As we ponder where we are going it will be good to review where I have been. The first change I recall as an 8th grader in Catholic school, 1950, entering a public high school was the freedom to decide things for myself. Yes, we had laxer rules there, and I don't know if it was age or not, but the first stages of freedom began to set-in. Plain and simple I was escaping the storied vigilance of the Catholic nuns watching over our every move for the first time in eight years.
For the next eight years, 1950-58, I became more independent while I worried about myself, my studies and my pleasures. Then Uncle Sam tapped me on the shoulder and I was thrust into the German culture until 1965, returning at that time to Los Angeles, California, my wife's hometown.
My employer, Max Factor, was headquartered in Hollywood and I was quickly subsumed into the California culture of that time. Eight years later my kids were ages 2, 9, and 16; and, by then I was disgusted with the Little League, the S.D.S., the Students for a Democratic Society (an extension of the Hitler Youth Groups) which was very active in the Van Nuys high school, and the kids in the neighborhood. All of that badly formed behavior led me to my desire to live in a better culture and atmosphere in which to finish raising the kids. It turned out that I changed jobs and landed in Atlanta, GA, where people called it the Bible Belt. I was pretty sure that that was going to be an improvement over the Hollywood crowd. It turned out to be so, as I look back on it now.
California was led quite well under the leadership of Ronald Reagan, while Richard Nixon had frozen the nation's prices, salaries, and everything for more than a year. When the freeze was lifted, prices jumped, raises were back in play, and the nation was reeling from the after shock of the freeze. About that time I began to become much more aware of what politics meant to the business world, but I could not relate to politics, my kids behavior, and what the south was going to do to our family. The schools were a big adjustment but for the better.
Watergate dominated the nation's psyche until the Senate investigation exploded with damning information forcing Richard Nixon to resign. The nation's trust of its electorate was at one of its lowest levels that I could ever remember. Roslyn and Jimmy Carter were going to be the healing balm for a nation in the pain of political distrust and that did not turn out well at all. I didn't perceive any major changes in the culture at that time; in fact, I hardly gave it a thought.
Now forty years later, and many books that I have read on the subject, I have begun to understand where I think we are headed.
The general public is overtaken by more 'hedonism,' and 'self-centered-ness,' than I have ever seen before. One dictionary defines hedonism as: www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hedonism the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life. One action that demonstrates that 'hedonism' is alive and growing is this: My neighbor's Baptist Church closed itself down for Christmas by popular consensus. They, apparently, wanted no interference from church while they entertained relatives and friends; and, in particular the opening of Christmas presents would take precedence over our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As I was telling the story to my daughter, she said, “O many of the churches in Atlanta did the same thing, Daddy.”
This year Christmas came on the Lord's Day, Sunday. As a Catholic our faith requires Mass attendance on Sunday and Holy Days of obligation or the Saturday Vigil Mass. Our parish makes it easy by having a Saturday 4:30 P.M. Vigil Mass (counts for Sunday), and three Masses on Sunday as well. This year besides three Masses on Saturday, including the traditional Midnight Mass, there were two other earlier Masses. In all the parishioners had five Masses to choose from during the very busy season, three on Saturday, and two on Sunday.
Where are we heading as a nation? Allowing personal preference to eliminate the 3rd Commandment, 'Remember, keep Holy the Lord's Day,' is a sign to me that we have shoved our Lord aside in place of our own selfish desires for pleasure. This is a dangerous path which is not a sign of good for our eternal salvation for those who would normally have put the Lord first.