A Lost Generation
Recently the term “a lost generation” has been popping up in many conversations, and it seems unusual now, when you think about the context in which this expression originated.
Gertrude Stein is supposed to have coined this term, in reference to people who were “lost” after the First World War. They were confused, disoriented, disillusioned, and searching for meaning in their lives.
If literature is a mirror of the society of its time, then Ernest Hemingway aptly said in the epigraph of his 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises, “You are all a lost generation.” That was then, but why today? The answer lies in the fact that young people like those of long ago are also searching in a world that appears upside down. Traditional values have flown out the window.
The term today is being used in reference to young adults who have wandered away from God and religion. Often, very often, people will approach me and say, “Please pray for my children. They have stopped going to church.” Or another will say in confidence, “I don’t know what happened. My children used to pray regularly, receive the sacraments, and now they don’t care.” The pain and anguish of these parents is tangible.
In discussions with the young, and not so young, the word “hypocrisy” is reiterated. They maintain that there is such hypocrisy in the church, so why bother to go to listen to some “boring” homily on the same old subjects. However, hypocrisy was present even when Jesus lived. He was constantly pointing out the folly of following the Letter of the Law, when people missed the Spirit of the Law.
Our churches today are filled with grey haired folk on their knees, praying intensely for the lost members of the congregation to return. Prayer, persistent prayer is an important way to bring the wanderers back.
A Jesuit priest once told a parent in distress, “Leave the porch light on.” The prodigals will return. St. Monica is an example par excellence of a mother who never gave up on her wayward son, and we know him as St. Augustine who said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O Lord.” He regretted not coming to know and love the Lord earlier in his life. His was a dramatic move from sinner to saint, like St. Paul.
It isn’t easy to wait and pray when the situation seems desperate. In our own day, we have Fr. Donald H. Calloway’s MIC personal testimony of his amazing conversion from a delinquent to an adult faith, and then on to the priesthood. His mother never stopped praying for him.
To hear him speak, and to read his book No Turning Back – A Witness to Mercy gives one hope to truly trust in Our Lord’s mercy. He experienced what he calls a “divine detox.” He goes on to say, “God wasn’t taking a band-aid approach with me. He was acting as the Divine Physician and operating on my soul. It was painful at first. But once the spiritual operation was in progress, I realized He was healing me and that He loved me and was restoring me. I felt an enormous sense of relief.” There is HOPE.
But what do we do while waiting for the seemingly “lost generation” to return and be saved? They may not be ready to listen to us, and are too busy texting to hear the whispers of God. So, we praise God aloud, and thank him for walking with us, and awakening us to joyful hope.
Praying the Psalms gives us the opportunity to both praise, and question God, for there is a psalm for every mood. We then receive consolation in the midst of desolation, as we seek special moments with God who knows well our disappointment.
We have sometimes sung, “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho…..and the walls came tumbling down.” Joshua marched around Jericho for six days believing that God would deliver the enemies of Israel into their hands. On the seventh day the Israelites blew their trumpets and shouted, trusting and praising God, and what was considered impossible, became possible.
God’s word says “Rejoice always, never cease praying, render constant thanks; such is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).When the going gets tough, and we are inclined to despair, let us remember God’s goodness in the past, and sing with expectant faith:
In His time, in His time,
He makes all things beautiful in His time.
Lord, please show me every day
As you’re teaching me your ways
That you do just what you say, in your time.