In Generating Traces in the History of the World, Msgr. Giussani quotes Charles Péguy's judgment:
"For the first time, for the first time after Jesus, we have seen, before our eyes, we are about to see before our eyes a new world arising, if not a city; a new society forming, if not a city – modern society, the modern world. A world, a society in formation, or at least assembling, growing, after Jesus, without Jesus. And the most terrible thing, my friends, we mustn't deny it, is that they have managed. What gives a capital importance to our generation and to the time we live in, my friends, is what puts you at a unique watershed in the history of the world, is what puts you in a tragic, unique situation. You are the first. You are the first of the modern men, your are the first before whom, before whose eyes this has happened, and you have caused to happen, this singular work, this foundation of the modern world, this establishment of the intellectual party of the modern world" (qtd 100-101).
And then Fr. Giussani adds his comments:
"For the first time since Jesus came the world is no longer Christian. The man who ran to Jesus's enemies to accuse him when Lazarus was raised from the tomb, this man has managed to create a world and a society without Christ. He has managed with our connivance, with our collaboration. The awful problem is that ours is a world – a society – without Christ; the family, school, work, life and social initiatives, government, war and peace, without Christ" (101).
Since Summer time, the awareness of this tragic watershed has been with me like the dropping of a "perception filter." It's tragic to find ourselves in many ways back at the beginning (John 1:10), in which the "historical reality of Christian culture" is of little help in itself, and to some degree may even inoculate people from encountering Christ. We are hardly the first generation now, and it's not unusual to read books or listen to music written by those who have lived their whole lives without having been significantly impacted by the Christian experience. Many of these people are sensitive, thoughtful people, moral people in the best sense of the word: people who grow and change by allowing themselves to be impacted by reality. In many ways, these people are in the best position to recognize a true novelty in the world. Well, if we are again at the beginning, we have to turn again to Jesus and allow him to draw everything into the event horizon of his person.