Open Letter to Parents of Post-Modern Children
In this letter to you, dear parent, I will not dwell so much on the general characteristics of adolescence, but rather on the parameters disturbing you in the upbringing of your children. The post-modern world is making unrelenting advances towards greater refinement of high-tech gadgetry, to which is associated increasingly insidious moral depravity as well as violent and unpredictable solicitations. All of it is having an effect on all of us, especially your children.
The time of adolescence is a source of anxiety for you because there is the great unknown: "How will my children turn out?" Many parents fear only what would harm their personal reputations or risk the social and financial successes of their offspring. You, as a Catholic parent, however, wonder above all whether your children will remain faithful to God, fervent, and morally upright. The bottom line for you is whether they will go to heaven or hell.
But nowadays your anxiety is intensified. On one hand, you know the world is in decay. On the other hand, you know that by God's grace, you belong to a little, completely outnumbered group. You are what the Old Testament called "a small remnant." In the face of this, your strength is the Catholic Faith in its integrity and your indefectible attachment to the Church, to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Who is your opponent?–The world, which is not only hardly Christian, but simply pagan, with its public apostasy, its pleasure-seeking materialism, its depraved morals, and its increasingly pernicious and clever enticements.
You are aware that you are waging a spiritual combat with consequences across the board. It means you must be deeply and completely committed. Your youngsters, however, cannot understand the daunting scope of this combat. Do they understand the violence of the forces of evil? In spite of apparent "piety," do they run the risk of giving in when they meet the first ambush? Sometimes they display a legitimate pride of belonging to the "small band of those who stand firm" and show it by certain concrete signs of behavior, choice, fashion, and tastes. But one day your children ask themselves if the combat they wage is justified, how will it pay off, what is the hope for victory. Is there a sufficient reason for living apart from the world? Their questions are serious, legitimate, and deeply justified. So we must investigate. Whether you are anxious about your children, disappointed by them, proud of them, or surprised by them, it does not matter. Sometimes, the mere difference between your temperament and theirs gives rise to uneasy feelings. In any case, it is legitimate to take stock and to ask ourselves the following real questions: 1) Are your children different from–or even worse than–children of the past? 2) In what respects does the post-modern world present new difficulties? 3) What solutions are available to you in the world as it is today?
Are your children different from children of the past?
We often hear this reflection: "My children are different than I was!" Writing to the parents of his students, Fr. Pinaud1 completes the thought:
They are not like we 1) were at their age, 2) wish they were now, 3) wish they would become by attending our schools and by benefiting from the formation we give them in the family.
In the first instance, parents may only be recalling a memory of an embellished past. The human mind easily idealizes the past, particularly one's childhood days. On the other hand, no period in time is identical to the previous period, and it would be vain to want to relive the years of your youth in a similar fashion.
At times, however, such a reflection coming from other parents might be imbued with the evolutionary modernism that says human nature is no longer what it used to be. But we know that this is objectively false. Human nature as human nature is always the same. It's what surrounds human nature that is changing, and that for the worse. However, successes of our families, churches, schools, and youth groups show that a serious investment on the part of the family, the Church, and society is sufficient to produce fruits of graces similar to those of our forefathers. Be careful not to surrender to discouragement on the pretext that you are dealing with a "different" generation (according to human nature).
As for those who would like children to act as adults, impatience seems to make you forget how many years of repeated efforts are necessary for a child to reach maturity. The occasional misbehavior of children is not the standard by which to judge how others educate their children, nor is it the standard by which you should be fearful of being judged by others. To counteract our impatience for the "finished product" we must sharpen our memory and our spirit of analysis.
That being said, you must not ignore the fact that there may be delays in the development of the child or of the young person, and, moreover, there are deficiencies and particular abuses which are due to the general conditions of family life in its current social context. I discreetly call this "the mood of the times," which brings me closer to my topic.
Fr. Pinaud's last reason for parental bitterness comes under the second point which is also its basis. Complaints about the decline in generations is nothing new. What is new is the fashion in both the political and ecclesiastical worlds to rejoice over the "progress" achieved by the "enriching reforms" of a more "perfect world" while all the evidence points to the contrary.
