"The eclipse of the sense of God and of
In such a context suffering, an inescapable burden of human existence but also a factor of possible personal growth, is "censored", rejected as useless, indeed opposed as an evil, always and in every way to be avoided. When it cannot be avoided and the prospect of even some future well-being vanishes, then life appears to have lost all meaning and the temptation grows in man to claim the right to suppress it.
Within this same cultural climate, the body is no longer perceived as a properly personal reality, a sign and place of relations with others, with God and with the world. It is reduced to pure materiality: it is simply a complex of organs, functions and energies to be used according to the sole criteria of pleasure and efficiency. Consequently, sexuality too is depersonalized and exploited: from being the sign, place and language of love, that is, of the gift of self and acceptance of another, in all the other's richness as a person, it increasingly becomes the occasion and instrument for self-assertion and the selfish satisfaction of personal desires and instincts. Thus the original import of human sexuality is distorted and falsified, and the two meanings, unitive and procreative, inherent in the very nature of the conjugal act, are artificially separated: in this way the marriage union is betrayed and its fruitfulness is subjected to the caprice of the couple. Procreation then becomes the "enemy" to be avoided in sexual activity: if it is welcomed, this is only because it expresses a desire, or indeed the intention, to have a child "at all costs", and not because it signifies the complete acceptance of the other and therefore an openness to the richness of life which the child represents.
In the materialistic perspective described so far, interpersonal relations are seriously impoverished. The first to be harmed are women, children, the sick or suffering, and the elderly. The criterion of personal dignity-which demands respect, generosity and service-is replaced by the criterion of efficiency, functionality and usefulness: others are considered not for what they "are", but for what they "have, do and produce". This is the supremacy of the strong over the weak." (Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, No. 23).
Supremacy of the strong over the weak. This is the Molochian Gospel. It is a "gospel" advanced by President Barack Obama who has said that, "We are God's partners in matters of life and death" - see here.
During his weekly General Audience, Pope Francis said that: “It is a mortal sin to discard our elderly. The elderly are not aliens, we are them, in a short or in a long while; we are inevitably them, even although we choose not to think about it...
If we do not learn to look after and to respect our elderly, we will be treated in the same way. A society where the elderly are discarded carries within it the virus of death...
The quality of a society can be judged by the way it includes its older members. This is a particular challenge for our Western societies, marked on the one hand by ageing populations and on the other by a cult of youth, efficiency and profit which tends to discard everything not considered productive or useful… In showing concern for our elderly, we strengthen the social fabric and ensure the future of our young.”
I have spent time visiting the elderly in nursing homes. And there is nothing more sad than witnessing those who long for a visit from their loved ones and who often spend their days in tears waiting for family who cannot or will not find the time to spend with them.
Our culture has become selfish and self-absorbed. The elderly and the disabled are made to feel that they are a burden.
But as Henri Nouwen has said, "The elderly are our prophets, they remind us that what we see so clearly in them is a process in which we all share. . . . Their lives are full of warnings but also of hopes."
The way we respond to the elderly will determine our own future.