Thursday, April 25, 2019



When the various ‘right’s movements unfolded in the sixties, confusion, wounds, anger began to take root and spread.

We see the ongoing damage, flowing from the unintended consequences of sixties international ethical disorders, and the displacement of millions of people, this Good Friday, as Pope Francis led the Stations of the Cross in Rome, using meditations written by Sister Eugenia Bonetti, a Consolata sister who works with suffering women and girls on the streets of Rome:  What a thirst for vengeance we see all around us! Our societies today have lost the great value of forgiveness, a gift second to none, a cure for wounds, the basis of peace and human coexistence. In a society where forgiveness is seen as weakness, you, Lord, ask us not to stop at appearances…… For you knew very well that true justice can never be based on hatred and revenge. Make us capable of asking for and granting forgiveness. [1] There is an echo in the words of St. John xxiii convoking the Second Vatican Council: Today the Church is witnessing a crisis underway within society.[2]

Isaiah prophesied of Jesus: So He shall startle many nations….[Is.52:15], this is also the mission of the Church, of every Christian, for in Baptism we become participants in the prophetic mission of Christ.

If people are not startled by the Church, by Christians, then we must confess we have allowed ourselves to be compromised by the world, repent and begin again!

In 1961, St. John xxiii, wrote an apostolic letter on the Holy Rosary, "Il religioso convegno" appealing for the recitation of the Rosary for peace among the Nations. The Pontiff notes:…. the general feeling of acute anxiety about the problem of peace…….reminding us that all peoples, even those who are not Christian, are praying for peace. [3]

In 1961 the peoples of earth had good reason to be anxious: atomic weapons were still being tested, as were ever longer-range missiles; revolutions, civil wars were raging in Africa, Latin America, Asia; the Freedom Riders were being attacked in those early days of the Civil Rights movement, onto which a plethora of emerging ‘rights’ groups were starting to hitch their wagons; Kennedy would cut off diplomatic relations with Cuba, be suckered by the CIA into the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, whose repercussions, within a year, would bring the world to the brink of nuclear war; on Broadway a play would be presented called: Big Fish, Little Fish, in which play the matter of male homosexuality was explored for the first time in such an open, albeit theatrical, setting; society in general was changing rapidly in ways, at the time, few understood the implications of.

There was a lot of work going on to prepare for the Second Vatican Council in 1961!

Some great events in salvation history seem to unfold without anyone not involved noticing, even when that event is a gift for the whole Church, a whole nation, the world community.

As an example, in 1961, Catholicism, which had been rooted in Norway since the 11th century and virtually disappeared when Norway was ruled during the years of the Reformation, by Lutheran Sweden, saw the ordination of the first Norwegian Catholic priest in 500 years, and subsequently the first Norwegian bishop.

The post-war Church, by this time showing signs of the precipitous decline to come, in North America and Europe to the greatest extent, nonetheless the trend was, and continues to be in Africa and Asia, the polar-opposite.

1961 was not a year of blatant clues to the future, indeed the year in the sixties when things would really explode was still some seven years away, but the seeds of the turbulence, the gathering of the waves of the tsunami were approaching.

The zeitgeist of the sixties is rooted in the so-called ‘beatnik’ era of the late 1940’s, 50’s into the 60’s.

It is extremely rare for a new era’s zeitgeist to originate amongst the rural population. Good and bright as they are, the demands of rural life rarely afford the luxury of disputatious exploration afforded urbanites, not all of whom are necessarily university graduates or well off financially, but do live in an environment where the cunning can find the needed food, shelter, a variety of stimulants to ‘enhance’ their so-called intellectual – often pseudo-intellectual – explorations. These tended, in the fifties and sixties, and even in our own day, to lead deeply into sexual, gender, ‘spiritual’, etc. confusion and increased pressure on governments, frequently of the left, to legalize these confusions, not unlike the chaos in the world of St. Augustine’s time, who stresses that: He who becomes the protector of sin shall surely become its prisoner.

A salutary warning not just for government leaders of all stripes, but for clergy and Christians in general who compromise with the world.

The so-called ‘hippie’ generation of the sixties would take the dangerous explorations of the ‘beatnik’ generation to new depths of darkness through the use of psychedelic drugs, almost de rigour in the early days of sexual, ‘spiritual’, political adventurism, until those and other axial shifts became embedded and we continue to live in the expansion of the culture of death and darkness rooted therein.

True some of the shifts, such as deeper equality between men and women, resistance to oppression of minorities, beginning with the civil rights movement, the struggle to de-conflict the human family, have within them a dimension of good not contradictory to the Gospel.

