Signs of the times are everywhere

sign of time

sign of time To research (signa temporum) and to interpret it in the light of the Gospel, the Church always has the mandate and duty. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, she continues the work of Christ who came into the world to give testimony of the truth; to save, not to judge; to serve, not to be served (Second Vatican Council Gaudium et spes; cf.Lk 12: 54-57 EU).

Those who recognize the signs of the times

The prophet is the one who knows how to interpret the signs of the times. Above all, this should be the popes and the bishops (e.g. Rudolf Graber). Many contribute to correct recognition: Heaven itself (Jesus Christ, the Mother of God), theologians, philosophers like Dietrich von Hildebrand, Max Thürkauf, politicians like Konrad Adenauer, people like Hans Baum and Manfred Adler, historians, etc.

Signs of the 18th century times

Signs of the 19th century

Upheaval in the States and in the Church, especially through the French Revolution.

Mary, the sign of the coming end times, the age of the Holy Spirit

The intensity of Marian piety in the 19th century was shown above all by the place that the Virgin occupied in naming the religious congregations founded at that time. From 1802 to 1898 there was not a single year without the foundation of one and often several congregations dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, the Denzennies of 1830/39 and 1850/59 being particularly productive (e.g. 16 in 1850 and 14 in 1854).

1830: Paris

After the devotion to the Son of God Christ has been strengthened, the Church shows that Jesus would like to see his mother worshiped by his side (by grace): heart to heart, as the Miraculous Medal of 1830 shows (cf. also United Hearts of Jesus and Mary's).
Heart of Jesus: Beginning of the Eucharistic Congress in 1881.
Heart of Mary: Marian apparitions, dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the physical acceptance of Mary into heaven.

1858 Lourdes

Individualism (liberalism)

Collectivism (socialism)

I. Vatican Council

The defense against the philosophical systems of modern times that reject Christianity was the sign of the 19th century (and still is in the 20th and 21st centuries). Therefore this was the main subject of the deliberations of the First Vatican Council.

The transition to the 20th century

Blessed Helena Guerra requested Pope Leo XIII. about the increased veneration of the Holy Spirit in the Church. "That tall old man listened to their requests, and his eagle look saw them as a sign of the times." Pope Leo XIII. wrote the encyclical Divinum illud munus about the Holy Spirit, consecrated the world to the Holy Spirit on January 1, 1901 and initiated the annual novena at Pentecost (Pentecost Novena, Novena at Pentecost; cf. Pope John XXIII at the beatification)

Signs of the times of the 20th century

The first part of the twentieth century is overshadowed by two world wars. World War II ushers in a nuclear age. In the 20th century, the automobile and the airplane began to change their location, so that people and modern apostles can cover long distances in a short time and with almost no effort. At the beginning of the second half of the century, ordinary people could already afford a car. At the end of the century, a car becomes almost necessary for the citizen. In addition, radio is developing in this century and television is developing in the second half of the century.


1917: Fatima

"It is the year 1917, which a historian, not a theologian, regards as the decisive year, because it represents the beginning of an age of world ideologies. April entered the history of our continent, while in the east the outbreak of the Bolshevik Revolution called on the scene that second ideological power that renewed the Turkish threat from then and since then has not only troubled our continent but the whole world and determines our history. I would like to expressly emphasize that my aim is not a crusade against the East, as was the case in the defense against the Turks 300 years ago, but that I should point out the undermining of belief and custom everywhere in East and West, the satanic cultural revolution that wants to destroy everything that remains of the last Christian cultural property in the world mpf to the life and death of heaven remain inactive? No. God intervenes. And on May 13, 1917, Maria appears in Fatima ([[Rudolf Graber]: Sermon on the occasion of the 2-year anniversary of Mariazell on October 26, 1981, in: Bote von Fatima, born in 1982, p. 11Sf).

Theology was deeply concerned with Catholic Action.

In theology, being a member of the mystical body of Christ was a favorite subject. It culminated in the encyclical Mystici corporis of Pope Pius XII ..

