some forms of entertainment are salacious and must be avoided. Other forms
of entertainment may seem innocuous but are harmful when they divert our
vision from the accomplishment of Gods will. But can some forms of
entertainment such as wholesome movies and classical music provide a momentary
way to chill out, escape, or relax? What about watching
religious programming such as EWTN? What about news programs? How do you
suggest that people stay abreast of what is happening in the world around
ven Christ Himself needed time
away from His disciples to rest and pray. Thus, from His own example we can
see that retreats from daily work can be an important aspect
of our spiritual life. But we should keep in mind, according to Christs
own example, that a retreat must of necessity be grounded in
communion with God. Otherwise, a retreat loses its spiritual value and
becomes a self-indulgence that leads you away from holy things.
Now, in your asking multiple
questions about entertainment you have already lost your grounding in prayer
and have begun to fall into the trap of thinking that a Catholic mystic life
is a mass of legalistic prohibitionsand loopholes. If you follow
that path, you will end up in Puritanism, which is a
is forbidden to you, you desire it all the more unconsciously.
though, is not a matter of forbidding pleasure; its a matter of pruning
away useless branches that bear no fruit.
Without pruning, the fruit is sparse and bitter; with pruning, the fruit
becomes abundant and sweet.
This is what
mortification means: to prune the
vine so that it becomes more productive.
To begin withthat is, to
begin to take up the process of your spiritual
healingjust follow the spiritual counsels
of this website so as to prune away every spiritually
unnecessary thing from your life and plunge into spiritual purity for
three months. After three months you will have a better idea of what Catholic
mysticismand real prayeris all about,
and you might see things differently. But right now you are so caught up in
the worldso overgrown with showy branches that
bear no spiritual fruitthat you
cant see anything clearly, and so you lack the ability to discern what
is good for you and what isnt.
I myself have a small collection
of classical music and opera from my student years. But I never listen to
it anymore. If I try, it just seems flat and empty. Theres nothing
wrong with secular music; you can listen to it if you want to,
but to me it seems empty in comparison to silent prayerful contemplation. Still,
you may not be ready yet for contemplative silencethe taste has to grow
in you over time.
(Once I taste
of the spirit, all carnal things become meaningless.)
that some music can be used to assist private prayer, especially when it may be necessary
to block out environmental noise and distractions. Contemplative instrumental
music, whether secular or liturgical, is best, though vocal liturgical music
is also good, as long as you cannot understand the language. For example,
I often pray (e.g., the Rosary, the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, and the
Jesus Prayer) while listening to Russian chants because I dont understand
Russian; but I avoid Gregorian chant (as a background for contemplative prayer)
because I understand the Latin and get distracted by the meaning of the
I have a collection of comic
books from when I was about seven to ten years old. These were called
wholesome reading at the time: Tom and Jerry, Donald Duck, Chip
and Dale, etc. But as I look at them now, I see that they all were stories
about anthropomorphized animals living in a self-contained world, engaged
in humorous competition with each other as they
pursued their own sense of happiness. In it all there was no
mention, let alone model, of genuine family life
(father, mother, and children), and not even a hint of dependence on God, let
alone any mention of worship and prayer.
This, however, was just the
The subtle introduction of
non-Christian values and Disney magic
has been progressing for years now, and the entertainment
industry has been working subversively through movies, television, popular music,
magazines, and social media to destroy traditional Christian family values and to
glamorize the sin of lust in our
culture. For example, it may seem on the surface that the woman
has been idealized, but the underlying motive has been to defile feminine
modesty, stripping the female body of its holy
dignity and reducing it, often with violent overtones, to a soulless
The end result is that our secular
culture worships sexuality as its goddess, and all
Christians, even those with same-sex attractions, are surrounded with temptation
to abandon their baptismal promises and to partake of
the harlots allure.
