With Father's Day this weekend our two sons wanted to treat Dad to an early Father's Day present. Seeing their good intention this editor went along with their directive as long as ol' Dad did the driving. We motored to the closest movie plex replete with stadium seating and I thought the boys were taking their "old man" to see Star Wars, but nooooo! They wanted to surprise Dad with a retro movie that would take me back to the "good ol' days" - more like set me back! This editor's first impression was O!!! as in offensive, obscene, and outrageous!!! Why? Because innocently they chose "Austin Powers: The Spy who..." well, you know the title and we don't like to repeat the adjectives connected with this film that could have been humorous if there were one person involved with the entire project who had taste. It was the first film we can remember where "evil" - as in Dr. Evil and his cloned midget Minime - exhibited far more virtues and innocence than the "good guy" Austin Powers played in a campy, smarmy way by Mike Myers of Saturday Night Live fame. The bishops' review below in our Movies and Morals section says it all. This movie sequel of "Austin Powers" proves that until the Blessed Virgin Mary's Heart triumphs, we will always have evil with us, in this case Dr. Evil. Rather than taking me back to the seventies it alerted me to how ignorant we were back then. If only we had known better!
Those were also the times when the "spirit of Vatican II" was taking hold, when priests and nuns were abandoning their calling left and right, mostly left. In retrospect in many circumstances, the Church would have been better off if they had just left, but they chose to hang around ridiculing the system they forsook and stirring up insurrection within the ranks, slithering into parishes and Diocesan chanceries, polluting programs as they formed a formidable foe to conservatives within the Church. Those were the real disasters of the seventies, not bell bottoms, but those who sought to rid the Church of bells; not the psychedelic scene but the psychoneurotic pablum they pandered to the unsuspecting; not LSD but the LDS politically-correct party line; not platform shoes but a platform of humanist agendas that more and more sought to eliminate the Christ-centered creed of the Communion of Saints in favor of an ecumenism that diluted the Roman Catholic faith. We are left today, on the brink of the new millennium, to trying to soothe the savage beast by trying to right the wrongs, wrongs that stretch back thirty years and, like a runaway weed, took root and started growing out of control in the seventies, choking common sense and decency along the way. As the nineties fade, his Holiness Pope John Paul II has begun the weeding process, pulling them out by the roots but it takes time for Christ's garden has been overrun by the kudzu of modernism and the Polish gardener is doing all he can. But the days are waning for him, too.
His most recent illness, while not seeming serious, brings up a very serious question that we can no longer ignore. The Pope is getting older by the minute and little things like a flu and fever are taking a greater toll every time he contracts a bug. It is no secret that things start to break down in the human body's mechanism after fifty. That we can testify to. Consider that he is on the far side of seventy and will turn eighty next May God willing. Other than sixty-six year-old Pope John Paul I whose papacy was one month, John Paul II's four predecessors were in their early eighties when they passed on: Pope Paul VI was 81 when he died after 15 years of service; Pope John XXIII 82 after five years as Supreme Pontiff; Pope Pius XII also was 82 serving as Sovereign Pontiff for 19 years; and Pius XI died at 82 after a 17-year pontificate. Pope Benedict XV whose 8 year papacy ended at 68 years was, with John Paul I, the baby of the group. Pope Saint Pius X was the same age as our current Holy Father - 79 when he died. The grand old man was Pope Leo XIII who was 93 when he entered into God's Heavenly kingdom after 25 years as Vicar of Christ. Leo's predecessor Pope Pius IX, whose papacy lasted 32 years, was 86 at his death. Pius' predecessor Pope Gregory XVI who died in 1846 after being elected in 1831, was 81. Over two full centuries we have had thirteen popes whose average age has been 84. The average pontificate in time duration: 15 years which is great longevity. We are all prayerful John Paul II will have many, many more years of productive service as the "Servant of servants."
Just parallel the similarities between Pius X , Leo XIII and John Paul II: First of all, we strongly believe the present Pope exudes the kind of spirituality and holiness Pius X exhibited. Leo XIII was elected in 1878, John Paul II in 1978; Leo's pontificate bridged the nineteenth and twentieth century, John Paul's projecting the same in connecting the end of the twentieth into the new millennium and the twenty-first century; Leo was an active Pope who was ahead of his time and was not afraid to tackle the world stage especially in view of the looming dangers of the hammer and sickle, John Paul stared down communism up close in Poland and the red menace blinked, imploding at the end of the last decade due in large part to the Holy Father's resolve, influence and prayers; Leo and Pius were totally dedicated to the Two Hearts just as John Paul II is. Leo helped bring the Church into the modern age, now John Paul II is trying to reign the Church in as technology threatens to run amok with no regard for the Alpha and the Omega.
While air travel, electricity and the airwaves were figments of imagination during Leo's pontificate, they have become common place during the papacy of John Paul II, so much so that the Pope has utilized the tools available for evangelization like no Pontiff before him. Thus the medium of air travel, the internet, video, digital, fibre optics, microwave and film have all become a great plus in the ever-ending evangelization evolution. Just as the Vatican has taken advantage of this, so also have innumerable Catholic apostolates including the DAILY CATHOLIC in our joint endeavor to reach as many souls as possible. Now we are prayerful John Paul II will escape the seventies to embrace the eighties and we too would rather forget a time that remains a nightmare to many; for we need to forget our "sinful days" and move on. After all, who needs the painful reminder of the bizarre seventies - a period of confusion in our culture and Church? For it's time to escape the seventies both for us in our memories of this bizarre time and the Holy Father in reaching that wise-old age of 80. But along the way there are always setbacks such as movies like "Austin Powers" which comes along and sets technology, morality and common sense back years - all the way to the seventies - a time we'd rather forget.
Rather than taking me back to the seventies as the boys had hoped, the "Austin Powers" movie alerted this editor of how ridiculous we must have looked in our bell-bottoms, clashing colors and misappropriation of stripes and plaids, not to mention our rejection of what the Church taught, specifically Paul VI's Humanae Vitae. By not listening to him then, we spawned a new generation of misfits that desensitize and condone sin and promote those miserable and treacherous times of the seventies as "groovy." To the modernists and Austin Powers we chortle, "Oh behave, baby!" Sorry, but the last thing we should want is to be reminded of those times. We're better off learning from our mistakes, ask forgiveness for our waywardness and ignorance. Forget the groovy facade, baby! Let's dump the seventies once and for all!