QUAERITUR: The “Three Days of Darkness” and You

SNEAK PEEK at the “Three Days of Darkness”!

From a reader:

I see you’ve posted about CMEs again [HERE] (I *think* I remember you addressing CMEs as a TEOTWAWKI situation before…). [If a really big one hits us head on, yes, I think it could be.] This all sounds very apocalyptic to me. Are you, by chance, one of the people that believe in the Three Days of Darkness or some similar apocalyptic prophesy?

I ask because I thought these things were just folksy traditions that the Church frowned upon (or, at least, refused to endorse). Seeing you fret like this makes me wonder if my understanding of these apocalyptic prophecies and their official status was incorrect.

BOTTOM LINE: Should I take apocalyptic prophecies like the TDoD seriously, or should I continue to regard them as old wives’ tales?

First, I haven’t given the “Three Days of Darkness” notion much thought at all.  When I use the term I usually am talking about the annual Los Angeles progressivist catholic education conference.

That said, some people may not know about this.

In mostly sedevacantist circles, I believe, it is alleged that some saints and others have, because of private revelations, held that, when the end times come (and they will), there will be, you guessed it, three days of darkness.  It will be very cold, the earth will be beset by demons, cities will be destroyed, people will drop dead if they go outside.  Everyone is supposed to stock up on Holy Water blessed beeswax candles, which will be the only things that can produce light.  Somewhere in the mix Sts. Peter and Paul will return and designate a true Pope (because they Popes we have had have been false popes).

It may be that I got some points wrong, but that is the gist of the thing.

When I talk about The End OF The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) I mean something that happens because of demonstrably explicable causes, such as a massive EMP or the collapse of the global economy or a pandemic or … fill in the blank.  Moreover, there can be smaller TEOTWAWKI events for individuals, families, towns.  Think of the poor people whose homes were destroyed in Colorado because of the wild fire, the people of Joplin, MO, the Japanese in the tsunami and near the nuclear power plant.  A car accident can be TEOTWAWKI.

I am not deep enough or given the graces necessary to discern all the spiritual underpinnings of God’s work in these events, though I know that they must somehow be coherent with His divine providence.    He permits many things and He offers us graces to work through them.  And, in the last analysis, our worldly life is short compared to our life in heaven.

What I think people should take seriously is some basic preparation so that, when and if something happens, you are better situated to take care of yourself and loved ones.  Having a plan and some food and clothing, etc. in case need it fast is a good idea.  If having blessed candles and Holy Water is part of the plan, great!  I am sure that priests will bless them for you. If you believe the whole Three Days of Darkness thing – hey! – knock yourself out!

Here my apocalyptic prophecy that you should take seriously: You are going to die.

What you should take seriously is the fact that you are going to meet the Lord on His terms, either because He returns or because you die.  One of the two is going to happen.  If you don’t plan for that day, you are a fool.

Therefore, examine your conscience well, make frequent confessions of all mortal sins, make good Communions, use the sacraments and sacramentals well, perform works of mercy, pray and place your trust in God without putting any created thing upon your heart’s throne.

If you do those things, and persevere, the Three Days of Darkness won’t be much of a problem.

In the meantime, why not stock up on some of my Z-Swag and, of course, lots of …


Mystic Monk Coffee!

When the Three Days of Darkness come, will you have your stockpile of Mystic Monk Coffee and Tea?

Not only is Mystic Monk Coffee really swell, but…

Wait… wait… I am receiving a vision…. yes… yes… of course… of course.

I just learned through private revelation that demons hate Mystic Monk Coffee.

So, if I were you….

It's Swell

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Four Last Things, Linking Back, TEOTWAWKI and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Melody says:

    I’ve learned the hard way that mention of the TDoD is a cue to evacuate the conversation immediately. Many of the people I’ve known who followed it were actually quite frightening and mentally unstable. There’s something truly diabolic about it. Sorry if this strikes you as overly harsh.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    Father Z., I know you don’t have time, but I have written 13 posts examining private revelations. One of the common problems is the use of the Internet to pass on spurious information. I find that people who follow these things have not read the CCC and do not read encyclicals. Also, if one asks for a check with the Teaching Magisterium of the Church, these people point to sayings of Padre Pio or even less holy people as proof texts. Fear pushes these industries. If we just live everyday as if it is our last, is that not what we are supposed to do?

