Tuesday, October 22, 2019



In some respects, 1969, the last year of the Sixties, was a year like any other of that turbulent decade.

While the struggles which hallmarked the Sixties were still grabbing headlines,  much was beginning to change just below the surface, to the extent, by way of examples: in the 1970’s, disco, ego-pleasure-centric, replaced the dominance of folk songs and the urging a communal re-boot of society; the sexual variations and promiscuity of the sixties became, in the 1980’s, HIV/AIDS. Little understood or even recognized in the Sixties, AIDS would turn into a pandemic; the 1980’s was the decade when Wall Street seemed to churn out an endless succession of millionaires, highlighting what has become known as the 1%, i.e. the one percenters, a term which originated in the 1960’s when the American Motorcycle Association asserted 99% of motorcycle riders were law abiding citizens. Criminal biker gangs seized upon that and declared themselves the ‘one percenters’!: no irony here!; then the 1990’s arrived, when the reach of terrorism spread far afield from the Middle East; the 2000’s to date witnesses the evil of Islamic and homegrown terrorism spread, from 9/11 forwards to this day, and the culture of death now appears unstoppable, which it will be unless there is a profound conversion of every human heart and Christians abandoning all forms of compromise with the surrounding culture, choosing instead to uncompromisingly living out the Gospel of Life.

Precisely because much was happening below the surface 1969 was a year surfeit of mega-drama, yet persistent in unrest, unease, further casting off of any sexual mores and of faith, particularly, but not exclusively, among Christians, and Catholics most of all, with an increasing compromise with the surrounding culture, leading throughout the following decades in so-called Catholic countries, notably in Latin America, to the spreading of American Evangelicalism, often of the ‘God wants you to be rich’ kind.

One of the best descriptive words on what was happening then, though written about the current era, when it comes to our relationship with the One True God, is this: Our age seems to have specialized in God-management – the absurd endeavour both to keep functional some respectable notion of “God” and yet at each step to neutralize any divine reality that interferes with the way in which we have constructed the world. The domestication of the Almighty. The relativizing of the Absolute. The taming of the Fire of divinity into a porcelain cup of lukewarm tea. [1]

Spain, still ruled by the dictator Generalissimo Franco, indeed he would continue to do so until his death in 1975, saw major student riots in Madrid, which was put under martial law with 300 students being arrested. The great irony is Franco made sure his succession saw to the restoration of the monarchy with today Spain being a constitutional monarchy with a democratic government. “The Troubles”, as they were called, intensified in Northern Ireland, with Britain sending in the army who, in the battle, often used methods which, post 9/11, would become known as ‘enhanced interrogation’, contributing to ‘the Troubles’ lasting for another two decades. A major oil spill in Santa Barbara harbour in California would move an American Senator to organize the following year the first Earth Day, which over the coming decades would spread globally, along with a general environmental movement, itself intensifying with what was originally called “global warming”, becoming a cause celebre, but as the ‘science’ behind that has been challenged the term now is the didactic and disingenuous: “climate change”! Climate change is a perpetual serial event which, on the micro level, occurs with the passage of the seasons and on the macro, occurs over the millennia. While part of our human, indeed baptized vocation, is both to care for and use the resources of the earth, yet there is a dark, indeed evil irony when environmental extremists insist they will not have children, because everything will be over in a decade or so. It is the distorted logic of the abortion culture and the all too human arrogance which thinks we can control completely what we have not created. True, we can do harm to creation and we should take better care of creation, starting with human life. A culture which is in bondage to the contraceptive, abortion, euthanasia, anti-family mentality, has no credibility when it claims to care about creation as it blithely usurps what is God’s: He alone is the Lord and Giver of Life.

Unless we strive to be saints, to be holy disciples and allow the holiness of Christ flowing from within us to touch and heal the earth, the earth will remain sick. Just how sick it is, will be, is directly connected to our holiness or lack thereof.

In 1969, Yasser Arafat would be elected leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization {PLO}; Muammar Gaddafi would, through a coup d’état, seize power in Libya, both events, in fact, becoming the lighting of fuses which, a half century later, continue to explode in acts of terror and war within the Middle East and globally; in Canada the Front de Liberation du Quebec {FLQ} continued its bombing campaign which in 1970 would lead to a major crisis with the kidnapping and murder of a Quebec politician, the kidnapping of a British diplomat. The ongoing aftermath, which many see as constant tension between Quebec and the rest of Canada, is more to be found among a Quebec populace, once considered to be 98% practising Catholic, becoming a virtually total secular society, to the point where, through legislation, the province is now officially secularist, even more so than France itself!

As the year unfolded race riots, civil rights battles, an ever increasing resistance to the war in Vietnam continued, with wars within and between nations continuing apace. The implication of some events, as mentioned at the outset, being below the surface, would not emerge immediately but would have ongoing consequences, such as the general strike in Argentina in May of 1969, the consequence only becoming apparent during the so-called dirty war of the military junta against its own people.