The qualities of your children
What makes a "youth"? General Douglas MacArthur said it is "a quality of the imagination, an emotive intensity, a victory of courage over timidity, of the taste for adventure over the love of comfort." This description is still fitting. Your children are prone to wonder, take risks, and display enthusiasm. They are a virgin terrain receptive to whoever is willing to cultivate it. They are young as we were and as our parents were before us. Under the loving guidance of you and their educators, they can achieve as much as anyone ever has. What they lack, however, is to be surrounded by adults who have faith in what makes man truly greater. Bereft of the authentic challenge of such adults, children are prone to instability, to becoming couch potatoes or amused critics, and to cleverly avoiding effort. These are the obstacles with which anyone involved in their formation has to contend.
On the other hand, it is fascinating that some of these same negative aspects can become assets in the hands of experienced educators. From a child with little or no fear of authority (as a consequence of the loss of the sense of respect) may arise a spirit of simplicity and accessibility. Laziness, often a consequence of a rapid physical growth, may only hide an energy which some group sports will bring out. By both cases, we are shown that you must not exclude waking up these energies and directing them towards higher causes.
The peculiarities of your children
Nevertheless, it is true that the alert minds of your children are easily open to the world around them: technical novelties, sophisticated and immediate leisure, pseudo-artistic aberrations, technologies for learning without toil, superficial culture.
Do not be among those parents who resolve to want to appear more up to date than their children. In the name of a "broad-mindedness" these childish adults acquiesce without discernment to all the harmful novelties effecting the training of the faculties of intellect and will. Too frequently we have met other parents who, assured that they have sufficiently forewarned their children to avoid "moral dangers," evade the issues of the surrounding technical culture as though they believed there were no dangers to be found in it. This irresponsibility of parents has left many of our teachers perplexed, if not downright angry. Their concern is not without basis. To follow the latest technical crazes inexorably implies a shrinkage of reasoning power,2 a degradation of the level of moral tolerance, an obvious artistic decadence; moreover, it accustoms you and your children to a new type of advanced liberal society. But I am also aware of better parents, struggling mightily to find solutions, who wonder what possible cultural wealth is available in this hodgepodge.
It would take too long to open the debate now, but it will become urgent to do so. As a rule, parents and children are too often fearful of not being up to date on the technological progress of the world. I make the one exception to those who are simply confronted with the problem because of the demands connected to their studies or their profession. (The exception proves the rule.) But consider the moral price. Do not blind yourself to the truth that technology opens up occasions of immorality, and that immorality prepares an impious child. Social impiety induces impiety towards divine things (and this even among the children assisting at the Latin Mass and attending our traditional schools). Many young people evidence unexpected behavior towards authority or an ignorance and contempt of the past.
Maybe a lack of firmness on the part of parents partially accounts for this. I frequently see parents themselves fear that their children have to exert too much effort. And just as frequently I observe parents' laziness with regard to constancy in their demands, to being firm in their punishments. I have grown accustomed to parents giving exaggerated confidence to childish storytelling to the detriment of the support they should give to those in authority. It is common for parents to allow their child to give up some activity because he or she shows the reticence so customary for their age. When to this you add constant criticism of the papacy, the episcopacy, the state, the priest for his Sunday sermon, the school rector, the camp counselor, and the well-deserved detention on Wednesday afternoon–you can imagine what your child's brains are being turned into. The result is a generation of people hardly inured to the hardships of life, sure of their own rights, and looking down on authority. We are thus breeding in our very midst a rebellious mentality in perfect conformity with the revolutionary mentality. No wonder that when they are older they are unstable in marriage or in a religious congregation!
In what respects does the post-modern world present new difficulties?
We cannot avoid the fight nor renounce collaborating in the victory that must be gained on the battlefield that is each child's soul. The Blood of our Savior was not shed in vain. Our topic must be raised to the level of the mystery of Redemption. We must study it in the light of the redeeming Sacrifice, exemplar of any success in the world, success at least in God's own eyes.