    I have friends buying special candles and other foodstuffs for the TDOD. I mentioned to one friend that in certain countries one cannot even buy beeswax candles and would God punish those people? The entire impetus is one of anti-intellectualism fueled by the age-old desire to be “in” and “holy” with special knowledge, like the Gnostics. Too much energy is spent on chasing after arcane knowledge instead of praying, reading, fasting, studying all the teachings of the Church and meditating on such.

  3. NoraLee9 says:

    Oh gosh Father. I am on the floor, laughing. G-d bless you. I think I’ll finally order some of that coffee!

  4. Supertradmum says:

    Fr. Z., can you make coffee in the dark? “Jist wondrin'”. [Frankly, this Three Days of Darkness thing worries me a little, since much of my strength depends on the light your world’s yellow sun. But, I think I will be able to manage. I have a cunning plan.]

  5. acardnal says:

    There is definitely a number of Catholics who are obsessed with the end of the world – or the coming chastisements – as they like to call it. They quote saints and visionaries and make a lot of $$$$ from writing books and publishing magazines on this subject. I laugh it off. I respond as you did Fr. Z: we are all going to die one day. Who really cares how it happens?! THE important thing is to go to Confession regularly and live in a state of grace so that you are ready to meet Jesus at any moment!

    [And that you buy Mystic Monk Coffee using my link! Never mind all that other stuff.]

  6. Supertradmum says:

    “I have a cunning plan” ” Am I jumping the gun, Baldrick, or are the words ‘I have a cunning
    plan’ marching with ill-deserved confidence in the direction of this conversation.” ROFL

  7. Didn’t the three days already take place? Good Friday to Easter Sunday. Seems like a dark time to me.

  8. gambletrainman says:

    Another one of the “stipulations”: You are supposed to seal your doors and windows so none of the toxic air from the outside will seep into your dwelling. Now, can you imagine a family of 10 in a small ranch-style house being in an air-tight space for 3 days and 3 nights having enough oxygen to last that long? Or, supposedly, with all the “signs” of the coming tribulation, we are to stock up on unspoilable food (canned vegetables, etc), all of which have expiration dates. So, you buy canned vegetables — let’s say you bought them last year. That means they would expire probably next year. You fear the expiration date will come before the TDoD, so, you use up your stock. While you are at the supermarket, the toxic fumes creep into the store. Are you going to live long enough to get home?

    No thanks, I’ll just take my chances with the material stuff, and make sure my spiritual side is well prepared. By the way, Mystic Monk probably has an expiration date on it as well. Probably 10 years, but there is probably a date.

  9. dspecht says:

    It is not only in Sedevacantist-circles and not only alleged prophecies.

    To my knowledge it is at least Marie Julie Yahenie and the blessed Anna Maria Taigi as well as the famous German seer Irlmaier and “Das Lied der Linde” that mention the TDOD clearly and directly. Then there is a hint in La Sallete and in some other prophecies.

    Well, of course I have not read the originals or facsimiles of this prophecies, but they seem to be authentic.

    Sometimes it is also pointed to a – alleged – prophecy of St. Padre Pio. But here I myselfe use the term “alleged” – I am very doubtful if it is authentic and have not checked it up.

  10. Supertradmum says:

    dspecht we are under no obligation to believe private revelations.

  11. AnnAsher says:

    There is a small volume by TAN books and media simply titled : Catholic Prophecy. The 3 Days prophecy has been forewarned by many Saints and Blessed’s centuries apart from one another. Since these are approved Saints and Blessed’s I think the warning should be afforded heed. However ultimately it neither adds nor detracts from what we know in Revelation and Fatima. The 3 Days are in the context of any other End Times prophecy I’ve read. I find them a comfort. It comforts me to believe my non Catholic or former Catholic friends and family may have one.last.chance to recognize Christ and His Church. Otherwise the prophecies remind simply: Go to Confession; Do not be curious about evil; Fill your “oil lamp”.