1969 was the year, in June, of the Stonewall riots, leading to within the US, and since in virtually every country on earth, the never satisfied demands for ‘gay-rights’, in some countries resulting in the legalization of so-called ‘gay-marriage’, variations on the theme such as ‘transgender’, ‘two-spirit’, with some human beings wanting the legal right to declare they are ‘non-gender’!  It was also the year, in Canada, when homosexual activity between consenting adults, at the time pegged at 21 years of age, subsequently lowered to 18, was decriminalized. Now, with the prevailing mentality pushed in schools in Canada through so-called ‘gay/straight alliances’, it really is anybody’s guess as at what age ‘consent’ is accepted.

Parallel to the above, a fifteen year old boy died in the United States and it was noted he had scabs on his body, later identified as caused by a form of cancer, which in the eighties would be associated with HIV/AIDS. Indeed in 1984 lab tests on tissue from the boy’s body confirmed he had had HIV/AIDS. The suspicion was that he had been a male prostitute. However official recognition of the disease would only begin in mid 1981, by then it had reached pandemic proportions. While the first case, globally, dates back officially to the late 1950’s in Africa, it would be well into the late 1990’s before scientists would figure out the origin of the disease was indeed in Africa, through transmission from the original simian hosts to humans via the mishandling of bushmeat. While the teenager mentioned is referred to by some scientists as patient Zero, a Canadian adult male flight attendant is also sometimes given that dubious moniker. Other than the probability that in both cases the infection came from an unknown male, part of the ongoing origins mystery of the disease itself is believed to be thousands of years old. Its lack of ‘discovery’ boils down to colonial arrogance which would not have paid much attention to deaths among Africans until the disease emerged outside Africa and became a threat to the rest of the world.

Such is the tragic legacy of the Sixties that to this day, regarding sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, euthanasia, the incessant demands for ‘my rights’, all is rooted in the poisoned soil of abandonment of natural law, Divine Law, and, frankly, common sense, hallmarks of the so-called ‘free-love’ generation.

Within the Catholic Church Herself, [it being noted the ‘church in our own image and likeness’ mentality was spreading – infecting really – the Anglican/Episcopal communion and liberal leaning Protestant denominations], the exodus from priesthood and religious life had grown  from a raging torrent to a tsunami, as well as laity abandoning the faith, yet self-appointed-smarter-than-the-Church, theologians, liturgists, parish priests, nuns, laity, persisted in mucking around with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, articles of faith, morality, indeed many of those who did/do remain, physically, within the priesthood and religious life were/are actual internal enemies of the Body of Christ the Church and continue to wreck havoc to this day.

Obviously, his intention was not to compound problems, in the post Vatican II confusion, but when Pope Paul VI issued his moto proprio, Mysterii Paschalis, on reforms to the liturgy, the calendar of Saints, many laity and clergy reacted negatively.

It was just another shock to system of people still trying to adjust to the already major changes, within the liturgy, flowing from the so-called suppression of what was previously known as the Tridentine Rite.

Pope Paul the VI began by reminding us that: The Paschal Mystery and its celebration constitutes the essence of Christian worship in its daily, weekly and yearly unfolding. [2]

However, the nub of the problem for many came with: It cannot be denied, however, that in the course of centuries the feasts of the saints have become more and more numerous. The Sacred Synod has therefore decreed: "Lest the feasts of the saints take precedence over the feasts which commemorate the very mysteries of salvation…… the names of some saints have been removed from the universal Calendar, and the faculty has been given of re-establishing in regions concerned, if it is desired, the commemorations and cult of other saints. The suppression of reference to a certain number of saints who are not universally known has permitted the insertion, within the Roman Calendar, of names of some martyrs of regions where the proclaiming of the Gospel arrived at a later date. Thus, as representatives of their countries, those who have won renown by the shedding of their blood for Christ or by their outstanding virtues enjoy the same dignity in this same catalogue. [ibid]

These decades later it is obvious the importance of the reform for the focus to be primarily on the centrality of Christ and our redemption.

Interestingly, at the time already Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, replied to a letter from Elio Guerriero on questions about the reforms: ……..As for the liturgical question, I can understand Pope Montini’s decision very well. It seems to me, nevertheless, that greater patience in implementing the reform would have promoted peace in the Church…….The sudden break with the old missal caused resistance that perhaps could have been avoided. In any case, it would have been good to make clearer the continuity between the two missals. But to do that, the liturgists, too, had to help, and instead they proved unavailable. The real problem resulted, not from the pope’s decision, but from the intransigence of the liturgists. [3]      

1969 did not end with anything as dramatic as the 70’s year of the three Popes, or the 80’s with the collapse of the USSR, rather the Sixties ended with a profound sense of exhaustion, politically, spiritually, almost as if the entire decade was partially slinking away to hide, or running with insane abandon over the edge of a cliff.

