Concerning the Antichrist, the End Times, the Restrainer, and YOU. Wherein Fr. Z rants: Save The Liturgy – Save The World

There is a good piece at The Catholic Thing today about the concept … and eventually person … of the Antichrist.

I’ll point out a couple things that caught my eye.

First, something on a liturgical note. The writer, Francis X. Maier, get’s something that I’ve spoken of for decades about the liturgical year, but he does it with poetic grace. I’ve often mentioned in my writings on liturgical translation that “Ordinary Time” or “Ordered Time” (the green seasons) are when we put into practical application both the mysteries we celebrate in the great cycles and also renew practical advice from Holy Church about Christian life. The writer says:

These weeks between Baptism of the Lord and Ash Wednesday belong to Ordinary Time on the Church calendar. They’re a kind of Great Plains on the Christian wagon train to our real home. They’re where everyday life happens; where the choices are made and the directions are set for our final destination.

Another thing that caught my eye was this:

[T]he Devil is not some sort of mythological boogeyman or impersonal principle of evil, but rather – in Guardini’s words – “a rebellious, fallen creature who frantically attempts to set up a kingdom of appearances and disorder.”

Exactly. And the Devil will always tell us what he is up to.

From the onset, Christian have felt themselves (ourselves) to be in “the end times”.  This is because we are.  We await the return of the Lord “in joyful hope”.  This ought to be reflected in our public liturgical worship, by which we express that hope and fulfill the virtue of Religion.  We also have a sense of what Paul wrote about a “Restrainer” who keeps fending off, as it were, the final acceleration into the end times, until all is “ready”.

Michael O’Brien in his book Father Elijah presents a rich view of the Christian sense of the “end times”.  In a sense we all, I believe, participate in “restraint” by our properly lived vocations and our faithful participation in the sacraments, especially our liturgical participation.

That is at the heart of the slogan flashed around here more often in years past, but also recently: Save The Liturgy – Save The World.

My musings on that are always available at that page, but I suspect that there are many newer readers who haven’t seen them.  So, after some time in the fridge, is the whole thing:

From HERE


The Eucharist, its celebration and itself as the extraordinary Sacrament, is the “source and summit of Christian life”.

If we really believe that, then we must also hold that what we do in church, what we believe happens in a church, makes an enormous difference.

Do we believe the consecration really does something? Or, do we believe what is said and how, what the gestures are and the attitude in which they made are entirely indifferent? For example, will a choice not to kneel before Christ the King and Judge truly present in each sacred Host, produce a wider effect?

If you throw a stone, even a pebble, into a pool it produces ripples which expand to its edge. The way we celebrate Mass must create spiritual ripples in the Church and the world.

So does our good or bad reception of Holy Communion.

So must violations of rubrics and irreverence.

Mass is not merely a “teaching moment” or a “celebration of unity” or a “tedious obligation”. Our choice of music, architecture, ceremonies and language affect more than one small congregation in one building. We are interconnected in both our common human nature and in baptism. When we sin we hurt the whole Body of Christ the Church.

If that is true for sin, it must also be true for our liturgical choices. They must also have personal and corporate impact. Any Mass can be offered for the intentions of the living or the dead.

Not even death is an obstacle to the efficacy of Holy Mass.

Celebrate Mass well, participate properly – affect the whole world. Celebrate poorly – affect the whole world.

In each age since Christ’s Ascension, people have felt they were in the End Times. They were right. In any moment, when the conditions are right, the Lord could return.

Considering what is happening in the world now, I am pushed to think about the way Mass is being celebrated, even the number of Masses being celebrated. Once there were many communities of contemplatives, spending time before the Blessed Sacrament or in contemplation, in collective and in private prayer. There were many more Masses.

Many more people went to confession.

Who can know how they all lifted burdens from the world and turned large and small tides by their prayers to God for mercy and in reparation for sin?

A single droplet of Christ’s Precious Blood consecrated at Holy Mass is the price of every soul ever created in God’s unfathomable plan.

So I repeat:


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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5 Comments

  1. adriennep says:

    Then why, o why, are too many good and smart priests unable to change their awful music at Mass? Is there some hootenanny mafia out there? Are they afraid of a few pantsuit harpies from church council? Even OCP missal has a chant setting at the back.

    I was shocked to learn from my current Magnificat that the US Church is in midst of a Eucharistic Revival right now. Have heard zilch about that until now. We attend a diocesan Latin Mass most Sundays. Our schola has done wonders learning sacred music, in a short time becoming excellent. It can be done. But not without one priest saying something to someone…

    [A “Karen” squawks at the bishop about a “change” and the bishop hammers the priest.]

  2. TheCavalierHatherly says:

    The temptation to a sort of quietism grows with the increase of ecclesiastical and secular squaler. I was struck the other day by a remarkable statement in Alfred the Great’s translation into English (Anglo-Saxon): we have a duty to salvage, preserve, and pass on what we have received.

    “Ge – thenc hwilce witu us tha becomon for thisse woruld , tha tha we hit na hwæther ne selfe ne lufedon , ne eac othrum mannum ne lyfdon . Thone naman anne we lufdon thæt we Cristene wæron ,and swithe feawa tha theawas .

    Think for what kind of punishments shall come to us for this world, if we neither loved it ourselves nor left it to other men. We have loved only the name of being Christians, and very few the duties.”

  3. TheCavalierHatherly says:

    *Translation into English of St. Gregory the Great’s “Pastoral Rule.”

    Proof reading has foiled me again!

  4. Tradster says:

    Very well written, Father. Yes, each generation, including ours, is convinced it’s living in the end times. Sooner or later one of them will be correct, of course. In the meantime it’s prudent to recall 2 Peter 8: “…with the Lord, a day counts as a thousand years, and a thousand years count as a day.” Perhaps God is granting us a few more “days”.

  5. PNF says:

    Benson’s description of the Antichrist:

    He averts a global war, brings a new era of amity among nations, and radiates intense goodwill rooted in the religion of humanism. Mankind has real peace at last. . .although Christianity, regrettably, must be suppressed because of its anti-human obscurantism.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church’s description of the Antichrist:

    675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of A RELIGOUS DECEPTION OFFERING MEN AN APPARENT SOLUTION TO THEIR PROBLEMS AT THE PRICE OF APOSTASY FROM THE TRUTH. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.

    676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgement. the Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism.

    In the eyes of worldlings, the Antichrist will not be some “bad guy.” He will be their savior. The worldlings will not be FORCED to follow him. Far from it. They will fight each other to get to the front of the line to follow him.

    Now, watch closely as “Pope Francis” performs the magic trick of avoiding a nuclear holocaust with his peace negotiations (hint: the Russia-Ukraine thing is a theatrical pretext). Then watch him parlay this “good will” as the “man of peace” into a mandate to officially invert Catholic teaching on sin and hell, using the instrument of the Synod on Synodality.

    The Antichrist is in front of your face. Open your eyes.

Think, proof read, preview BEFORE posting!