We do not know the day or the hour.

We do not know the day or the hour.

I had seen this video before, but Patrick Madrid posted it on his page.

It reminds me of in our Latin Church we sometimes pray about living amidst the vicissitudes of this world.

It reminds me that we as Catholic pray in the petitions of the Litany of Saints to be preserved from a sudden and unprovided death.

This is a video of the tsunami which struck Japan a month ago.

Warning: The last couple minutes are hard to watch.


Life is not CGI, friends.  Bad things happen to nice people who are going about life just like you.

As this Lent continues, ask yourself the questions:

  • Are you ready now to go before the Lord your Maker and your Judge?
  • Have you helped those for whom you are responsible to be ready?
  • When was the last time you made a good and complete confession of your sins and received valid absolution?

“But Father! But Father!”, some of you may be saying now.  “Are you trying to scare us?  Shouldn’t we go to confession out of love and not fear?”

Yes, I am trying to scare you.  I want to scare the hell out of you.

Going to confession for the higher purpose of expressing sorrow for violating God’s love is laudable.  But going to confession because you are afraid of hell and because you know your life could end at any moment is enough.   If I can get you out of your complacence and into a confessional even out of fear, fine.  I take that.

I’ll take the fear now for a confession. We can work on the love part brick by brick.

Priests… bishops… this includes you.  Your judgment … our judgment… is going to be exacting, for so much more has been given.  “I don’t have time” isn’t a good plan.  Just go.  Die in the state of mortal sin and you’ll go to hell.

On that note, I see also that, as I write, A G1-class geomagnetic storm is in progress, sparked by a high-speed solar wind stream which is buffeting Earth’s magnetic field.

High latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.  For more see Space Weather.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Global Killer Asteroid Questions, Look! Up in the sky!, The future and our choices and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. APX says:

    Ever since we got the “sincere repentance for absolution” sermon, I’ve been paranoid that my absolution might not have been valid because I might not have sounded sincere enough the last time I went to confession. Although my plan is to go again this weekend.

  2. inara says:

    thank you…needed that straight up kick in the pants today (oh wait, I don’t own any pants…well, thanks anyway). ;o)

  3. Father Bartoloma says:

    Wow! For a moment I thought I accidentally logged onto “Spirit Daily”.

    Thank you, Father for these very sensible and sobering considerations. I hope that you have a blessed Passiontide and Holy Week.

  4. markomalley says:

    Along the lines of space weather, you and your readers can get some interesting widgets for your desktop (and perhaps website) from this link: http://www.hamqsl.com/solar.html

    I truly wish more of our priests would preach on this in their homilies, particularly during this season of Passiontide. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Leave it to you to bring this up on a day when I have high blood pressure (Stage 2). But it’s been two or three weeks, so I’m probably due.

  6. ghp95134 says:

    This footage was at the village of San Riku Cho. The narration is filled with “unbelievable” (shinjirarenai) and “awful/terrible/OMG”(yabai!)
    I landed at Narita at 4:00 pm on Friday (our time), just about 20 hours after the tsunami hit; fortunately the airport at Chitose (Hokkaido) had opened and I was able to continue my way to Sapporo. Hokkaido was largely unaffected — in comparison to Tohoku — almost like being on a different planet; but for three weeks I watched the daily news and body count … I didn’t see anything as terrible as this footage.

    On my return Narita Airport had another 7.0 aftershock! Day after day ….

    None of my wife’s family were affected, but her best friend lost two brothers. The third brother was working on a hill side and saw the tide go out to sea; he hopped in his car, drove to his sister’s house and was able to save his mother and sister before the tsunami destroyed their house. Naturally he is devistated.

    This sad and dramatic footage makes me understand a bit how defensless and helpless many survivors felt. Many will suffer PTSD.

  7. ghp95134 says:

    Correction: Footage taken at Minami (South) San Riku Cho

  8. Thanks for the reminder Father…

    Today is our parish’s Lenten penitential service. I was debating not going, but this was the kick I needed.

    After all, my parish will be filled with priests wanting to hear confessions- how can I turn down the opportunity to receive the grace of the sacrament?

  9. green fiddler says:

    Praying for our brothers and sisters in Japan. This is so sad.
    Please God that we be ready when the hour comes. The Sacrament of Penance is a great gift.
    I have some special friends who died suddenly at a young age and remember them especially in prayer. Praised be our merciful LORD Jesus!

    This morning while googling, I found a beautiful poem that brought me to tears.
    It fits this thread: CLICK HERE.

    God bless you, Fr. Z.