  12. iPadre says:

    My theory is that we have been living in “three days of darkness” with all the immorality, loss of faith and lack of reverence for the Sacraments. Yet, with Pope Benedict, Summorum Pontificum and his plan for Liturgical reform, the Son is beginning to shine through the clouds. We may yet see the Triumph promised by Our Lady of Fatima.

  13. trespinos says:

    If anyone needs an insight as to how mistaken the TDoD scenario is, consider this. Supposedly during the darkness, inside one’s house, one must ignore any and all pleas from outside for assistance. Piteous cries for help must be ignored, lest you open the door, go outside and be lost. Compare this with public revelation, the parable of the Good Samaritan, say. Our faith calls us to come to the aid of those in need. These two ideas are in direct contradiction and cannot be reconciled. Let every Christian heed the contradiction.

    Aside from Solanus Casey, no other prospective canonization would please me more than that of Blessed Anna Maria Taigi. But when the Romans have got off their collective duff and asked for and received the necessary miracle for that wonder-working star of their city, Holy Church will probably have to make clear that the honors of the altar are hers despite the details of this private revelation, not in any way because of them.

  14. gambletrainman says:


    When I typed my earlier blog, what you just said also crossed my mind. If I were to hear my mother calling to let her in, I would know it was a demon, and never give it a second thought (My mother died in 2003); but if it were a neighbor begging to be let in, I don’t think I could just stand by, knowing I’d be responsible for that person’s death. Yes, I would risk my life to try to save someone else’s soul.

  15. Tantum Ergo says:

    How bad can three days be? If Obama gets reelected, we’re in for FOUR YEARS of it!

  16. Michelle F says:

    I learned about this “Three Days of Darkness” from an older Catholic woman, someone who is not one of the most stable persons I’ve ever met. She worked with mercury in her job, and I think she may have been overexposed to it.

    Anyhow, what Fr. Z described above sounds like what the woman told me. She also said that afterward, there would be a “time of peace” on the Earth.

    The whole thing strikes me as a Catholic-flavored equivalent of the Fundamentalists’ and similar-minded people’s understanding of the Rapture. They think that the Lord will return and take them out of the world before the Anti-Christ comes so they won’t have to suffer. The Lord will return again and defeat the Anti-Christ at Armageddon (this is His 3rd coming if you are counting), and set up a Kingdom on Earth which will last 1000 years, and which will be marked by Peace. Then the Devil will be released again, and that will end with the “real” End-of-the-World.

    I haven’t been able to figure out whether that last battle between God and the Devil involves a 4th coming of Christ. (I am a convert from a generic Fundamentalist background, so I heard about this a lot when I was growing up.)

    The “Three Days of Darkness” crowd has the opposite view in that instead of God taking them, the “good” people, out of the world, He removes the bad people during the “Three Days of Darkness.” The only ones left are the good Catholics who were “prepared” with their blessed candles and what-not. There will be a period of Peace, and then the Anti-Christ will show up and the final battle between God and the Devil will occur after that.

    I suppose they deserve a few points for keeping the number of the Lord’s returns to Earth down to TWO.

    After giving the “Three Days of Darkness” thing a lot of thought over the years, I decided that it is not true. First, such a dramatic event, especially one that required the faithful to have and use sacramentals, would be covered in Scripture, but it isn’t mentioned. Second, the Saints who have had visions of a major persecution of the Church in the future have seen what WAS predicted in Scripture, although they may have some details a bit off. Frankly, what they saw could be interpreted as relating to the evils unleashed on and in the Church beginning with Vatican II.

    So, I keep the “Three Days of Darkness” filed under “End Times Fanaticism” and spend my energy on worrying about whether I need to go to Confession before I receive Communion.

