Thursday, July 11, 2019



Among the Nobel Laureates, for literature, was a Greek poet-diplomat: Georgios Seferiades, known in English by his nomme de plume, George Seferis. A prolific writer his 1935 opus: Mythistorema, a long mythical narrative, easily applicable to the condition of much of the human family not only in 1965, the year under consideration here, but even today in 2019, when it comes to the angst, confusion, wandering of much of humanity as if suspended on a mobius stripe pathway seeking meaning, self, God.

A few excerpts from the poem: ……… we were searching to find once more the first seed so that the age-old drama could begin again……On winter nights the strong wind from the east maddened us, in the summers we were lost in the agony of days that couldn’t die……. When we go down to the harbours on Sunday to breathe freely we see, lit in the sunset, the broken planks from voyages that never ended, bodies that no longer know how to love…….what were you looking for in front of ashes or in the rain in the fog in the wind even when the lights were growing dim and the city was sinking and on the stone pavement the Nazarene showed you his heart, what were you looking for? [1]

1965 would see the US Supreme Court declare the use of contraceptives to be legal, as the culture of the body as a thing to be used for pleasure expanded;  people became increasingly enamoured by the writings of Teilhard de Chardin, Tolkien, CS Lewis, Thomas Merton, and others, misusing them to justify new age ways seeking to re-make truth, morality, matters of faith, into versions which exalted virtually anything that contradicts revealed truth and seeks to undermine Christianity. “Truth by definition is exclusive. If truth were all-inclusive, nothing would be false.”, so writes Walter Martin in that year with his seminal work on cults. [2]

Among the most pernicious groups seeking to undermine the Catholic Church from within and without: Freemasonry which released a film, in 1965, intended to make themselves appear benign. In 1884 Pope Leo XIII published his encyclical Humanum Genus, where, warning about what he called the “capital enemy”,  he notes: …..Now, the fundamental doctrine of the naturalists, which they sufficiently make known by their very name, is that human nature and human reason ought in all things to be mistress and guide. Laying this down, they care little for duties to God, or pervert them by erroneous and vague opinions. For they deny that anything has been taught by God; they allow no dogma of religion or truth which cannot be understood by the human intelligence, nor any teacher who ought to be believed by reason of his authority. And since it is the special and exclusive duty of the Catholic Church fully to set forth in words truths divinely received, to teach, besides other divine helps to salvation, the authority of its office, and to defend the same with perfect purity, it is against the Church that the rage and attack of the enemies are principally directed. [3] Much in the teaching applies not only to the disorders of the Sixties, but those of our own day. [4]

Combined with many bishops and priests becoming more leftist-secularist and joining ersatz leftist Catholic politicians with their pet projects, 1965 also saw the still open wounds of the American and Canadian bishops imposing their revised Missal which accelerated the demolishing of church interiors with the removal of altar railings, statues, votive candles, discouraging so-called ‘popular piety’, as the stampede from the priesthood and religious life continued to empty rectories, convents, monasteries. Bad enough priests and nuns eschewed clerical dress and religious habits, they did not simply abandon but fled from visible, and faithful consecrated life, hence the faithful, who were starting to abandon the Church with broken hearts, had clown masses, jazz masses, imposed upon them. Worse still, as late as 1985 in pawn shops, and even worse places, could be found tossed out chalices and other religious objects from the era.

On television Candid Camera, originating on radio in the late 1940s as ‘candid mike’, was still garnering large audiences. Such programs like that would morph by the 21st century into so-called ‘reality tv’, the only real thing about such shows being the willingness of people to submit themselves to various demeaning challenges/situations. In the late 19th and early 20th century so-called ‘freak-shows’, often part of traveling carnivals, were a popular form of voyeurism, until the public smartened up, a least for a while. But then with men and women, sometimes imposing such desecration on their young children, tattooing themselves from head to toe with skulls and snakes and the like being popular, how can we be surprised by the ratings of the contemporary freak shows known as ‘reality tv’?

Twenty years after the end of World War II the last of the three major leaders during that war, Sir Winston Churchill dies and is given a state funeral, while the world continues to lurch along, confused, violent, with revolutions and civil wars in many countries, millions oppressed under communist regimes.

Founded in 1930 in Detroit, the Nation of Islam saw its prominent activist member, Malcolm X, assassinated. Tragically the ongoing murders and brutality against American Blacks and their white brothers and sisters who walked with them, suffered with them for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam, rarely got the same attention unless, such as the infamous ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Alabama that year, the numbers of those killed, 34, were high enough to be newsworthy.

In bizarre and un-Christian acts, perhaps imitating a Buddhist monk who had done so in Vietnam in 1963, first a Quaker and then two members of the Catholic Worker Movement, set themselves on fire and died of their burns, all to protest the hated war.