  10. lizaanne says:

    Dear Fr. Z – I do not fear Confession. I go about every six weeks. I hardly ever have mortal sin – that I am aware of. But I do wish I could go more often. Problem is, I can not remember those little daily sins – “what I have done, and what I have failed to do” – just through the course of the day. And I am afraid of becoming scrupulous, and also that I will just go in the confessional and not have much to say, when I know I’ve surely been a horrible sinner in God’s eyes. Didn’t JPII go every day??!!! Surely I could go TWICE a day!!!

    So – how? How do I go and confess the little things – without taking up the entire time for Confession, without being scrupulous. And the biggest problem, how do I even keep track of it from confession to confession?

    Sigh….I really want to do this the right way, but I do struggle with this. But I do not fear Confession, I do love the feeling of walking out squeaky clean and ready to receive Christ in the Eucharist as pure as snow. I just would like to do this more often.

    God bless Father!

  11. green fiddler says:

    my link did not work…
    trying again: CLICK HERE

  12. Paul says:

    My God have mercy on those people, particularly the ones in the video. Praying for them, living or dead, right now.

  13. Christine says:

    Thanks for the post Fr. Z. I have two little girls who just had their first confession on April 9 and will be receiving their First Holy Communion on May 1. I had planned to take them to confession again on April 30 so that they are squeaky clean when they receive Our Lord for the first time. I started to waffle a little thinking that that may be overkill, but your post reaffirmed my decision. They (and the rest of my confession age family) WILL be going on April 30 again. It’s funny, my one daughter loved it so much, she wants to go 3 times per week. I told her we can work up to that–we’ll start with once a month.

  14. AnAmericanMother says:

    The steady implacable advance of the water is terrifying – it’s like accounts of the Johnstown Flood, but more dreadful to see it unfolding! Prayers for all of them and for us, our friends and relatives.

    I’ve found the new Confession app discussed on this blog to be very helpful. A mini-examination of conscience while brushing my teeth before bed, a few quick entries into the custom list on the app, then everything is there to review before going to Confession.
    It’s passworded and secure, which beats handwritten notes in a small notebook – I used to do that but wrote everything down in a misch-masch of languages and code because I was afraid of losing the notebook and having somebody be shocked (or worse, laugh).
    I took the app into the confessional for the first time at the penance service last Wednesday . . . the priest (an elderly and very droll Irishman) peered through the screen at the glowing iPhone and said in his heavy brogue, “And I hope you’re going to delete that . . . ?” I explained that it was passworded AND approved by Fr. Z . . . he chuckled and then we began. It was really the first time I felt like I hadn’t forgotten something . . . .

  15. Random Friar says:

    @lizaanne: The Holy Father of happy memory routinely went weekly, according to the reports I’ve read. Daily seems to skirt awfully close to scrupulosity.

  16. Maltese says:

    “Yes, I am trying to scare you. I want to scare the hell out of you.”

    Very good, Father, you are doing a Pastor’s duty!

    Too bad we don’t have more of that direction!

    Think about this: we are rolling on the earth’s axis, and the earth, in turn, is rolling around the Sun. None of us leaves this earth alive; we all must, in a sense, suffer and die with Christ. None of us leaves this rock called earth alive! Get used to it, you’re body too will be left here on planet earth!

    But, while you’re animated give beauty and life! I can say I’ve given my share with five kiddos!

    [Crux stat dum volvitur mundus.]

  17. EWTN Rocks says:

    Ohmygosh, I had not seen this video clip. Those poor people watching the water approach and witnessing the destruction – they must have been so terrified. After I finish feeling sick to my stomach, I will pray for them. I just went to Confession on Saturday but maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to go again this week…

  18. xgenerationcatholic says:

    And an Act of Contrition a few times a day doesn’t hurt and it is easy. There’s also the scapular.
    There are many people I wish I could just make go.
    My dad died pretty suddenly but he had been making sure for a long time he was always ready. It’s much easier on your loved ones when they know you are ready.
    I always feel my growing up years would have been easier had I been going to confession frequently instead of the three or so bad ones I made before I made my first real one at 24.
    Wasn’t there some monks who kept skulls near them so they’d always be reminded of their death?

  19. Dr. Eric says:

    Still praying for Japan through the intercession of the Martyrs of Nagasaki.

  20. Ellen says:

    We had a penance service last night with 6 priests to hear confession. There were long lines, although not long enough. Our pastor has lengthened the confession time on Saturday too.

  21. albizzi says:

    Why our bishops and even our Holy Father NEVER address the catholic faithfuls like that?
    If people must live a holy life to go to Heavens, if it is not out of love of God, at least be it out of fear of Hell.
    Certainly those among our pastors who refuse to speak about Hell and eternal perdition, being reluctant to scare anyone (or fearing to look ludicrous), will partake in the damnation of the souls they were in charge of.

