Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Pope Benedict was famous for using the term “dictatorship of relativism” to identify a central cultural challenge to Christianity and society in the contemporary world. Lately, I have been wondering whether we could coin a new phrase to capture the present moment. While the “Dictatorship of Relativism” captures the danger of the intellectual conviction that all ways of life are relative, none claiming superiority to another, another danger follows in its wake.
Decades of living under the Dictatorship of Relativism has produced a generation wounded by its excesses. The wages of the sexual revolution are the millions of emotionally wounded young people who populate our high schools, colleges, and communities. These people live, not under the intellectual commitment of relativism, but rather the emotional burden of self-acceptance and self-affirmation. The present generation operates, not under an intellectual conviction, but rather an emotional need–and woe to the one who stands in the way of fulfilling it.
This “Dictatorship of Disfunction” manifests itself in the frantic attempt to look good, to be liked, and to be affirmed at all costs. It spreads through social media, through university culture, and even through family expectations. Its destructiveness lies in the way it keeps the self at the center of the world, all claims of truth or goodness finding their orientation in relation to it.
But it does not need to be this way. Today on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, we see that God has prepared a different path. It leads through love of others and love of truth. It is lined with humility and simplicity. It is paved with trust, not frantic anxiety. Every step finds shade under the mantle of the Blessed Mother. And at the end of the journey lies the healing of what has been wounded and the sure foundation upon which to build a future.
December 8th, 2014