Word Magazine September 1970 Page 12-13


A Sermon preached by the VERY REV. GREGORY OFIESH Pastor of St. Nicholas’ Church, San Francisco, California, on August 20, 1970 at the Chicago Archdiocesan Conven­tion. Fr. Gregory is Chairman of the Department of SOYO and Inter-Orthodox Youth Relations, and Spirit­ual Advisor for the North American Council of SOYO. The text of his Sermon was Matthew 21:43 “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits thereof.”








It seems that in each period of history young people have cried out in frustration and disappointment. They treat their parents as strang­ers: they go off to strange lands: find a strange life: wear strange clothes and speak in strange tongues.

Born in the struggles and pains of revolution, this country’s forefathers often did not have enough food or clothes. They created a system root­ed in liberty, freedom and truth, se­cured and kept safe by their loved ones and themselves. No period of history, no age or time has known the security, the conveniences and the luxuries enjoyed by the people of today.

The most significant factors in our present age contributing towards the formation of the new society are, namely, TECHNOLOGY, PSY­CHOLOGY, and PSYCHIATRY.

Technological achievements and advancements following World War II have offered more food, better clothing, bigger cars, bigger homes, and papers of security that have made man quite independent. In addition, man has created awesome weapons, and offered his sons in lit­tle wars to protect his security and blessings. Thus, we live in affluence.

Scientific progress in psychiatry has enabled physicians and pharma­cists to develop a drug-oriented so­ciety. They have manufactured de­pressants such as narcotics, seda­tives, and tranquilizers, which affect the brain and spinal cord to dull our fears and to ease our tensions and anxieties. Hallucinogens and stimu­lants, which work on the central ner­vous system, are employed extensive­ly by medicine as psychoactive agents. LSD and STP were origin­ally prescribed to “open up” and study the psychotic behavior of pa­tients in mental hospitals. Stimu­lants were originally devised for mild problems of depression and over­weight: some of them, the ampheta­mines, were at times taken by stu­dents to help them stay awake in preparing for exams, or by truck drivers on long and lonesome trips. Consequently, drugs have become an integral part of the faith and fiber of our society. We are definitely a drug-prone society. Adults use drugs to answer all their ills.

The youth of today, facing the decade of the 70’s, are also products of the “new psychology.” Psychology in the family gave children a keen and new sense of independence. In this present age, technology, psychiatry, and psychology have exploded the bomb of the new age, and the fruits have begun to ripen.

Their precepts taught the children of the new generation how to take care of “their’’ own room, how to fix “their’’ own bed, how to dress “themselves.” They were led to be self-expressive individualists. They were blessed by their parents with their own money, with their own car, and with their own job.

What is now at stake? The value of the family—the place of parents—the honor and respect to society and to the neighborhood— should young people respect their parents? Do they view their parents experiences as relevant in their own lives? Their goals vary considerably from those of their parents.

This is our society of today. No society in history has ever had to deal with a mass educated self-ex­pressive, and technologically prone youth. There are approximately 24 million young people between the ages of 18 and 24. The largest ma­jority of them are directly confronted with international politics. It is relevant to their lives. They will either have to or not have to go to

Vietnam. They will either go to col­lege or face a technological society which will make them “mere laborers” in a space age. They know that they will live in one town and per­haps work in another. They fill the emptiness with material goods. Young people want to maintain control over their lives. We taught them how important they were, and now in a sense of fear, they want to protect themselves.

According to the Fortune-Yanke­lovich survey, 60% of our young people are pursuing fairly conven­tional career objectives. They are concerned with higher education be­cause of what it will offer socially and materially. Almost 9 million of the younger generation today are in or have been to college. The other vice, or are pursuing vocations. Of the 9 million in college, approxi- mately 6 million are pursuing well- defined objectives. The thoughts and sentiments of this group are remark­ably similar to those who have never attended college. They both share values of a common nature. The hard core problem exists in the remaining 3 million, who are naturally in the minority, but are particularly identi­fied by their lack of concern about making money. They are invariably directed toward the Humanities in college. Here they find their counter­parts in the same dress and in the same philosophy—yes, there are pro-genitors in the new left—the college professors.

The faculty, especially in the Humanities, is the last leading force drawing this 3 million, who are un­decided, bored, restless, unwilling to go to Vietnam, and finally, are dis­gusted with themselves and with life.

Now only 10% of this 3 million are extremely interested in finding challenges intellectually relevant to themselves and to society. They have embraced positions that are contro­versial and dissenting in relation to critical national and international issues. This 10% has organized The New Movement. The two basic goals of The Movement are—one, that the individual must share in the social decisions affecting his life; and two, that society must organize the vehicle for this to take place.

Splintered and fragmentized, we find such groups as the SDS (Stu­dents For A Democratic Society), which took credit for precipitating the many disturbances at Berkeley, San Francisco State College, and Columbia. Others, such as The Re­sistance, The National Mobilization Committee To End The War In Vietnam, The New University Con­ference, Resist, belong to various ex­tremes of the left. They have united their goals with the fantastic liter­ary talent of their peers in the field of journalism—namely, two news services, The Liberation News Ser­vice – New York, and The Libera­tion News Service – Massachusetts, as well as the Underground Press Syndicate. They have become the media for The Movement to reach out to its adherents. This group of political activists, wearing strange clothes, taking weird drugs, dancing to strange music, and seeking the unknown God, will, I predict, pose a national threat.

