Is Watching TV Sinful?

television“A child came to confession one day and accused himself of having serious temptations against the angelical virtue, perhaps even of having given in, by thoughts and, who knows, maybe in actions.

However, the priest sought the cause of such a misfortune: “So, do you have television at home?” he asked.  The child had to admit it and that he did watch the cursed box, sometimes behind his parents’ back, sometimes with them, as a family, and that was the cause of his temptations.

The priest gave the unfortunate and sorrowful child the holy absolution, but could he give it to his parents?

Dear Christian parents, are you CONSCIOUS of your terrible responsibility?  Do you realize that due to the weakness of accepting and of keeping at home that tool, a source of corruption of minds and souls, you are the cause of unsuspected damages to innocent souls?  Because of your cowardice, souls, tender and pure, are stained by the infamous sin?  These children will stand up at the last judgment and will accuse you of having been the cause of their damnation….

Let us remember the Saviour’s grave words: “He that shall scandalise one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt.XVIII,6).

Do you understand, by this sad example, what is an occasion of sin?  Our catechism teaches us that we must avoid not only sin, but also the occasion of sin and that it is as grievous to put ourselves (or to put others) in the occasion of sin as it is to commit the sin itself, when we know by experience that we will fall into that sin.  (…).

Let us suppress courageously all the occasions of sin for ourselves and for those under our care.  Let us determine at this time to get rid of the dirty box.  Give it back to your dealer and let there be no more mention of it.  Instead, you should re-establish the nice family oratory, you should enthrone the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and that of Our Blessed Lady.  And long live Jesus Who will have freed you from a nasty slavery!”

By a Catholic Bishop

Examination of conscience for Catholic Parents:

Have you voluntarily exposed yourself to the occasion of sin by sinful curiosity, by watching impure movies, or indecent plays or videos?

Have you listened with willful pleasure to immodest language on TV?

Have you harmed anyone’s soul by giving scandal, destroying this soul by bad example?

Have you, by your wicked words, deeds or bad example, ruined innocent children?

Have you exposed your children to impure temptations resulting from watching TV?

Have you kept a TV in your home knowing it is an occasion of sin for you and your children?

Have you allowed your children to watch TV, especially without your knowledge and consent?

Importance and Power of Motion Pictures:

As long ago as 1936, Pope Pius XI, warned of the dangers of the cinema.  “It admits of no discussion that the motion picture has achieved these last years a position of universal importance among modern means of diversion.  There is no need to point out the fact that millions of people go to the motion pictures every day; that motion picture theatres are being viewed in ever increasing number in civilized and semi-civilized countries; that the motion picture has become the most popular form of diversion which is offered for the leisure moment not only of the rich but of all classes of society.

At the same time, there does not exist today a means of influencing the masses more potent than the cinema.  The reason for this is to be sought in the very nature of the motion pictures projected upon the screen, in their popularity and in the circumstances which accompany them.

The power of the motion picture consists in this, that it speaks by means of vivid and concrete imagery which the mind takes in with enjoyment and without fatigue.  Even the crudest and most primitive minds which have neither the capacity nor the desire to make the efforts necessary for abstraction or deductive reasoning are captivated by the cinema.  In place of the effort which reading or listening demands, there is the continued pleasure of a succession of concrete and, so to speak, living pictures.

(…) Since then the cinema, being like the school of life itself, which, for good or for evil, teaches the majority of men more effectively than abstract reasoning, it must be elevated to conformity with the aims of a Christian conscience and saved from depraving and demoralizing effects.

Everyone knows what damage is done to the soul by bad motion pictures.  They are occasions of sin; they seduce young people along the ways of evil by glorifying the passions; they show life under a false light; they cloud ideals; they destroy pure love, respect for marriage, affection for the family.  They are capable also of creating prejudices among individuals and misunderstandings among nations, among social classes, among entire races.

The motion picture is viewed by people who are seated in a dark theatre and whose faculties, mental, physical and often spiritual, are relaxed.  One does not need to go far in search of these theatres: they are close to the home, to the Church and to the school and they thus bring the cinema into the very centre of popular life.

Moreover, the acting out of the plot is done by men and women selected for their artistic ability and for all those natural gifts and the employment of those expedients which can become, for youth particularly, instruments of seduction.  Further, the motion picture has enlisted in its service luxurious appointments, pleasing music, the vigour of realism, every form of whim and fancy.  For this very reason, it attracts and fascinates particularly the young, the adolescent and even the child.  Thus at the very age when the moral sense is being formed and when the notions and sentiments of justice and rectitude, of duty and obligation and of ideals of life are being developed, the motion picture with its direct propaganda assumes a position of commanding influence.

It is unfortunate that, in the present state of affairs, this influence is frequently exerted for evil.  So much so that when one thinks of the havoc wrought in the souls of youth and of childhood, of the loss of innocence so often suffered in the motion picture theatres, there comes to mind the terrible condemnation pronounced by Our Lord upon the corruptors of little ones: “whosoever shall scandalize one of these little ones who believe in Me, it were better for him that a mill stone be hanged about his neck and that he be drowned in the depths of the sea.”  (Matt. XVIII, 6).

Pope Pius XI: Encyclical Vigilanti Cura, June 29, 1936

The Dangers of Television:

“But television, besides the element it shares in common with the other two inventions We have spoken of for the spreading of information, has a power and efficacy of its own.  Through the medium of television viewers are enabled to see and hear far-distant events at the very moment at which they are taking place and in this way the illusion is created that they are actually present and taking part in them.  This sense of intimacy is greatly enhanced by the home surroundings.

The special power which television has of giving pleasure within the family circle is to be reckoned its most important feature (…).  If there is any truth at all in that text: ‘a little leaven currupteth the whole lump’ and if the physical development of young people can be arrested by an infectious germ and prevented from reaching full maturity, how much more havoc can be wrought upon the nerve-centres of their religious life by some insidious element in their education sapping their moral vitality!  It is a matter of common experience that children are frequently able to resist the violent onset of diseases in the world at large, whereas they have no strength to avoid the disease that is latent in the home.  It is wrong, therefore, to endanger in any way the sanctity of the home and the Church who as her right and duty demand, has always striven with all her power to prevent these sacred portals from being violated under any pretext by the evils television shows.

Unless wise counsels exert an immediate restraining influence on the use of this art, the damage will be done; a damage which will affect not merely individuals, but the whole of human society – and indeed it is not an easy matter to assess the amount of damage that may already have been caused.”

Pope Pius XII:  Encyclical Miranda Prorsus, (Sept. 8, 1957)  Source


Increasingly, I meet parents who have stopped using TV except as a means of viewing DVDs.  Is this something all Catholics ought to do? 

170 responses

  1. I do not believe television in itself is sinful, but it can lead to the occasion of sin, by leading people to watch programmes, such as ‘soaps’ that feature immoral sexual relationships such as adultery, sodomy, and phenomena such as divorce, contraception, drunkenness and family breakdown. This is not conducive to the formation of a Christian family, nor is it befitting of a Christian home. This will lead youngsters to have a distorted and stunted psychological growth with an unhealthy view of society. As Pope Pius XII stated, the ‘cinema’ or ‘motion pictures’ have a very strong influence over the people, and TV can be hard to resist, particularly where programmes appeal to the most base senses, where people are at their weakest:

    “If there is any truth at all in that text: ‘a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump’ and if the physical development of young people can be arrested by an infectious germ and prevented from reaching full maturity, how much more havoc can be wrought upon the nerve-centres of their religious life by some insidious element in their education sapping their moral vitality! It is a matter of common experience that children are frequently able to resist the violent onset of diseases in the world at large, whereas they have no strength to avoid the disease that is latent in the home. It is wrong, therefore, to endanger in any way the sanctity of the home and the Church who as her right and duty demand, has always striven with all her power to prevent these sacred portals from being violated under any pretext by the evil television shows”.

    Allow me to speak from personal experience. I watched TV like there was no tomorrow, and it had a negative impact on my spiritual reading. Therefore, I heavily reduced the amount of TV I watched, and thus, I have massively improved my reading, and have grown spiritually as a result.

    If I were a parent, I would NOT allow my offspring to have a TV in the bedroom, and I would only permit them to watch it when an informative programme such as a nature, political, religious or historical documentary was on. All other programmes would be crossed out with a black marker. In my household, spiritual reading and prayer would come first.

    It’s an interesting fact that Paul VI was an avid TV watcher, and was a fan of westerns, which often feature violence. Maybe it distorted his faith?? After all, he made the Church look like Dodge City on a Saturday night!!!

    Likewise, the internet should also be called into question, and I feel the question should have been, ‘is watching the TV more sinful than the internet’. The internet is more risky as you can get pornography on tap, whilst with TV you either have to sign up to porn channels or put DVDs/ videos in. On the computer it’s just a click away. Therefore I would ban computers in bedrooms, and I would install family filters. NEVER let your children on the computer whilst you are out of the room.

  2. I agree that parents of small children should definitely not let them watch TV (except some children’s TV which is innocent, e.g. cartoons) but apart from that, I think we should be able to self-regulate, just as we do with books. TV is not sinful of itself, it’s like everything else, it can be sinful if not used properly.

    If someone’s spiritual life is in order they won’t want to watch the bad stuff on TV. I think that’s the important thing. If we pray and read and try to live Catholic lives, we won’t be interested in the worst of the TV shows.

  3. I agree with both comments. I don’t think television is sinful in itself. Neither do I think that it is an occasion of sin in itself. It can be both, just like the Internet.

    We should be able to self regulate. I watch about two or three programmes per week and my children only watch DVDs. There are many excellent, educational documentaries etc on television and it would be a shame to miss out on these.

    Television can also be used for relaxation. I like watching good, clean comedy (like Fawlty Towers) and I like a good movie too. We need to be prudent, but on the occasions that an impure scene catches me off guard, I simply skip that. Of course, I love watching sport and this is a good way to relax too.

    I think some attitudes within traditional circles can be quite extreme. We are grown ups and should have the ability to switch off , turn over or skip anything that is damaging.

    I don’t like blanket bans. I know the Third Order in the SSPX requires members to abstain from television and Bishop Williamson regularly warns against having a TV in the home. To me, this is too extreme. What we should do is educate ourselves and our children about wholesome entertainment and self regulation. I think it’s counterproductive and completely wrong to make a dogma out of this. A good guide is “all that the Church allows”.

    Thankfully, most traditionalists are sensible about this. When I was new to the SSPX I asked a priest about it. He said there was nothing wrong with children watching a children’s TV programme or an adult watching a football match on TV.

    So, television can indeed be an occasion of sin and we must be on our guard, but if we are sensible and discern what is wholesome and what is not, then I don’t think it is overly problematic.

    • Petrus,

      I like your down to earth, sensible approach. That’s my own position as well. There are plenty of innocent shows on TV and I find that even in movies made quite recently, there is no graphic immoral scenes like there have been in earlier films, for whatever reason.