Dorothy Day, Foundress of the Catholic Worker Movement, wrote about the first suicide in the movement’s paper in an article: “Suicide or Sacrifice”: "It is not only that many youths and students throughout the country are deeply sensitive to the sufferings of the world,…….They have a keen sense that they must be responsible and make a profession of their faith that things do not have to go on as they always have–that men are capable of laying down their lives for others, taking a stand, even when the all-encroaching State and indeed all the world are against them." [5]

The Movement is often described as Christian Anarchism and for all its then and now works of mercy and defense of the poor, striving for social justice, like so much from the sixties, be it in politics, religion, art, the pervasiveness and influence of naturalist, hedonistic, relativism, with  much intended to be good social changes imposed from above by the leftist-humanist approach, glorifying pointless suicide, because that is not the same thing as laying down one’s life, or at least risking it, in front of the tanks pouring into Prague of Tiananmen Square, by 1965 the elites and others pushing agendas which still hobble and wound the human family in our day, should have heard, need to hear:…. they stagger in their visions, they totter when giving judgment. Yes, all the tables are covered with vomit, with filth, and no place left clean. [Isaiah 28: 7,8]

Having published four years previously his work on Mystics and Zen Masters by 1965 Thomas Merton was deep into speaking out about civil rights, against the war in Vietnam and delving more and more into Eastern religions.

During his speech to the US Congress in 2015 Pope Francis would refer both to Day and Merton: In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints……..A century ago, at the beginning of the Great War, which Pope Benedict XV termed a “pointless slaughter”, another notable American was born: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton. He remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people. Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions. [6]

The above is noted here as simply another example of the ongoing impact of events, philosophies, personalities from the Sixties.

On September 3, Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical on the Most Holy Eucharist, Mysterium Fidei: The Mystery of Faith, that is, the ineffable gift of the Eucharist that the Catholic Church received from Christ, her Spouse, as a pledge of His immense love, …… For if the sacred liturgy holds first place in the life of the Church, then the Eucharistic Mystery stands at the heart and center of the liturgy, since it is the font of life that cleanses us and strengthens us to live not for ourselves but for God and to be united to each other by the closest ties of love.  [7]

In his address to the United Nations in October, the Holy Father stressed: As you know very well, peace is not built merely by means of politics and a balance of power and interests. It is built with the mind, with ideas, with the works of peace…... Will the world ever come to change the selfish and bellicose outlook that has spun out such a great part of its history up to now?….. The work of peace is not restricted to one religious belief, it is the work and duty of every human person, regardless of his religious conviction. Men are brothers, God is their Father, and their Father wills that they live in peace with one another as brothers should. [8a,b]

Towards the end of October the Holy Father promulgated the document of the Second Vatican Council, Nostra Aetate, the declaration on relations with non-Christian religions, which begins with a statement somewhat battered and abused by those who took/take it as somehow advocating a type of ‘all religions are basically the same’: In our time, when day by day mankind is being drawn closer together, and the ties between different peoples are becoming stronger, the Church examines more closely her relationship to non-Christian religions. In her task of promoting unity and love among men, indeed among nations, she considers above all in this declaration what men have in common and what draws them to fellowship.[9]

Then the day before the Council closed Pope Paul VI promulgated the Council’s Document on Religious Freedom: In faithfulness therefore to the truth of the Gospel, the Church is following the way of Christ and the apostles when she recognizes and gives support to the principle of religious freedom as befitting the dignity of man and as being in accord with divine revelation.  [10]

On December the 8th the Second Vatican Council officially ended.

Without getting into the weeds of the debate over the repercussions of the implementation of the Second Vatican Council, it is well to remember spiritual warfare, as is evident from there being a traitor within the ranks of the Apostles, through early Church History in the Acts of the Apostles, the turbulence of the years of great heresies, the great schism, the reformation and counter reformation to this very day warfare is inevitably within and from without the Church  because the members of the Body of Christ, also members of the human family with all our virtues and vices, humility and ambitions.

The post-conciliar wounds remain deep, some are festering still. This aspect of the sixties may well be with us for decades to come, even with the best efforts of St. John Paul II and his successors to heal the wounds, restore Orthodox Catholic teaching and praxis.

Certainly, flowing from 1965 “Something has gone drastically wrong with the worship of the Church……what has gone wrong: the liturgy is no longer primarily the worship of God, but a celebration of our needs and ‘our own life experience’…….Catholicism has to do in the first place, and essentially, with the Passion and death, the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ. 
It   is this mystery of our redemption that the Church has to try to present and to make real to the modern world. [11]

[1] George Seferis: Collected Poems, Princeton University Press, 1995

[2] The Kingdom of Cults by Walter Martin, first published 1965, revised and update 2019, Bethany House publications.


[4]  INFLITRATION, The Plot To Destroy The Church From Within, by Taylor Marshall, Crisis Publications, Sophia Institute Press, 2019




[8a] and at the Church of the Holy Family: [8b]



[11] THE MASS and MODERNITY, Walking To Heaven Backward, Jonathan Robinson of the Oratory, pp. 31 & 195; Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2005

© 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph