The Division of Time

Most of you, no doubt, have seen letters follow all of the dates in your history books. For example, you read how Alexander the Great died in the year 323 B.C., and of the discovery of Christopher Columbus in 1492 A.D.. Have you ever wondered what those letters stand for, B.C. and A.D.? I imagine that you may not have guessed that they have an ancient and Catholic origin.

These letters were first introduced in the 6th century by a monk named Dionysius Exiguus. Being a monk and also living in Rome, these demarkations of time were naturally Latin words; and, as is common with many phrases, abbreviations were made of them. Their use began in Italy, and gradually spread until these letters were in books throughout all of Europe.

A.D. stands for the Latin words “Anno Domini” - “Anno” means “Year”, and “Domini” means “of the Lord”. A.D. stands for “Year of the Lord”. 1 A.D. is the year that Our Lord Jesus Christ was born on this earth, and so the years that follow are marked with AD - years “of the Lord”. The years previous to 1 AD are marked with “Ante Christum” which means “Before Christ”. B.C. gradually became more generally used than the original A.C.

The whole timeline of history, then, is distinguished by these two abbreviations - B.C. and A.D.. All of time revolves around the one year that God became man, and the rest of time either came “Before Christ” or during a “Year of Our Lord”. It is quite an appropriate distinction and an amazing thing to contemplate.

In present-day modern times, though, it is not unusual to see a quite different set of letters used after a year’s date. These letters are “CE” and “BCE”. CE is an abbreviation for an obscure, undefined “Common Era”; and BCE for “Before the Common Era.” These abbreviations have been used to replace the original ones of A.D. and B.C. They therefore change the “Year of Our Lord” to a “Common Era”, and “Before Christ” to “Before the Common Era”. This pagan and anti-Catholic alternative is, unfortunately, forced upon society everywhere. It is an outright attack on Jesus Christ, making every effort for Him to be removed from all of history and completely forgotten by all of mankind.

So next time you chance upon a date, remember that “A.D.” and “B.C.” are not just arbitrary, meaningless letters from an old Latin phrase. These abbreviations are nearly 15 centuries old, and come from the many great benefits that the Catholic Church has given to the world in different ways. They are a reminder to all of our place in time; and, most importantly, of Our Lord’s rightful place in history - around which all of humanity and history revolves.