      Banning TV or the internet is a very bad idea. It’s never been the way the Church has worked, as we are allowed to use our free will and make our own decisions.

      • Josephine
        There are quite a few issues of what you are saying here.

        quite recently, there is no graphic immoral scenes like there have been in earlier films, for whatever reason.

        I find that hard to believe. Even James Bond movies, which I think are rated as suitable for 12 year olds, has sex scenes which are implied if not fully shown and it usually shows some almost naked woman or man in a love scene. The movies are also full of sexual innuendo.

        I do not call that moral. This kind of stuff is being foisted on children earlier and earlier in their childhood. Just as safe sex education is being thrown at kids in high school when the majority of them haven’t had any sexual experience.

        Banning TV or the internet is a very bad idea

        So children are well formed reasoned human beings? This is where I think we part most fully in our discussion. I assume by your words that you are saying you can trust children to make reasoned decisions on what they will do with regards to the TV and Internet?

        The consequences of that trust is to allow them to use these modes freely without supervision, or that is not trust.

        My experience in this world and especially as a teacher, is that you cannot trust children to make the best choices on these things, simply because they are not fully formed intellectually and are simply immature. I have seen the best model students go off the rails as I have seen others, basically due to unsupervised situations where they have been exposed to temptation.

        ThIs in no way says that I do not trust children in a broad sense, but I acknowledge that as adults and parents we have a responsibility to protect our children’s innocence until as such times where they have formed a guided and mature outlook which can guard them against the pitfalls of sin in our societies.

        • Summa,

          I never watch James Bond films. The trailers are enough for me.

          Sorry you find it hard to believe that movies these days are not full of smut but that’s my experience.

          I didn’t say anywhere that children were “well formed reasoned human beings”. I agree that children should be carefully monitored watching TV. I just don’t think that TV is all bad. .

        • Summa,

          I agree that adults must be very careful with what children watch on TV. However, a sensible adult wouldn’t allow a child to watch something like James Bond.

          Listen, if you want to ban TV in your home then feel free. It’s nothing to do with me. What I object to is the attitude that we MUST ban TV. Some priests, and a certain bishop, make it into an issue of dogma. Let me state categorically, it is NOT. The Church does not ban the use of television. We have free will. Anyone who has a truly Catholic disposition should know what is moral and what is not. If you know something is immoral then don’t watch, if you are already watching and you find that something is immoral then simply switch off.

            • I mean that general attitude.

              So, Summa, are you going to remove the internet connection from your home?

              • What general attitude? You mean the one you have because you are challenged by the decision my family has taken?
                So you admit I haven’t asked for a ban on TV but now attack my decision to have an internet connection?

                Seriously? Have you tried to go to University, hold down a job that involves internet communication at home… Without an internet connection?

                Gerragrip as Editor would say 🙂

    • I think some attitudes within traditional circles can be quite extreme. We are grown ups and should have the ability to switch off , turn over or skip anything that is damaging.

      But the evidence around us tells us that adults, never mind kids, cannot do this. Look at society. It is a Godless, selfish and self indulgent. Modernism is rife. Liberalism informs everything. Do you think these ideas just happened to be in books that people could go to the library to check out and read?

      Nope. They are passively transmitted mainly through the TV and now the Internet. They then become benchmarks and norms for people.

      The facts are, people are being diabolically disorientated through these mediums. We choose not to have TV. I do not consider myself to be an extremist. But I know that to the everyday Joe, I will appear that way. But the everyday Joe wanders through life with his head in the clouds.

      • Summa,

        I don’t think you’re an extremist for choosing not to have TV. I don’t see all that much of it myself. What I don’t like is the attitude that those who watch TV are all diabolically disoriented.

        Do you not see that there are some good things on TV and that some of us make sure that we choose what to watch with care so that we don’t let it become an occasion of sin for us?

        • What I don’t like is the attitude that those who watch TV are all diabolically disoriented.

          Fair enough. I did not make it clear but I should have said ‘a large proportion’ are being diabolically disorientated. Not all.

          Christianity is ridiculed and often when combined in discussion with Science, it is promoted as some crack-pot fringe club for looney families.

          Liberal thought pervades almost everything if you look for it.

          But I suppose we will just agree to disagree on this one 🙂

      • Summa.

        I assume you are sitting at a computer or laptop when you write your interesting blog posts. At the click of a button you could view depravity that has never been seen on a television screen. So, will you stop using the internet? After all, if the evidence shows that television has had such a terrible influence on society, and that we cannot exercise right judgement, how much more can these things be said about the Internet?

        I repeat what Josephine has said, if we have a truly Catholic disposition we will use television (and the Internet) sensibly and morally.

        • Petrus
          If you had taken the time to read my previous posts on this thread ( you would see that I do not ban computer in my home, but do my best to minor usage and talk to my kids about right and wrong.

          And as I said to Josephine, I’m not proselytising, not telling you what to do or looking down my nose at others. I have described what our family does and I’m sorry that it irritates you so much.

          • It doesn’t irritate me at all, Summa. With all the respect in the world, I don’t really care what you do regarding this matter. We iffer slightly in our views, but who cares? Big deal! We can disagree on this.

            Actually, I don’t think we do disagree. I disagree with those who try to ban TV and preach to others. You are clearly not one of these people 🙂

            • All’s we’ll that ends well.

              What’s interesting (to me at least) is that in the summer of 2007 when we gave up TV, I would have considered myself as an atheist and my house was a Godless one.

              The reasons for giving TV up still centred around what I still considered the errors of society. Sloth, greed, stupidity etc. I think I must have come from it with an Aristotelian ethic combined with a notion of self-help and improvement, thinking back.

              Since I have returned to the Church, I have often reflected on the universal nature of vice and virtue that transcends borders and culture. Of course the theological virtues are intrinsic to what we all believe and it is these that give meaning to my life in a much fuller way than before. However my little journey has helped me to see not only the problems in society but the good ethical codes that exist in another form outside the formal structures of our Church. Obviously the whole conversation around salvation is for another thread…

              Anyway, scoundrel that I am, as you can see from my comments I have been no Angel and if I came across as preaching, it wasn’t intended. I more than many on here perhaps have much to repent about rather than pontificate.
              I do see however, and on this point I remain adamant, that TV programming as a reflection of society, is saturated in liberalism and I consider that it is dangerous to have in my family, lest it imbues a character of selfishness and modernism there.

              Just in case I am perceived as a cold hearted tyrant, can I conclude by saying that Father Ted DVDs are a favourite in our household, regardless of what Father Jack may say 🙂

              • Summa,

                Actually, we don’t have a TV aerial in our house. We watch DVDs and I like medical dramas. That’s about it. Sounds like you do something similar.

                • Petrus,

                  Medical dramas? You kidding me? What, you a hypochondriac? 😯

                  I just love courtroom dramas, detectives stories, and murder mysteries…

                  And no, before you ask the only convictions I’ve ever had were religious convictions.

                  Mind you, a friend of mine was once asked if HE had any religious convictions and the numpty replied: “yes, three years for robbing the poor box at the back of the church.”

                  It’s the way I tell ’em 😀

              • Summa,

                YOU? Perceived as a “cold hearted tyrant”? You mean you can hear what we say on the phone all the way over there in Australia? 😯 😀 😀 😀 😀

                Actually, seriously, Summa, you make a crucially important point about the effects of watching TV with an uncritical mind. I remember having a fairly lengthy spell without seeing TV and noticing a marked decline in what was being shown thereafter.

                Yet my friends and family couldn’t see it. I put their blindness down to the saturation factor/uncritical minds. I recall one friend, replying to my expressions of shock at something that had been on the TV that week, saying that she was “un-shockable”. I told HER that I was determined, from that moment on, NEVER to be “un-shockable”.

                Those who argue that they are “un-shockable” – something I’ve heard frequently over the years – are seeking (it seems to me) to give the impression that one is above all that “shock” stuff, untouchable. Not so. One is not. Without the grace of God we are all prone to evil and temptation. Including one. And you know one, folks, as the old joke goes, one can resist everything except temptation. Hence the need to seek all the graces necessary NOT to be tempted in particular ways.

                Anyway, Summa, that is THE key point in the whole debate about television. We need to make sure we DO remain “shockable” – or to put it another way, as we’ve said throughout this thread, all of us – we need to be discerning, to make sure that we do NOT become, or allow children to become, so used to seeing shocking stuff that they cannot see it for the evil it is.

                Here endeth the lesson. For now. Stay tuned. One will be back… 😀

  4. We have not had an aerial connected Television for over seven years. We did this when our oldest was 10 years old and our youngest was just four. We never have an issue in the house about this. It’s just accepted as a norm. There is no vegetating in front of the TV. I think to sit in front of the TV nowadays ticks of a few of the deadly sins. The modesty of the programming may lead to lustful thoughts. The greed and material false gods of our society encourages greed and envy. The passive nature of TV encourages sloth. The all pervasive selfish modernist undertone about ‘me’ encourages pride. The violence that abounds the small and large screens rubs off on viewers I would suggest and promotes wrath in their daily lives from everything from driving in their cars to vexing about their whole in life. And the fixation with cooking programs and other sled indulgent shows underpins gluttony.

    But the TV is not just on the table top set now. Our kids now range from 11 up to 17 and have computers. It is on here where the TV has moved into. So this takes on a new level of monitoring. Advertising on banners of inappropriate nature happens often even when you have installed programs to stop ads. Google searches turn up all sorts of nasty stuff. TV programs are all available online.

    Computers have become as a reality of society and for parents it is becoming harder to keep children away from them as they are used for just about everything now, school work, projects, clubs etc. this is where the new battle is being waged between the innocence of childhood and the evils of society.

    • Summa,

      I’m really surprised at some of the things you say, including about cookery programmes which I enjoy. How can anybody object to learning how to cook new recipes? It never entered my head that the sin of gluttony was attached to watching cookery programmes. I really am amazed that anyone would think that.

      I think TV and the internet are fine as long as we use them well, just like everything else. Sports can be dangerous and books can have swearing and impurity in there, but that doesn’t mean sports and books should be banned, just that we should take care to use them properly.

      • Josephine
        We’ll I can only give my take on it and if you take a different view so be it.
        I however see a link between the endless cooking programs that are in the main promoting indulgence and gratification via rich unhealthy foods and the excesses of society today, especially with regards to over eating and gluttony.

        • Summa,

          I always think of McDonald’s and other junk food as being connected to over-eating not the kind of recipes given on cookery shows.

          I’m interested in your comments about “indulgence and gratification” because I think it is wrong to be against enjoyment of food or TV or anything else. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in nice foods, that’s a normal part of life. We have fast days and we have feast days. It’s not a sin to enjoy good food and drink. Obviously gluttony is a sin but there’s a fine line here and I think we should note Petrus’s warning about “I think some attitudes within traditional circles can be quite extreme.”

