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

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