1928: Striving for unity among the peoples

At no other time has the hearts of people been so eager to strengthen the bond of fraternal unity through which we are all linked and chained together on the basis of our same origin and nature, and always for the benefit of the whole of human society to expand further than we can observe in our day (Pius XI., Mortalium animos 1, January 6, 1928); see also Una Sancta Movement.


1962: The Second Vatican Council

  • The convening of an Ecumenical Council is a sign through which Pope John XXIII wanted to be a light for the world, which is sinking more and more into fear and insecurity.
  • Among the characteristic signs of our time, the growing and irresistible sense of solidarity among all peoples deserves special attention; Carefully promoting it and purifying it into a pure and true passion of brotherhood is a task of the lay apostolate. In addition, the laity must keep an eye on the international field, with all the theoretical and practical questions and solutions that it poses, especially with regard to the peoples of the developing countries. (Second Vatican Council, Apostolicam actuositatem 14).

There are many forms of apostolate through which the laity build the Church, sanctify the world, and give it life in Christ. A special form of the apostolate and a sign that is also most in keeping with our times, to make visible Christ who lives in his believers, is the witness of the whole life of a lay person, which springs from faith, hope and love. (Second Vatican Council, Apostolicam Actuositatem 16)

Under the blowing of the grace of the Holy Spirit, there are endeavors in many countries on earth today to reach that fullness of unity through prayer, word and work that Jesus Christ wants. Therefore, this Holy Council exhorts all Catholic believers, knowing the signs of the times, to participate with zeal in the ecumenical work. (Unitatis redintegratio 4)

1963: The encyclical Pacem in terris

  • In the Encyclical Pacem in Terris of April 11, 1963, John XXIII. in four out of five chapters, each at the end, as a summary on the "signs of the times" descriptive:

39. Our present is characterized by three features:
40. Above all, one notices the economic and social rise of the working class. The workers first asserted their rights, primarily in the economic and social sphere; then they took the step to protect their political interests; after all, they directed their minds especially to partaking appropriately in the goods of culture. That is why workers all over the world today are particularly careful not to be seen only as a thing without understanding and freedom that others exploit, but as people in all areas of human community, that is, in the economic and social field, in the state and finally also in the field of science and culture.
41. In second place is the well-known fact that women take part in public life, which may happen more quickly with the Christian peoples and more slowly, but more broadly, with the peoples who, as heirs to other traditions, also have other forms of life and customs. The woman, who nowadays is becoming more and more conscious of her human dignity, is far from allowing herself to be assessed as a soulless thing or as a mere tool; Rather, it claims, both in domestic life and in the state, those rights and duties that correspond to the dignity of the human person.
42. Finally, we are noticing in our day that the whole human family has taken on a completely new shape in social and political life. Since all peoples claim or will claim freedom for themselves, there will soon no longer be any peoples who rule over others, nor those who are under foreign rule.
43. Because people of all countries and peoples are either already citizens of a free state or will soon be. Not a single tribal community wants to be under foreign rule in the future. For in the present the beliefs that have survived for many centuries, on the basis of which certain groups of people considered themselves subordinate, while others thought themselves superior, be it because of their economic or social position, be it because of their gender or their social rank, are disappearing in the present. 44. On the other hand, the opinion that all human beings are equal to one another in the dignity of their nature was widely and largely maintained. Therefore, at least in theory, racial discrimination is no longer recognized in any way. And this is of the greatest importance and weight for the development of human coexistence according to the principles that We have mentioned. If a person becomes aware of his rights, he must also become aware of his duties, so that whoever has certain rights also has the duty to claim them as a sign of his dignity, while the rest of the people have the duty to recognize and value these rights.
45. When the basic structure of relationships between citizens is based on rights and duties, people discover more and more the spiritual values, namely what is truth, what is justice, what love and what is freedom. In this way they become aware that they are members of such a community. But not enough! In this way people come to better recognize the true God as a personal being that is superior to human nature. So they finally consider the relationship with God to be the foundation of their life, which they both live within and shape together with the rest of the people.
75. Nowadays, when it comes to the legal organization of political communities, one primarily encounters the demand that a summary of the basic human rights be drawn up in clear and definite sentences, which is not infrequently included in the state constitution itself.
76. It is also required that the constitution of each state be laid down in an exact legal form. This should indicate how the state authorities are to be determined, by which bond they are linked to one another, what they are responsible for, and finally, how they are obliged to act.
77. Finally, it calls for the relationship between citizens and state authorities to be established with regard to rights and obligations; that it is clearly emphasized that the main task of the authorities is to recognize, respect, harmonize, protect and promote the rights and obligations of citizens.
78. Of course, the view of those who claim that the will of individual people or certain communities is the first and only source from which civil rights and duties flow and from which the obligation of the constitutions as well as the authority of the heads of state arise (cf. Leo XIII., Apostolic Letter Pervenuti all'anno).
79. The above-mentioned efforts clearly show that people in our time are more and more aware of their own dignity and are driven by it to take an active part in public life and to insist that their own inviolable rights are preserved in the order of the state. Moreover, people today still demand that the bearers of state power be elected according to the guidelines laid down in the constitution of the state and that they exercise their offices within the limits specified there. 126. In our days the conviction has spread more and more among the people that the disputes that may arise between peoples should not be settled by force of arms, but by treaties and negotiations.
127. Of course, we admit that this conviction mostly stems from the terrible destructive power of modern weapons, from the fear of the calamity of cruel destruction that these types of weapons can bring about. Therefore, in our age that boasts of being the atomic age, it is contrary to reason to regard war as the appropriate means of restoring violated rights.
128. Unfortunately, however, we often see peoples who have succumbed to fear as the highest law, so to speak, and who therefore spend great sums on armaments. They declare - and there is no reason not to believe them - that their intention is not to attack others but only to deter them from attacking them.
129. In spite of everything, it is to be hoped that, through mutual friendly relations and negotiations, the peoples will better recognize the bonds of human nature by which they are bound together; They will also see more clearly that it is one of the main duties of human nature to work towards ensuring that relationships between individual people and peoples should not obey fear, but love, for love is above all what To lead people to that sincere, external and internal connectedness from which so much good can sprout for them.
142. As everyone knows, the United Nations Organization (UNO) was founded on June 26, 1945, to which smaller institutions were subsequently annexed, made up of authorized members from various nations. They are entrusted with great tasks to be carried out in all parts of the world in the economic, social, cultural, educational and public health fields. Furthermore, the United Nations has set itself the main task of protecting and strengthening peace among peoples and of cultivating and developing friendly relations among them based on the principles of equality, mutual respect and diverse cooperation in all areas of human activity .
143. An act of paramount importance is the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights", which was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948. In the preamble to this declaration it is made clear that all peoples and nations had to strive first and foremost that all rights and forms of freedom described in the declaration are actually recognized and unharmed. 144. We do not fail to recognize that some chapters of this declaration have rightly been expressed by some objections. Nonetheless, this declaration is to be seen as a step and as access to the legal and political order to be created for all peoples in the world. For through it the dignity of the person is solemnly recognized for all people, and every person is granted the rights to freely seek the truth, to follow the norms of morality, to exercise the duties of justice, to lead a dignified existence. In addition, other rights related to the ones mentioned are granted.
145. It is therefore to be hoped that the United Nations should be able to adapt its organization and its resources more and more to the breadth and high rank of its tasks, so that the time may soon come when this association can effectively protect the rights of the human person; Rights that are universal, inviolable and unchangeable because they arise directly from the dignity of the human person. And all the more so because the people in their nation at present participate more in the shaping of public life, pursue the concerns of all peoples uninterruptedly with more lively interest and are more and more aware that they belong as living members of the general human family.