If you like to dream of a better world, of a return to Christendom, God, in His Providence, has placed you and your family in a concrete world at a precise moment in the history of mankind. History is written by God. Through ways which remain His own secret, He is achieving His immense plan of Love to fill up the number of the elect. You cannot forget this plan if you want to share in its wisdom.
From the very beginning, God shows us that two lines of descendants were at strife: that of Abel, faithful to death in the offering of the first sacrifices; and Cain, attached to worldly success and goods, and persecuting Abel, the Just. This history continued with the choice and setting apart of Abraham (Gen. 12) in a completely impious world; with the free choice later of Isaac, the son of the free woman, to whom is opposed Ishmael, the son of the bond woman Agar (Gen. 21). St. Paul comments upon this episode. "He that was born according to the flesh persecuted him that was according the spirit; so also it is now" (Gal. 4:29). The history of all the Old Testament is that of the strife between two lines of descendants in this world, and even in the midst of the chosen people.
When you read the Sacred Scriptures which describe the future, you see that the establishment of the Kingdom of God will come at the cost of warfare. Read the Gospels, the second Epistle to the Thessalonians, and the Apocalypse. The events, trials, and the turnaround are announced which will sift the elect like wheat, and they are the continuation of this immense fight between the two parties. You read predictions of times when the whole world hears about Christ, and of apostasy under various forms.
In this light, understand your place and your vocation in the post-modern world. After Christianity managed to penetrate the Roman Empire, medieval society knew several attempts at a political Christianization. Let us mention Charlemagne, St. Henry of Germany, St. Edward in England, St. Gregory VII, and St. Louis of France, among others.3 This does not mean, however, that barbarians, sinners, adventurers, or Muslim hordes were absent from the scene. The high Middle Ages appear like a high point permitted by Divine Mercy, but you must not forget that the period was not free of real trials.
A long decline has begun since then, and we seem to be going faster downhill. We have witnessed the unleashing of the powers of Satan in the midst of renewed pagan humanism, of Protestantism and its impious wars, the philosophies of the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the inexorable conquests of secularism, and of the universal revolutionary spirit up to the time when the Church herself at Vatican II has bought into religious democracy. This sketch may look apocalyptic. However, you are men and women of faith. You know the Gospels, the New Testament. The "mystery of iniquity" is spelled out clearly. With the peaceful lucidity of the children of Light, you are able to discern the mark of the ancient enemy of the human race, the perpetual fight of the Synagogue against the Church.
Though the state of things seems overwhelming, there never has been a lack of heroic and courageous men ready to react. History remembers many valiant attempts full of faith which should have enabled the Church and society to rise again under the standards of Christ. We name them pell-mell: the loss of the Latin kingdoms of the Crusaders, a lack of enthusiasm for the colonization of North America, the Vendée war, Saint Pius X, the Cristeros in Mexico, General Boulanger, Dr. Salazar in Portugal, Garcia Moreno, Dollfuss in Austria, and so on. What a mixture of wheat and cockle there is! We are witnessing the incomprehensible victory of the cockle. To give a reason for this, of course, we may invoke men's lack of faith, God's chastisements, our incompetence, or chance. But history is written by God's mercy in the midst of the poverty of human virtues. St. Augustine said: "Evil exists either so that the sinner may convert or that by it the just may be tried." And Jesus told us: "All these things must happen."
Let us beware; there is no fatalism of history, there is only a Christian sense of history.
The cause of the grandeur of the Roman Empire was neither fortuitous, nor a fatality. And we understand these words with those who call fortuitous what happens without cause or whose causes do not belong to any reasonable order; and a fatality what happens without the will of God or of men, by virtue of a necessity inherent in the nature of things. Indeed, we cannot doubt that it is God's providence which establishes earthly kingdoms. (St. Augustine, The City of God, Ch. 1)
Within this concrete history, our own history, the history of our salvation and of the salvation of our children takes place. Our duty is to become saints, knowing that we have the means for this no matter the times in which we live: "God is faithful and will never tempt you above your strength."
