baby boomer elders

Fifty is the new thirty, a phrase most probably coined by baby boomers. I’m part of this group born in the years 1946-1964. Our sheer numbers meant we were, and are, a force to be reckoned with. We posed a challenge to society in each of our life stages from birth to school to post-secondary education to the work force. Red flags are now being raised about our upcoming take-over of the elder demographic. Dire financial forecasts bemoan the heavy burden we will place on health care and social services. It’s a tough guilt trip after a life-time of working, raising and supporting children, and paying more than our fair share of taxes.

Recently I’ve been noticing another baby boomer guilt trip within our own church. I admit that I have no empirical proof for this observation, and I`m not trying to make any generalizations (which I dislike and seldom trust). It`s merely a simple observation after reading and  reflecting on  recent articles and online discussions.

Some more traditionally minded Catholics blame baby boomers for the post-Vatican II reforms – reforms they believe had a negative effect on the Church. Now we are being portrayed as aging hippies whose current reform efforts within the Church are being rejected by the younger generation.

Is this true? Do only middle-aged and older women care if the priesthood excludes them? Do movements like Call to Action, We are Church or Voice of the Faithful speak only to baby-boomers?

Traditionalists and liberals come in all ages, but are we facing a new trend in our church? Baby boomers led many of the protest movements of the latter half of the 20th century. They were the young voice challenging the traditions of the older generations. Are we now facing an era where the younger generation takes up the banner of traditionalism while the voice of reform and protest comes from the elders?

5 thoughts on “baby boomer elders

  1. My daughter and I have discussed this issue. She says our 60’s generation opened the door for many social ills we see now– high abortion rates, unmarried couples living together, so many children without fathers, the “entitlement mentality” of young people.

    I told her that the extremes we see today are not necessarily the result of our work. I am proud of the work we did. We opened society’s eyes to deep racism, sexism, and social ills on the other extreme–back alley abortions that butchered women, woman blamed entirely and shunned for an out-of-marriage pregnancy, children trapped in abusive but “traditional” families, and social walls that kept people “in their place.”

    The answer isn’t in going back to the “good ole days” because they never existed! Each generation is called to step up to the plate and call out the ills they see. Our boomer generation called out the ills of a closed, racist, sexist society. The current generation (Gen X is it?) is called to raise the flag on the ills of an over-indulgent, materialistic society. But let’s not BLAME each other. We are all on the same team: Making this world a safe, caring, just place for all of God’s people.

  2. Marceta, thank you so much for sharing your experience and thoughtful insights on this topic. Well said and oh, so true.I was very leery writing this post, wondering if it actually was an issue worth discussing. You have added much to think about…

  3. Where I live most of the middle-aged women are married grandmothers. Single middle-aged women are not only disenfranchised, we are invisible. Those of us who opted not to marry or have children are not seen as positive role models in the Church or anywhere else.
    I personally wish that religious orders accepted women over the age of 50. The sisters I have met are such positive women, living a good and useful and, it seems to me, happy life.
    Marceta’s comment about being on the same team, making the world a safe, caring, just place really got to me. I wish I were in a position to be able to make some sort of positive contribution to God’s work.

    1. Hi Missie. I’ve been thinking long and hard on your comment. I have a couple of dear friends who, like yourself, find themselves in middle age as single women. For them, it was not by choice. They are sad that the right person did not come along, and are still hoping that one day he might. Whether the single life is by choice or by circumstance, it can be a difficult path in a world of two by twos with kids in tow.

      Instead of saying that one life-style is preferred over another, I wish that we acknowledge our diversity more, and see each as a true gift. Each vocation has its struggles. Each vocation has its gifts. My friends might envy me for my husband and kids. I envy them for the freedom they have to pursue careers and good works. It’s a classic case of the grass looking greener! 😉

      Your desire to do God’s work shows the generosity of your heart, and God never turns down a generous heart. Be open to God’s will. It usually shows up in surprising ways!

      P.S. There are religious orders who accept women over 50. At a time of plentiful harvests and few laborers, they are happy to accept faith-filled, mature women. Keep searching! 🙂

  4. I am not a baby boomer (b.1972). I realize that there was never a golden age. I also appreciate that we are living in a fallen world, marred by sin, so I don’t blame – ultimately – any one generation, or individual, for evil.

    I was called back to my faith after a long absence. While travelling extensively I learned Zazen meditation in Japan, with an elderly Buddhist monk and a retired Jesuit. Under spiritual direction with the Jesuits this year – at home in Canada – I learned to bring the essential technique of sitting in silence I learned in Japan to devotion to Our Lord both in the Rosary and in mental prayer. My gratitude – a grace, of course – to Our Lord, His Church and His Blessed Mother has moved me to tears.

    I have also found myself returning to a natural – and free, joyous – orthodoxy. I joke with my wife, ” It’s FUN to be obedient”! And it is.

    One thing the Buddhists in rural Japan (these are NOT new age hippies) taught me was an appreciation for the sacred. Dignity regarding – and relating to – consecrated spaces, ceremonies, people and Holy Items and Persons. So I dress neatly, clean myself and shave before Mass and meetings with my director. I bow to the alter and the tabernacle. I sit quietly before Mass and follow the readings and homily without talking, fidgeting or yawning. I can be quiet and not feel bored or offended. I am thankful and reverent to the religious in my parish, and the laity who support it. I try to understand Church history and I understand that it is not a democracy.

    I had to confess, last week, the sin of pride. Not surprising, I know.

    I attend daily Mass right now because I am between jobs (the economy is slow, here – very slow). I am the only non baby boomer present. The boomers are always chattering, often dressed in shorts/tennis dresses, they fidget and often grope for the car keys before Mass is over and they roar off with their golf bags and tennis rackets. They gossip and they complain about doctrine and seem to have no idea as to where it is sourced. They act like baptism guarantees salvation and life is for their entertainment. We have confession every morning before Mass. In six months I have seen one person waiting for Father. All saints, I guess.

    It bugs me and I get judgemental. Hence, my confession. The priest to whom I confessed this lack of Christian Charity actually chuckled before offering serious, sound and orthodox advice.

    My parent’s generation looks, from the outside, mostly silly. Catholics included.

    Sorry to generalize. I struggle with this issue. My mom showed me a first communion photo and said, ” See? Look how you’re standing. You’ve always been a pious, serious little bugger.” LOL

Comments are closed.