As Catholics we have “The moral responsibility of not exposing oneself unnecessarily to occasions of sin.” (Catholic Dictionary, Term; AVOIDING SIN)
“Three principles are standard in Catholic moral teaching: 1. no one is obliged to avoid the remote occasions of sin. This is true because the danger of sin is slight and otherwise it would be impossible to live in the world; 2. everyone is obliged to avoid voluntary proximate occasions of sin, where “voluntary” means that it can easily be removed or avoided; 3. anyone in a necessary proximate occasion of sin is obliged to make the occasion remote. An occasion is necessary when the person’s state of life or profession or circumstances make it morally impossible to avoid exposure to certain enticements. What is a proximate danger to sinning can be rendered remote by such means as prayer, the sacraments, and custody of the senses, especially of the eyes.”
Today the horror of sin and the dangers of exposing ourselves to it and the near occasions of it are so watered down that it’s pathetic. Catholic’s seem to be left on their own for moral guides on which to perceive whether something is “clean” or not. The fact that the National Catholic Registers came out with a list titled, “Top 100 Pro-Catholic Movies” that encourages Catholics to view movies with sexual content in them says a lot.
Thankfully, we are not left to our own devices, even if it looks like it. The Church clearly teaches us about what is sinful and what isn’t, and our duties concerning it.
The Baltimore Catechism explains this in simple terms:
Q. 770. What do you mean by a firm purpose of sinning no more?
A. By a firm purpose of sinning no more I mean a fixed resolve not only to avoid all mortal sin, but also its near occasions.
Q. 771. What do you mean by the near occasions of sin?
A. By the near occasions of sin I mean all the persons, places and things that may easily lead us into sin.
Q. 772. Why are we bound to avoid occasions of sin?
A. We are bound to avoid occasions of sin because Our Lord has said: “He who loves the danger will perish in it”; and as we are bound to avoid the loss of our souls, so we are bound to avoid the danger of their loss. The occasion is the cause of sin, and you cannot take away the evil without removing its cause.
Q. 773. Is a person who is determined to avoid the sin, but who is unwilling to give up its near occasion when it is possible to do so, rightly disposed for confession?
A. A person who is determined to avoid the sin, but who is unwilling to give up its near occasion when it is possible to do so, is not rightly disposed for confession, and he will not be absolved if he makes known to the priest the true state of his conscience.
Q. 774. How many kinds of occasions of sin are there?
A. There are four kinds of occasions of sin: 1. Near occasions, through which we always fall; 2. Remote occasions, through which we sometimes fall; 3. Voluntary occasions or those we can avoid; and 4. Involuntary occasions or those we cannot avoid. A person who lives in a near and voluntary occasion of sin need not expect forgiveness while he continues in that state.
Q. 775. What persons, places and things are usually occasions of sin?
A. 1. The persons who are occasions of sin are all those in whose company we sin, whether they be bad of themselves or bad only while in our company, in which case we also become occasions of sin for them; 2. The places are usually liquor saloons, low theaters, indecent dances, entertainments, amusements, exhibitions, and all immoral resorts of any kind, whether we sin in them or not; 3. The things are all bad books, indecent pictures, songs, jokes and the like, even when they are tolerated by public opinion and found in public places.
Pope Pius XI said this in his encyclical, “Vigilanti Cura” , which spoke on the LEgion of Decency, “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 corrupters of little ones: “whosoever shall scandalize one of these little ones who believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone be hanged about his neck and that he be drowned in the depths of the sea”. THIS WAS IN 1936!!!
Please take such matters seriously.
Below we have 8 tools that are very helpful in this area – if you decide to watch secular movies and so on, it greatly aids in keeping you purer.
Being an avid music junkie in my early teens, I know how difficult it is to find wholesome music. Try finding a popular song that doesn’t reference sex, or blaspheme, or promote nasty lifestyle choices that go against the Catholic Faith and you’ll see what I mean.
Fortunately there are a few tricks to keep our heads above the water when it comes to enjoying good music.
There is a website that scans the lyrics to (almost) any song that you type in, and it give you the ratings based on the lyrics. Though not perfect, it is still a good way to sift through the garbage. It also sends you to the lyrics themselves so you can read them over and see for yourself if it is worth the listen. Unfortunately, the site is down due to construction.
Another way to check the song content is to Google the lyrics yourself and read over them quickly. Websites like A-Z lyrics are helpful with that as well.
