The Age of Selfishness

Social and personal conditions of human life are far different today than they were in the Middle Ages. Most obvious is the difficulty of achieving a normal personality in a social environment which is so far removed from natural principles and so corruptive to the practice of faith. The force of faith has been diminished by the spirit of compromise and the ascendancy of emotional attitudes over reasoned convictions, conditions which characterise our time. The pervasive Christian atmosphere of the Age of Faith has been dissipated by the contrary values of secular humanism which are paramount in contemporary society. Opposed to the supernatural values of poverty, virginity and obedience…are the modern tendencies towards material acquisitions, sexual promiscuity, and the revolt against authority. This is the Age of Selfishness.

Artificiality of custom and pettiness of concern cramp the natural generosity of youth and pervert the ideals and goals which motivate them. The sense of sin is as much lost as is the incentive to heroic virtue. The pursuit of false values and the consequent disorder of life result in tensions and frustrations. To achieve a normal personality and mature development of faith, therefore, is not the ordinary achievement which could have been expected in past periods of the Christian era. Our modern manner of life has disturbed, and often disordered, the fragile structure of human personality.

– Fr. Richard Butler, O.P., 1960.

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