          I’ve noticed that with regard to women’s dress and was relieved to read in the newsletter that Catholic Truth doesn’t encourage that extremism. I think it spoils the traditional movement when Catholics show attitudes that are sometimes more like Calvinist attitudes than Catholic.

          I do not mean at all to be offensive, Summa. Please understand, as you say, we can all only give our own take on it since the Church allows us to have different views on such things.

          • Josephine
            I’m certainly not offended. I think we just see things differently. I’m not saying that one shouldn’t have a cake occasionally and I’m not promoting a monastic diet either. All I’m saying is that I regard these programs as promoting excess and over indulgence. And I think that is what this thread is about: exposing oneself and our children to temptation bis the medium of TV.

            • Summa,

              I’m not remotely a fan of cookery programmes at all (can’t boil an egg!) but my 91 year old mother is a big fan of them and she is as thin as a Skinny Latte!

              I certainly do understand concerns about what small children view on TV but my instinctive response is that as they grow up they need to be prepared to live in the world and know how to make the right choices. I think the example of the many Irish Catholics who came to the UK in the not too far distant past and almost instantly lapsed from the Faith should suffice to remind us that being over-protective can back-fire.

              As regards the education of young people in how to use their moral compass, then, I’m straddling the fence – deferring to parents, for obvious reasons – but as for adults, I agree with Petrus that we should be able to discern and decide, and simply use the “off” button when necessary. I will NOT give up my Columbo re-runs, Miss Marple or Murder She Wrote. No way!

              There are dangers in all sorts of things, good and bad. We’ve seen the awful floods all over the world in recent months, but we don’t ban water; and as others have said, we can have accidents at sports and not all books are edifying, by any means. So, in my humble view, the Catholic way is to discern and decide, basing our choices on the central importance of moderation, purity and modesty in all things.

              But the “occasional cake” Summa? You kidding? You want a Christmas bonus on here, you gotta buck up your ideas 😀

              • Each to there own. I am certainly no strict Victorian grandfather type person, but I will defer to St Thomas Aquinas to clarify my thinking on this….

                …and it is in the concupiscence of this appetite that the vice of gluttony consists.

                • Summa,

                  I think we all agree that we have concupiscence and that we must control our sensual appetites. Where we think differently is about how to do that, whether it means banning TV or using it in a good way, with the same rule of thumb that we use when choosing books or theatre shows to attend. The Church doesn’t lay down the law about specifics, we have to make our own judgments. I’m not overweight for all I enjoy watching cookery shows and I’m not actually over fond of sweet cakes. Better not say that too often or I’ll get banned from this blog!

                  • Josephine
                    The Editor and you, may be as slender as reeds 🙂 but without getting overly melodramatic, here in Australia as is likewise in the UK, the general population is fat.

                    I suspect that the use of TV contributes to this fact, whether people are conscious of it or not, in the gravest way.

              • Dear editor, I just refuse to believe your mother is 91 years of age, unless she was very elderly when you were born! Take care and God bless! (Any chance of a pay rise?).

                • Dear Perplexed,

                  You are definitely getting a pay rise – AND a whopping Christmas bonus – every banker in the UK eat your hearts out! 😀

  5. This brings to mind a priest I knew who used to rant and rail against the newspapers his flock brought into their homes. One in particular, the News of the World, which according to him was a “filthy, corrupting rag and an immoral publication which should not be in any Catholic home”. We listened to this for weeks until someone had the temerity to ask him, “Father, how do you know what’s written in the News of the World?”

  6. We don’t have regular tv, but we do have netflix and youtube tv. We just choose what we want for our playlists and avoid the rest. There’s a bunch of quality programs on youtube, like Catholic hymns, conferences, language courses, tons of pilgrimages and foreign tours so we decided to connect it to our tv. With netflix we get Columbo, Murder She Wrote, Miss Marple, Poirot, and the Rockford Files. Looks like Editor is their program director.
    Most of the children’s programming that I’ve picked out is really good, far and beyond better than the cartoons that I grew up with.

    • Thanks for the youtube tv! I have just found a beautiful rendition of Salve Regina, which we sing at the end of Mass every week.

    • This is exactly what we do.

      By the way, I’m very fat and greedy and I’ve never watched a cookery programme in my life!

  7. Depends what you watch.

    I get up early in the morning, the house is quite and peaceful, and usually watch the awkwardly biased BBC news, and then the openly biased and rhetorical RT news, then get fed up and switch to channel ? and watch Noddy or my favourite, Thomas the Tank Engine.

    Now none of that is sinful.

    If you watch even ordinary routine soap programmes, whatever they are called, it is probably sinful,except for peolpe over a certain age, such as myself.

    However, if you go beyond RT to some other channels – and I’m not going to tell you what they are – then undoubtedly it is sinful.

  8. It is wrong, therefore, to endanger in any way the sanctity of the home and the Church who as her right and duty demand, has always striven with all her power to prevent these sacred portals from being violated under any pretext by the evils television shows. Pope Pius XII: Encyclical Miranda Prorsus,

    I agree. I think I have been accused of double standards above by allowing computers in my home, but the point is the internet is almost impossible not to use in modern society. My daughter needs it for her University courses. I need it for work. My wife needs it for her work. My children need it for the courses they are studying. You generally CAN do without TV and it’s corrupting influences and still function in an internet based society. You generally CANNOT do without the internet when you are University, Working in a job where it is intrinsic to your duties etc.

    • Summa,

      I think the pope is warning against “evil televsion shows”. Not all programmes are evil so we do need to discern and exercise some common sense.

  9. I’m unable to comment on individual posts right now due to a problem with my clock (it won’t stop) but just dropping by to say I’ve read them all and I think there are some crossed wires but no real disagreement.

    We all agree, Summa included, that adults are in a position to exercise discernment and sound judgement about what to watch on TV. Children are not. Petrus, I know, is very protective about his children in terms of their viewing so I know he is very much in agreement with Summa on that point.

    I think perhaps some of us are aware of a truly extremist group within the SSPX who think anything which was invented after the spinning wheel is suspect. Archbishop Lefebvre referred to this mentality when he wrote that if he were travelling to Africa now, he wouldn’t go by steamship but by airplane. We should welcome developments in modern life where they are perfectly in order. A drunk pilot would soon change a lot of folks’ minds about flying after such an experience, but that still wouldn’t make the airplane evil per se.

    So, too, Television is perfectly in order if used properly. I have relatives in my own family who don’t have television (to avoid undue influence on their small children) and although we had a TV when I was growing up, I seldom saw it, so busy was I between work and more work. So, I’m not on a sales pitch here. There is a definite danger in imbibing anti-Catholic/secular values not to mention outright immorality, so we must beware of that – more on this below. Generally speaking, however, as already well said by others, Television can be used by discerning adults, without there being any sin at all.

    I think the trick of avoiding extremism in the matter is precisely the recognition that we are permitted our individual opinions and practices on this as long as we do avoid occasions of sin and thus we take for granted the Catholic disposition – maybe we should discuss how to acquire and/or keep one of those?

    I’ve explained before on this blog that I always record films (movies) because, apart from being able to skip the annoying ads, I can also skip anything that goes beyond a short kiss – and I agree with Josephine about newer films not being so explicit, as this has not happened for quite some time. Recently, I fast forwarded thinking the worst and found I had to rewind because we’d missed a chunk of dialogue in the scene following that… short kiss! Now, when I’ve said this in the presence of men, about simply fast forwarding, I’ve noticed a sceptical look, so I’m guessing, innocent abroad that I am, that perhaps men are not quite in the same “virtue” league as us girls, and so they may face a temptation to continue viewing if there were any explicit scenes in a film. I recommend praying for the grace of “disgust”, praying for the grace to be rid of any desire to view impure images because when that comes, there is, without doubt, a willing race to press the fast forward button.

    That’s one way to cultivate a Catholic (TV) disposition. Anybody else got other tips?

    • Editor,

      I couldn’t agree more with your post. If someone wants to throw out their TV fine – matters not one jot to me.

      What I am against is making this into a dogma. There IS a mentality that you are not a proper traditional Catholic if you watch television. Crackers!

      I also agree with Summa that indulging in the wrong type of television is harmful. Watching too much of any kind of TV can also be harmful. However, we are permitted to exercise common and Catholic sense. The Church has not banned television so each to their own “in all that the Church allows”.

  10. I think if you give up TV completely for the good of your soul then that’s virtuous and a good example. If you choose to watch decent programming for educational or entertainment reasons and thank God for it, that’s also virtuous. The only problem with tv is being overly attached to it or watching immoral shows. I guess one of the best things to do is to pray for detachment or pray for contempt for the things of the world.
    One thing I wish someone would do is to make a youtube Catholic family channel. You could upload catechism for children, read Catholic stories, or even film and upload your tours of Catholic shrines! We would watch it!
    Youtube has librivox and there are Catholics who volunteered for that. I think you can listen to various good writings such as Imitation of Christ, Stories For God’s Little Ones, God Died At Three O’Clock, Angel Food Time: Little Talks to Little Folks and many more. The readers are not always trained but it’s free!

  11. I have read all the comments on this topic and I agree with them all. I know quite a few people who did away with their TV because of the danger of their children being influenced, because everybody takes it for granted that everybody lives in sin and also dresses immodestly, that is par for the course on all the soaps, most dramas etc. I think that’s good if they can do that, but I know from experience how teenagers can rebel against “bans” so after the period of protection, I think they have to be taught that a lot of what they might see on TV and in the cinema reflects the way society has turned away from God and that as Catholics we know better, we know that this behaviour is bad and against the will of God. I’ve had to do this before allowing a particular film that I knew had some “dodgy” bits in and I found that once the young people understand that, they are not in the same danger. They can see if you talk later that the film would have been just as good or even better if the swearing had been left out. If they are living in a truly Catholic home with family prayers, and being taught Catholic morals, they are then able to see why they are so different in their thinking and lives from others around them. In fact, TV is quite a good instrument to use to teach the difference between the spiritual and the worldly.

  12. Talking about television….

    I’ve just been watching the Antiques Roadshow, or Tomorrow’s World as its known in Glasgow 😀

    And here’s one especially for Summa…

    Cable TV is now evenly divided between shows about preparing food and shows about losing weight 😀

  13. A lot of excellent contributions on this thread. I have a vague memory of a prayer that asked God to help us grow in holiness by using wisely the gifts he has bestowed upon the world. In the case under discussion, like editor, I too make wide use of recorded programmes because it would be a shame to miss out on the excellent television that is available nowadays. As always, it is the human being that is the weakest link! God bless! Thanks for the pay rise, editor, as for the Christmas bonus, I’ll be buying you a glamorous present!!