In what respect is our time more difficult than before? At our own place in the history of the Church, you should merely want to cooperate with the coming of the kingdom of Christ. In the great battle waged all around you and your children, no one can hide. We are under an anti-religious and anti-natural Chernobyl cloud that burns and atrophies the organs of each one of us.
When the wrath of God unleashes on a population this terrible scourge which is called the plague, some are contaminated and die; others without actually being contaminated nevertheless experience a more or less serious malaise because of it. (Fr. Emmanuel, op. cit.)
The difficulties of your children when confronted with the Revolution
In light of the unfolding of the history of mankind, your children are not like those of the past. Their combats are more violent because they live closer to the end of the world, because the Prince of Darkness has been allowed to acquire a greater dominion over things. Children today are different because apostasy now puts on an attractive face. Post-modern doctrines present themselves under the guise of honest reason. Your children no longer run the risk of being thrown into the arena, of being shackled or crucified, but what is more fearful is the apostasy which lies in wait for them:
» through a childish piety, unsupported by solid doctrine;
» through criticism of what has always constituted holiness;
» through the habit of demanding their rights while ignoring their duties;
» through latent and universal rebellion;
» through the seeking of leisure prior to the love of the good;
» through the seeking of comfort which flatters sensuality;
» through an uncontrolled desire to possess new, always more innovative technical gadgets;
» through being exposed to situations against nature in the order of marriage and justice;
» through the sly familiarization with immodesty;
» through easy and risk-free voyeurism [observation of sexual activities–Ed.] on the street and at any time on the Internet;
» through the permanent inversion of values [i.e., good is evil; evil is good–Ed.];
» through emasculation of the male character, masculinization of the female character, confusion of the reciprocal roles of man and woman, out-of-control growth of the rights of the "king-child";
» through universal indoctrination falsifying history and natural principles.
The new Revolution seduces. It discourages those who oppose it and often deceives them. Sometimes princes of the Church, statesmen, fathers of families, and teachers diffuse it unawares.
What specific remedies do we have against the world in its present reality?
In this gigantic warfare, let us turn to the Gospel. We are witnessing the combat which will last until the end of time. Now, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself stigmatized its artisans, the Pharisees. He accused them of having high-jacked the true religion for their own benefit, of having used man's destiny to further their own advancement. This situation is to continue until the "man of iniquity," the Anti-Christ, is revealed. To know this is already a grace.
I could come up with some day-to-day rules of thumb to try to fix what is irreparable, but they would never be more than that. So it is just as well to go straight to the source of all truth Who in His love cannot have left the "sons of the last times"4 without adequate means. These evangelical means must be used long before adolescence, and you must not become remiss in their use during the crucial period of forming your children.
In many ways, the generation of the "children of Tradition" can be consoled. Its harvest of vocations and the piety of the young constitute a reward for some parents. The habit of frequent confessions and Communions often seems to be deeply rooted. But in spite of all this, the considerations we have just made invite us to take stock. In what way have you been contaminated by the world and its errors? Are the evangelical remedies given a sufficient place of honor in your life and that of your children?
Preamble to the solutions revealed by God
1) Have your children live in contact with reality. Make sparing use of the virtual world, the world of video, of media avalanches of factual and artificial news (which is info-tainment).
[Otherwise, the intelligence of our young] experience the temptation–which is the supreme illusion–of considering that truth is not what we tell them it is, i.e. something absolute, outside of time and which imposes itself on us. Truth, they say, does not exist; it is made, and it is made in me. I create it, giving it sometimes one face, and sometimes another. This is the origin of all the forms of skepticism, and naturally those who are intellectually more gifted are the first to give in to this temptation. (A. Charlier, The Formation of Character)
Prefer simple leisure to virtual leisure; the reading of stories that take place in a normal universe; simple games to artificial games.
Reality also means the realization that nothing is obtained without effort, difficulties to overcome, energy, and sometimes with a certain lack of material comfort.
