November 3, 2009

Appreciating Generational Differences

Much has been written about the generational conflicts we are going through in the Church and in religious life; it's the "70s priests" against the "neo-cons," the "John XXIII Catholics" against the "John Paul II Catholics," the so-called "spirit of Vatican II" against the so-called "reform of the reform," etc.

I was discussing these questions with an astute older priest yesterday, and he put it something like this: 'We grew up in a culture that valued conformity and was overly defined and regimented. So when the reforms of the Council came, we found our spiritual identity in our liberation. Guys your age, on the other hand, grew up after the Vietnam war and other events took away our moral clarity about our nation, after some of the darker sides of the sexual revolution began to appear. You attended educational institutions in the grip of the 'dictatorship of relativism,' as Benedict calls it, and just as we reacted against strictness and found our spirit in our liberation, you came to find your 'liberation' and spiritual identity in the struggle to have something solid and structured to stand on in the midst of the moral and cultural vertigo.'

Of course all this has been said before. I only rehearse it again because I thought that Father's articulation was particularly clear, and especially because I think we need to appreciate the source of each other's spirituality. We can argue about liturgy or canon law or whether to wear a religious habit until the end of time, but it won't help us at all unless we can appreciate and give thanks to God for the spiritual place in which someone else found their God.


pennyante said...

I really want to respond to this! I am of the age (or generation) of this elderly priest. He has hit the nail on the head!!!

" 'We grew up in a culture that valued conformity and was overly defined and regimented. So when the reforms of the Council came, we found our spiritual identity in our liberation. "

This is how I experienced pre-VII and post-VII life - though I recognize the change in emphasis was difficult because people in the pews were not adequately catechised.

I have a lot of trad friends on the blogs who I hope will take this priest's words and explanation to heart.

Julia said...

Nice insight.

Qualis Rex said...

Pennyante I was born long after Vatican II and grew up under the generation you are referring to. For the longest time, I loathed them for robbing ME of the church which should have been my birthright; handed down for centuries on generation to the next. While you and like-minded thinkers found comfort in your "liberation" in destroying and abandoning church customs, culture and tradition, I'm curious if you ever for one second gave a thought to what you would be leaving the next generation.

I for one am happy to see the devolution of the church has been halted. Conformity is NOT necessarily a bad thing, especially when it has to do with morality and dogma coming from the logos. I for one am tired of so many priests and nuns unfaithful to church teaching and the magesterium pushing their own agendas and "liberation" over that of the word of God and eternal teaching of the church. Just this weekend I was scolded by a Msgr for using the word "pro-abortion". Since that generation seems to be committed to corrupting and destroying through their own "liberation" up till their last breath, I'm hoping the church will finally be liberated from their errors once they are gone.

Kevin F. said...

Thanks for sharing this. I think that is a very wise quote. What is ironic is I am technically of that generation that should be more "traditional" but I was actually attracted to Catholicism by the vision of the "Spirit of Vatican II" generation. I really appreciate about Franciscans is that they seem to want to walk with charity for folks on both sides of the "divide."