QUAERITUR: Are we now in the end times?

From a reader:

Are we now in the end times?

Yes, we are.

We have been in the end times ever since Our Lord ascended to the right hand of the Father.

Because of Our Lord’s promises to return even before the generation had passed (whatever that meant!), devout Christians have felt as if we were living on the edge of a knife.  This tension is good for us.  It must be intended by the Lord, as a matter of fact.

It seems that, watching the signs of the times through history, the Lord must be about to return to unmake the world and act as Judge and submit all creation to the Father.  As Christians we want the Lord to return.  As Christians our prayer was directed Eastward as a manifestation of our belief that the Lord would return and out of our fervent desire that He come … and soon.

Every generation at some point feels or senses itself to be the last.  Sometimes this sense is stronger, sometimes vaguer.  It may be that the conditions which are apt for the Lord’s return develop and then, because of the prayers of some or the sacrifices of others, the Lord delays.  We don’t know how this works.

All we know is that one day we will be face to face with the Judge.

One day  Our Lord will come either for the whole world, or just for us personally.  We are all going to die, in the natural course of things, unless the Lord makes the big return first!

Yes, we are in the “end times”.

You might want to do some reading about the Catholic view of the end times in comparison to the thoughts of some fundamentalist Christians who believe in “the rapture”.

A helpful book for this is David Currie’s Rapture: The End-Times Error That Leaves the Bible Behind.  He is the author of Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic.

We should always keep the Four Last Things in the forefront of our minds.  That means we should also know what pitfalls to avoid.  There is a lot of confusion about the end times.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ASK FATHER Question Box, Four Last Things, Our Catholic Identity and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Finarfin says:

    As far as comparing Catholic to Protestant views on the end times (especially the rapture), this article I found to be helpful: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-rapture

  2. acardnal says:

    AND, as Fr. Z says often, “go to Confession!” Be ready.

  3. Brad says:

    “Coming Soon” by Dr. Barber
    Carson Weber’s free and wonderful podcasts of a bible study he lead: the hour on Revelation

  4. anilwang says:

    Anyone interested in this topic might also want to look at the Amillennialism entry (the Catholic view) in Wikipedia.
    It contains some nice graphics explaining the different theologies.

    The “Millennium and Millenarianism” entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia goes into a bit more on the history and associated heresies of the alternate views:

  5. mamajen says:

    Every generation at some point feels or senses itself to be the last.


    We should all prepare as though the world could end at any given time, but it does no good to try to “read the tea leaves” and figure out if the end is near. I’ve been hearing for most of my life that the world has never been worse and God basically can’t wait to swoop in and destroy it all because we’re all so terrible. I can’t stand that kind of attitude. I’ve decided that I will try my best to do what I am supposed to do, but beyond that I am not going to worry about it.

  6. robtbrown says:

    IMHO, the End Times began in 1948 with the reestablishment of the State of Israel. How many more years do we have? 50? 100? 500? Nescio. Deus scit.

  7. StWinefride says:

    Absolutely love and recommend this book:

    “The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life” by Father Charles Arminjon.

    St Therese of Lisieux read this book at age 14 and said

    “Reading this book was one of the greatest graces of my life”

  8. jc464 says:

    Although I am very much aware that many generations of Christians past must have believed in the possibility that they were the last one, there is one major difference with ours that none of the previous ones had to contend with: fifty-one million murdered due to legal abortion on demand. And that’s just the United States. I do think it is reasonable to be concerned, very concerned, about the Lord’s reaction to this unprecedented slaughter of innocents – which continues unabated to this very day.

  9. anilwang says:

    Just to add to mamajen’s comment.

    Each of us *will* meet Christ within the next 120 years regardless of when he chooses to have the Second Coming.

    So we must life as if our final judgment will be tomorrow, since it might very well be. The last thing we need is complacency and smugness that we have all the time in the world. To this God says (Luke 12:20) “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’”

  10. Roguejim says:

    For Catholic biblical commentary on the end times check out the links below.