    • Shucks, Perplexed. Thanks. But don’t go wasting your money on (expensive) perfume or (expensive) silk scarves or (expensive) vouchers for a weekend in Paris or anything like that. No, really. Honest. You are too kind. Oh well, if you insist. Thank you… 😀 😀 😀 😀

  14. Interestingly perhaps, I read somewhere that pornography paid for the development of the internet. That is, the income from broadcasting pornography on the internet allowed bigger and better servers and connections around the globe.
    If that is the case it is difficult to say that using it is OK?
    Moreover, the level of distraction provided by social media and internet publishing in general has meant that some people may find it difficult to concentrate on reality. Not least the children who spend hours of every day on their smartphones.
    We need to consider any over-arching patterns and not excuse the general by reference to detail, after all, Hitler built very good roads…

    • Andrew,

      It’s almost impossible to buy a cup of coffee or a box of soap powder without in some way contributing to evil. Life’s like that these days.

      However, us ordinary folk are so remote from the organ grinders that I doubt if we could even be regarded as the monkeys. So, just as we would find ourselves in certain difficulties if we chose not to wash our clothes or ever darken the door of a coffee shop again (where to hold our Catholic Truth team meetings?) so we cannot go about the place worrying that – if true – “pornography paid for the development of the internet.”

      Indeed, far from worrying about it, we should – if we are truly apostolic souls – do everything in our power to make sure that the evil intent of those who use the internet for such purposes, is not allowed free rein.

      As for Hitler building good roads. Tell him to submit a quote to Glasgow City Chambers. The roads in and around Glasgow could use a make-over… 😀

      • Thanks for your response.
        You say “we would find ourselves in certain difficulties…”
        Just so. Maybe we are meant to be in those difficulties. My granny referred to various things as the work of the devil. I am tending to think that the internet certainly is.
        I have written to my local (Arch)bishop from time to time and have been fobbed off,as in A) rubbish, and B) Thanks for your thoughts Fulll Stop.
        Quite simply, in my opinion if our Scottish Bishops were doing their jobs they would all be in prison.

        • Andrew,

          Through the internet, I know for a fact, a number of people have been led back to the Traditional Latin Mass. Through the internet, I know for a fact, young Catholics – never taught it either at school or in parishes and whose parents were similarly impoverished and so could not pass it on – have come to know and love the Faith

          So, I don’t buy this “the internet is the work of the devil.” The internet is exactly the same as television and books – if it is used badly, it will bear bad fruits. If it is used well, it will bear good fruits. I mean, you never hear anyone say that the telephone is the work of the devil yet when someone I know well was receiving death threats courtesy of BT, she could have been forgiven for thinking that Old Nick was running the show. However, she had more intelligence and realised that the problem was the human being with evil intent who picked up the phone, dialled her number and made the nasty calls.

          So, don’t shoot the instrument of communication. Or, put another way, don’t shoot the means of sending a message. This is that one exception, in other words, when you may shoot the messenger!

  15. TV is an interesting question. I watch very little TV, (prefer to read internet blogs), and only ever the news, sports events or (less often) drama these days. I dislike anything to do with the popular culture, such programs are mainly about subtley reinforcing the latest secular orthodoxy.

    Its all very well to say we can use discretion – and indeed we can. But then how many parents, sitting down with their family to enjoy the start of the Commonwealth games, expected to be greeted by homosexual acts amidst singing and dancing? You can be “caught out” like that and general standards of whats acceptable are falling all the time.

    I enjoy the “Game of Thrones” books; so I watched some of the TV series when it first appeared. TV / film is always inferior to books, but even still I was very surprised by how sexually explicit it was at times, many scenes were essentially what was called “soft pornography” when I was a boy. I actually stopped watching the first series due to this. I have since seen later (by years) episodes and this seems to have been toned down somewhat. Indeed, one of the main female stars was in the press recently, bragging that she would no longer do nude scenes. It is ridiculous to think that TV producers so transparently use the female form as a cheap means of building interest / a following for their shows.

    (The Books themselves can be quite “adult” at times, via sex / violence etc. The story is set is a medieval times-like world and so these things are the order of the day, especially violence. Perhaps I kid myself, but this content in books seems less jarring to me, than do TV scenes of the same. I think the difference is that the books include it simply as part of the story – a battle, a fight or an affair – whereas TV deliberately exploits explicit imagery of these things to directly titillate / manipulate viewers. The author, George Martin, is a talented writer but his books suggest he is no friend of religion. I have heard he had a Jesuit education and didn’t like it!).

    I would be very glad not to have a TV as – in my opinion – there is little of worth to miss. I could always watch the football / boxing in the pub instead. For years, in my Godless 20s, I chose to have no TV signal at all and just used the TV for occasional DVDs and video games. Didn’t miss it at all – and I very much enjoyed not having to pay the BBC license fee.

    However, nowadays, my wife watches more TV than I; she likes dramas, cookery shows and “housey” type shows. She does, sometimes, watch some appalling rubbish too (chat shows etc), however I think it would be unreasonable of me to insist upon no TV.

    But if we are blessed with a family then I should be very careful not to allow the TV to become the central axis of the entire home. I think its one of these things which can creep up on you, suddenly you realise you are all just vegetating in front of the TV every night. Coming home from work or school tired, its easy just lay down in front of the TV (or, from my own experience, internet) instead of doing something useful. Maybe that’s OK sometimes, but not all the time.

    I very much agree with the comment from Petrus, where he rightly identifies that the internet is “worse” than TV in many regards. At least broadcast TV etc is still ‘governable’ by national laws, whereas the internet is completely lawless, meaning any kind of material can be accessed by anyone, often for free. The internet, while a good thing in so many ways, also makes a complete mockery of national laws regarding media age-restrictions, pornography, obscenity etc – this is something which needs to be addressed.

    • Gabriel,

      You make an excellent point about being caught off-guard when viewing TV, and the opening event of the Commonwealth Games is a classic example. I didn’t watch the closing event tonight but took a brief look at the beginning and sure enough the rainbow colours were there again in brazen centre-stage. Disgraceful. I’ve no idea if the homosexual influence extended beyond the rainbow colours, but I was determined not to find out first hand.

      The only other comment I would make is that I think you perhaps under-estimate the damage that we do to our minds and souls by reading impure material in books. I really don’t think it’s less serious than watching such vile stuff on TV and I’m afraid I’ve never accepted the argument that if it is part of the story etc. that’s OK. There’s absolutely no need for vivid descriptions of personal bodily activity of whatever kind in books, or graphic images of it on screen.

      In fact, to deliberately read/view impure material (I was always taught at school) is definitely matter for Confession. I find it extremely boring and frustrating when an otherwise good story goes off at a tangent with “affairs” or other red herring sidelines. There’s no need for it at all in books, and actually the last crime thriller I read had absolutely NOTHING about romance, affairs, none of that and, but for one major flaw, it would have been the closest to a “perfect” thriller I’d ever read. The major flaw was the use of Our Lord’s name as a profanity. I emailed the author to express my praise for her very good story line, absence of the yawn yawn “adult” material but disappointment at the taking of the name of Our Lord in vain, and said it was this that would prevent me recommending the book to others.

      Anyway, lots of food for thought in your post about TV, so thanks for that.

    • Summa,

      There is, as I think we’ve already intimated, a rather unhealthy attitude to all things modern, from women wearing trousers to TV, in some SSPX minds and souls. That statement to which you linked was pretty muted, not “extremist” but there are those who do treat anyone who watches TV at all, however little, and no matter what they are viewing, as somehow suspect, definitely not traditional Catholics in the real sense. They are entitled to their (crackpot) views.

      I’m told parents wishing to enrol their offspring at one SSPX school (at least in the past – no put to date reports on this) have had to sign a document saying the mother will not wear trousers and they will not watch TV. That, in my considered opinion, is a disgrace. Since discovering that fact, I’ve discouraged the few parents who have asked for my opinion, on whether to send their children to that school. Not if they want their children to be normal and balanced individuals, is my advice.

  16. I think I’m balanced enough, but I would have recommended that the parent give up the tv and pants for their child to attend the school. I would have told them pants and tv are nothing compaired to what they would receive in heaven for their sacrifice.

    • 3LittleShepherds,

      Any school which laid down those conditions for entrance, would make me very worried indeed about what they are teaching e.g. about women. I know of one man, SSPX person, who is terribly strict with his daughter, won’t let her move without him being around and I fully expect her to lapse from the church eventually. The only SSPX school in the UK is a boarding school so I wouldn’t use it anyway as I would want my children at home with me.

      • The girls in Ars said that St. Jean Vianney had them all dressing like little old ladies. This couldn’t
        really be necessary but they knew he did it because he loved them. If even a few of the good girls, especially if it went against their wills, dressed very modestly and offered it up they could make reparation, gain graces for souls all over the world and merit for themselves for all eternity. Women and girls are still doing the same. Faithful Catholics still give up all kinds of things like tv and particular clothing as a sacrifice to help souls. If priests encourage them in this it’s a good thing I think.

        • I’ve never heard that about St John Vianney and I don’t think it shows him in a good light at all. Actually, I’m very disappointed to read that. We are not to impose penances on other people. The Poor Clare nuns get up at 1.a.m. to pray for those committing sins in the night, but they don’t make the rest of us feel we ought to do that.

          I do think it’s very praiseworthy for people to offer up sufferings and annoyances for grace for souls. That’s absolutely fine. However, I think we are supposed to do that privately, without telling anyone – that is what the Little Flower taught in her Little Way, the “hidden” way.

          So it is quite wrong for priests or people to make anyone else feel they ought to abide by a code of living that is extra-strict. We should not have added burdens put on to us. I’m fortunate in not having priests or people in my life who do that, so for those who do and put up with it as a penance, that is very praiseworthy.

          • I don’t think wearing skirts or not watching tv is a big deal. Physically it’s easy.
            But let’s not argue. I like you too much! 🙂

            • You are right – it’s not a big deal. What IS a big deal is a priest sticking his nose in and imposing these kind of penances on people. A good maxim is , “all that the Church allows”.

          • Margaret Mary,

            I agree with all your posts. I think a priest is overstepping the mark by imposing these kind of penances on people, that includes the priests in charge of the school who make parents sign that ridiculous document. I would be telling that priest that it is none of his business if I watch TV and it is none of his business what my children wear.

            Don’t get me wrong, priests have a duty to preach about modesty and may even have to speak to individuals privately if they are dressing immodestly. However, preaching about modesty does not mean telling people what to wear.

            The same goes for watching television. They have no right to tell us not to watch TV. Having said that, if someone confesses to a priest that they have been spending 15 hours a day watching TV and neglecting their duties, perhaps a priest could suggest abstaining from TV as a penance. That is quite different.

            Thankfully, none of the traditional priests I have had the privilege of meeting have ever insisted on this kind of madness.

            • Petrus

              Make “parents” sign? How many? Editor said she knew of one parent and what were the circumstances?
              I’ve never heard of this before and I’ve gone to Society
              Masses since I was a little child. If it did happen and to me I would never talk to the priest like that. In fact I would do what he said. Giving up watching tv is not a harsh penance. It doesn’t hurt, it involves no physical exertion, and it doesn’t cost anything. To make out like the priest asked for some severe penance is not accurate.
              TV is unnecesary.