  17. Gus Barbarigo says:

    The notion of three days of darkness sounds like something out of a B horror movie, but there is reason to believe the the Pope believes in something along those lines, as he beatified Sr. Elena Aiello, who prophesied a 70-hour ‘tempest of fire’ (a CME?):


    Pope Benedict XVI is also quoted saying he hopes the prophesied (at Fatima) age of Marian peace will come by 2017: “May the seven years which separate us from the centenary of the apparitions hasten the fulfillment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.”


    A scholar who has studied such prophecies for over 20 years, including the review of primary sources, and who has appeared on EWTN on the topic at least twice, Desmond Birch, has written a magisterial (small “m”) tome on the subject: HERE

    The book reviews Fatima and many other prophesies, including those by the Church Fathers, and also Sr. Aiello. It does NOT go into unapproved apparitions. I get no money from the publisher or the above author. I do hope you will not write off the topic, as the notion of chastisement by fire ties into apparitions at Fatima (the Miracle of the Sun), Akita, and Wisconsin (Our Lady of Good Help). By the way, Card. Burke as born in Wisconsin.

    There is a lot more to the above prophesies than beeswax candles. Be prepared.

  18. Gus Barbarigo says:

    If the above links (in my 10:41 entry) take you to homepages, please cut/paste the links into your URL box. Thank you.

  19. gambletrainman says:

    Somehow I think that the apparitions of Fatima, while approved by the Church, have been emphasizing the wrong “theme”, so to speak. The constant message was the guardian angel of Portugal (was it St Michael?) complaining of the sacrament abuses, especially the Most Holy Eucharist. Also, the main theme was to pray, especially the rosary, and do penance especially for reparation of the sins against Our Lord. This theme was repeated many times, both by the Blessed Virgin, and Christ, himself. The consecration of Russia was just a sideline, if you will, but certain people have pushed that as the main topic.

  20. Joan M says:

    The Three Days of Darkness. All this conversation takes me back to my teen years (late 1950’s). I remember knowing about TTDoD, but cannot remember much detail. What I do remember was groups of us teenage convent school girls asking the big question – “Where will you be during the 3 days of darkness?” Most popular answer (resulting in gales of giggles) “In the back row of the Ritz (local cinema) with my boyfriend.” Since this was, I think, discussed on walks during a school retreat, it is clear that our thoughts were not very spiritual!!

  21. Philangelus says:

    Trespinos, I blogged about exactly that same thing last year: that in order to survive the Three Days Of Darkness as some of these people were defining it, I’d have to become the kind of person Jesus would drop straight into Hell. Oh, my children were outside playing when the darkness came? Sorry, guys, time to die! I’ll be in here with my blessed candles looking at my hermetically sealed attic because Satan can’t get in, since as we all know, plastic wrap seals out Satan.

    I grew up surrounded by scary prophecies for years, and it was only when I went to college and returned home (with a whole new set of heresies) that I realized how wrong it was to nurture my spirituality with a steady diet of fear and “my Dad can beat up your dad.” All these people waiting for Jesus to come and justify them in the eyes of the world by hurting everyone. How could I look forward to people being hurt? How could I look forward to the loss of eternal souls? Why be gleeful about the fact that God was going to do some thing so scary that people would “die of fright”?

    I made an open call in that blog entry: if the TDOD comes and Satan wants to kill me, come to my door and sound like my neighbor or my kids. I’ll let you in. I have no choice as a Christian and I have to let you in, and if I die for providing for my neighbor or mothering the children God gave me, then I died doing what I think Jesus would have wanted me doing.

  22. Philangelus says:

    Oh, and stocking up on things in case The Bad Stuff happens — there’s reasonable preparedness and unreasonable. We’re usually prepared for several days of feeding/watering just because we’ve got enough to get us through a hurricane or a power outage. But I’ve also seen that God prepares us for the little things, like the time I felt a Very Strong Urge to buy canned pears for the soup kitchen while at BJs, and I did, and a few days later I got a stomach virus and the only thing I could eat was canned pears. Which were in the house for the first time in five years. So God’s smart (and yes, I went out and bought new canned pears for the food pantry afterwards.)

