Newsletter of the District of Asia

 March 1998

A Father of the Church and Television

by Father Philippe Lovey, SSPX District Superior for Switzerland

"Cease therefore awaiting from God that which the devil alone can give. A contrite and humble heart, a soul thoughtful, reserved, chaste, mortified, these are the gifts of God, these are the required weapons in our hands. Are we not in battle against the invisible powers, against the malice of the devil and his odious attendants? Let us have therefore every vigilance and ardor to resist advantageously in this perilous fight. Joy, pleasure, this perpetual lethargy will place you out of combat even before you are faced with it. The Christian is not made for joys, amusements, pleasures. Leave all that to people of the stage, to the debauched, to sycophants of every shade, to the soldier enrolled under the standard of Satan; but all that does not suit Christians called to an eternal kingdom, those whose names are inscribed on the rolls of the heavenly city and who claim to be themselves members of spiritual militia. It is the devil, yes, the devil himself who makes an art of the televised spectacle to draw under his banners the soldiers of Jesus Christ, to deaden their, vigour and the very nerves of their virtue. It is with this intention that he invented television in which he exercises and shapes with his own hands these instruments of corruption to spread them through cities and through them to poison public morality.

"(...) But when the actors pronounce these unseemly and jesting words, when they introduce licentiousness and blasphemy, it is who will be first to laugh and to applaud instead of cursing the cursed instrument, it is who will pile on his head the burning coals which the Apostle threatens for these criminal enjoyments. You don't realise that to applaud these actors is to encourage them and thereby to risk as much as they and even more so to incur the punishment which they will deserve; because after all if there were no constant spectators of television, there would be neither actors nor television. But when, to sit in front of the box, you are seen to leave your occupations, your work, (...) in a word to sacrifice everything for the vain pleasure of looking at it! (...) What I want is to convince you that if the actors are at fault, you are even more so, you who watch these films and spend hours at it. It is you who, in front of these wretched shows, dishonour the sanctity of marriage and disgrace it by the ridicule which it portrays openly before all. This actor who belittles it on the screen, is less at fault than you who partake of these indecent jokes, you who through your assiduity, through your pleasure, through your laughter (...) encourage in every way the success of these works coming out of the devil's workshop. But tell me, in what way could you look into the eyes of a wife whom you have so cruelly offended under the guise of an actress? What will you think of the one to whom you are united when you have watched all her sex marked by infamy?

You will tell me that these are only fictions? These are the kinds of fiction which have generated so much adulteries and have disrupted so many families. And thus the viewing of nothing else but the representation of a crime so big and so important for the whole of society as is adultery provokes nothing else than laughs and cries and applauds of pleasure. It is only a representation and not the real thing? ? I will tell you that this representation is criminal: that those who show them deserve the most severe punishment, to dare to reproduce by imitation that which all the laws forbid to commit.

"(...) But what I have not said yet is that all these fictions bring imitations only too real. How many adulteries are generated by these pictures of adulterous passions! How much impurity, dissoluteness! How lustful, how immodest is the eye which will consider such infamy! One would not allow at home or in public the sight of a shameful nakedness; one would feel dishonoured by an outrage; why switch on the small box to insult the honour of both sexes? (...) If there was no harm in these indecencies why would you be scandalised if you witnessed them outside the little box? Why do you turn away your eyes, stop your walk if, in the street, you see something lewd? Why should you cry about violation of public morals? The same action is an indecency in the street, and is it no lorger so when it appears on the little box? (...) How would your wife look at you if you returned from such a disgraceful spectacle? How respectful a reception would you expect? (...) If only I could sadden you by my reproaches! I would rejoice and you would be grateful to me. (...)"

"Today my talk has been more severe, more firm, it is because by burying deeper the iron on the wound, I wanted to drag you from this box of perdition and give back to your soul its innocence and its virtue and, would to God, we fully possessed it in order to deserve the rewards promised for good deeds."

That is how St. John Chrysostomus (+407 A.D.) spoke about public shows. We have simply changed the word "show" by "television". But what would he say these days? When it is no longer necessary to go and show oneself outside, when all that is necessary is to press a small knob and the screen lights up at the risk of switching off in us the divine light? (Con trouerses, No. 38, Nov. 1991)

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