Sunday, 3 January 2010

Television and the Occasion of Sin

Browsing through a dictionary of quotations earlier today, I came across this gem. It was said on CBS Television in 1971, by the British television personality, David Frost:

“Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn’t have in your home.”

This made me think of the old form of the Act of Contrition, which concludes with the words: “… and I firmly resolve, by the help of Thy Grace, never to offend Thee again, and carefully to avoid the occasion of sin.”

One of the benefits of an old-style Catholic education was that our lessons on the subject of sin included a very practical stress on the necessity of keeping away from occasions of sin. We were – or should have been – quite clear in our minds that this meant not only things or situations, but also people who put us into an avoidable state of temptation toward any kind of sin.

We were specifically warned about being in “bad company”. We were reminded that steering clear of it – and even more, breaking away from such “friends”, would sometimes require courage, and the acceptance of the risk, and very often the reality, of ridicule.

“Bad company” comes in bucketloads from television, from many programmes and perhaps especially from soap operas. The boundary of acceptability in all spheres of morality is pushed back and back by many elements within modern society; and surely not least among these elements are the insidiously corrupting “friends” who arrive in millions of homes every day.

Do Catholic schools continue to educate their pupils on this subject? Do parents know of its importance? How alert are our priests to the dangers, and to their own opportunities?

So many of the victims of this poison do not attend church. I know priests are somewhat constrained to stick to the themes of the Scriptural readings for the day, but if they try I'm sure they could insert a few nuggets of gold into their homilies. It would be wonderful if they could talk to their congregations about it from the pulpit, not necessarily as people needing such guidance themselves, but to encourage them to spread this sound teaching among their families and friends when suitable opportunities arise.


Kindred Spirit said...

I don't own a television, and I haven't for years; but if I happen to be around one, I find that it is an excellent opportunity for practising custody of the eyes, something which all Catholics were formerly taught to do when around immodest or impure sights.

Dorothy said...

Yes indeed, Kindred Spirit. Ah, the wisdom and breadth of the Church's teaching, that reveals to us these important and very practical "little" virtues (but not really little), servants and strengtheners of the greater ones!

There are so many wonderful things in Her treasury. Imagine what priests could achieve if more of them were to use the opportunities provided by their pulpits to bring forth these riches for their flocks.