André Charlier wrote this to the parents of his high-school students in the years following the World War II5:
What strikes me most is how little virile these young men are. And why? Simply because you have never demanded anything from them. You were only concerned about your sons' happiness, and you anticipated all their desires. From their early childhood, you have gratified them in every way. How then, do you want them to have any idea, on the one hand that life is difficult and that only difficult things have any interest, and on the other hand that joys have to be paid for and that the greater they are, the higher the price? Everything has always been given to them, they even think it is due to them; and since education and science do not give themselves, they see in this a sort of injustice.
And he adds concerning the formation of character: "What bothers, and even frightens, me is that they enjoy but no longer admire. Enjoyment without admiration is a great sin."
2) Know the enemy. Your narrow world has its qualities and its defects in this respect. You have a schematic knowledge of some particularities which are the glory of your country or of Christendom. For instance, "Catholic kings bore more fruit than republican anarchy; the teaching of history is falsified and socialist; we want the reign of the Sacred Heart; authority comes from God, etc." These are only examples. But you rarely take time to acquire a solid formation. You even more rarely take time to read, to insist that your children read, and to discuss things of substance with your children.
At this period in their lives, it is true that they are not always docile to your ideals. They prefer to find them outside the home and with their friends. You have made the choice to allow these friends through the schools, scout groups, Catholic youth groups, and so on. The exercise of wisdom and intelligence is not yet ingrained in them. Slogans take the place of genuine education. Thus, you are sometimes surprised to meet young people who are very pretentious in their sloganeering, and yet are quite capable of falling for the first modern ideas which confront them. In this domain, we must consider it our duty to form in them substantial historical, political, philosophical, and religious thoughts.
3) Be adorers in spirit and in truth. In spite of a deeply Catholic upbringing, any of us knows we have a certain fragility when confronted with the post-modern spirit. Jesus Christ warned us, wondering whether He would still find faith when He returns at the end of time. This is an austere warning, but our Lord also proposed remedies. Let us reread the story of the Samaritan woman.6 "The hour cometh when my Father shall seek adorers in spirit and in truth."
» There is too little devotion to the Holy Mass and a lack of generosity to assist at it. Attendance at Mass must be coupled with an understanding of the spirit of sacrifice inherent in it.7 It is at the foot of the Cross, at Mass, that the Catholic spirit is formed and understood.
» Avoid the practical naturalism denounced by Fr. Emmanuel, which too often permeates the way children are brought up:
[N]aturalism is obliged here to acknowledge that all is not well, so it cries out to us: morality, morality! Morality is necessary! We need a code of morality! So let us listen to naturalism when it teaches morality.
Be wary! This is an independent morality, subjectivized in the individual! It finds its end in itself and seeks some sort of coherence in human life. But basically, it's about doing or not doing what the individual wants depending on circumstances. Fr. Emmanuel continues:
Morality, indeed, prescribes duties, but what is a duty, if not a dependence? As a matter of fact, we depend upon God our Creator; upon our parents, who are, after God and with God, the authors of our existence; we depend upon all of mankind of which we are a part. Hence the ancient division between our duties toward God, toward our neighbor, and toward ourselves....
On this subject, let us listen to Bossuet: "We sanctify God's Name, we desire the coming of His kingdom. We, on the contrary, come to pray when human needs are urging us. We so much recommend to God our petty affairs, that the effort we make to interest Him and all His Saints in them results in our getting even more attached to them.
"Christians, forget yourselves! Is the God you pray to an idol with whom you have the pretension of doing what you want? Is He not the true God who must do with you as He pleases? I know it is written that God does the will of them that fear Him, but they must fear Him and submit wholeheartedly to Him."
This naturalism, this lack of deep and radical relationship with God, also very often affects our social, political, economic, and professional lives.
4) Practice the "Evangelical" counsels. I purposely conclude with this point because these virtues are taught by our Lord as being the specific remedies for the last times. We very often forget this when we set out to find remedies to the misfortunes of our time. Reread the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5-7). The summary of this spirit is given us by the whole tradition of the Church in the three vows of religion, which correspond to virtues necessary for every Catholic: Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience. You have here the true remedies to the post-modern crisis.