  11. Joe in Canada says:

    I don’t think the creation of the State of Israel has anything to do with it. When the Church was established on the day of Pentecost God dwelled among men, and, as Dr Currie says in his book, this was revealed fully at the destruction of the Temple.

  12. The Masked Chicken says:

    “I’ve been hearing for most of my life that the world has never been worse and God basically can’t wait to swoop in and destroy it all because we’re all so terrible.”

    Ah, swooping…

    The (barely able to fly badly) Chicken

  13. Nancy D. says:

    We should always be ready, for we do not know The Day or The Hour, but that does not change the fact that The Great Apostasy refers to a multitude of persons that will leave The True Church, because they have exchanged The Truth with a lie, including those, who for a time, were able to fool even the elect, having left His Church spiritually, while remaining within His Church physically, causing chaos and confusion, while leading many more astray.

    If you are a Baptized Catholic who denies the personal and relational essence of the human person called to Holiness and communion with God from The Beginning, thus denying The Word of God, from the beginning, you are an apostate.

  14. acricketchirps says:

    Ah, are we now in the end times?

    My answer as always: you are but I’m not.

  15. APX says:

    I just read a news story about a woman in a small prairie city (pop. Approx 250,000) who answered her door when the doorbell rang and was shot dead by gang members. She had no connections to criminals. It was a drug deal gone bad. The gang members had gone to the wrong house and shot the wrong person (granted, no one should have been shot)

    Once again, we know not the day nor the hour.

  16. In my opinion, one of the very best books on Catholic eschatology is Trial, Tribulation, and Triumph by Desmond Birch.

  17. Liz says:

    acardinal, I was thinking the same thing! Confession is never a bad idea! :)

  18. acardnal says:

    robtbrown, it was certainly the end times for Catholic convert Dave Brubeck! One of my all time favorites of his was, of course, THE classic “Take Five.”


  19. Nancy D. says:

    True, we do not know the day or the hour, nor The Day or The Hour, but we do know we are living in the Time of The Great Apostasy for according to the head of the U.S.C.C.B., Christ’s Church is a big tent, where those who deny The Word of God Is The Word of God, can live in communion with Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. In other words, according to Cardinal Dolan, one can be part of The Great Apostasy, and be in communion with Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, simultaneously. This is not a sour grapes statement, I am simply saying one cannot bear Good fruit, if one begins with a lie, from the start.

  20. iPadre says:

    I’ve always said that there can’t be a “rapture”. Why would the Lord spare us our sufferings and persecution when he didn’t spare the early Christians and so many others through the ages? We are no better than our brothers and sisters who were martyred. No, we will go to the cross like them and gain the graces we would be spared if we didn’t imitate Our Lord.

  21. Nancy D. says:

    Since this is not the time to take five, for at this hour it is late, I am Praying that Pope Benedict will start his first tweet by affirming The Word of God from The Beginning, and thus the truth about the personal and relational essence of the human person, who from the moment of conception, is wholly human, as a son or daughter of a human person, from the moment of their creation, at their conception.

  22. NBW says:

    acardnal, you are right, confession is so important.
    robtbrown, I didn’t know Brubeck was a Catholic convert. Requiescat in pace.

  23. JARay says:

    There was an excellent article on Msgr Charles Pope’s website on the Book of Revelation only last week. I’m sorry but I cannot give you a link to that article but in essence he was saying that he belongs to a small group of people who do not read that book as being about the end-times of this world so much as being about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and he dates its authorship as being before that event. He also firmly claims that the Apostle John is its author, which many deny. As he (John) says these events are to happen “soon” and indeed they did.

  24. nemo says:

    Dec. 5th is a tough day for musicians, as Mozart also died on Dec. 5th. Requiescant in pace.

  25. Charles E Flynn says:

    Dave Brubeck had a wonderful denial that he was a Catholic “convert”:
    From Requiescat in pace: Dave Brubeck, jazz giant and convert to Catholicism from “nothing”, by Carl E. Olson:

    He has adamantly asserted for years that he is not a convert, saying to be a convert you needed to be something first. He continues to define himself as being “nothing” before being welcomed into the Church.