However, as parents for generations have told overly adventurous children, it seems we adults have forgotten the adage of knowing when to ‘leave well enough alone!”

In May 1961, St. John xxiii would release his social encyclical MATER ET MAGISTRA/Mother and Teacher, a document which focuses on Christianity and Social Progress, but which contains
within prophetic insights into what was coming.

The Holy Pontiff begins with: Mother and Teacher of all nations—such is the Catholic Church in the mind of her Founder, Jesus Christ; to hold the world in an embrace of love….. She is "the pillar and ground of the truth."  though the Church's first care must be for souls, how she can sanctify them and make them share in the gifts of heaven, she concerns herself too with the exigencies of man's daily life, with his livelihood and education, and his general, temporal welfare and prosperity.

Pope John references Pius xi, who taught:….. what the supreme criterion in economic matters ought not to be. It must not be the special interests of individuals or groups, nor unregulated competition, economic despotism, national prestige or imperialism, nor any other aim of this sort. …..On the contrary, all forms of economic enterprise must be governed by the principles of social justice and charity.

Pope John is also prophetic about what is unfolding in the sixties and still governments interfere: …..Certainly one of the principal characteristics which seem to be typical of our age is an increase in social relationships ….This development in the social life of man is at once a symptom and a cause of the growing intervention of the State, even in matters which are of intimate concern to the individual, hence of great importance and not devoid of risk.

One of the trends surfacing on the threshold of, expanding through the sixties, echoing still in our day, was the siren song of the alleged danger of ‘over population’, which the Holy Father noted: …..there are those who hold the opinion that, in order to prevent a serious crisis from developing, the conception and birth of children should be secretly avoided, or, in any event, curbed in some way. ……Human life is sacred—all men must recognize that fact. From its very inception it reveals the creating hand of God. Those who violate His laws not only offend the divine majesty and degrade themselves and humanity, they also sap the vitality of the political community of which they are members.  ….We must reaffirm most strongly that this Catholic social doctrine is an integral part of the Christian conception of life.

With the contraceptive/abortion/homosexuality mentality [infecund by its very reality], poisoning more and more the lives of men and women throughout the sixties and beyond, it would fall to his successors, Paul vi, and John Paul ii, to take defense of the sacredness of human life: of pre-born children, the sacredness of sacramental marriage, into the heart of the battle St. John xxiii saw unfolding.

Towards the conclusion of this critical social encyclical, prophetic at its core, the Holy Father shines a light on the challenge of those times, a challenge still facing the Church, all Christians: The Church today is faced with an immense task: to humanize and to Christianize this modern civilization of ours. The continued development of this civilization, indeed its very survival, demand and insist that the Church do her part in the world. …. She is the Mother and Teacher of all nations. Her light illumines, enkindles and enflames…. She is ever powerful to offer suitable, effective remedies for the increasing needs of men, and the sorrows and anxieties of this present life.  [4]

1961 was also a year when many clues to what lay ahead were missed, likely because their full impact would not emerge until either the end of the decade or until the unfolding of the last thirty years of the 20th century and throughout the first decades of the 21st. A few examples: Margaret Mead became a darling of those in the sixties engaged in the sexual revolution, in particular because of her debateable conclusions about the sexual mores of Samoan teenagers; Carol Rogers, pushing a personalist approach to psychotherapy would be embraced by American Women’s Religious orders, with devastating results, as their example of rebellion would spread throughout the Church, including the disrespectful challenging of St. John Paul on his pastoral visit to the United States [5]; in December the United Sates would officially commit itself to the Vietnam war.

At times all of us are tempted to leave our vocations…..Remember the story which I tell you about our Bishop Founder, Archbishop Neil McNeil of Toronto, who, when I told him that I wanted to leave….bade me get a crucifix off the wall. When I did so, he told me to look at the other side; then he asked me for whom did I think it was reserved. I reluctantly answered: “For God’s friends.” He quietly went on saying: “Child, do you want to abandon the Cross, and leave God alone there? Do you truly expect Him to be happy about that? He who is so lonely? So few want to share His place with Him.”  [6]

 © 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph

[1] From the 7th Station Meditation:

[2] Apostolic Constitution, Humanae salutis:

[3] p. 357; Journal of A Soul; Image Books 1980


Cf. paras.: 1, 3, 37, 39, 59, 60, 187, 194, 222, 256, 262


[6] Dearly Beloved, Volume One, by Catherine de Hueck Doherty, pp. 215,216; Madonna House Publications, 1998

NB: A good resource is: E. Michael Jones’ study: Degenerate Moderns: Modernity as Rationalized Sexual Misbehaviour. Ignatius Press 1993

Wednesday, April 10, 2019



When considering the sixties generation, we should be aware in many countries they grew up in families which had been deeply impacted by WWI, by the Great Depression, by WWII, and the Korean war. They also had grown up in the atomic era.