Chastity is for a Catholic a natural object of vigilance. This is because you have in yourself this deep wound which inclines you to evil, but also because you are afraid of this wound in your child. You are mortified to see that it is as violent in him as it is in you and would like to convince yourself of the contrary. Many parents fight as much as they can when they see obvious sins in their children in matters of clothing. But in other domains, you may be failing in your elementary duties of prudence because of a lack of realism about the use of the Internet, the keeping of magazines and catalogs in the home, the presence of TV, videos and video-gaming, and the relationships between boys and girls which they consider too naively.
Poverty. It is urgent for us to reflect on the consequences of the aberrant access of our young to money. They more and more avoid any charitable work done for free because they are always on the lookout for a thousand and one means of earning a few dollars. And that money they only spend on leisure and useless gadgets. What is worse, even when their parents experience financial difficulties, it never occurs to many children (nor do parents demand) that the money they earn might help the family buy necessities. Sometimes, parents give a bad example by credit spending and an exaggerated seeking of high-tech appliances.
By your example, oblige your children to mature in the peace given by Wisdom, rather than allowing them to chase after leisure. Relaxation and happiness are not synonymous with the accumulation of sophisticated means. The spirit of poverty must lead you and your children to rediscover human nature in its diversity, its sufferings, and its struggles. You must increase the scope of your charity, pray for the unfortunates of all kinds, desire their conversion, and sacrifice yourselves to help others out.
Obedience. This is not only a question of the obedience you must demand from your children from day one, but I mean something more profound. I mean the spirit of religious obedience which makes your child love the concept of authority and makes him acknowledge the will of God in events, in orders received, setbacks and reversals of health or of fortune, difficulties in his modern milieu, and so on.
Children must respect all forms of authority and never analyze it too finely. For a child, it is absolutely not in the nature of authority to be consented to, accepted, discussed, or agreed upon by him. Again, reread the Gospel and the Epistles of St. Paul on the subject. You will discover there why so many young people run the risk of having no sense of God in the submission of their will.
As you lead the battle against the spirit of independence, keep away egalitarianism, which no longer recognizes any hierarchical order and no longer admires it. Make your children appreciate the harmony of the common good. Teach them to love God's eternal designs.
These considerations may seem austere but they are also encouraging because they are not born of our human knowledge but of Revelation, which is entirely centered upon our salvation by Divine Love. Therefore, in your family circle, it is not so much a question of a radical conversion as of an evaluation of your performance. The end of the family is not merely to multiply men but "to make them good in order to make them happy," wrote Bonald. Perhaps you will feel like making your own this observation of Lyautey in his diary, at Saint-Cyr8:
I am suffering because my soul has ideals high enough to make me understand what I should be, but my character is not strong and resolute enough to put into practice the idea I have of the life I must lead.
In answer to this, here is an excerpt from The Letters to Captains by André Charlier:
Become aware of this secret void you have deep inside you: if you dare to cast a glance at it, you will never again be satisfied. All your artificial needs will fall from you like a cloak, and you will be free, unhampered, and ready for the highest tasks; maybe then you will realize that you possess the true riches.
You are perfectly right to base the ideal of your children on a genuine spiritual life, a thirst for self-giving in response to God's infinite Love. Do not be depressed by your obvious limitations; expect prayerfully that God will make up the difference. But do not forget that there is a "duty to educate" according to the measure of what you are asking from God. Then, with firm hope, you will have every good reason to entrust your children to your Heavenly Mother.
For more reading on this topic, see the inside back cover of this issue of the magazine. This article was taken from Christendom, No.8, and was originally titled "Monde moderne...adolescent moderne." Christendom is a publication of DICI, the press bureau of the Society of Saint Pius X (www.dici.org). The talk was given to the Mouvement Catholique des Familles (Catholic Families Movement) during their September 2006 Annual Meeting. It was edited and adapted for clarity by Fr. Kenneth Novak. Fr. Boubée, ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1978, is currently professor at the International Seminary of Ecône after having served as headmaster of two SSPX boys' schools. He is still in charge of the traditional Catholic Boy Scouts in Europe.
