A rabbit ran under the wheels of my car. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

The other day I was on my way home from a social engagement and a rabbit ran under my wheels.

I did not mourn for the rabbit.   I wasn’t happy about it, but I wasn’t especially sad either.  I couldn’t have avoided it. Too bad.

The incident did, however, remind me to go to confession.

That rabbit’s time was up.

Rabbits don’t have immortal souls.

You, dear reader, have an immortal soul.

We don’t know when our time will be up.

It could be soon.  It could be unforeseen.

It will happen.

If you have your own rabbit moment, and you have unconfessed mortal sins and no access to the last sacraments, you are probably going to go to Hell.


Try to imagine for a moment, those first few moments of a soul which has newly been consigned to Hell.  Try to imagine the shock of dawning realization: “This can’t be happening to me!”

But it is.

Dear readers, it is not my job to watch out for imprudent rodents, but it is my job to strive to keep as many of you out of Hell and in the Heaven lane as I can.

I can’t shove you into a confessional.  I can’t hear your confessions and absolve you via the internet.

Therefore, I will use this blog, my force multiplier, to get you to go.

I implore you.


Confess ALL your mortal sins in both kind (what they were) and number (how many times, even if you have to guesstimate).   Never never never purposely hide a mortal sin of which you are fully aware.  Even if seems terribly embarrassing, just say it without mincing words.   The priest will not think badly of you.  He will probably be impressed by your sincerity.

I wonder sometimes if laypeople understand how their good confessions help the priest himself to make a good confession.  I wonder if that is why some lib priests don’t hear confessions: they don’t want to be reminded of… you know.

A note to some out there who seriously dislike me
and who have done me harm. 

I know will surely read this.

I forgive you.  I often add prayers at Mass for you.  I have the names of a few of you – along with friends, loved ones, benefactors – on a list for whom I pray at every Mass at the Memento of the Living.   For those who have died, I pray with hope for them at the Memento of the Dead.

What I write here is every bit aimed at you – who have done me harm – as it is at all those anonymous readers out here with whom I’ve never had any exchange.   My great hope and literal prayer is that you will, with the help of grace, or by the spur of calamity if that’s what it takes, to have a change of heart.  For the love of God, reflect on your death and the goal of Heaven.  Examine your conscience and go to confession.  I want to you be happy in Heaven.

To close, perhaps that rabbit’s violent end – which prompted me to write this – served the greatest possible of all goods for which God created it in the first place.  Will the manner of its demise, recounted here, serve to move a person to go to confession?

If even one person goes because of this, that rabbit couldn’t have had a better end.

A more glorious reason for this blog I cannot imagine: one good confession by someone who really needed to go.

Some tips for making a good confession HERE.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Pingback: A rabbit ran under the wheels of my car. Wherein Fr. Z rants. – Via Nova Media

  2. I remember hitting a rabbit as I was on a side road in Ohio avoiding the Ohio Turnpike some years ago, and all I could think about was hoping that it wasn’t someone’s pet rabbit or that it would later be parked on St. Peter’s desk staring at me with an accusatory look along with a squirrel, a deer, a raccoon, and thousands of flies and other bugs and St. Francis as I sweated after my demise. I think that this line of thought– memento mori— is probably more worthwhile. There but for the grace of God go I.

    We all need to pray for the grace of final repentance. I suggest that we all train ourselves to think at the least “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner,” in our final moments instead of blurting out an obscenity. Do you want your last word before you die to be four letters or a brief act of contrition? A confessional, of course, is a good place to practice a longer act of contrition.

  3. Kent Wendler says:

    One of my bedtime prayer intentions is that my patron (Anthony of Padua in my case) will intercede for me so that regardless of the circumstance of my death I will receive the benefits of the last rites and sacraments.

    “Rabbits don’t have immortal souls.”

    One of the things that strike me about assertions like this is the implication that God lacks sufficient love and power to provide for some of His creatures, and He must “ration” it to provide for His rational beings.

    [Critters don’t have immortal souls. Rabbits are critters.]

  4. RichR says:

    I took my sons to confession today. We try to go at least monthly, if not more often. It is a grace, as a parent, to see your children approaching the confessional without terror or a sense of unfamiliarity. My young men will know where to go and what to do if they need God’s mercy.

    Is there a greater life skill to impart to your children than knowing how to be reconciled with Christ?

  5. Not says:

    If I have passed anything to my children and 12 grandchildren , it is my love of confession. When we take the grandchildren for the day they know it will include a trip to the confessional and Mass, especially the teenagers. I just printed out your 20 tips for a Good Confession and it is going in their Christmas cards. When we first heard you say at Mass about first 30 in hell, we have passed it on.

