Ateitis reorganized in 1946, but, when the Soviet regime came, the governing body of the Ateitis Federation moved to the United States. There, they continued the tradition of Ateitis Congresses, which took place in Chicago, Cleveland, and Toronto.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Ateitis could organize its first meeting in almost 50 years in Vilnius in 1989. In 1990, the governing body of the organization returned to Lithuania.
The organization has also renewed itself: during the years of exile, it was necessary to preserve the Lithuanian national identity and culture, and so this became a central item in the work of Ateitis.
Last Feb. 15, in a grand celebration on the eve of Lithuania's indepence day celebrations, Ateitis members gathered in Kaunas. Archbishop Gintaras Grusas of Vilnius, himself a member of the organization, recalled in his address that the organization was born when God was going to be set outside of the history. By the way, "God was very important to the people."
Archbishop Grusas reminded that Pranas Dovydaitis, the intellectual father of the organization, emphasized in a piece penned one hundred years ago that "The life of Ateitis circles must be based on Eucharist."
According to the archbishop of Vilnius, Ateitis has been so far an antidote to ideology, though the ideologies of the 21st century are different from that faced one hundred years ago.
In particular, Archbishop Grusas mentions liberalism. This latter, in the name of freedom, always requires more restriction to the freedom of expression and "tries to send religion out of the public discourse with the notions of tolerance or discrimination."
Beyond liberalism, there are other ideologies today, and Archbishop Grusas mentioned in particular relativism, nationalism, globalism. All of these ideologies spread more quickly than other, earlier ones, thanks to technological progress.
The Archbishop of Vilnius said that the antidote to these ideologies is "to witness Christ with our lives."
Archbishop Grusas explained how Ateitis' five principles work: Catholicism is the antidote to religious relativism and atheism; nationality prevents globalism from surfacing; the family is the antidote against individualism; excellence to relativism; while participation in public life is a way to resist to the ideology of liberalism.
The Ateitis ideals are still carried forward 110 years on. The story of the federation is a story of resistance against a world that wanted to get rid of God. Celebrating Ateitis also means celebrating a model of committed public Catholicism in society. In an age that seems often to be resigned to living in the shadow of God's eclipse from history, organizations like Ateitis inject into society a fundamental spirit of faith.
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