Common Sense Media does not have the best guidelines when it comes to movies/books/music, but they still write down almost every warning when it comes to concerns for sexual things and so on. So this is also a great way to see what is in the Music Album/Book/Movie and, based on your Catholic Moral Standards, decide whether or not the media in question is a danger to your soul.
Another way to enjoy your music without worrying about your soul being in danger is; if the song is clean but you do not want to watch the music video (as usually music videos are dirty), go on Youtube and look up the song in question but write lyrics after it. For example: “Coldplay Paradise lyrics”. You will find videos that just have the lyrics and not the music video.
Finding Christian or Catholic Artists
If you’d like to just stay away from all non-Christian artists and music that’s also a good way to keep pure. You can search for the artist in question and see if they are Christian or Catholic, which usually means their content won’t be such a concern.. note that I wrote “usually” not “positively”.
Searching for Catholic and Christian artists is pretty easy, as nowadays they range in all sorts of genres.
Lifeway.com has a good list of Christian artists (mostly non-Catholic), whose genre’s are pretty widespread.
Tooth and Nail records is a Christian Alternative (hard rock) record company. The music ranges from metal to light rock, and they are not perfect of course, but they are a way better alternative to Secular Metal and Rock bands. Bands such as Anberlin, Family Force 5, Nine Lashes and so on are just a few examples of the wide variety of Christian musicians.
Catholic artists are also available, though not as popular as Christian / secular artists.
Aleteia has a list here. Catholic Playlist Radio is helpful. As well as Catholic-Link’s “19 Catholic Artists That Will Rock Your Playlist”
And if you are interested in Sacred Music, Wiki has a long list of Catholic Music.
CCWatershed has tons of information regarding Sacred Music (also on why it is the only music that is supposed to be played during the Holy Mass!).
NOTE: Secular music (Protestant music and so on included) are fine to listen to if it is clean, but Sacred music is the only preferred music for playing during Mass. Though this does not mean that WE are supposed to just listen to Gregorian chant ONLY when we are outside of Mass! This only concerns the Holy Mass, not our personal daily life. See more information on this here.
Concerning the Catholic Church and films, you can first read about the Legion of Decency in this article here. It is praised by Pope Pius XI in his Encyclical “Vigilanti Cura”, where he says, (among other things)
“it has been highly pleasing to Us to learn of the fruits already gathered and of the progress which continues to be made by that prudent initiative launched more than two years ago as a holy crusade against the abuses of the motion pictures and entrusted in a special manner to the “Legion of Decency“.”
“An unceasing and universal vigilance must, on the contrary, convince the producers that the ‘Legion of Decency‘ has not been started as a crusade of short duration, soon to be neglected and forgotten, but that the Bishops of the United States are determined, at all times and at all costs, to safeguard the recreation of the people whatever form that recreation may take.”
Parent’s Guides are very helpful as they write out things that parents be offended by or not want their Children to watch. Even though they should not be used as a foundation for our Moral Standards, they are very helpful in our discerning of whether or not the video we want to watch may or may not be a danger to our soul.
A few parents guides websites:
parentsguides on IMBD – just google the name of the movie with “parents guide” afterwards.
List of Condemned films by the USCCB.
“A comprehensive, alphabetical list of films released in the United States that have been condemned by the Catholic Church since November 1, 2003, when the current system of ratings was established. The ratings are based upon reviews by the Catholic News Service and the former Office for Film and Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The accompanying NOTES explain why each film has been rated “O” — morally offensive — which combines the previous two ratings: B, which stood for “morally objectionable in part for all,” and C, “condemned.” “
(This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed, except by linking to a page on Catholic News Service.)
List of films condemned by the Legion of Decency:
“This is a list of films condemned by the National Legion of Decency, a United States Catholic organization. The National Legion of Decency was established in 1933 and reorganized in 1965 as the National Catholic Office for Motion Pictures (NCOMP). Under each of these names, it rated films according to their suitability for viewing, assigning a code of A, B, or C, with that of C identified as “Condemned” for viewing by Catholics. The C rating was issued from 1933 until 1978. The Legion’s ratings were applied to movies made in the United States as well as those imported from other countries. Since it reviewed films when released for distribution, the Legion usually rated non-U.S. films a few years after their first release in their country of origin, occasionally years after. For example, it rated Marcel Pagnol’s 1936 César in 1948 and Marlene Dietrich’s 1930 The Blue Angel in 1950.”
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