              • That’s completely your choice. As I said, it would depend on the circumstances. The case I was referring to was the priests making parents sign an agreement not to watch TV as a condition to getting a place in the school. I don’t think this is right.

                If you feel you need to do absolutely everything a priest tells you then that’s your business. I don’t think we are obliged as Catholics to do everything a priest tells us. That kind of mentality is a bit worrying if you ask me.

                Thankfully we seem to have sensible priests who wouldn’t give such inappropriate penances. As I’ve said before, remember the maxim “all that the Church allows.” Unless there is a specific problem with a person watching too much television or the wrong kind of television then I don’t think there’s any reason for a priest to issue such a penance.

                • When someone like your Father or Mother, your priest, or the government tells you to do something (not sinful), you’re not practicing the virtue of obedience if you decide to do it for the reason that sounds like it’s a good idea to you. God allows those in authority over us to tell us to do things that we’d rather not have to do so that we can overcome our own wills and practice obedience. There’s not much of another way to do this.
                  On many occasions I’ve thought various priests were wrong in their judgements. I told them so, presented all my arguements, asked them to reconsider but if they still insisted on the point, then it was God’s will and in His Providence everything would work out for good.
                  The same with parents, teachers, etc. (You can think it’s a good idea and also practice true obedience.)
                  Mostly if you want to be a saint you have to go where you don’t want to go, do what you don’t want to do, and love those you’d rather not love.

                  • A priest does not have the authority to tell you not to watch television, unless there’s a serious spiritual reason ie. you have discussed a specific problem related to this in the confessional.

                    Asking parents to sign a form to say they wont watch television is just wrong. In fact, it is crackers. It’s none of the priest’s business if I watch television and its none of his business to tell a woman what she should wear, unless its an issue of modesty. To tell women not to wear trousers is outrageous.

                    • Even so. Treating everything that priests say as if it were unquestionably correct is nonsense. We need sensible, modest priests who act as an example. Priests who know where the boundaries are between spiritual guidance and busybody interference.
                      We have free will and some have intelligence. If our talent is for thinking then it is not good practice to subordinate our thoughts and the outcome of our thoughts to the will of the less intelligent. The parable of the talents surely applies, as does common sense. It does no good to allow priests or indeed anyone to come to consider that their wishes and whims should be followed to the letter.
                      This is a matter that has been considered by the Church. Only the Pope is infallible and then only in special, specific, serious circumstances. No one else.

                  • Our obedience, as laity, is strictly to the Faith. This is what permits us to “disobey” our local bishops and follow the SSPX. Unless we enter religious life, we do not take a vow of obedience. There’s nothing in the Faith that forbids us from watching television so such a request from a priest does not require our obedience.

                    • But would you give it up because it is good advice from a priest?
                      Or would you stick with he has no right to tell me that, which can be a passive aggressive way of resisting that advice because tv is such a habit that it might be an addiction.

    • The benefits for children and families of a well formed traditional catholic education at an SSPX run school are worth sacrifices. I think it’s pretty obvious to both children and parents that we are different from not only novus ordo Catholics but to society in general. And thank goodness for that. I only wish we had one in or around Glasgow to send my children too.

  17. Love the discussion, especially Summa’s posts.
    To say the least there isn’t really any good that comes from watching TV. It’s a waste of time. The habit of turning to the TV whenever you get ‘bored’ leads to watching anything and everything you find, even if you don’t particularly enjoy it. I have friends who will spend up 10+ hours watching TV series on Netflix, and afterwards talking about say that the show was terrible and a waste of time….. obviously a waste of a whole lot of their time. Alternate uses of free time can actually improve the mind and keep the mind and body healthier. Books engage the mind and because they involve the imagination, engage the mind and keep you more riveted, using your faculties while entertaining— this is of course assuming the book is a decent one. Other uses of time prior to people being glued to television shows was gardening, outdoor activities, hobbies (which people seem to have surprisingly few of these days), learning (actually for recreation and not a completely pragmatic purpose), and helping people around them. Another bonus was those things didn’t involve the radiation you get from a screen…
    More than just TV, since computers do everything a TV does, I think it boils down to not only using unnatural means for recreation. No doubt God is in everything, but I certainly feel closer to God when I’m gardening than when I’m watching The Office. TV ends up becoming depressive, gives us unrealistic expectations, and very often stimulates and encourages sinful tendencies and desires. I don’t watch TV at home, but when I spend time with friends there is always TV at least in the background. Even if the show isn’t immoral (though most of the time it is) I can’t help feeling that it’s a complete waste of time. It fails to uplift the mind/ soul as an art form, and serves only to distract.
    Sorry if that was repetitive, I’ve written this in a hurry between work. Wanted to put something on here though 
    As always, thank you for the fantastic blog Editor!!!!!

    • McDuff,

      Does that mean you see nothing good in TV at all? I once saw a documentary about Fatima on the History Channel, and I’ve seen other excellent programmes of an educational type, as well as some entertaining dramas and films. I love reading as well and do a little gardening when the weather permits so it’s not that I watch TV all the time. I just think of it as a resource to use, like the library and enjoy it when I can. I’m really quite puzzled that some people think it’s all bad.

  18. Petrus
    The little innocent children who go to those schools usually go to Mass everyday or several days a week. The graces they receive are unimaginable and for all eternity. I cannot imagine why anyone would not give up all they had, including something as easy as an
    article of clothing and TV, in order to send their children. And to dissuade other families from sending their children! I completely disagree. I don’t want to have that on my head. I encourage all parents to send their children to SSPX schools especially if Mass is offered daily or often. The Mass for your children, Holy Communion for your child is worth every sacrifice, every inconvenience, everything you think is unfair. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

    • 3LittleShepherds,

      The young people you mention don’t have to go to an SSPX school to get to Mass every day and if the same priests giving them the Mass are also making them extremists in matters that are a matter of personal opinion, then they will not stay with the Church. You are making the graces from the Mass seem like magic spells. They are not.

      A good priest is one who does not add burdens to the shoulders of the laity. That is what Our Lord castigated the Pharisees for, adding burdens to people by making more and more laws for them to follow.

      Wearing fashionable clothes, that are modest, and watching TV with discernment, as pointed out here loads of times, is not sinful and it is sinful to make someone so scrupulous that they actually start to think these things are sinful.

      • Referring to the graces received at Mass as ” making it seem like magic spells” sounds really bad to me and really the most offensive thing that has ever been said to me.
        If a priest were to request you to stop watching tv and to not wear pants it is not a burden, not hard to do, and not an excessive penance. Objectively it is completely easy. So stop with the Oh what a heavy, heavy burden to put upon my shoulders and admit that people don’t want to give up tv because they don’t want to live without it. So they try to put it
        back onto the priest and to somehow make it all his fault.

        • I didn’t mean to cause you offence. I didn’t say the graces received at Mass were magic spells I said that you make it sound like that by saying that if the young people are at Mass every day, the graces they get will mean they don’t stray, will stay in the Church. If I’m misunderstanding you then I apologise but that’s what I thought you meant. I was only saying that would make the graces of the Mass like magic, which they are not, grace needs our co-operation and if young people are hearing extreme views being put to them as dogma, then they could give up and think “this is a lot of nonsense.”

          I agree that the graces from the Mass are “unimaginable” but there are plenty of people who have attended daily Mass in their young days and later left the faith. All I am trying to say is that we shouldn’t, especially priests, be putting unnecessary obstacles in their way. The cardinal who keeps being quoted about women wearing trousers, sorry I forget his name, even said that this issue was not to be exaggerated. Well it is, in some places, by some traditional priests, mostly sedevacantists I think.

          I hope you forgive me for any offence caused, because it really and truly wasn’t my intention to offend or to insult Holy Mass – God forbid. Oh Sacrament Most Holy, Oh Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine.

          • Okay, no offence taken. What I meant was the merit that they receive in Heaven. That their place is forever raised in Heaven for each Mass that they attend, and that Sanctifying grace is increased in their souls. Even if they later fall away from the Faith, this merit in full is returned to their souls whenever they repent.

        • No it’s not a heavy burden ….but it’s just ridiculous and quite outrageous. I do get the feeling that if a priest asked you to walk around with a pancake on your head you would do it!

          This crackpot mentality that we must do exactly what priests tell us is very similar to the Modernist papolatorists!

          • Oh so now you’re using ridicule.
            I think that if a priest asked you to walk around with a pancake on your head you would, too. But don’t let him ask anybody to give up tv. Tv is what the passion is all about, in my opinion.

            • I have not used ridicule, but the position you are promoting is indeed ridiculous.

              You ignore this key point that I made yesterday – the laity are NOT bound by obedience to our priests, only to the Faith. The priest can only ask for obedience in matters of the Faith. That’s really all that needs to be said.

              • I think the pancake comment was uncalled for. There is no analogous position that is being offered here that is close to that nonsensical example.
                On the other hand I think 3littleshepherds has a point worth debating on whether or not the benefits of giving up TV at the request of a Priest, (given that we all know TV is a moral quagmire for not only the unwary but for the more knowledgeable of the dangers of being exposed to liberal societies worst excesses) are greater to us than any indignation we might feel by this prescription. I suspect that some of this outrage in people may stem from a certain exposure to liberalism and a overarching belief in the self importance of the individual in terms of their rights, even when it comes to saving souls.
                Anyway, I for one, am enjoying reading different perspectives on this. All I will say is that I think it is going too far to say that advice to give up TV is extremist. Rather I suspect that the reaction to such a position might in some way be extreme.

                • Summa,

                  I repeat, the laity are only bound to obedience to the Faith. That’s the main point here. We are not bound to follow the advice of priests in matters like television.

  19. You are missing the point entirely. Priests have no right to ask this of us. They are overstepping the mark and busing their office. Would you change your model of car if the priest told you to? Would you give up your job? This is madness! The Catholic Church is not a cult. As laity, our obedience is to the Faith. I would not want my children being educated by priests who didn’t understand this. There’s no place in the Catholic Church for extremism. Thankfully, our SSPX priests would never be so downright arrogant.

    • Petrus,

      I agree. A traditional priest (SSPX) once told me that the laity are not under any obedience unless they have entered a Religious Order and made a vow of obedience.

      Some of the SSPX lay people are very inclined to extremism and if they are meeting priests who are the same then they are going to put the young people off the Church altogether. As you say, the Catholic Church is not a cult. We are left to use our free will on all these matters. I can’t see why anyone would think it is a good thing to obey someone who is interfering with that free will.

    • I would change my job if a priest determined it was bad for my soul, yes. I would not watch tv if he determined I had a problem with it. We generally argue with our priests in our country a bit but we are no way like Europeans. We like the priests input, we think they can help us and men over here especially like priests who get in their face and tell them the truth. I’ve seldom run into any “he has no right to tell me that!” attitude.

