Wherein Fr. Z rants at the beginning of a New Year of Salvation

I’ve noted with interest a number of reviews of the past year regarding the Church.  Not a few saw the last year as a “year from hell” or an “annus horribilis”.

Sure.  That’s not unfair.  It was a very difficult year, filled with many shocks and disappointments for those of us who love the Church.

However, I offer hereunder a couple other points to consider, especially because it has been rough year.

First, when someone in a high place has said or done some crazy or confusing thing, people have had recourse to their good resources to look up the Church’s true teaching.  It could be that many of these people haven’t cracked the covers of a catechism for decades.  Suddenly, people are reviewing even the basics of the Faith, which have been challenged through ambiguity or downright contradiction.  As a result, people have had the opportunity to deep the Faith in which they believe (fides quae creditur) as well the Faith by which they believe (fides quae creditur).  The crisis has prompted lots of people to drill in and learn and live better.

Next, when you go into churches, especially in Rome, you will see inscriptions that, invariably, have dates.  Quite often before the year you will see “A.D… anno Domini… in the year of our Lord”.  In Roman churches you might see “A.S… anno salutis… in the year of our salvation”.   At the beginning of a new “year of the Lord” or “year of salvation” we are reminded that Christ is the Lord of our time here, and His Lordship is directed to our salvation.    There is nothing easy about that.   And why should it be easy?   Winning our salvation wasn’t easy for Christ.  Christ’s manner of being Lord informs our time here.

Of all the universes God might have created, He created this one, into which He called us into existence not at any old random time, but at a precise time known to Him from before the creation of the cosmos.  He knew us all before the universe was created and had something in mind for us.  That’s why He called us out of nothingness into personhood as His images here and now.  This is the time God wanted us to live.  Therefore, this is the best time for us to be here.  The circumstances of our world are not irrelevant.   This is the where and the when of our working out the salvation He has offered.

Looking at the state of the Church, we must remember that Jesus is the Lord of our time here.   The Church is His.  We all have a part to play in the Church and in the world.

As a point of reflection for this new year of salvation, I propose that you must not look at what is going on around you as if you are passive spectators.

You must not be down hearted.  If this is a hard time, then, as a member of this Church Militant, like the soldier pilgrim you are, remember that, when you live your vocation you, like a soldier in the midst of battle, are in the safest and best place you can be.   When you are fulfilling your vocation and God’s will for you with true devotion, then God will give you every actual grace that you need in abundance, because you are fulfilling the role He knew for you in His great plan, the economy of salvation, from before the formation of the cosmos.

You have vocations to fulfill as a member of the Church, Christ’s mystical Person, both ad intra (within herself) and ad extra (to the world around us).


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ¡Hagan lío!, Be The Maquis, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, Wherein Fr. Z Rants. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. LeeGilbert says:

    ” Not a few saw the last year as a ‘year from hell’ or an ‘annus horribilis’.

    The other evening my wife and I discovered this quote from Newman in Ian Ker’s “John Henry Newman: a Biography” page 144.:

    “The whole course of Christianity from the first . . . is but one series of troubles and disorders. Every century is like every other, and to those who live in it seems worse than all times before it. The Church is ever ailing . . . . Religion seems ever expiring, schisms dominant, the light of Truth dim, its adherents scattered. The cause of Christ is ever in its last agony.”

    Long and short, situation normal . . . . Not to worry, we are completely on track.

  2. ChesterFrank says:

    A.D. is rarely used today as it offends the progressive neopagans. Today the abbreviation is C.E. for Common Era.

  3. acardnal says:

    Fr. Z, I am awaiting with great anticipation your blog post with your annual predictions for 2019 and the results of your 2018 predictions. Coming soon, I hope!

  4. APX says:

    A.D. is rarely used today as it offends the progressive neopagans. Today the abbreviation is C.E. for Common Era.

    And BCE (Before Common Era) instead of BC.

  5. jaykay says:

    ChesterFrank: Almost 40 years ago now, when I began studying Archaeology, that terminology was first introduced to us – by some Professors. As in “BCE”. Most remained indifferent, and it was only proposed, certainly not mandatory. As far as I recall, my Tutor (a very senior faculty member) ridiculed it, both in tutorials and lectures. I’m not a practising archaeologist but what literature I see seems to use it universally nowadays. Perhaps students these days would suffer for using the proper terminology? I suspect so. Intus est equus paganus.

    As for the last year, yes, horribilis, but, as I recall, that phrase really came to public prominence when Queen Elizabeth used it to describe the past year in her 1992 Christmas speech, as in the awful year her family had had then, culminating in the dreadful fire at Windsor. And yet, 26 years later, Windsor is beautifully restored and the Royal Family, and she especially, are as loved as ever. One hesitates to draw too many paralells with our Church, which is Divinely founded, but perhaps…?

  6. Gab says:

    Excellent words from you, Fr Z. I shall try to remember them and the spirit in which they are given when I read the latest about Pope Francis, such as …

    “People who go to church every day and then live hating others and talking badly about people are a scandal: better not to go to Church, living as they do as atheists, … rather than giving a counter-witness” he said in first General Audience of the year (allegedly).

    And here’s me thinking it would be better to stop sinning and go to Mass (and Confession). Strange advice from the Pontiff.

  7. St. Irenaeus says:

    “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
    “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

  8. Luminis says:

    “There is something good in this world Mr Frodo and it’s worth fighting for”

  9. JonPatrick says:

    I saw a quote somewhere, it might have been from Fr. Heilman, to the effect that we are now entering a period of purification coinciding with the 100th anniversary of Fatima. The way I see it, we had all the scandals at the turn of the 21st century then this false sense of security that everything was under control now and the Church was starting to move away from the worst excesses of modernism, Dallas Charter, Summorum Pontificum, yada yada. Then the PA and Cardinal McCarrick revelations and any illusion that things were under control were shattered. We realized that nothing really had changed. But now it is all coming out into the open. First there was Vigano. Now we have Cardinal O’Malley calling out the Archdiocese of New York. It gives u s reason to hope.

  10. TonyO says:

    And BCE (Before Common Era) instead of BC.

    And yet it is quite obvious that the makers of this new neologism chose B and C out of BCE in order to be very similar to the old BC (which meant Before Christ).

    More fools they: it just means that we can rightly (if annoyingly) “mis-“interpret BCE by calling it “Before the Christian Era” and likewise naming “CE” to be the “Christian Era”. They want to screw around with terminology, we can use their tactics right back at them to state the truth: this age of the world is the age Christ established by his Incarnation and his redemptive death and resurrection. We have the truth, they don’t, and we can insist on stating that truth. If they don’t like it they can take it up with Christ when they meet up with him.

  11. SanSan says:

    the horror behind McCarrick and St. Galen Mafia….

  12. HvonBlumenthal says:

    Regarding the scandals and revelations of 2018 I notice a great difference in effect upon Traditionalists on the one hand and Conservative Catholics on the other. For Traditionalists it is a huge relief that the truth is coming out, as a first step to cleaning up the accumulated muck of recent decades.
    For Conservatives it is as if the bottom had fallen out of their world.

  13. Semper Gumby says:

    Great rant Fr. Z.

    LeeGilbert: Interesting Newman quote.

    St. Iranaeus and Luminus: Well done with Tolkien.

    HvonBlumenthal: Genuinely curious about your sweeping generalizations, please be more specific.

  14. HvonBlumenthal says:

    Semper Gumby

    My generalisation is not sweeping because as I said, it was a remark based on what I had noticed.

    I own a chapel of the SSPX, attend a diocesan motu proprio
    Mass and support a vernacular novus ordo convent of nuns. In the UK Association of the Order of Malta to which I belong, we have both traditionalists and conciliarists.

    So you may imagine that I come into quite a lot of contact with people who are heavily invested on both sides.

    Those who, like me, believe that Vatican II has born no fruit are not disappointed at the revelations of what we all knew to be the case already: that liberal moral teaching leads to sympathy for unchaste priests, of which paedophiles are a subset. If you read Traditionalist sites like Church Militant you will soon see that traditionalists regard the revelations as a positive defopment.

    By contrast, as Fr Z himself says today, he receives more and more letters from people who, having struggled along with the belief that Vatican II was in some sense a good thing, now find that they are so heavily disappointed that they want to leave altogether (I here include those who want to turn sedevacantists).

    What I see in social media is reflected among those I meet: among Traditionalists, hope: among conciliarists, near despair.

  15. Semper Gumby says:

    HvonBlumenthal: Thank you for your reply.

    We can agree to disagree over “sweeping generalizations.”

    Perhaps, the reactions of, say, late July 2018 to “scandals and revelations” and the outlook in January 2019 (whether “hope” or “near despair”) cannot be so easily divided between “Traditionalists” and “conciliarists.”

  16. HvonBlumenthal says:

    Well, Semper Gumby, Ive given you examples, noe be so kind as to give me some to the contrary, or risk being a sweeping generaliser yourself.

  17. Semper Gumby says:

    HvonBlumenthal: Thank you for your reply. I stand by my comments, have a pleasant day.

  18. HvonBlumenthal says:

    Semper Gumby,

    So you will not give an example to back your general statement that reactions to the scandals cannot be divided into traditionalists and conciliarists? For example, a conciliarist who is on record as being pleased the facts have come out, or a traditionalist who is not?

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