  26. robtbrown says:

    Nancy D. says:

    If you are a Baptized Catholic who denies the personal and relational essence of the human person called to Holiness and communion with God from The Beginning, thus denying The Word of God, from the beginning, you are an apostate.

    What do you mean by “The Beginning”?

  27. Glen M says:

    Without trying to sound like a doomsday alarmist, I believe our Western Civilization is in decline, most likely headed towards collapse. There are too many factors pulling us down:

    – Financially. We’re broke. Yet, most of us want more from our governments. Individually, people don’t save money anymore; personal credit is maxed

    – Morally. We’re broke. Not only is infanticide legal, the state/taxpayers pay for a woman to kill her unborn child; rough estimates are 1 in 3 have done so at some point.

    – Politically. More than half the electorate in America just re-elected the worst president in their history. Performance doesn’t matter anymore, it’s all about spin, conjecture, and who can lie the best. Any democratic system is vulnerable to parties who bribe voters with their own taxes and those willing to elect whoever gives them the most from others.

    – Catholicism. Maybe 1 in 5 make Sunday Mass; less than 1 in ten of those go to Confession.

    – Infrastructure. As Fr Z posted last week, most of us are completely dependent on the power grid. If electricity isn’t available for a week or so utter chaos will break out. Think aqua ducts in Rome.

    – Life Skills. How many of us know how to get our own food? How many are within a days walk of water if it didn’t come out of the tap? Ironically, if a major solar event did knock out our power grid, it’ll be the Taliban who’ll most likely survive.

    – Culturally. We lavish sports and entertainment figures with excessive wealth, yet don’t know our next door neighbour’s name. Our communities are bedrooms with an attached garage. A television is the focal point of many homes.

    The good news is we weren’t made for this world anyway. As we don’t know the hour the thief will arrive we have to live each day focused on God and preparing ourselves to meet Him again.

  28. The worse things get, the better we should feel. Things are lookin’ up!

    The Gospel [Luke 21. 25-33] for the Tridentine Mass this past 1st Sunday of Advent says:
    “But when these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand.”

  29. xsosdid says:

    This has been on my mind so much lately, and I am greatly confused. I frankly don’t appreciate your post here, Father, because it is a little like my mom packing me a raincoat and sending me out the door. “It might rain today”. Or maybe it won’t.
    Our Church is not leading on this issue: we have “seers” (Vassula, Maria Divine Mercy, Medjugorje) everywhere you turn, we have epic corruuption, we have divisions within the Body. It’s all chaos and what you say is simply ” well, we’ve seen this before”. That’s as if to hand me my raincoat on the way out the door.
    To whom does a person ask his questions? Is it my parish priest? REALLY?? I am the most “catholic” person I know and that scares the hell out of me.
    I am frankly tired of this kind of naive cheerleading and so maybe I should find anotherr blog.
    I’m terribly sorry if what I write is hurtful to anyone. I really love you Fr Z, I am just really frustrated.

  30. bobbyfranky says:

    “It may be that the conditions which are apt for the Lord’s return develop and then, because of the prayers of some or the sacrifices of others, the Lord delays. We don’t know how this works.”

    While we do not know the “when”, we do know that God knows all things and is outside of time, and so He knows the “when”. So with this in mind, the idea that prayers and sacrifices delay the Lord’s coming is one way it does not work. God is outside of time. He knows the sum total of all prayers and sacrifices that will ever be said and made, and He has already factored these into the date of His return; He already knows when it will be.

    And while it is true that each generation goes through the exercise of thinking it might be the last, one generation will be right. For very simple reasons, each previous generation could have been and was proven wrong because some of the most easily recognized signs were not present, but are present now – those being the nation of Israel reborn in a day, and Jerusalem being under control and of the Jews.