  6. Christ_opher1 says:

    Dear Father Z,

    You have written a truly beautiful article, thank you.

  7. TonyO says:

    We all need to pray for the grace of final repentance. I suggest that we all train ourselves to think at the least “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner,” in our final moments

    I too would like to have a deeply ingrained habit of calling on the mercy of Jesus at difficult moments, and I am striving for just that. If you die in a car accident or with a tree falling on you from a hurricane, you may well have 3 seconds for just such a prayer.

    I recalled this morning, however, that some people WON’T have those 3 seconds. My father died in his sleep, without knowing (the night before) that this was his last night on Earth. I think a prayer specifically for the grace of having the last rites and sacraments is also important, as Kent above indicates.

  8. robtbrown says:

    Perhaps a nice Christmas gift for Fr Z;

    The Original Road Kill Cookbook https://www.amazon.com/dp/0898152003/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_glt_i_53VTK26CZHRYJ8044JMT

  9. chantgirl says:

    Some saints have prayed the prayers for the dying for their own death ahead of time, just to be sure.

    We tend to think that our last moments will be lucid enough for us to pray properly. I had an experience in my late teens which caused me to question that. During my ambulance ride to the hospital, bleeding profusely, I was so out of my mind in pain that I couldn’t form a thought to pray. Sometimes sheer pain blocks out everything else in the brain.

    Pray now, plan now, repent now. And ask St. Joseph to be with you in your last moments. You may not get that last lucid moment.

  10. robtbrown says:

    Kent W,

    Because it is obvious that death is natural to living creatures, we have to assume first that souls die cease to exist when the body dies. We have to find a reason that a soul would still exist after corporeal death.

    The philosophical argument, found in St Thomas, is that the intellect has a function that is performed outside a corporeal organ. Although all knowledge begins in the sense (nihil in intellectu sine prius in sense). the operation of the intellect abstracts from sensible knowledge, elevating it to universal knowledge. On the other hand, brute animals have are capable of only sensible knowledge.

    The theological approach is obvious: There are multiple Scriptural references to some part of man surviving death. There are no such texts referring to brute animals.

  11. Kent Wendler says:

    to robtbrown:

    ” There are no such texts referring to brute animals.”

    Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 & 19-21
    Isaiah 11: 6-8
    Revelation 5: 13 & 21: 5
    Matthew 22: 29, 31

    Look, your argument (and STA’s) would make more sense (to me, at least) if the Beatific Vision was an absolutely necessary part of Life Everlasting. But it is “only” the uncreated part. There is everything else, the created part, which I refer to as Paradise, in which the “critters”, in the second Revelation citation, made (always) “new”, can exist unendingly.

  12. robtbrown says:


    1. A distinction needs to be made between animals in this life and the possibility of animals in paradise. In paradise there will be no Time (which is a measure of duration, esp. corruption), thus no death. It is possible that God would create new
    animals that would accompany man but not therefore be subject to death.

    2. God is the cause of all being, thus being itself. All creatures that exist participate in His Being. Thus, the

  13. robtbrown says:

    to be finished latrr. Mass now.

  14. robtbrown says:

    2. God is the cause of all being, thus being itself. All creatures that exist participate in His Being. Thus, the Beatific Vision fulfills every human desire for Truth, Goodness or Beauty.

    Man, however, exists within the creation. He is designed to experience other people. A good example is that saints know we are seeking their intercession. Friends in this life will know each other in heaven, e.g., John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. The will know each other, however, in God, which is a more perfect knowledge. This is known as secondary (or accidental) Beatitude. The same would be true if there were to be animals and vegetation after the Resurrection of the Body.

    3. Generally, the texts you reference use animals as metaphors.

    and in this life, brute animals and vegetation.

  15. Kent Wendler says:

    No 2 above is obviously true but irrelevant here. (As an aside here we have cats who clearly know each other and rejoice in their mutual existence and company.)

    In 3 you are quite blithe in dismissing the words of God as “metaphor”. In Rev. 21:5 you appear to be insisting that the text reads “all new things” instead of “all things new”. They have different meanings. What part of “all things” excludes the mortal living creatures? In Matt 22 you seem to be simply ignoring v. 29, and in v. 32 (I cited 31, my mistake), please tell me even one dead thing that our Lord said God was God of. God is God of everything, and every living thing remains so, even if how is beyond comprehension.

    Do you dismiss our Lord’s words of Eucharistic institution as “metaphor”? Those seem to me to be much more difficult to take literally, but the Church’s existence depends on it.

    Finally you can ponder which is the more glorious: 1) a Heaven consisting only of angelic beings and saints frozen (no “duration” in which to shift their limbs) in everlasting enthrallment, or a Heaven containing every created living being down to the last microbe?

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