      • 3littleshepherds,

        I thank God we have sensible priests here. I don’t think it is a priest’s place to “get in our face”. What a crude way to expect a priest to behave. I’m sorry, but I just find your attitude in this to be very extreme and not the least bit Catholic.

        • We would never have to say to the priest “You have no right to tell me that” because we have truly Catholic pastors who know what their role is and it is NOT to tell us what do or what to wear.

          Are you American be any chance?

          • Honestly, the expression used is “What I need is a priest who will get in my face”. It means one who will tell him what’s real, what he’s doing wrong, how to make his life pleasing to God, how to work out some problem. The men seek out the toughest, stongest priests for this. They want the priest to look them in the eye, to say this is garbage in your life get rid of it. Then they drink a beer together or something.

            • I don’t think anybody is complaining about priests telling us when we are doing wrong. That’s their job. The problem is with some extremists who tell us what to wear and not to have TV in our homes. Nobody would mind being reminded of the need to dress modestly or warned not to watch bad stuff on TV but to tell us we can’t wear trousers and can’t have a TV at all is way out of line, IMHO. I am sure these priests mean well but they are just not realising that the Church doesn’t go into these details so neither should they. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with such priests because I would be looking for somewhere else to attend Mass, sorry.

              • I think it’s totally hypothetical. I’ve never even heard of it. But I do think the discussion brings out a few interesting points.

  20. There seems to be an obsession amongst some “new” “traditionalists” about women wearing trousers. I started attending an SSPX Mass Centre 35 years ago and it was never thought of, let alone an issue. I can’t help thinking that such ideas have more in common with some of the Protestant sects who expect their women to dress in the style of the Amish. Anyone who objects is labelled a crazy feminist or a loony modernist,and “even it we don’t agree, we should obey the priest on this matter”. Pity they’ve got nothing better to worry about.

    I’m not talking about immodest jeans or tight trousers, of course. There is no need to go into specifics – we all know what is modest and what it not. There are some so-called traditionalists who preach that the correct form of address for women is for them to be completely covered from head to foot. Frankly, they give me the creeps.

  21. I agree with Summa, 3LS and McDuff. From what I gather, they do not think watching TV is sinful, they are simply saying, not watching TV is better than watching TV. Not watching TV is preferable to watching TV- if we order things toward perfection- a call from which not one of us is exempt.

    While TV may be not be sinful, it is the most perfect means of introducing and reinforcing the values of the world. One look at the advertisements is proof of that, and it does not matter whether we pay attention to them or not. The message makes an impression on the mind. An adult with a well formed conscience and a disciplined life, may be able to turn off the TV, for obvious reasons this would not hold true for everybody.

    If the SSPX have certain regulations regarding the dress code for women, why is that so outrageous? Parents can always refuse to send their children to the school.

    Whether or not we take up the challenge to throw out our TV sets and change our wardrobes, we can, I imagine, at least respect the decision of those who choose to take the better path.

    • Once again the point is missed. I will try and explain my position succinctly and using small words. If only I had the option of visual aides

      It is for us to decide if we watch television and what we wear. I agree there are much better ways to spend time then watching television. The priests have an obligation to warn against immodesty and inappropriate use of TV. They do not have the right to impose these things on us. We are not obliged to give priests our obedience in these matters. The laity are only bound to show obedience to the Faith.

      There really has been some cultish views expressed on this thread. It leads me to believe that we are really quite lucky in this country that we have sensible SSPX priests.

      Sent from my iPhone


      • Once again the point is missed. I will try and explain my position succinctly and using small words. If only I had the option of visual aides

        I stopped reading your post at these words. How demeaning.

        • Summa,

          I’m sorry if you found it demeaning. However we can’t keep going round in circles and missing the crucial part of the argument.

          Sent from my iPhone


      • I was not aware that the priest was imposing anything on the Catholic laity by specifying the regulations/rules the society has for that particular school. If you don’t like what he is saying, disagree all you want, don’t send your children to that school, but don’t try and make your stand the norm for all Catholics. It isn’t.

        And as for missing the point, I think the point of this discussion was whether or not watching TV is sinful. I may have missed it, but I didn’t realize Editor was asking for opinions on whether or not the SSPX are right in their no-TV stand.

        • Jobstears

          You will see that the focus article is from a SSPX website. The Third Order of the SSPX requires that all members abstain from watching television and some priests of the Society regularly warn against it, so I think it is relevant to join the dots and discuss these matters too.

          No priest, no matter what his position from parish priest to head master of a Catholic school, should be imposing themselves on the daily life of Catholic families on this issue. To have this as a requirement for sending a child to a Catholic school is outrageous. Whether I agree with it or not is really besides the point – they shouldn’t be doing it – end of. This is not a matter of Faith.

          Another thing, Jobstears. It is for the administrator of a blog to intervene and redirect the discussion if it has strayed off topic. Discussing the stance of the SSPX school towards television is certainly not off topic, but even if it was, it is the editor’s place to intervene. It is very bad manners for someone else to do so. By all means, redirect the conversation through educational means.

          I wonder what 3 little shepherds et al thought of Bishop Williamson stating that families shouldn’t watch “The Sound of Music” because it is “pornographic”? I’m assuming because of bishop of the Church said this that she and others would have immediately binned their copy and forbidden their children from ever watching such filth!

          Sent from my iPhone


          • I like the Sound of Music. I own a copy of the movie. But it’s at the bottom of the barrel in importance along with tv and fashions. I would never choose (I hope) my right to watch tv or wear a common fashion over a higher good. Even if you disagree with a rule and believe it to be unjust you can still put your pride in your pocket and comply.

            • You still do not understand the nature of lay obedience. The similarities with liberal papolatorists are quite striking.

              Sent from my iPhone


              • Are you trying to smear me, that is so uncool.
                You can be obedient to a suggestion. You can be obedient to something that is not technically just. You don’t have to but you can do it.

            • Hi!,
              I’ve read most of this thread with mounting incomprehension. As laity we live in the world and that means we have to coexist with others, most of whom think religion is bunk or worse. We owe no duty of obedience to priests, or anyone where this conflicts with conscience. We may take advice where the right path is not clear and where it had significance in that serious matters were at stake. We need to consider advice carefully and humbly in that we may not know everything. However, women wearing trousers should not be considered a spiritual risk – Joan of Arc wore trousers. Balance is key. No-one accepts the excuse “I was following orders” and that sums it up.
              We are in the world and of our time. Oscar Wilde said “fools make fashion, wise men follow it.”
              At school – a selective entry Catholic co-educational grammar school, we studied the the encyclical “On the Christian Education of Youth”. The description of the co-educational approach as “the promiscuous herding together” of the sexes provoked a great deal of mirth and torpedoed the teacher’s efforts to present the text as meaningful. Exaggerated rules and restrictions may have the opposite effect to that intended and will lay one open to unnecessary ridicule. The SSPX is by its nature, by the fact it exists at all, a group of strong-willed people. And in any such group there is the danger of toppling over into unbalanced views.
              As Catholics the example we set should be of striving for a life of Grace, not of setting ourselves apart as oddities. In some ways living in society is harder than living apart in that we have to manage the modern world in a Catholic way that is consistent with the Church that has gone before.

        • Jobstears

          The point is that some of these new traditionalists don’t think it’s fine to disagree on this point; they assert that no Catholic worthy of the name would watch TV or wear trousers (the women, that is!). They have absolutely no right to do so, as I’m sure you will agree.

          You are of course correct to say that the SSPX have every right to impose whatever rules they wish to in their schools, just as faithful, Catholics have every right to refuse to send their children to such schools if they disagree with the rules.

          • Therese

            Very good points.

            I would add that the SSPX are a Catholic congregation of priests. Catholic priests should not be adding this stipulation to entry requirements to their school. I would argue that as Catholic priests they do NOT have this right.

            I don’t think this would have happened before the Council so this is another example of people who had no idea of what the Church was really like, trying to recreate a “new traditionalism” based on what they think the Church was like.

            Sent from my iPhone


              • Sorry, I can’t comprehend what you mean here. Whatever their intentions are, it doesn’t change the fact that they are over stepping the mark. Good intentions aren’t always enough.

                Sent from my iPhone


                • Have you ever read what was taught about morals before Vatican 2? Just read old movie condemnations. I think the Bishop’s condemned the movie “Gone With The Wind” when it came out in the 1930’s! You wouldn’t believe what Catholics were not allowed to watch.

          • Therese,

            I agree with you, nobody has the right to say wearing trousers makes you less Catholic. In fact, I don’t see why wearing trousers is even an issue.

            I know a young Catholic marine who (wears trousers!) and keeps the Lenten fast like a monk!

    • Jobstears,

      What is outrageous about the SSPX rule about women not wearing trousers is that it is putting girls off attending the chapels.

      • Margaret Mary,

        I fully appreciate the inconvenience of the no-trousers rule. Frankly, I don’t see how a pair of decent trousers can be worse than a slinky dress or a mini skirt. While there are women who are put off attending SSPX chapels (if we had a chapel here, I can assure you my relatives would not be flocking to it!), there are those who are tired of the NO and the mess in the Church and would be willing to make the sacrifice.

        To demand that the SSPX soften or change their policies, sounds alarmingly like the pick-and-choose mentality rampant in the Church today. The cry of how ‘inflexible’ and ‘rigid’ the Church is and how good people are being turned off Catholicism because the Church refuses to ‘get with the times’, is a common one. Are we perhaps, being guilty of the same reasoning when we would like to see the SSPX change their rules? This is not intended as a criticism, it is an honest query.

        • Jobstears,

          The point is not whether the SSPX should “soften their stance”, but rather why they have such a daft stance in the first place. Preach about modesty by all means, but don’t over step the mark and introduce a dress code. These few priests who insist on enforcing this rule should remember the maxim “all that the Church allows”. The SSPX isn’t a private club that’s free to do what it likes. It’s part of the Catholic Church and should behave that way.

          For many of this it’s a non issue because the SSPX priests we have wouldn’t dream of enforcing these daft rules.

          Sent from my iPhone

        • Jobstears,

          I have always respected the dress code of the SSPX in their chapels and never wear trousers at all to Mass. That’s one thing. I don’t think many people would have a problem with the dress code if it applied only in the Society chapels. The problem is, that – as Therese has so beautifully described in her post of 7 August at 8.01pm – a minority of SSPX clergy and laity consider the issue to be one which defines a Catholic woman. We are recommended to read and listen to (when she gives talks) Colleen Hammond, from the USA, who urges us all to wear flesh coloured knitted tights. That’s the extent of the madness on this particular issue.

          No thanks.

          • Editor,

            Drat! I will now need to take back the flesh coloured knitted tights I’ve bought you for Christmas!