    [An exercise for anyone, including Father Z who might be able to help with this. Years ago I read that on the 10th anniversary of Israel as a nation, the Pope and or the Chief Jewish Rabbi in Jerusalem (or both maybe) said in 1958 that there was only one major sign remaining to usher in the Messianic Age – Jerusalem in the hands of the Jews (little did either know it would happen only some nine years later). I do not know if this is true; I have not been able to find anything on either of them saying anything about that.]

    I, like anybody else, has no idea when Our Lord will return.

    I find late 2017 to early 2018 intriguing – maybe that will be the time frame when the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary promised at Fatima happens (hmmm…maybe that phrase actually means the return of her Son? – something to ponder)?

    There was a Jewish tetrad around the time of the rebirth of Israel in 1948, and the next occurred around the time when the Jews got control over Jerusalem in 1967, and the next starts on April 15, 2014 when there will be a total eclipse of the moon (blood moon) on the Feast of Passover. This date is precisely 3 1/2 years before October 13, 2017 (the 100th anniversary of Fatima’s Miracle of the Sun).

    Jesus is expected to come in a Jewish year of Jubilee which come every 50 years. If 1917 (Fatima, Balfour Declaration, Russian communism) was a Jewish Jubilee, then so is 1967 (Jerusalem in the hands of the Jews) and so is 2017. [Mystical Rabbi Judah Ben Samuel – no, I don’t think he drank Mystic Monk Coffee! – in 1217 indicated that the Turks would occupy Jerusalem for 400 years and the year their occupation ended would be a Jubilee year – it ended in 1917.]

    Israel was reborn in 1947, and 1947 + 70 gets us to 2017 (70 is the Biblical number for fulfillment, and also Jeremiah [if I recall] speaks of Israel being given back its lost years near the end of time ; does this refer to the lost years of captivity, which was 70 years?)

    Christ walked the earth for about 33 years. JPII entrusted Russia and the world to the Immacualte Heart of Mary, as requested through Our Lady of Fatima, in 1984. 1984 + 33 gets us once again to 2017. And there are other ways that year comes up too. Intriguing, to say the least.

    A good book on the 20th century Marian apparitions and their implications is A While Longer. There is a website about the book, the same as the title with no spaces between the words.

    God bless you.

  31. bobbyfranky says:

    Forgot to mention the writings of St. Faustina. Blessed Mary told Faustina her writings would prepare the world for the Second Coming of her Son. Jesus said the writings would prepare the world for His final coming. Since they were adopted by the Church in 2000, the devotions surrounding the Divine Mercy are the fastest spreading Catholic devotions in the world today. Interesting.

    God bless you.

  32. Nancy D. says:

    robtbrown, by In The Beginning, I am referring to Genesis.

  33. acardnal says:

    David Currie has a new book on this very subject entitled, What Jesus Really Said about the End of the World. Just published last month by Catholic Answers and it is available from Amazon. (Please use Fr. Z’s link.)

  34. Supertradmum says:

    Does it matter? Should we all not live as if it were the last days? What difference does it make to a real Catholic?

    My favourite desert father quotation: An old Abbot was listening to a young monk brag as to how they were the holiest and greatest generation of Christians, as they saw devils and cast them out and were holy and pure. The old abbot said this, and I paraphrase. “We do the great works of God and cast out devils, but we are not the greatest generation. The next generation will conquer the world and establish the Kingdom of God on earth, but they are not the greatest generation. The last generation will not do great works, but will persevere in great tribulation. They will be the great generation.”

    He meant us. Not a bad heritage.

  35. robtbrown says:

    Nancy D. says:

    robtbrown, by In The Beginning, I am referring to Genesis.

    If you are saying that the call to Communion and Holiness at the creation of man (who was constituted in grace) is the same as that after the Incarnation (i.e., to see God face to face), then I disagree. The Grace of Original Innocence brought gifts to the soul (knowledge and consequent virtues) and body (impassibility and immunity to death), but there is nothing to indicate that the Grace of Original Innocence was Christian Grace. According to St Thomas the Grace of First Man was certainly sanctifying but it was not the Grace of God’s Interior Life (i.e., not Trinitarian), which I consider to be Communion with God.