A reading, for example of writings of Pope Emeritus Benedict in the days leading up to the Second Vatican Council reveal his growing awareness and concern about the state of post-war and post mid-century humanity, culminating in this from the Council’s Document on the Church in the Modern world, attributed to the then Fr. Ratzinger, a petri, that is a theological advisor to the bishops at the council: The truth is that the imbalances under which the modern world labours are linked with that more basic imbalance which is rooted in the heart of man. For in man himself many elements wrestle with one another….. he suffers from internal divisions, and from these flow so many and such great discords in society……Thinking they have found serenity in an interpretation of reality everywhere proposed these days, many look forward to a genuine and total emancipation of humanity wrought solely by human effort; they are convinced that the future rule of man over the earth will satisfy every desire of his heart. [1]

Two years before the start of the sixties a woman who had been a nurse with the Russian Imperial Army in WWI, survived the Russian revolution, lived among and served the poor during the Great Depression and WWII, and after the war founded the Madonna House Lay Apostolate, which now has houses around the world, wrote in a letter to her community, on Oct. 1, 1958: I understand perfectly that modern youth has been grievously wounded by history, whether or not they realize it. Two world wars and a depression have affected both parents and children. They are also influenced by the atomic age which causes fear of destruction. [2]

Less than ten years after that letter, P. F. Sloan would write a protest song, which in 1965 rocketed to the top of the charts when released as a single sung by Barry McGuire. The song: Eve of Destruction: “Don’t you understand, what I’m trying to say?......Can’t you see the fears that I’m feeling today? Ah, don’t you believe we’re on the eve of destruction.”

Unless we understand the extent of the emotional, spiritual damage done, to the grandparents and parents of the sixties generation, the profound damage done to that generation, then we will fail in our efforts to understand the spread of that damage into our own day as we approach the end of the second decade of the first century of the third millennium.

The point of these essays is not to dissect the events of the sixties per se, rather to look at the impact of the sixties on faith, family, life of the Church, and the eschatological impact. Before the Second Vatican Council, partly in response to the Reformation, partly in response to upheavals and revolutions with an attendant anti-church spread of laws and mentality, the mindset of the various popes from then to the Council, and of ordinary Catholics, was dominated by a siege mentality, an us against the world one which is antithetical to our Gospel mandate of preaching the Gospel to all nations, to everyone. Wherever that vacuum exists satan whispers into minds and hearts the ideas and morals of secularism which people will then implement to fill the void.

By 1960 the political shifts, the emergence of new nations as the colonial powers were ousted, the beginnings of the various civil rights and other rights movements, the spread of student revolts on campuses, of the defeatist philosophies of modern existentialists: Sartre comes to mind, who felt everything [and everyone] becomes without reason; Simeon de Beauvoir, who asserted she was way too smart to be known or loved, thus she had only herself; Abbey Hoffman, who maintained only the young could have valuable ideas.; Timothy Leary, who recommended the use of hallucinogens to discover self! These and others set the foundations of ever deepening nihilism, hedonism, relativism, loss of faith.

The Church, and not just by Her opponents from outside, is often accused of being behind the times, which is disingenuous because the Church, all Christians, are called to be in and not of the world, and unlike current social media, cannot, must not, make selfie focused instantaneous judgements or proclamations that make Christianity comprised with and complicit in the darkness of the surrounding culture of relativism, darkness and death.

Experience teaches that, for example, failure to exercise the virtue of prudence by social activists, governments, indeed parents, that is to think before speaking, consider before acting, in the main has devastating and unintended consequences, the old saying: you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.

