St. Paul the Hermit – Confessor
Education and Television
Taken from http://olrl.org/misc/educ_TV.shtml
This is a talk given by the Dominican Teaching Sisters of Post Falls, Idaho. In the first part of the talk they point out the importance of a good education and the faults (sins) of their students which frustrate the learning process and the serious consequences of these unchecked vices later in life. The Sisters site the causes of the problems and give parents and teachers the remedies.
The second part (- presented below -) gives emphasis to the influence of television and how to best combat its effect on children as well as young adults. The conclusion offers guidelines which can aid parents in combating the permissiveness of today’s society. Stressed is the importance of co-operation between teacher and parent.
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!
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, 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.
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 St. 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.
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.
Catholic parents, you must not be accomplices of such an undertaking of dehumanization and of dechristianization.
Do not renounce educating your children.
“To educate your children,” wrote Rev. Fr. de Chivré, “is to secure them with the means of attaining the full exercise of their spiritual lives as baptized Catholics, of making the most of their natural lives, and of facilitating their future lives.” Thus one can understand the importance of the language in conversations, in readings, in warnings, in scoldings, in encouragements and in corrections coming from the parents. The education of a child’s interior life is the only things that will arm him against the false appearances of the world. Helping him become accustomed to the truth, attracted to what is simple, energetic in the faithful accomplishment of his duties, proud in upholding moral values, aware of the presence of God, of an interior voice . . . teaching him to bear the arms of a Catholic who is baptized, who is confirmed . . . all these things galvanize the undecided frailty of teenagers and forge their characters.
And their duty belongs primarily to parents: the heart of a father and the heart of a mother, constantly burning with flames which are conducive to the awakening of the soul, the conscience, the reason, the heart, and the sensitivity of children.
“The home is a church in which dwells the True Presence. Not just anybody may come in; not just anything may be said, no unfitting or vulgar tunes may be sung. The home is like a tabernacle; one enters to be grasped by a need for respect, to be stolen over by a certain depth, to be sheltered from intellectual and moral degradation.
“It is the parents who have the responsibility, before the school, of teaching their children to live and to love what is Good and what is True. And it is precisely because childhood is characterized by both a lack of sufficient reason and an excess of anarchistic and unreasonable desires that intelligent imperatives are needed from parents, and intelligent refusals must be pronounced by parents when the need arises.
“To educate a child is to dare to choose for him, in order to deliver him from his ignorance, his weakness, and his personal inclinations.
It is to dare to choose in accordance with what one knows to be Christian, that is, Christ like.”
To give commands is to love, precisely, with due measure and mild firmness.
In the realm of your children’s physical life, we do not hesitate to impose the necessary treatments to safeguard their health. And in the all-important realm of their conscience and knowledge, could we stand by and allow just anything to be said, or anything to be done? If we no longer dare to ask, no longer want to instruct, or decide no longer to allow or forbid, we annul and abandon our teaching functions.
It would also make all of our labor fruitless . . . We can obtain nothing from your children if you yourselves do not have the same requirements in their education. Children must learn the same truths and contemplate the same examples to follow at home and at school. If the case were to be the opposite we would be obliged, God forbid, to send away the children whose parents would educate them in a different direction: an atmosphere of carelessness, permissiveness, or liberal ideas in the intellectual, moral, and religious domains.
So, for the love of your children, be courageous enough to take heroic steps, of which only the first steps are hard, then the others come easier . . . .
Eliminate all the candy and cookies throughout the day. Save them for feast days and holidays, and even then in moderate quantity.
Require that your children eat everything at meals without choosing, and without making comments which reflect their likes or dislikes.
Establish a set time for studies in the evening, with calm, quiet surroundings. Supervise their work and insist on neatness and perfection.
Punish them severely when their work is bad, and take measures until it changes and improves.
Take a concrete interest in their schoolwork. Follow it closely.
Without your help in this area we will have a hard time truly captivating their interest.
Send them to school, even if they have a headache or a stomach-ache.
Require that your girls help around the house.
Demand of them true Christian generosity towards you, first, then toward their brothers and sisters. (This is a sacred and religious
Insist upon physical efforts: walking, hikes, bicycle riding, etc.
They are too lax, weak and wanting in energy! . . . no physical or moral vitality!
Throw out the makeup, the fingernail polish and the rest, for all of this develops the worship of the body to the detriment of the soul, the worship of one’s own person instead of the worship of Jesus Christ and dedication to one’s duties.
Whatever the causes may be, whatever weaknesses we may have or mistakes we may have made in the area of education, we must take courage and remain confident; for we have the graces to accomplish this work well, and where necessary, to correct and improve our methods of education.
Everything is possible as soon as the family and the school have decided to work together, in the same direction, with the same firmness. It is never too late to do something well or to make resolutions. We must have Faith!
Don’t give up! It will be easier than you think. Youth is made for heroism. The more you ask of a youth, the happier you will make him; for you are giving him a true moral, intellectual and spiritual value.
At the origin of all great saints, there were almost always saintly mothers and fathers. Look at St. Pius X, St. John Bosco, Archbishop Lefebvre . . . Prayer, work, sacrifice, poverty . . . these were the conditions in which they lived . . . walking in the traces of the model which we all must follow: the Holy Family at Nazareth. If Our Lord felt it necessary to spend 30 years of His life hidden, in humble and laborious circumstances, it was to teach us what our Christian homes must be like. Let us live up to His expectations, and glorify Him by putting all of our zealous energies to work, in order to live in imitation of the Holy Family.
Sincerely in Christ,
Our Lady of the Rosary Library
“Pray and work for souls”
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