    For a more comprehensive discussion of this matter, you would have to read my thesis, which one day, God willin’ and the crick don’t rise, will be published in the US.

  36. Some 60 Days ago, I held my father’s hand as he died.

    Now, reflecting on just how quickly out shared 52 years on this earth passed by I realize that MY end times are – at best – just a short time off. Somehow that makes THE end times a lot less worrisome.

  37. eben says:

    1) I enjoyed reading all the comments; and 2) mamajen above summed up my thoughts on the subject. On a somewhat lighter note, I’d have to pass on my observation that while of course none of us may know the time, the sum total of money made by crackpots writing books wherein they claim to have devined the instrumentality, and time for the destruction of the world is staggering. I’m forever amazed at some of the theories and pronouncements of doom. Many are quite inventive. One of my favorites is how humanity is to be consumed by the “Reptilians Shape-Shifters” who already walk among us and intend to enslave humanity for some nefarious end. Well written balderdash is the next best thing to winning the lottery!

  38. StWinefride says:

    xsosdid, you say:

    Our Church is not leading on this issue.

    Remember that although the Catholic Church is Holy, her members, do not always act ‘holy’. There have been many scandals, heresies etc through the ages, and despite all of this, She is under divine protection.

    Look to Our Lord, He has the words of Eternal Life. Spend time before the Blessed Sacrament and give Him all your cares. He does not desire you to be anxious, he told us so Himself. Seek first His Kingdom and cling to His words, He is Our Good Shepherd. Trust Him!

    “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?……Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”. (Matthew 6:25-27; 34)

    And considering how often you will hear the message “Go to Confession” from Fr Z, I wouldn’t advise you to seek pastures new! God Bless.

  39. backtothefuture says:

    The second coming, scripture makes it clear that only the father knows. But, as has been throughout scripture and history, when things get too messy, God sends purifications. Many saints and popes have spoken about chastisements.and let’s not forget the many approved apparations of the blessed mother. We can’t discount them

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  41. Supertradmum says:

    Persecution watch….just one story of many today in the USA concerning the shutting down of Christian freedom to collect money for the poor. This is real, folks, and will happen to us.


  42. Rushintuit says:

    “We have been in the last times ever since Our Lord ascended…”

    I beg to differ. We have been in the last times only since the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima on October 13, 1917. Sister Lucia stated to Father Fuentes, “Father, the devil is in the mood for engaging in a decisive battle against the Blessed Virgin. And the devil knows what it is that most offends God and which in a short space of time will gain for him the greatest number of souls. Thus, the devil does everything to overcome souls consecrated to God, because in this way, the devil will succeed in leaving souls of the faithful abandoned by their leaders, thereby the more easily will he seize them.

    That which afflicts the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Heart of Jesus is the fall of religious and priestly souls. The devil knows that religious and priests who fall away from their beautiful vocation drag numerous souls to hell. … The devil wishes to take possession of consecrated souls. He tries to corrupt them in order to lull to sleep the souls of laypeople and thereby lead them to final impenitence.” -1957

  43. Bill Foley says:

    Supertradum, you are right; each of us should live as if one is living in the end times for each one of us.
    For a few years now I have been reading daily Preparation for Death by St. Alphonsus. It helps me to focus on the Last Things and to continue to watch and pray.

  44. Nancy D. says:

    robtbrown, The Sacrifice of The Cross, Is The Sacrifice of The Most Holy Trinity. Let us Pray that in dying, we are restored in Christ.

  45. Mamma B says:

    Two thoughts:
    1) Carolina Publican, I am sorry for the loss of your father. May God grant him blessed repose and eternal memory!
    2) For a refutation of the “Rapture” premillenial dispensationalism viewpoint, I would also suggest The Rapture Trap by Carl Olson, published by Ignatius Press.

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