This militant active group, emo­tionally unstable, will employ vio­lence to attain its goals. These young people have unconsciously reacted with destruction in retaliation to their parents and to the establishment—from toys in their childhood to the Administration building as young adults. Disturbed and con­fused, they are lost and dangerous. They could lead this country to ex­treme Leftism on the one side, or cause a Hitler on the other side of the pendulum.

The remaining so-called silent majority of our youth—except for the international political situation—have found in essence the same pattern of life as society as a whole. They are concerned with ecology and pollution, violence and immor­ality. They want to face and destroy bigotry and poverty. They want to know why the world’s wealthiest na­tion will let a large portion of its population live in the ghetto.

These young people, men and women, have made fantastic strides, even in business. No other period of history has found such a youth rev­olution in big business. Young exec­utives, in their twenties, have been offered, and have reformed the most challenging of enterprises. No other generation has made progress as our youth of today has made and will continue to make.

They tell it as it is. Ponder upon the words of a song, “Mr. Businessman,” written by Ray Stevens:

“Itemize the things you covet as you squander through your life:

Bigger cars, bigger houses, term insurance for your wife.

Tuesday evenings with your harlot, and

On Wednesday it’s your Char­latan

Analyst— He’s High up on your list.

You’ve got air-conditioned sin­uses and dark, disturbing doubt

About religion, and you keep those cards and letters going out.”

The new place of rock, soul, country and western music has been a major victory for the new culture, yet the young people have not thrown out the cultured favorites of the past. They appreciate the sights and sounds of Frank Sinatra, and Sergio Mendez, Beethoven, or Bar­tok.

Young people today dominate cul­ture in America—namely in the the­atre, fashions, art, literature and mu­sic. They are expressing their “thing” in practically every facet and level of society.

Why the big difference between the political activists on the one hand, and the mainstream college, married or single, young adult? The family and the Church in each of these situations have built upon the advancements of technology and the other sciences. These parents have given their young people not simply a sense of individuality, but also a sense of cohesiveness within the fam­ily. They merely took the advance­ments of the new sciences to build upon the tradition they themselves received from their fathers. The real core of young people even in the activist groups will return to the mainstream if the basic values of family and respect for society have been realized in the home and in the school. They were taught the rele­vance of their own lives because their family life was real to them. Parents taught their child to stand as an individual, but within the framework and fiber of the family. They taught their child that his name, as well as his family’s name, and the community, were very im­portant to him. The ambivalence and impetuousness of youth were minimized by the concern of his family and teachers. Not only was I important, but we were important. We did not fear insecurity because we were secure unto each other.

The Church of today cannot stand outside of us as a museum merely to be gazed upon and admired, nor as a theatrical production wherein we are entertained, nor as a pharma­ceutical center for concoctions to relieve our maladies; but the Church must be relevant in our lives. The Church is the kingdom of God. We must initiate programs in which family awareness becomes an aware­ness to the child that he belongs to the family of God.

The same commitment to the family becomes the commitment to the Church. We need these exper­iences as we call the Holy Spirit to become real within us. We need to teach our young people that the church is concerned for them. They must be involved in retreats in order to meditate and examine their lives. They must feel the euphoria of liv­ing through fasting. They must be involved in camp programs where they can be with younger brothers and sisters, teaching them to share and live with one another. We must teach them that the spirit of God is dwelling within them when they visit the elderly and the sick. We must initiate tutorial programs to aid and assist the underprivileges. We must teach them that man does not live for bread alone. Young people must develop a moral fiber and a strength in order that their own lives will re­flect the image of Christ. That in­stead of fears and pills, drugs and violence, that each man is our broth­er, and that we must “run with Jesus,” to each of them, as Christ ran to us. That the Liturgy must be­come that beautiful stream that car­ries us unto the Kingdom of God, where each of us, as a new person, partakes of the new and unique life and transforms the world, our na­tion, our family, and ourselves——un­to Christ.

Our young people today are more intellectual, more sophisticated, and are more concerned than ever be­fore in history. They are real—I be­lieve in them. They do not want to stand on the mountaintop to gaze down into the valley in awe. They want to jump; and they want to get into the thick of things. Are we ready to let them?

Our young people cry for leader­ship and to witness Christ—and what do we give them—sterile and empty sermons? Dances and parties? They want to MOVE—they want to experience the new life—the Ortho­dox Christian young person with this beautiful embodiment of truth wants to go out into the world as the Mas­ter said; and we do not let him.

1. I was hungry—and you gave me no meat

2. I was thirsty—and you gave me no drink

3. I was naked—and ye clothed me not

4. I was in prison——and no one visited me

5. I was a stranger——and ye took me not in

What did the Master say—?

“When you have not done it unto the least of these My brethren

Ye have not done it unto Me.”

“And a child shall lead thee.”