  22. GrogSmash says:

    Thank you for posting this and your commentary Fr. Z! Very timely and I desperately needed it!

  23. APX says:

    Wasn’t there some monks who kept skulls near them so they’d always be reminded of their death?

    Yes! I just listened to something about this yesterday before bed. Some carmelite monks in Wyoming keep a skull on the table while they eat with a Latin inscription that we are from dust and to dust we shall return.

  24. irishgirl says:

    I’ve seen some other videos of the tsunami coming ashore-mostly from TV helicopters-but this is got to be the scariest! Especially at the end! It made me think of the Flood as it was painted by Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Those poor people who got swamped by the rising waters…!
    Yikes-you’re right, Father Z…’we do not know the day or the hour’….very timely indeed!

  25. green fiddler says:

    As there are many knowledgeable people here and someone will know,
    I hope it is not inappropriate to ask (before this window closes):

    How does one write “We are praying with you” in Japanese?

  26. Bryan Boyle says:

    Would love to go…but the deanery in central NJ only has those ‘2 weeks before, big night, 25 priests assembly-line penance’ things in the school and a blanket statement that they will NOT hear confessions outside of that before Easter. They’re ‘too busy’ getting all the flower arrangements and stuff done to be bothered, I guess. Sad. Goes along with removing the holy water from the stoups before last weekend and all the rest of the weird things they come up with.

    So…I’ll wait till my spiritual director arrives home from Rome for the holiday. He’s a priest (IMHO) who knows what the sacrament is for…and is always ready to hear one (carries his small violet stole in his pocket, a container with oil of the sick, rosary, holy water, and crucifix on his person at all times). You’d like him, Fr. Z…

  27. ehale says:

    A good reminder, Father.

    I do not want to spend eternity in Hell, where, in addition to being separated from God, Satan will probably also curse the female damned with elephantitis of the shoulders and force them to wear strapless bridemaids’ gowns sans boleros.

  28. flyfree432 says:

    A good reminder. Now why don’t priests remind us of this anymore from the pulpit. In my 6 years as a Catholic and 4 years as a church employee I have never heard a priest mention mortal sin, hell, damnation, judgment, eternity, or any other pressing issue. Certainly never a stern reminder to go to confession.

  29. BLB Oregon says:

    There was a penance service at a local parish with many, many priests available. The next Sunday, the pastor scolded his parish for the lack of attendance (roughly 15 penitents per confessor). He pointed out both his scheduled confession times and the other local parishes who were offering similar opportunities before Triduum, and told his parishioners who had not availed themselves yet to get their priorities in order and get with it. Not “maybe you might think about this” but “you need to do this, no excuses, get with it.”

    I also saw the following published recently, in the bulletin of a parish whose pastor was one of the confessors at the penance service:
    “During holy seasons, finally, we ought to prepare ourselves carefully, to live holier lives, and to observe each rule more strictly, as though we were soon to receive from God the reward of our labors. If this end be deferred, let us believe that we are not well prepared and that we are not yet worthy of the great glory that shall in due time be revealed to us. Let us try, meanwhile, to prepare ourselves better for death. “Blessed is the servant,” says Christ, “whom his master, when he cometh, shall find watching. Amen I say to you: he shall make him ruler over all his goods.” — St. Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

    There are shepherds out there, faithfully trying to herd the cats.

  30. Margaret says:


    My particular examen for the past few weeks has been to do a short, but complete and sincere examination of conscience each night before bed. Jot down your notes in whatever way seems best. It’s not unreasonable for people to keep some kind of paper or electronic notebook when they are serious about the spiritual life and growing in holiness. The exams are mixed in with resolutions drawn from my prayer, advice received in confession or spiritual direction, people and intentions to pray for, etc. It doesn’t come into confession with me, mind you, but glancing over that before my confession (stuck at ~ every 3-4 weeks even though weekly is the goal) refreshes the mind wonderfully. There is a huge grace, I think, that comes with a nightly exam and pays off richly in a good confession that has the four C’s– clear, concise, concrete and complete. :)

  31. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    I went this evening, because I needed to go, and
    Because this video, and others like it compelled me to go.
    Because my brothers and sisters in Christ are facing martyrdom at this moment in many places of the globe.
    And because I care not only for my own soul, but I must be in a state of grace to pray for the souls of the departed.

  32. hicks says:

    Thanks for the inspiration, Father. I went to confession today instead of waiting till the weekend. Yeah, the priests at my parish hear confessions for an hour every single day before Mass. Not bragging about my amazing parish or anything, just sayin’. :)

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