Forty Years of Darkness

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A quick scan of any day’s headlines would show that our popular culture is in a death spiral. In this season of Lent, in which we recall the Israelites’ forty year sojourn in the desert, we find that we’re following in their very footsteps – despite our slick marketplace and hi-tech comforts. Forty years after Moses brought God’s commandments to the attention of the Chosen People, they were ready to enter the Promised Land; and yet forty years after the firm instructions and dire warnings in Humanae Vitae, we fiddle and dance while the next generation burns.

Our contemporary utilitarian view of the human person, who exists for his own fleeting pleasure and the gratification of others, is a cancer eating at the vitals of the modern world. It is the most pressing concern of this generation, and the crisis which separates the Children of Light from the Children of Darkness.

Ah, the reader will yawn – such drama. It is dramatic, but then all of salvation history is dramatic. We can read the Old Testament accounts and wonder why we don’t have the same opportunities to prove ourselves as David, Esther, Ruth, Daniel, Judith and Joseph each did. And yet, their shining moments facing down the zeitgeist were no different than the one we face in our own cultural landscape.

The trickier part for women is two-fold. First, the sexual revolution could not proceed without our cooperation on many levels. Myriad choices – including fashion, entertainment, consumption and questions of intimacy – are made every day and, at this point, stopping the snowball effect appears virtually impossible.

Second, women rely on relationships for their wellbeing, and making the difficult but necessary choices would lead to breaking up friendships, impacting family bonds and inviting ostracism and hard feelings everywhere. Such is the nature of choice. Consider Our Lord and his reception. “If the world hates you, be sure that it hated me before it learned to hate you” (John 15:18).

We didn’t get here overnight. What may have seemed inconsequential choices thirty or forty years ago have now become monumental choices that have will have the potential to shock others and bear tremendous effects – for the good or otherwise. Perhaps long ago we thought that we could avoid confrontation, but this shrinking from moral clarity has only made everything worse.

Fulton Sheen wrote of this battle of good and evil and how it plays out in every generation. “To share [Christ’s] life was to share His fate. The world would hate His followers, not because of evil in their lives, but precisely because of the absence of evil or rather their goodness… The holier and purer a life, the more it would attract malignity and hate. Mediocrity alone survives.”

As attractive as mediocrity can be at times, it is not an option. All women who love others must consider whether their love is authentic and life-giving, or whether it is based on their own comfort, self-preservation or fear. We can pray without ceasing for a way to stand for the truth without alienating others, but we also might be asking for a way to avoid God’s own suffering. We need to be brutally honest in assessing our real intentions.

Over the centuries, the lives of the Chosen People depended on their fidelity to God’s law – and the children often paid for their parents’ transgressions. If fear is keeping you from standing for the truth, perhaps fear for your children will compel you to do otherwise. Let perfect love cast out this fear, and we’ll make the next forty years a pilgrimage back to God.

Copyright 2009 Genevieve Kineke

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