    I don’t understand the scrambling and running to escape the hammer of justice that we actually deserve. If we’re fully embracing the message of Christ, then don’t we know that as sinners we deserve it? So hoarding and locking people out of our homes in the name of God — it breeds an attitude that is against so much in the Bible. The Maccabees lit the candles without enough oil to keep them burning, and yet God provided. We need to have some trust that whatever happens, God’s going to nurture our souls through it.

  23. GrogSmash says:

    Thank you Fr. Z, your comments had me ROFLOL!
    I have always been quite interested in the Beginning, and the End. At one time (about 15 years ago), I was buying in to the TDOD quite heavily, until I heard a sermon at Holy Mass, in which the priest (who recently died… R.I.P. Fr. H.) was covering this topic. I still remember his voice as he mildly rebuked us by saying: “What if you walk out of here after Mass, walk across the street to your car, and get hit and killed? Guess what? TODAY is the end of YOUR world. Are you prepared?” I’m quite certain he wasn’t asking if I had enough blessed candles (which are always good to have anyways!) to walk across the street! As our Dear Lord says in Luke (13:3) “…unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish.”

  24. LisaP. says:

    “Here my apocalyptic prophecy that you should take seriously: You are going to die.”

    This one’s a kick! I guess it might be a bit harsh on a coffee mug? . . . .

  25. Stephen D says:

    I agree with Gus. Without being obsessive about these things and being careful how and with who you discuss them, I believe that a thinking Catholic should be aware that many saints and mystics (just read the Apocalypse) have seen some very bad times ahead of them and we just might be living in those times. For instance Our Lady of Good Success is reported as saying in the 16th Century, much about a time in which “….. depraved priests will scandalise the Christian people, will make the hatred of bad Catholics and the enemies of the Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church fall upon priests….”
    Seems to have happened!

  26. Dismas says:

    But of this one thing be not ignorant, my beloved, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. [2 Peter 3:8]

    In stocking up on Mystic Monk coffee, what a challenge this presents in discerning what might be a prudent supply?

  27. priest up north says:

    I was recently pointed to a book entitled “The Secrets, Chastisement, and Triumph – Of the Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary – And What Heaven is Calling Us to Do.” by Kelly Bowring (Two Hearts Press). While I am still reading the book, within which he address TDoD and Blessed Anna Maria Taigi, along with other privately revealed messages (including La Salette, Fatima, Akita, to name a few Marian apparitions) as well as to such persons as Fr. Stefano Gobbi, St. Faustina, and Padre Pio – seeking to synthesize all of the various private revelations, the book also is very clear and straight forward about the message of conversion and return to God that has been invited by all of these (and more) private revelations. I would recommend this book to all who desire to continue to heed the messages of approved apparations as means of preparing for their death today or on whatever future day God wills – whether you accept any of these apparitions/private revelations or not.

  28. akp1 says:

    I agree that any day can be TEOTWAWKI and we need to live our life striving to be prepared for that day. But it is sensible to be prepared in practical things; whether or not one believes these type of private revelations, scripture tells us about Noah – the Lord told him to prepare and he did; so there is a case for heeding warnings to prepare, always bearing in mind that spiritual preparation is the one that really, really matters. As Fr. Z. points out (and I do – too often for many people!) we WILL all die one day, that’s the day to prepare for imho!

  29. bookworm says:

    “the notion of chastisement by fire ties into apparitions at Fatima (the Miracle of the Sun), Akita, and Wisconsin (Our Lady of Good Help).”

    The Wisconsin apparition occurred in 1859, and two events that could reasonably fit the “fire” pattern followed: the Civil War and the great Peshtigo forest fire of 1871, which killed anywhere from 1,200 to 2,500 people in the same general area where the apparitions occurred. Few people have heard of it, however, because it happened on the same night as the more famous Great Chicago Fire.

  30. Spaniard says:

    I have read both the book mentioned by “priest up north” and the one mentioned by “Gus Barbarigo”. Very good books, firm in Catholic teaching, in Tradition and Church Fathers. I find making fun of this revelations foolish, as Jesus said we should be looking for the signs of His coming, and we had the duty to recognise them when they came: if God and the Virgin reveal things related to this time, making fun is not my first option.

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