Remaking God, self, the Church, the world into one’s own image had proven a dismal failure, as governments, both democratic and non, became ever more powerful, and continue so; the chasm between the obscenely rich and dehumanized poor relentlessly deepened, and continues; the rock foundation of faith in the One True God, in Jesus sent to love and save us, began to be replaced, and continues to be, by an idolatrous obsession with ideology of one type or another. People for whom an ideology is their raison d’etre tend to be inflexible, refuting any counter point: racists are ideologues, so are abortionists. Bondage to ideology leads to hatred, violence, revolutions, divisions, the fracturing of society and, for there are ideologues, sadly, within the Church, whose goal is to prevail and that results in one thing only: schism.  

There are still those, for example in the USA and Canada, other leftist democracies, seeking political power, who spout the bromides of care for the workers, the poor, the disenfranchised, the discriminated against – but since they consistently fail abysmally to bring about real change – other than legislating more and more immorality and anti-life laws – the numbers of the homeless continue to grow, tensions expand between and within nations, family life remains under assault, terrorism continues and it may seem at times the very Church Herself will soon be little more than a tiny remnant.

With politics today so tainted by money, lacking a moral foundation and common sense, and politicians of all stripes saying and doing anything that panders to the loudest screamers, like those saying climate change means the world will end in ten to twelve years, no wonder the electorate is so angry and cynical.

Politics without the Gospel, without the Beatitudes, has become a mere simulacrum of democracy and is doomed. Eventually we could all find ourselves trapped under the jackboot of some form of totalitarianism.

All this ignores the real emergency: the millions of human beings on a daily basis being trafficked, enslaved, put in labour and concentration camps, being victims of terrorism, war, domestic and sexual abuse, used as child labourers and soldiers, the millions of our brothers and sister aborted, euthanized, living homeless, hungry, fleeing across deserts, through jungles, across turbulent seas, with all the attendant risks and thus with thousands dying along the way, reminding us of the man in the ditch cared for by the Samaritan. This is the real climate emergency, the paucity of seeing each other as, loving one another as, brothers and sisters.

Current ideologies are a form of collective lust, lust being all that is left to human beings who willfully choose to abandon belief in, trust in, obedience to God who is love, in a word who toss aside the holiness of a love relationship with the Holy Trinity in favour of being a plaything of self and others and worst of all, playthings of satan.

Lust is not merely, not even primarily, a sexual vice.

Lust is surrendering ourselves to the distorted thinking and choice making which comes from that powerful emotion itself, an emotion that is ego-centric, whereas authentic love is other-centric and shown by God Himself and intimately manifested in His Beloved Son Jesus Christ who is God-with-us.

The lust of the Sixties was for a new world order, a new sexual order, a new way of thinking, believing – believing only in what our minds came up with as worthy of belief – to the extent that after those ten years of experiment we, the human family, have been left with a pandora’s box of fears, which once opened spews forth ideologies which imprison, angers which devour, divisions which harden, hearts which are broken, and don’t even know it, and millions of souls wandering the face of the earth wondering “who am I, why am I, where am I going”, stumbling past the man seated at the well awaiting for them.

Such is the legacy of the Sixties.

However, we need not remain in bondage to this legacy.

Christ is the Way, the Truth, the Life and meditating upon Jesus our Eucharist Pope Benedict XVI re-teaches the truth: By making the bread into his Body and the wine into his Blood, he anticipates his death, he accepts it in his heart, and he transforms it into an action of love. What on the outside is simply brutal violence - the Crucifixion - from within becomes an act of total self-giving love. This is the substantial transformation which was accomplished at the Last Supper and was destined to set in motion a series of transformations leading ultimately to the transformation of the world when God will be all in all (cf. I Cor 15: 28).

In their hearts, people always and everywhere have somehow expected a change, a transformation of the world. Here now is the central act of transformation that alone can truly renew the world:  violence is transformed into love, and death into life…..To use an image well known to us today, this is like inducing nuclear fission in the very heart of being - the victory of love over hatred, the victory of love over death. Only this intimate explosion of good conquering evil can then trigger off the series of transformations that little by little will change the world….. All other changes remain superficial and cannot save……together with forgetfulness of God there is a kind of new explosion of religion…..But to tell the truth, religion often becomes almost a consumer product. People choose what they like, and some are even able to make a profit from it. But religion sought on a "do-it-yourself" basis cannot ultimately help us. It may be comfortable, but at times of crisis we are left to ourselves.

Help people to discover the true star which points out the way to us:  Jesus Christ! Let us seek to know him better and better, so as to be able to guide others to him with conviction… Let us go forward with Christ and let us live our lives as true worshippers of God! Amen. [4]

[1] FIRE OF MERCY HEART OF THE WORLD, volume II, Meditations on the Gospel According to St. Matthew, p. 315; Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, 2003, Ignatius Press

[2] http://w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/motu_proprio/documents/hf_p-vi_motu-proprio_19690214_mysterii-paschalis.html

[3] BENEDICIT VI His Life and Thought, Elio Guerriero, p. 513; Ignatius Press 2018

[4] http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/homilies/2005/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20050821_20th-world-youth-day.html

© 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph

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