            Sent from my iPhone


      • Margaret Mary

        The answer the new traditionalists would give to your point is that these girls have been corrupted by the spirit of the age and the “feminazis” and therefore entirely lack the Catholic spirit; they would therefore not be fit to attend a Catholic chapel. Complete subjection to these rules is mandatory, and a good Catholic woman should have no problem with this; as women we should be subject to these new laws, as we lack the wherewithal to think clearly about these matters.

        The very fact that we, as women, are taking exception to these rules, is evidence of our worldy corruption and unfemininety.


  22. Petrus,

    I was not intervening or attempting to redirect anything- I was simply replying to your comment that “once again the point was missed”….

    As for “To have this as a requirement for sending a child to a Catholic school is outrageous”, if the SSPX took over my school and made those demands it might be, but since this is their school, and since their requirements are not sinful, and since their requirements are geared toward a higher good, it ought not to pose a huge problem to those who want to send their children to that school. This is not a matter of Faith, agreed, that is why we are free to disagree with them while respecting their right to set their own rules for their school.

    • Jobstears,

      You are correct in that the Society priests are free to set their own rules for the school. But, I have never heard of a school that required the parents to live by certain rules at home, as the Society in England – certainly in recent times – has done (I’m not sure if these rules still apply.) Thus, they cannot be surprised if, by requiring that mothers of children applying to the school don’t wear trousers at home and don’t have a TV set in their home, they put people off who would otherwise have sent their offspring to the school. I know for a fact that some have changed their minds and decided not to apply for the school when learning of these requirements. I am speaking of the situation as reported to me some years ago. I’ve no idea if things are still the same. Since I’ve not heard to the contrary, I’m presuming there’s been no change.

      It has to be said that it is a very small minority of priests who worry about the trousers issue. Frankly, it’s plain silly. Fashions change (we covered this in the newsletter quite recently) and even the one and only cardinal who commented on the then new fashion of women wearing trousers said that the issue was “not to be exaggerated.” He also made the point that trousers on women are sometimes more modest than some types of skirts. As for the “No TV in the home” rule – is not this interference in family life? Who runs the home – the parents or the priest? Of course priests must preach the principles of modesty and purity and warn of the dangers of TV but not impose a blanket ban. We might as well head out to your part of the world and join the Amish!

      • Editor,

        That’s a good point. Setting rules for the school – fine. However, to insist on rules for home life too is over stepping the mark.

        Sent from my iPhone

      • I agree, Editor, worrying about the trousers issue is silly. I was very disappointed to hear the SSPX require women to observe the no-trousers rule all the time.

        I’ve skimmed through Collen Hammond’s book- maybe being an ex model, she may have a better chance of getting people to listen to her! But that is not a book I would recommend to those looking for guidelines. 😀 I don’t believe modesty can be separated from purity. When one is, the other will be found.

        The no TV in the home – rule for those who want to attend the school, I do not see as interference (sorry, there goes my pay check!) in family life. They are, after all, not imposing this ban on all Catholics. Just for those who choose to send their children to their school.

        • This whole thing would be a non-story if the school had made the parents sign a paper stating that they agreed to come to the parish hall once a month for a free steak dinner and that men were required to give up wearing neck ties. In fact there would be no talk of extremism, schism, over stepping their boundaries, or calling the priests “crackpots”. Just don’t ask someone to do something that’s not pleasurable! I think it’s okay for women to wear modest pants and I think it’s okay to watch wholesome tv, but I admire the families who give them up entirely, especially if it is done as a sacrifice to send children to a good school. Oftentimes, we are very soft when it comes to the conversion of our own family members. We want the priest to treat them oh so tenderly, we want them to really like the priest and not be put off by any “extreme” views. One problem is that with this attitude we can easily become enablers. My faith will always be in the priests who overcome human respect and who try, even if sometimes a bit harshly, to detach people from the things of the earth.

          • I’m sorry, 3littleshepherds, but this is a crazy post. After all that has been said on this issue, including a detailed discussion on lay obedience, I can’t believe that you are still writing what you are writing.

            It seems to me that you still don’t understand the role of a priest and the nature of the lay vocation in the Church.

            Sent from my iPhone


            • I think you attack the priests while not supplying any facts. Why did they ask people to sign? What’s their side? Instead of being generous and thinking that the priests were trying to find a way to prevent other students from being scandalized you have to go and criticize the heck out of them.

              • 3littleshepherds,

                Personally, I don’t think there’s any justification for it.

                Listen, I’ve said that I don’t have television coming into my house. I have a television set for DVDs and I watch one or two things on the Internet, so I’m well aware of the dangers of excessive and inappropriate TV and I’ve taken steps to address this. I’ve already said too that my wife doesn’t wear trousers. So, it’s not about being unwilling to give something up. I think it’s wrong to make this into something it’s not, which is what certain priests do.

                Now, I will say no more about it because your stance on this is just wrong and does come dangerously close to heresy.

                Sent from my iPhone


                • Your stance leaves no room for pious obedience. Do you actually think that someone like St. Jean Vianney would respect your right to keep a tv in your house? Honestly, fess up. Really? No way!
                  He even denounced bars and saloons and gave the owners money to leave town. I guess you think he should have left people alone, let them go to saloons if they wanted?

                  • Explain to us all what you mean by pious obedience….

                    I tell you what I think, I think you are very similar to a papolatorist. It’s so true that the extreme right and the extreme left are often very similar. What I DO know is that there is no place for extremism in the Catholic Church. Your stance, 3littleshepherds, makes you part of the problem in the Church today – not part of the solution.

                    Sent from my iPhone

                    • Obedience done out of piety toward the priest not because he has a strict right to it but because he has the good of our soul in mind.
                       “If a priest is determined not to lose his soul,” St. Jean Vianney exclaimed, “so soon as any disorder arises in the parish, he must trample underfoot all human considerations as well as the fear of the contempt and hatred of his people. He must not allow anything to bar his way in the discharge of duty, even were he certain of being murdered on coming down from the pulpit. A pastor who wants to do his duty must keep his sword in hand at all times. Did not St. Paul himself write to the faithful of Corinth: ‘I most gladly will spend and be spent myself for your souls, although loving you more, I be loved less.’”
                      It isn’t wise to second guess a priest without knowing the circumstances.

                    • This is a reply to 3LittleShepherds, 11.17pm post on 10 August.

                      You keep writing about obedience to priests in matters such as women’s dress and TV where there is no requirement for us to obey. You then quote the Cure D’Ars on “disorder” in the parish. But there is no disorder arising from people exercising their right to choose how to dress and watch TV if they wish, always with Catholic principles of modesty and purity in mind. So you create a false dichotomy there.

                      It is by setting up a series of straw men that you are defending a tiny minority of SSPX priests who try to impose their own personal will in these matters. They are wrong to do so. We are not “attacking” them – no names have been mentioned, for example, and nor should they be (and will be deleted if this happens).

                      Only vowed religious are obliged to formal obedience. We are not. Nor are we asked to switch off our intelligence and thwart our free will when there is no requirement, in natural or Church law so to do.

                      I note you speak about there being a “culture” difference between us but I’m afraid it’s more than that, 3LittleShepherds. You are seeking to argue that religious obedience or “pious” obedience is required of us in any matter where we may hold a different opinion from our priest. That is the Protestant view of Catholic priests, that they are power-mongers seeking to lord it over the faithful. Not the case. We should respect the priesthood, as we respect the papacy, but in neither case should we conduct ourselves in a servile spirit of blind obedience. That is to insult God, who gave us our intelligence and free will.

                      I am certain that God will honour the intentions of someone who, in good faith and ignorance, does exercise such blind obedience towards priests, but it is certainly not the Catholic way.

          • “My faith will always be in the priests who overcome human respect and who try, even if sometimes a bit harshly, to detach people from the things of the earth.”
            This seems to be veering dangerously close to heresy. The things of this earth are not evil. They are part of the Creation. I’m guessing that you refer to bad things. However, one must be very careful about condemning stuff as it is generally misuse of stuff that is bad.

            • You are supposed to be detached towards the things of the earth. Do you know what detachment means? It doesn’t mean condemnation.

              • 3LittleShepherds,

                Detachment means not being more attached to people or material things than to God. Not even to specific spiritual devotions. Nothing should be more important to us than God and His holy will. That’s all it means.

                It does NOT mean that if an individual priest decides Corn Flakes are bad for us that we stop eating Corn Flakes. What we do is continue to eat the Corn Flakes and add that poor misguided priest’s soul to our daily rosary 😀

                Remember,Our Lord was scathing in his condemnation of the religious leaders of his day – not for enforcing God’s law, but for adding minute details to it and thereby adding to the burden of the conscientious souls entrusted to their care.

                It’s no use saying that those people would have earned grace by obeying – that is not the point. I can’t insist that YOU observe penances that I may impose on myself. That is not only thoughtless and uncharitable but it’s a darn cheek and not remotely pleasing to God. It’s actually a form of pride.

                We may choose to practise penances, such as keeping the heating off in winter or going without chocolate, to name but two that I don’t practise 😀

                That’s fine. But we must NOT make anyone else feel that they ought to do the same. That is expressly forbidden in the Gospel where we’re instructed not to even let anyone else guess that we are doing penance; instead we are to wash our face and smile at the world, so that “our Father who knows all that is done in secret” will reward us. Otherwise, Our Lord says, we are acting like the hypocrites, putting on a face to be admired, in which case we will have had our reward, see Matthew 6: 16ff

                I’m totally detached from my entire wardrobe – always seeking to renew it 😀 – and I am so detached from the TV that I seldom see it. But since there’s no legal or moral law that requires me to dispose of it, I’m keeping it. Just in case the History channel ever re-runs that excellent documentary on Fatima…. not to mention Columbo and Miss Marple… 😀

                I’m also well enough educated in my Faith not to confuse roles in life, whether that be the roles of men and women (as the feminists do) or the roles of laity and clergy (as both the Modernists and some “traditional” Catholics do, each in their own misguided, for different reasons, way.)

                Now, there is no way I am going to be able to answer all of the comments you’ve posted on this thread since my last visit so I just want to add one more thing which you mention in another comment about referring to parts of the human body. You mention that “breasts” is not crude. And you are right. It’s not. Nor is any part of the human body “crude” per se.

                However, prior to Vatican II it was routine in schools (at least my all girls school) for mention to be made of modesty, not just in dress, but also in speech.

                We were taught to avoid speaking of our bodies in an explicit way, because our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Ghost and so should be treated with some delicacy in speech. Out of that modesty of speech, arises modesty of dress. Nobody said we shouldn’t wear this or that, but only that we should dress with care, mindful of male psychology and Judgement Day… something to that effect… 😀

                I hope this clarifies things somewhat, as I think we are now at the stage of going round in circles on this, and for no good reason really. I’m sure if we were to meet round the coffee table for coffee and chocolate biscuits, we’d all agree in the end. We’d have to. Otherwise, we’d run out of chocolate biscuits 😯 😯 😯

                • I will quit because you and mostly Petrus keep misinterpreting what I’ve said. I thought twice about ever comme ting in the first place. I knew you were really biased and I was sure to get walloped. I find it to be a real culture clash.
                  I did have one regret and that was I responded too harshly to nICKY. If I had thought for a moment I would have known that Tommy, who has a warm soul, wouldn’t talk about the Mass like that.
                  I meant everything else! And would stick with my opinion dispite all of Petrus’ conniptions.