Hence the wisdom, contrary to Hoffman’s ideology, of Pope Francis when it comes to the world of ideas: …..young people are also urged “to accept the authority of those who are older” (1 Pet 5:5). The Bible never ceases to insist that profound respect be shown to the elderly, since they have a wealth of experience; they have known success and failure, life’s joys and afflictions, its dreams and disappointments. In the silence of their heart, they have a store of experiences that can teach us not to make mistakes or be taken in by false promises…..It is unhelpful to buy into the cult of youth or foolishly to dismiss others simply because they are older or from another generation. Jesus tells us that the wise are able to bring forth from their store things both new and old (cf. Mt 13:52). A wise young person is open to the future, yet still capable of learning something from the experience of others. [3]

The too narrow understanding of catechesis as instruction for adult converts, the equally narrow assumption those baptized as babies some how, almost by osmosis, gain an in depth understanding of Catholic faith reveals the growing impoverishment of souls as the sixties unfolded.

Restricting catechesis to Sunday homilies is insufficient.

Before the sixties emphasis was often less on the Gospel and more on the dangers of sin and hell, sometimes exaggerating Church teaching on both. Since the sixties with the reform of the liturgy and emphasis on preaching upon the Sacred Readings, a laudatory change, unfortunately there is also, since the sixties, either too much of the priest’s agenda, drawn from compromise with the world, such as over emphasis on vague, or even counter to the faith, notions of ‘inclusion’, or an outright failure to proclaim the Gospel of Life.

Creative imagination of love is needed to take seriously and institute adult re-education programs, re-evangelization: "I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church's energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples" (St. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, no. 3); "Our own time, then, must be increasingly marked by new hearing of God’s word and a new evangelization. Recovering the centrality of the divine word in the Christian life leads us to appreciate anew the deepest meaning of the forceful appeal of Pope John Paul II: to pursue the mission ad gentes and vigorously to embark upon the new evangelization, especially in those nations where the Gospel has been forgotten or meets with indifference as a result of widespread secularism" (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini no. 122).

Since the destination of every human being, every soul, is Christ, eschatology must be a central aspect of this formation for the Nietzschean assertion that God is dead, with John Robinson adding fuel to that dark fire, in the sixties, became the mindset that leads to the multiplicity of ‘spiritualities’, the allure into emptiness of Buddhism, Hinduism, both of which Hollywood and rock stars promoted, as those proponents also led the way to promiscuity, drug and pornography addictions, nihilism, hedonism, and relativism, which, when imbedded in minds and hearts, with its adamant denial of objective truth, makes any dialogue about the living-all-loving-present Divine Redeemer Jesus and the Gospel, virtually over before it has begun.

Worn out by the failed extremism of liberals on the left, including Catholics, and others, throughout the sixties, and wisely not giving into the extremism of neo-extreme right-anti just about everybody not of their ilk, a passivity has taken hold of too many people, including Catholics and Orthodox and other Christians, who may still be Sunday-observant but have otherwise given up.

We know from tragic experience that a factual event, such as the collapse of the twin towers on 9/11, can trigger a panic, a stampede of people away from danger. Likewise, we know a non-event, a rumour, indeed a lie, can also trigger a human stampede, often with people being trampled and seriously injured or killed.

Satan, the father of lies, can trigger a more subtle form of stampede, one that moves methodically over time within the human family, destroying minds and souls to the point where people deny objective truth, morality, suffer loss of faith, deny God is, of it they concede He might be, clearly He hasn’t anything relevant to say about how humans should behave or live together as one family.

Satan achieves this in a manner not unlike that used by Indigenous people for thousands of years to hunt buffalo: dressed in wolf and coyote skins the young warriors would run towards the herd to stampede the herd of buffalo over a cliff and then walk down and harvest the meat and skins they needed. Legend has it one curious young warrior positioned himself at the bottom of the cliff to watch the herd fall. He was crushed to death, hence the place to this day is known as Head-Smashed-in-Buffalo Jump.

Satan hunts human beings, immortal souls, and uses lies, rumour, distorted philosophies, self-centeredness, and a myriad of other tricks to herd people over the edge of the abyss into the chasm of the culture of death and darkness.

Sadly, too many people, including Christians, in these days are like that young warrior, passively watching our brothers and sisters, the human family, fall over the cliff, thereby getting crushed by the darkness of the culture of death in the process: “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” [Rv.3:16] How urgently we must heed this warning and draw comfort from Divine Mercy who always comes to our assistance: Then I passed by and saw you struggling in your blood, and I said to you in your blood, “Live!” [Ez. 16:6] and being strengthened by Christ’s promise: “…..behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” [Mt.28:20], we will have the courage of the martyrs to bear witness to Christ and the Gospel of life, to fulfill our vocation to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. [5:13-16]

[1] Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World; para. 10;

[2] Dear Beloved, Letters to the Children of My Spirit, Volume One, 1956-1963; p.88; Madonna House Publications, 1988


© 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph