Monday, May 06, 2019



Throughout 1962 the violent chaos in the former colonies of the European powers continued, as did the sufferings and imprisonment of thousands in countries such as those under the heel of the Soviets, in the Soviet Union itself, in China, North Korea, Cuba, as well as  countries in Latin America and Asia where dictatorships held sway.

1962 saw the publication in Russia of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich: “You should rejoice that you're in prison. Here you have time to think about your soul.” “Freedom meant one thing to him—home. But they wouldn't let him go home.”― Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn. While situated in a gulag camp of the 1950’s, and not available in English until 1963, it was the start of lifting the veil on the gulag and what being sent there did to people.

Around the world such camps of human suffering exist to this day.

Unrest continued in the United States as the civil rights movement became more widespread, including the riots when the first black student, under the protection of US Marshals, would register and begin studies at the University of Mississippi.

That started a movement where by today there is nothing exceptional about campuses in the US and most democratic countries having multi-racial student bodies and faculties.

The past of human history, never more so than in salvation history, is prologue.

Cuba and events surrounding Cuba, though mostly late in the year, would dominate as ‘world news’, almost, but not completely, overshadowing the beginning of the Second Vatican Council.

Rachel Carson would publish her main work SILENT SPRING, decrying the overuse of, and environmental impact of, pesticides, asserting that:  The most alarming of all man's assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials. The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery, not over nature but of ourselves. [1]

With the war raging in Vietnam in late 1962 the US would begin using Agent Orange: When man disobeys God and refuses to submit to his rule, nature rebels against him and no longer recognizes him as its "master," for he has tarnished the divine image in himself. The claim to ownership and use of created things remains still valid, but after sin its exercise becomes difficult and full of suffering (cf. Gen 3:17-19). [2] The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters. [3]

Darkly, evilly, tragically, there is a nexus between environmentalists and those anti-life groups pushing for abortion, thus raising the question: for whom are all the environmentalists saving the planet?

If we take into account all the children not born because of the contraceptive mentality, abortions, [the World Health Organization estimates well over forty million abortions a year] epidemics, casualties of war, famine, euthanasia, and other factors continuing to spread since the sixties, Bricker and Ibbitson, in their seminal work EMPTY PLANET, are correct to suggest that: The great defining even of the twenty-first century – one of the great defining events in human history -  will occur in three decades, give or take, when the global population starts to decline. Once that decline begins, it will never end. [4]

On October 11th St. John xxiii opened the Second Vatican Council, saying in his address: The great problem confronting the world after almost two thousand years remains unchanged. Christ is ever resplendent as the center of history and of life. Men are either with Him and His Church, and then they enjoy light, goodness, order, and peace. Or else they are without Him, or against Him, and deliberately opposed to His Church, and then they give rise to confusion, to bitterness in human relations, and to the constant danger of fratricidal wars. We feel we must disagree with those prophets of gloom, who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand. [5]

Five days later it began, and for thirteen days in October the Cuban Missile crisis brought the entire human family to the brink of elimination during the nuclear stand off between the US and the Soviet Union.

What began with the opening of the Council as an event experienced as hope for the entire human family, everyone alive at that time experienced being catapulted into thirteen days of absolute terror and uncertainty.

The first was to experience the immensity of the Light, Christ Himself, brought to everyone by the Church.

The second was to experience the intense cold darkness of satan and his minions.

The wise know it takes at least a century for the full grace of a Council to penetrate the Church and the human family, perhaps longer for an end to post-council arguments pro and con. We still have a long road to travel before 2062!

Countless volumes have, and still are, being written about the Council itself, analysis of the documents.

How well the actual conciliar and  post-conciliar documents are read, studied, lived remains an unanswered question, though as began in the sixties and continues to this day, even given the best efforts of Pope Paul vi and his successors, the aberration known as the ‘spirit of Vatican II’, another disorder rooted in the sixties, continues to wound the Church and the entirety of God’s people.

As George Weigel, in a 2001 commentary notes: [The Council]…..was a summons to the Catholic Church to think of itself less in institutional terms and more as an evangelical movement in history” a movement which best served the modern world by telling the world the truth about human origins, human nature, human community, and human destiny……Pope John Paul II, who was one of the youngest Council fathers during the first period, has insisted for almost four decades that the Council can be grasped in its essence only if we think of it as an epic spiritual event, at which the Holy Spirit led the Catholic Church into a new encounter with modernity precisely for the sake of evangelizing the modern world……[6]

Within a year the holy Pope, now St. John xxiii would die, the young President Kennedy who stood up to the Soviets would be assassinated.

What was emerging at the end of 1962 was an ever thickening, darkening shadow of the culture of death which, with the lethality of those green clouds of chlorine spreading from the German lines into the trenches of WWI, was bringing the ever spreading blindness to objective truth and morality which has us living daily in the anti-Christian culture of death.

[1] SILENT SPRING, Rachel Carson, Houghton Mifflen Press, 1962

[2] SOLLICITUDO REI SOCIALIS, ch.4, para. 29; Pope John Paul II, December 30, 1987

[3] Laudate SI’, para.2, Pope Francis, May 24, 2015

[4] EMPTY PLANET, preface p. 2; Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson; Signal, 2019



© 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph

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