1964 Unitatis redintegratio

The Second Vatican Council says in the DecreeUnitatis redintegratio on ecumenism on November 21, 1964 in CHAPTER I: THE CATHOLIC PRINCIPLES OF ECUMENISM | No. 4: "Under the blowing of the grace of the Holy Spirit there are endeavors in many countries on earth today to arrive through prayer, word and work to that fullness of unity that Jesus Christ wants.Therefore, this Holy Council exhorts all Catholic believers that, knowing the signs of the times, they should zealously participate in the ecumenical work. "

Signs of the times in papal or episcopal letters after the Second Vatican Council


The Apostolic Letter Signum Magnum gave Pope Paul VI. on May 13, 1967 on the fiftieth anniversary of the first apparition in Fatima on May 13, 1917. It begins: "The great sign that Saint John the Apostle saw in heaven (Rev 12: 1), the woman clothed by the sun, is given by the liturgy of the Catholic Church (reading of the mass on the feast of the apparition of the Immaculate Virgin ([ in Lourdes], February 11) rightly interpreted as the most blessed virgin who, by virtue of the grace of Christ, is the mother of all men. "

The fact that Maria is "the" sign of the times is made clear by the title and content of the quarterly publication, which is published by the Rosenkranz-Aktion from 1974 in Miriam Verlag under the editor Pastor Karl Maria Harrer.


New forms of pastoral care through migration, travel, leisure (cf. Peregrinans in terra [I, 1] of April 29, 1969)

"Among the characteristic signs of our time, the growing and irresistible sense of solidarity among all peoples deserves special attention. (Congregation for the Bishops Instruction Sacra congregatio pro for the pastoral care of migrants of August 22, 1969).


We must guard against the unscrupulousness of the revolutionary spirit, as it is characteristic of so many people of our time; this unscrupulousness wants to push the work of previous generations aside and believes that it can initiate the salvation of people by rejecting everything that they do to us has retained experience confirmed by a teaching post with a sense of continuity and originality, and lets the venture of a new civilization begin from zero (Pope Paul VI on July 14, 1976).


During the Extraordinary Synod in 1985, the Fathers re-emphasized "the great importance and topicality of the pastoral constitution Gaudium et spes". She went on to say: “But we also recognize that the signs of our time are partly different than at the time of the Council, that they contain greater needs and problems. Hunger, oppression, injustice and war, suffering, terrorism and various other forms of violence are spreading all over the world ”(final document Exeunte coetu secundo).


“The search for freedom and the longing for liberation” is a legacy of Christianity (cf. Libertatis conscientia No. 5).


"The sign and fruit of these humanistic currents is the growing need for participation. This is undoubtedly one of the characteristics of mankind today, a true" sign of the times "that ripens in different areas and in different directions: especially among women and young people , and not only in the direction of the family and school system, but also in the cultural, economic, social and political area. "(Post-Synodal Letter Christifideles laici 5; reference to Mater et Magistra)

"The association of lay people from spiritual and apostolic motives has various causes and aims to respond to diverse needs. It expresses the social nature of man and responds to the need for greater and comprehensive targeted effectiveness. A" cultural "influence, the origin and Motivation, but also the fruit and sign of other social changes, cannot happen through the actions of an individual, but rather through "a social subject," that is, through a group, a community, an association, a movement. " (Post-synodal writing Christifideles Laici 29).

The best-known expression for this is holism, an integral part of the New Age and one of the dominant signs of the times in the last quarter of the 20th century. (cf. February 3, 2003 Pontifical Council for Culture and Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue: "Jesus Christ, the giver of living water." Reflections on New Age from a Christian perspective)


Confessional who is oriented towards religious syncretism, mainly represented by Hans Küng. The direction defaced the religious freedom demanded by the Second Vatican Council into the 21st century.

1993: The spread of devotion to divine mercy is a sign of the times

"It is really wonderful how her (Sister Faustynas) devotion to the Merciful Jesus breaks through in the world today and wins so many people's hearts! This is undoubtedly a sign of the times - a sign of our 20th century (Sermon. Beatification of 3 priests and 2 nuns, April 18, 1993).[1] The "light of divine mercy, which the Lord wanted to give back to the world through the charisma of Sister Faustyna, will illuminate the path of the people of the third millennium. [...] The canonization of Sister Faustyna is extremely significant: through this gesture I want." I am conveying this message to the new millennium today. I am giving it to everyone so that they learn to better and better recognize the true face of God and the true face of the brothers. Love for God and love for brothers are inextricably linked. (Sermon, canonization of Maria Faustyna Kowalska, April 30, 2000, nos. 3 and 5) [2][3]

Signs of the 21st century

At the beginning of the 21st century, communication, and with it evangelization, is developing ever faster. Computers, the Internet (e-mail, SMS), etc. will be accessible to everyone in just a few years.

Since people in the world are moving closer and closer together through mobility (integration) and communication, it is becoming more and more apparent how individuals and peoples deal with problem solving. On the one hand they are influenced by media consumption, on the other hand by negation or radicalization of religion (cf. [1]).


  • "Beware of deadly mix-ups! Many of those who want to adapt Christianity today basically want to change it. Many who, as they say, want to humanize it more, want to allow it to merge with the human." (Henri de Lubac: Paradoxes of Faith, published by Johannes Verlag Einsiedeln - Freiburg, 2nd edition 2005, 33).


  • Cyril John: Prophetic Intercession - An Answer to the Signs of the Times, Dip3 Bildungsservice GmbH 2019 (130 pages, softcover, ISBN: 978-3903028586).
  • Franz Josef Künzli: I am the sign (The meaning of Mary for the world and the church, The most important apparitions since 1830) Miriam Verlag 1969 (128 pages; Imprimatur Augsburg, 02/14/1969 Dr. Josef Zimmermann, Episcopal Vicar).
  • Josef Herkenrath: The century of Our Lady and our future: an interpretation of the Marian age and year in the light of the messages from Paris to Fatima and the great Marian encyclicals. In the appendix: Four Marian circulars from Pius IX. and Pius XII., Credo Verlag Wiesbaden 1954 (140 pages.
  • Manfred Adler: sign of time, Lourdes and Fatima in an eschatological perspective - a time analysis, Johannes Verlag Leutesdorf am Rhein 1982 (1st edition 1958; 2nd edition 1975; with ecclesiastical printing permission - 6th edition - 97 pages; ISBN 3-7794-0624-1)
  • Joachim Schmiedl (Eds.), Rudolf Ammann, Guido Bausenhart, Erika Frömbgen: Interpret the signs of the times, orientation aids in the pluralism of opinions, Foreword and edited by Joachim Schmiedl, from the series Stuttgarter Contributions, Volume 2, Patris Verlag (67 pages; ISBN: 978-3-87620-164-1).

Papal letter

Pius XII.

  • October 27, 1940 Motu proprioNorunt profecto Sacrifice ceremonies and public prayers are ordered, which should be held everywhere on November 24, 1940 to alleviate the time constraints (AAS XXXII [1940] 385-386).

Web links

Episode 1: From Zeitgeist to Faith
Episode 2: The culture break of 1968
Episode 3: Humanae Vitae - A prophetic word
Episode 4: New Age - Religion of Relativism
Episode 5: The Success of Harry Potter - Attraction of Magic
Episode 6: The Power of Images
Episode 7: Sexualization and the Culture of Death
Episode 8: Longing for love & theology of the body
Episode 9: No future without a family
Episode 10: The woman - guardian of life
Episode 11: Repentance - Overcoming Impotence
Episode 12: The Church is alive and she is young
Episode 13: Hope instead of fear


  1. ↑ from: Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization: Popes and Mercy. Jubilee of Mercy 2015-2016. Schwabenverlag 2015, p. 33 (110 pages; ISBN 978-3-7966-1684-96).
  2. ↑ from: Popes and Mercy Schwabenverlag 2015, p. 34.
  3. ↑ For Pope Benedict XVI. "It is a sign of the times that the idea of ​​God's mercy - which Pope Francis placed at the center of his pontificate - is becoming more and more central and dominant." Today people no longer feel the need to escape God's wrath over their own sins rather, he feels the "need for grace and forgiveness": Benedict XVI. Praises Francis' commitment to on March 16, 2016