              • Reply to Editor at 9:54am
                Please don’t misinterpret my posts again. I did not say you had to be obedient, should be blindly obedient, or anything of the sort anywhere in any of my post ever. I said if the priest doesn’t have a strict right to obedience one can be obedient. The priest is not wrong to ask people to give hp tv if he knows it causes problems in the school. I would give it up. I would encourage others to do so. People give up all sorts of things that their priests have told them to. They always have.
                Fighting for something like tv when it’s
                programming is in a big part from the sewer is one strange crusade for a Catholic. Far better is the priest who fights against it and maybe helps a family to give it up.

                • Thankfully this isn’t a problem for us in this country as our traditional priests are sensible.

                  Sent from my iPhone

                • 3LittleShepherds,

                  I apologise sincerely for having upset you. I hope you don’t think I would deliberately misinterpret your comments but I apologise for having apparently done so.

                  Let’s leave it there.

            • Andrew Paterson,

              This explains detachment:

              “Example makes it clear that man is destroyed by his own free choice: for out of love for some worldly thing he throws himself into fire, is drowned in the sea and gives himself into captivity. Let us suppose that someone’s house or field has caught fire. The person who wanted to save himself fled without anything as soon as he noticed the fire, leaving everything in it and concerned only with his own life. But someone else thought he would take some of the goods with him, so he stayed behind to collect them; and as he was taking them the fire, which had already overwhelmed the house, caught him as well and burnt him. In this way, through his attachment to some transient thing, he was destroyed in the fire by his own free choice. Again, two men were shipwrecked. One of them, wanting to save himself, stripped off his clothes and threw himself into the water; and in this way he was able to save his life. The other, wanting to save his clothes as well, was drowned, destroying himself for the sake of a slight gain. Or again, let us suppose that news of an attack by an enemy was announced. One man, as soon as he heard the news, fled as fast as his feet would carry him, without a thought for his possessions. Another, either because he distrusted the news, or because he wanted to take with him some of his goods, waited until later, and when the enemy arrived he was caught. Thus, through his lack of alertness and his attachment to worldly things, he lost body and soul by his own free choice.” St. Symeon Metaphrastis

              • 3LittleShepherds,

                What you describe is undue attachment to worldly goods. That is sinful. What is NOT sinful is to choose to wear certain clothing (assuming modesty) and watching TV, even if your priest doesn’t want you to. I’m not attached to anything in my wardrobe or to my TV as I’ve explained above but I will not bin them just because a priest thinks I ought to do so.

                We’re not talking about the majority of priests. Frankly, I have a feeling that the majority of priests see all of this as a (laughable) non-issue. So, let’s stop going round in circles with it. Pointless. Don’t let’s make a dogma out of an opinion. And a minority opinion at that.

  23. I was always taught that modest pants were not subjectively sinful because our culture had accepted them. I was taught that pagans and worldly people know at least that they have to keep their bottoms and breasts covered and that for the most part they are ignorant about modesty so not guilty. But as for the Faithful, modesty requirements were not only connected to how much we were covered so as not to cause impure sins but it includes dressing in a dignified way because we are the temples of the Holy Ghost. This was always taught as far as I know. Some priests might give emphasis to the traditional clothing of women, which was always a dress for thousands of years, because it is a symbol of who she is traditionally. They think this symbol is important to counter the attacks against Catholic women, wives, mothers, single women who dedicate their lives to helping the Church and also all women of goodwill who agree with the traditional role. I don’t know if a dress is a powerful symbol that the devil hates, but some think it is. It’s an opinion but it has nothing to do with Amish or schism or being anti woman.

    • I think this is a noble opinion. Personally, I prefer woman in skirts (I know that must sound so odd). My wife doesn’t wear trousers because she likes skirts and she thinks they are more feminine. My wee girl has never worn trousers and we won’t buy her trousers. If she chooses to wear them when she’s older then that’s entirely her choice.

      However, I keep this to myself. It’s an opinion. The dress code in the SSPX churches is fine. However, there is a small minority of priests who will over step the mark and give the impression that you can’t be a good Catholic unless you abide by this rule constantly. Thankfully, these crackpots are in the minority.

      Sent from my iPhone


      • Also if you wanted to send a child to a good school and they made you sign a paper with stipulations for parents like tv and dress, I would think breaking it would like breaking a simple promise, and not a sin, of course. People sign rosary pledges but breaking it is not a sin. You should try but it isn’t a vow or something.

      • Calling priests “crackpots”? An example of what is wrong with your attitude on this subject.

      • Petrus

        “My wife doesn’t wear trousers because she likes skirts and she thinks they are more feminine.”

        That’s because she starts out as a tall, slim, glamorous lady. Give the rest of us a break!

    • Which is why Scotsmen wear kilts…but seriously, “modest pants were not subjectively sinful because our culture had accepted them”?
      Our culture has accepted abortion on demand.
      And, “for the most part they are ignorant about modesty so not guilty.”? That is possibly one of the most condescending remarks I have come across. You should not equate nudity with immodesty or forgive both as the result of “ignorance”. Modesty is a state of mind as is prurience. It is the same mistake missionaries made when visiting the South Seas for the first time. Were you taught by a missionary by any chance?
      I would also guess that being a temple of the Holy Ghost rules out fancy dress parties?
      I do not mean to be flip or hurtful but the views you express are entirely strange to me although I was brought up via a strictly orthodox Catholic schooling (pre Vatican2) that also encouraged independent thinking.

      • Most women in the world today don’t know what modesty is. They may commit objective mortal sins but they can’t commit
        subjective mortal sins if they don’t understand. Most understand they have to cover their bottoms and breasts.

        • 3LittleShepherds

          “Most understand that they have to cover their bottoms and breasts.”

          Ah, if only that were true. Perhaps in America; not, I assure you, in Britain.

      • What is a fancy dress party? Is that a costume party? I’ve heard of costume parties but I have no experience. What do you mean, are they silly?
        I’m a post Vatican II baby, but my parents were older when I was born. We were always taught that as Catholics we were not to get tattoos, dress immodestly, nor talk like sailors.

        Wearing pants has absolutely nothing to do with abortion.

        • Thanks for your response. I did not explain my thought fully. My point is that because something is accepted in our culture does not make it right, nor acceptable either to Catholics or God.
          My example was the killling of unborn children. This is acceptable in our culture and, for the moment, irreversible. Another example is that all the lamb, beef and chicken that is sold in British supermarkets is halal, which means that it has been sacrificed to Allah. Our “culture” accepts this, although it is clearly unacceptable to Christians who recognise one God. We need to be careful about what we accept on the basis that the rest of society finds it acceptable. We need to discern between the superficial and trivial such as women in trousers, and the serious stuff, like abortion, and the stealthy Islamisation of the West.

          • I was taught by priests that wearing modest pants is not subjectively sinful because our culture has excepted them. People are not scandalized. I believe that women could be arrested in France in the early twentieth century for wearing pants on the street.

    • 3LittleShepherds,

      Your post of 7 August, 10.25. illustrates perfectly what is wrong with all the fuss about women wearing trousers.

      You see, at one time, no woman would ever speak of body parts explicitly as you have done. At one time, 3LittleShepherds might have said something like, “I was taught that pagans and worldly people know at least that they have to keep the personal parts of their bodies covered” – something like that without naming the body parts. Modesty (of speech) aids purity (of heart and soul).

      Modesty and purity are what count. Details of what to wear should be left to the individual, as the Church has always done.

      • Editor

        I’m so glad you made this point! I have often found (and I do stress that I do not refer to 3LittleShepherds) that the new traditionalists go into graphic detail about why they don’t like women wearing trousers, which is why such conversations often become – in my opinion – unwholesome and prurient. I thought I was perhaps being too old-fashioned and “repressed” in my thinking and language. Thank you for underscoring the correct terms that Catholics should use and for helping me to clarify this in my mind.

      • Editor,
        “You see, at one time, no woman would ever speak of body parts explicitly as you have done.”
        I was quoting from a study by a Catholic priest, I just didn’t think putting quotes around it was necessary. “Breast” is not a vulgar impure term anyway, it’s a clinical term.

  24. Andrew Paterson,

    How quickly that “independent thinking” turned radical, especially in the theologians who masterminded the conciliar reformation!

    • Thanks for your response.
      It certainly did. The old ways are the best. Unfortunately, younger people have no knowledge of the old ways.
      Therese. You have a point. There was certainly a sense of “how far can we go?”

  25. Athanius

    Yes indeed; but the alternative to independent thinking is not blind obedience to the whims and strictures of individual priests. It was not independent thinking that led the laity into accepting the “changes” brought about by VII, but blind obedience.

    • Therese,

      Exactly. It is trying to instil some independent thinking where it is perfectly permissible, that is virtually impossible these days with papolatrists all over the place, screaming “disobedience” and “schism” at every turn.

      So, well said. Nail firmly banged on head!

  26. I prefer that women and men dress with modesty. I also prefer that they stick to the clothes of their sex, unless out of necessity. St Thomas Aquinas makes reference to this. So if a woman was engaged in particular purpose that for necessity meant trousers, then so be it.
    I believe that this is the volition behind the exhortation by some priests for women to wear skirts rather than trousers. I do not believe that it originates otherwise.
    Dress for God.

    • There was a really good article in Catholic Truth not very long ago where they took you through the history of fashion and showed that there has never been a time when there was such a thing as “men’s” and “women’s” dress. Our Lady and Our Lord both wore long flowing robes and during history the only difference was in the jewellery, belts etc that was worn with the robes. In medieval times the men wore below the knee length tunics and tights. Fashions keep changing which is why the Church doesn’t tell us what we are to wear, just preaches modesty. I don’t understand why people get hung up on this. I wear both trousers and skirts. It’s no big deal.

      • I suppose fashions have, do and will change, but you can only really say something is ‘x’ when measured against the standard of the day. So when I say I prefer women to wear skirts, it is because I judge that to be the feminine standard in our culture.
        What is for sure, if a lady decided to wear trousers to Mass, I wouldn’t get too bothered about it or to use your phrase ‘hung up’. As long as it was modest, then that is fine.
        And I don’t scan the attire of the congregation. I try and concentrate on the Mass and make sure the weans are behaving. 🙂

        • Summa,

          I think that’s a very fair position to hold. Trousers for women is now such a normal part of the culture in the western world that to treat it as abnormal seems really weird to young people. Also, Asian women wearing the trouser suits they wear are very modest. I can’t see any issue at all. Most women today wear both skirts and trousers. I know I do.

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