powers of darkness, in a final effort of Satan to destroy the Church and thus prevent the universal reign of Christ on earth.
Satan will first attempt to destroy the power of the Papacy and bring about the downfall of the Church through heresies, schisms and persecutions that must surely follow. Failing in this, he will then attack the Church from without. For this purpose, he will raise up Antichrist and his prophet to lead the faithful into error and destroy those who remain steadfast.
The Church is ever in labor to bring forth children to eternal life. In the sad days here predicted, the sorrows and pains of delivery shall be increased many-fold. In this passage, there is an evident allusion to some particular son of the Church whose power and influence shall be such that Satan will seek his destruction at any cost. This person can be none other than the Pope to be elected in those days. The Papacy will be attacked by all the powers of hell. In consequence, the Church will suffer great trials and afflictions in securing a successor upon the throne of Peter. The words of St. Paul to the Thessalonians may be a reference to the Papacy as the obstacle to the coming of Antichrist: “You know what withholdeth, that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way. And then that wicked one shall be revealed” (2 Thess. 2: 6-7).
The tail of the dragon represents the cunning hypocrisy with which he succeeds in deceiving a large number of people and pastors… Arianism led away many bishops, priests and peoples. The pretended Reformation of the sixteenth century claimed still larger numbers but these cannot be compared to the numbers seduced by Satan in the days of Antichrist. The dragon stands before the woman ready to devour the child that is brought forth. In other words, the powers of hell seek by all means to destroy the Pope elected in those days.
The woman brings forth a son to rule the nations with a rod of iron. These are the identical words of prophecy uttered by the Psalmist concerning our Saviour Jesus Christ (Ps. 2:9).They confirm our application of this vision to the Pope, the vicar of Christ on earth to rule the nations in His stead and by His power. It is now the hour for the powers of darkness. The new-born Son of the Church is taken “to God and to His throne.” Scarcely has the newly elected Pope been enthroned when he is snatched away by martyrdom. The “mystery of iniquity,” gradually developing through the centuries, cannot be fully consummated while the power of the Papacy endures, but now he that “withholdeth is taken out of the way.” During the interregnum, “that wicked one shall be revealed” in his fury against the Church.
It is a matter of history that the most disastrous periods for the Church were times when the Papal throne was vacant, or when anti-popes contended with the legitimate head of the Church. Thus also shall it be in those evil days to come. The Church deprived of her chief pastor must seek sanctuary in solitude there to be guided by God Himself during those trying days.