Hi, Joseph —
You are referring to a fictional period of time invented by a heretic named John Nelson Darby who concocted the doctrine (actually another heresy) known as Dispensationalism.
In this theory, God deals with people differently in different dispensations.
According to Darby, there is still a seven year period left in which God has to deal with Israel. During this period, the Church will have already been raptured out. At the same time, the Anti-Christ will reign and persecute the believers that somehow come to believe in Christ without a Church that has been raptured. I guess they trip over a Bible and, all of a sudden, understand all the proof texts Darby wrenched out of context to come up with this science fiction.
Darby based his eschatological musings doing some cut and paste work. He took some Scriptures from:
If you read those texts in their proper context you'd never come up with Darby's twisted notions.
For instance, Darby contends that the Temple will be rebuilt and the whole Mosaic sacrificial system will be restored in Israel and that the Anti-Christ will walk into the Temple and declare himself to be God, at which point, Jerusalem would be destroyed and not one stone of the Temple would remain upon another.
Darby bases this on Matthew 24. Of course, if your read Matthew 24, you'd realize Jesus said the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple would happen within a generation. And guess what —
it did! It happened in 70 A.D. and there were also seven years of great persecutions of Christians, first by the Jews and then by the Romans immediately prior to 70 A.D., so there is your Daniel prophecy fulfilled.
I could go on and on and on. Suffice it to say that not one single Christian denomination before Darby who came along circa 1850 accepted this.
- That said, this nonsense is around 150 years old.
- The Catholic and Orthodox Churches have no history or Tradition of it.
- The Protestants didn't begin to accept it until the middle of the twentieth century, and then, it was only accepted by some of the evangelical sects.
There's no doubt we will suffer persecution for the faith, but the question of salvation is a matter for God.
Even the way the question is asked is based on a Protestant heresy. One isn't saved until one is judged. We are objectively saved by the grace of Baptism. We continue to be saved by grace of God if we cooperate and accept it in our lives, and ultimately we will be saved on judgment day but salvation isn't a one time event. It's not about saying a sinner's prayer. It's about living a sinner's prayer — by grace, of course. It is not our work, it is His Work that we yield to.
So yes, as the end draw nears, whenever that may be, persecution will increase, the Church will be tested, but the term tribulation is not Catholic. It's a Protestant/Dispensationalist term.
It literally means period of shaking. It is not entirely anti-Catholic, but the idea that for seven years God will no longer deal with the Church but with Israel under the Mosaic Law, is nonsense and found absolutely no where in the Scriptures, unless you turn it into salt water taffy and stretch to mean anything you want.