We have been duped by the
anti-Christian progressive liberal agenda of the entertainment
industry into believing that sin is normal and acceptable
and that sexual pleasure, along with the lust for power and revenge, is necessary
for our happiness. As a result, instead of taking personal responsibility
to detach themselves from social
illusions, Christians willingly consume
Now, the best way to avoid infection
by the desire to sin is to avoid popular entertainment,
such as television (and the subversive commercial advertising that goes with it),
movies, social media, video games, sports, newspapers, magazines, music, and every
other aspect of popular culture; these things
are filled with a massive craving for everything unholy and have their basis in an
indifference and contempt for anything
We watch television
and sports and we read newspapers and magazines in the hope of seeing
something that will make us feel good about ourselves. We play sports and
video games in the hope of accomplishing something that will make
us feel good about ourselves. We listen to music and chat on mobile devices
in the hope of hearing something that will make us feel good about
ourselves. We make food into an addiction in the hope of smelling and
tasting something that will make us feel good about ourselves. We
strip sexuality of its reproductive responsibilities and make it into the
most pervasively sought-after entertainment of all, in the hope of seeing,
hearing, smelling, tasting, and accomplishing something that will make
us feel good about ourselves. Yet, in the end, we have really done nothing
but draw ourselves away from anything holy.
So be careful here not to deceive
yourself by attributing any meaning to these illusory hopes.
Dont believe for a moment that there is such a thing as wholesome
entertainment. The desire to be entertainedto be soothed, satisfied,
and fulfilledis, at its core, a social religion unto itself
that serves the god of narcissistic happiness in the frenzied quest to feel
good about our bodies while ignoring the most poignant hopes of our lost
We live now in
dire times, and every Christian must be engaged
in a profound spiritual battle against evil. Those who
waste their time searching for acceptance on social media, boasting over sports,
and watching television and movies are not fighting evil, they are feeding
When Christ was born, He emptied
Himself for our redemption and entered this world
knowing that He was headed to the Cross, with no escape. So what gives us the
idea to think we have a right to escape from the constant
trials of a holy life? Moreover, Christ told us
to pray constantly. So what gives us the idea to think that empty
entertainment has any place in a holy life?
Turn away from self-satisfaction,
then, and learn to seek God alone. Once you have learned to seek God in all
things, through pure love, then you can deal with
the world as you need to, reflecting divine grace into the darkness
around you, using the resources of the world as tools for your ministry,
yet without craving the world and without danger of being snared by
the Pharisees and Herodians for following the illusions of their own time.
But when He warned the disciples to beware leaven of the Pharisees
and the leaven of Herod (Mark 8:15), they didnt
And so it is
today. Most Christians today just dont get it when they are
warnedeven on this very websiteto guard against the leaven—the smoke
of Satan—in popular culture.
1. I found this quote in The Ascent of Mount
Carmel by Saint John of the Cross, Book Two, Chapter 17, no. 5.
(The English translation is my own.) Saint John refers to it as a
frequently quoted spiritual axiom. Saint Bonaventure, in his
Commentaria in Quatuor Libros Sententiarum attributes the quote to
Pope Gregory the Great (cf. Opera Omnia S. Bonaventurae, Ad Claras Aquas,
1882, Vol. 1, p. 254), though the quote may actually have its origin in a
letter (Epistle 111) by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.
2. Does this mean that recreation has no place
in Christian life? Not at all. Just make sure that everything you do is done
as pure love for the good (i.e., for the
salvation) of others, and, however you do it,
do it with prayer. If you need to take a hike to exercise your body and refresh
your mind from long hours of serving others, fine; pray the
Rosary while walking. Do you enjoy baking bread?
Embroidery? Woodworking? Gardening? Then pray the
Chaplet of the Divine Mercy or the
Jesus Prayer in the process. And, for that matter,
when you do anything, even menial labor, do it with prayer and it will
become the re-creation of your life.
The text of
this webpage, integrated with other material from my websites,
has been conveniently organized into a paperback book of 350 pages, including
a comprehensive index.
Though Demons Gloat: They Shall Not Prevail
by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.
Though we are attacked by liberal activists from without and by apostasy
from within, the true Church—that is, the body of those who remain
faithful to Church tradition—weeps, and she prays, because she knows
the fate of those who oppose God.
Our enemies might fear love, and they can push love
away, but they can’t kill it. And so the battle against them cannot be
fought with politics; it requires a profound personal struggle against
the immorality of popular culture. The battle must be fought in the
service of God with pure and chaste lifestyles lived from the depths of
our hearts in every moment.