1 Letter to the Parents, Saint-Michel Garicoïtz School, Domezain, France. Fr. Pinaud, a member of the SSPX, is headmaster of this primary and middle school.
2 This has been proven time and again by the recent research on the zones of the brain involved in the various image, language, reasoning, and reflex interplay activities. The results are easily found in any of the most renowned scientific magazines.
3 These are all examples of Catholic leaders in the temporal order.
4 The last times began with the preaching of the Gospel and will end with the coming of Christ in glory.
5 Letter to parents by the former rector of the School des Roches de Malascq, October 22, 1954. He was at that time rector of a high school in Normandy, France. (See the January 2006 issue of The Angelus—Ed.)
6 Jn. 4:23.
7 The fervor of many would gain much from the magnificent book Explanation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by Fr. Martin de Cochem, a 19th-century convert (available from TAN Books). See also The Heart of the Mass for young adults (available from Angelus Press) and Know The Mass, an illustrated Mass book for youngsters (available from Angelus Press).
8 A prestigious military academy, the French equivalent of West Point.
The Long Decline
The specificity of what we call "post-modern times" is a slow, methodical, and progressive decay of the natural and the supernatural structures. A first analysis attributes this phenomenon to men or trends of thought. If real life is more nuanced and complex, the decline nevertheless seems to be uninterrupted. We outline it briefly.
Nominalism (13th c.), which appeared as early as the Middle Ages, is a refusal of the essential order of things.
Protestantism (16th c.) is a rebellion against God, against Revelation. For the first time, man sets himself up as lord of the religious order according to "his own" idea. It is called liberty of thought or free inquiry.
Liberty (18th c.): with the liberalism of Rousseau, man sets himself up as lord of morality. What he calls his liberty becomes the norm of everything.
French Revolution, the Rights of Man (18th c.) (the first version is American): it says "Neither God nor master." The origin of authority resides in man, in society. What was the illumination of some Masonic thinkers became the very concept of society.
Economic revolution (18th c.): the use of the goods of the earth is disconnected from the realism of the needs of man and becomes the seeking of riches for their own sake.
Socialist and later Marxist revolution (19th/20th c.): man himself becomes only a thing, a mere material link in the organization of a better world always in becoming. His heart is being attacked, because it is no longer made to love but to hate, to fight, to help and enrich the government.
The School of Frankfurt1 (20th c.) gathered revolutionary intellectuals who abandoned mere political revolution–they were lucid on the vanity of a so-called Proletarian Revolution–and focused on a cultural revolution on a planetary scale. They established themselves in the US as early as 1932. Among them are found great names of the Revolution, of the artistic, cinematographic, media, and political worlds. Under their influence the social schema, the model for the family, the arts, fashions, children’s toys and public monuments “must” be innovative, anti-natural, and ugly...in conformity with a revolt against everything that could recall the natural order.
Religious Revolution (20th c.) goes deeper than Protestantism with Vatican II. Religion is no longer a relation to a true God but a construct of our psychological need. Hence ecumenism. Fr. Emmanuel had already answered in advance2: “Religion is one, just like mankind, like truth, like God Himself. You cannot say ‘the religions’ any more than you can say ‘the mankinds,’ ‘the gods.’ But since truth is one and error can be many, we say ‘the false religions,’ just like we say ‘the false gods.’”
Intellectual revolution: the audiovisual explosion (20th c.) caused a profound modification of the thought process, its catastrophic impoverishment and a whole retinue of incapacity for abstraction, and laziness in formation. Taking advantage of the pedagogic novelties which “bash out” man’s brain, media-slavery became universal and complete.
Destruction of the social fabric (late 20th c.). If 1968 worked as a detonator, in fact it merely institutionalized the explosion of the social fabric in the capitalist countries. It was a kind of soft way of becoming Marxist. It became natural to inculpate anything that had to do with exercise of authority, love of work well done, family virtues, reciprocal roles of man and woman, respect for life, and so on.
1 At first, its name was: “Institute for Social Research.” Its present name dates back to 1960.
2 In Liberalisme.