I recently found this wonderful speech by the previous Mother Prioress of the traditional Congregation of the Dominican Teaching Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus of Fanjeaux out of their school / convent in Idaho simply called Saint Dominic school on the dangers of TV. These are over 200 traditional Catholic women who have given their lives to teach Catholic girls. They have given up their chance at a husband and families of their own to serve other members of their Christian community. The Dominican Teaching Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus have been educating Christian girls for centuries. I think their perspective is noteworthy.
Dominican Teaching Sisters of the dangers of TV
And how could vocations flourish in our families, if the children do not see the virtues of Our Lord shining at home, in a very concrete way; if we do not teach them to imitate Our Lord Jesus Christ, by the renunciation of their desires, of their self-love, and of their own will?
Our prayers are worth nothing if they do not lead us to imitate Our Lord, His virtues, His absolute dedication to the Glory of the Father and the salvation of His brothers!
Through the weakness of giving into our children, we work toward the destruction of their personality. And we can never make up for this harm done, or only at the price of great heroism, so great that only a few succeed. But most of these destroyed personalities became indecisive people, victims of their contradictory passions; they have nervous breakdowns, or complexes; they are incapable of making decisions . . . An education that is too weak has shut the door to grandeur, nobleness, magnanimity, holiness . . . .
Unless the dream models are TV stars?
I am sure that your answer is, “Oh, no Mother, never!” Well, never? Then why do so many of your daughters spend so many hours in front of the television set? Do you think that it is harmless?
Television is deadly poison for their soul, and that is the most serious point.
Television is deadly poison for their world, and that is very serious.
Television is deadly poison for their studies, and that is very serious.
Television is deadly poison for your family life, and that is very serious.
TELEVISION: Deadly poison for their soul
Often one television program is enough to push a youth into mortal sin. By letting your children sit in front of the television, you run the nearly certain risk of killing the supernatural life in their souls. There is no such thing as a harmless television program. Impurity, ugliness and vulgarity strike their eyes, their senses, their imagination and soil their souls. It cannot be avoided.
None of you would dream of risking your children’s lives, for instance, by setting them in the middle of the highway at night, all ready to be run over. Setting them in front of the television is worse yet. (And the same danger is true of listening to the radio, rock music and modern music.) You endanger the supernatural life of your children which is infinitely more precious than their bodily life. What a responsibility before God!
TELEVISION: Deadly poison for their mind
Watching television requires no intellectual effort whatsoever. In front of a television people are passive, that is, they receive what is presented without making any effort to think. They are comfortably and lazily seated on the sofa, with a little snack on the TV table, why not? And like this, everything is at hand, and they swallow and swallow all that the television pours out, without their mind’s having the time, or even the possibility, to react. The pictures strike the imagination and leave their trace on the mind, where they destroy any personal life, any personal thought or reaction. And television creates millions of people who do not think, who are no longer themselves. They are all alike [Bard Note: Like zombies, like sheep], all blinded by the illusion that they are knowledgeable. And thus, news replaces culture; public opinion dispenses people from thinking for themselves and replaces God’s judgment; even the stupidity of television shows does not awaken the apathy, the listlessness of their brains under anesthesia.
But personal reflection is so important. It is necessary to our supernatural life. We shall not be saved automatically. We cannot be saved without conquering our liberty of judgment and of choice, without making all our decisions in favor of Good, whatever be the obstacles and traps which come from the world, the devil, or our own lusts. Television prevents us from attaining this interior liberty of judgment, without which we can never truly be human persons.
TELEVISION: Deadly poison for their studies
Ask an intellectual effort of children who watch television . . . you will obtain no response. These children have, firstly, an inability to concentrate, and inability to be attentive, which comes directly from television. They are unstable, superficial, incapable of maintaining an intellectual effort, and intellectual reasoning. In addition, they have lost their liking for this sort of work – it is so arduous! With television, we just turn it on and . . . the whole world is before our eyes! These television watchers are full of illusion thinking they know so much.
What is more, their interests become as superficial as the programs they watch. This is why some children, even some only ten or twelve years old, are so worried about how they look; this is why they wear make-up etc. Certain twelve-year-olds look like sixteen-year-olds. It is a shame that they lose the innocence and the simplicity of their age.
And when this artificial world of television, this world of sin, of ugliness and of stupidity has captured their intelligences and their hearts, irreparable harm has been done. Their intelligences and their hearts remain untouched by the language of the Faith and of education. And all your efforts, all our efforts are made sterile.
Do not think that attending Sunday Mass is enough to save your children. But refer everything to this Mass, to Jesus Christ and to His love. If you do not, there is a lie in your life. It has always been necessary for Christians to cut themselves off from the world: “You are in the world, but you are no longer of the world,” Jesus tells us. This means that your behavior must be different from the world’s.
It would be too long to quote Saint Paul, but reread his Epistles. In all of them he enjoins his faithful to abandon their pagan customs and to put on the Christian way of living. And he goes into detail. He does not tell them, “It is good enough if you go to Mass on Sunday and say your morning and night prayers.” He tells them all to overturn their idols; this is the other side of adhering to God. And all the missionaries after him always overturned the idols in order to install a Christian city.
Today’s idols are no longer Zeus or Venus. Today’s idols are television, singers, sports stars, rock music, movies, . . . We are to be as firm towards these idols as the first Christians were toward their false gods. “No alliance is possible between the light and the darkness.” None. [Bard Note: Is your federal government of the light, or the dark? What alliance is possible?]
TELEVISION: Deadly poison for your family life
Your homes must be sanctuaries where God is honored, loved, served, where the parents watch vigilantly over the education of their children.
What is television doing in the middle? It is breaking family life. It is keeping the father or the mother from talking, rectifying, advising, encouraging. The television is the stranger who has the place of honor in the home, the place that belongs to God, the place that belongs to the parents.
And there is no more family life, no more home where the flame is burning, from where it lights and warms all those who come near. You have simply people next to each other, separated, in fact, instead of being united; for the bond of unity is lacking, it is ruptured by the presence of television, which dictates its programs, its opinions, its lies. Well?
What is the conclusion? It is easy. Get rid of the television. Throw it into the garbage. That is where it belongs. Do it this evening. Do not wait until tomorrow; your courage might fail. Tonight while your children are sleeping, without asking their opinion, of course!
And you will be surprised to see how much time you will then have to enjoy your family life and to look after each other. You will be surprised to see how fast the level of your conversations will go up, to see how docile your children will become to your authority. Family prayer, morning and night, family rosary, will take back their place of honor. Soon you will fell how much this new beginning of a natural life will pacify each and every one, will solder them to each other. The artificiality of a life which goes on in front of the television kills the personality of everyone in the family, and the result is mediocrity, laziness, slavery to fashion, and always impurity in one way or another.