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August 6, 2004

Little by Little

by Thomas A. Droleskey

Little by little. Evil advances in most of our lives (and in the life of the world) little by little. There is a reason for this. The devil knows that his face and that of all evil he seeks to promote in the world is repulsive and that most people will attempt to cooperate with the graces won for us by the shedding of Our Lord's Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross on Mount Calvary to resist it and to flee from it. Far easier, the devil knows, is the slow, steady, incremental advance of little, almost imperceptible evils that will catch most people off-guard and unawares. After a period of time in which the average person has become accustomed to and desensitized by the advance of evil incrementally, the devil pushes the envelope all the more, knowing that he has furrowed the ground to bring forth a harvest of increasingly more rotten fruit with the passage of time. The acceptance of one "little" evil after another over the course of times makes it more possible for the devil to become bolder in his attacks, knowing that those who have stopped resisting temptation and/or who have embraced his agenda for "cultural freedom of expression" will actually come to see bolder attacks as evidence of mankind's evolution in the direction of "progress" and "sophistication."

Evil has been with us since the Garden of Eden. It made rapid advances in the world following Adam's fall from grace when he bit of the fruit that Eve had given him after herself having succumbed to the allure of the devil. God was so sickened by the debauchery being exhibited by His rational creatures that He wiped out most of the world with the great Flood, sparing only Noah and his family, who took refuge on the ark with one male and one female of every species for forty days and forty nights. It is only Our Lord's Easter victory over sin and death that makes it possible for us fallen creatures to resist temptation and to call upon Our Lady to crush the head of the serpent in our own lives and in the larger life of the world. There have been times in the history of Church when evil has been more checked than in others, keeping in mind that there is a difference between sinning as redeemed creatures who seek out the absolution administered by an alter Christus in the confesional and persisting in sin unrepentantly--or to actually promote sin as a personal or social "good" to be protected under cover of law and promoted in every aspect of our popular culture. That is, it is one thing to sin and to be a contrite penitent who avails himself of the Sacrament of Penance. It is quite another to revel in one's sins and to rejoice that an acceptance of sin has become commonplace in one's nation and in the world.

Although the remote cause of all human sins is Original Sin, there are proximate causes that explain the prevalence of the acceptance of sins and/or a generalized indifference to them at any point in history. The proximate causes in our own day are complex and multifaceted, to be sure. You see, the devil is the quintessence of complexity, which is the antithesis of the essence of God, Whose essence is simplicity. While stipulating the complex and mulitfaceted nature of the proximate causes of the evils of our day, the ability of these evils to advance in almost unparalleled march of degeneracy can be traced to the nature and the inexorable, inevitable results of the Protestant Revolt and the rise of Freemasonry. Every other contemporary evil stems from these two sources and the mutations that have flowed therefrom. Many articles on this site have discussed this at length, including two just posted ("The Fruits of Evolutionism" and "Americanism: A Fundamental Error of Modernity and Modernism").

The purpose of this present reflection is to comment on how the evils in our popular culture have been making advances steadily over the course of time. Our own unwillingness to recognize and confront these evils has made it more difficult for us to see clearly their proximate causes and to take the sort of urgent remedial action that is necessary to avoid being further contaminated by the poisons they emit into all aspects of our social life. Any serious Catholic must understand that we can make no compromise with the forces of evil that seek to undermine our own sanctification, no less ruin entirely any chance that our children have of growing up with their innocence and purity intact.

Past essays of mine have dealt with the evil that is any sort of "music" associated with "rock and roll" and its related spin-offs. This is difficult medicine for even some traditional Catholics to swallow if they grew up believing that there was nothing wrong with music that comes from Hell and is designed to lead anyone who listens to it into the fires of Hell for all eternity. Michael Matt and Jacob Michael, among others, have written compelling books and essays on the evils of rock music. Although my own parents did not practice the Catholic Faith all that well for a variety of reasons, they understood the evil nature of rock and roll, discussing it at the dinner table when I was not even five years of age. I listened intently to their excoriations of Evis Presley. I took those excoriations to heart, plugging my ears when I heard "You Ain't Nothin' But a Hound Dog" blaring from a transistor radio held by a passenger on a bus that took me to Kindergarten at Saint Aloysius School in Great Neck, New York, in late September of 1956. The steady progression of evils that has manifested itself from the 1950s to the present as a result of rock music and its spin-offs has institutionalized the so-called "recreational" use of hallucinogenic drugs and has resulted in acts of cruel violence that would have shocked and repulsed even the barbarians of pre-Christian Europe.

Rock music used to be considered an eclectic taste, something that was not for everyone. With the gradual acceptance of it as normal and just part of ordinary living, rock music began to be "mainstreamed" into restaurants and shopping malls by the late-1970s, making its appearance in the public address systems of professional sports teams in the early 1980s. Few people protested this invasion of rock music into places that used to be havens from the drug-absorbed and immorality-obsessed "culture" that came to the forefront in the 1960s. Thus, the envelope kept being pushed and pushed and pushed. Almost no one pushed back. This led, for example, in the realm of professional sports to pornographic commercials for beer and other products. With no objections being raised to the pollution of human souls by this garbage, Major League Baseball felt that it could get away with contracting with the Pfizer Company to advertise a certain product openly in its ball parks that was inappropriate for public advertising for anyone, no less the young. The product manufactured by Pfizer has been joined by other such products as just a normal part of what is advertised in all venues today. It is my understanding that there is one driver for NASCAR whose vehicle is sponsored by the product manufactured by Pfizer. The culture gets further coarsened over time as those who follow certain activities refuse to give up the activity (baseball, football, basketball, hockey, stock car racing, etc.) that is sponsoring and profiting from the degradation of social life.

Even though I have written about such things before (and appeared on Buchanan and Press on MSNBC almost exactly two years ago to object to the Pfizer product being advertised at my beloved Shea Stadium, from which I left on July 16, 2002, in the middle of a game--and in the midst of trying to promote my book about the early years of the New York Mets, vowing never to return to a major league baseball game), this particular article was prompted by a recently completed study, sponsored by Harvard University, I believe, which indicated that the motion picture industry had pushed the envelope on what was considered to be "acceptable" content for movies to receive a PG-13 rating. More and more violence, lewd and suggestive language, and innuendos dealing with violations of the Sixth and Ninth Commandments had become more acceptable to those who rated motion pictures, thus subjecting parents and their teenagers to things that would have rated a movie an R rating in 1994. This happened gradually over time. Those who are responsible for this knew that most people have been so desensitized to the popularization of violence and lewdness and impurity by rock music and television that there would be almost no notice taken of a gradual change in the level of such things included in so-called PG-13 movies.

Television played a significant role in the desensitizing of even practicing Catholics to all manner of evils, starting with religious indifferentism. Although my own parents were very correct and prophetic about the dangers of rock music, they were mostly blind to the dangers posed by television. Our home was like many others in the 1950s, a place where the schedules of three broadcast networks dominated how we lived our lives. It took decades for me to shed myself of this habit, realizing far too late in my life that my time as a child should have been spent reading about the lives of the saints and making regular visits to the Blessed Sacrament. Our family trips should have taken us to shrines and pilgrimage sites, not to Revolutionary War and Civil War sites. Television, though, was king. And though the programming fare of the 1950s was not indecent or overtly offensive, it was far from innocent.

Indeed, the programming fare of the 1950s was dangerous in two important respects.

First, television built on the pattern established by radio, which became a staple of American households in the 1920s, making inactivity and the passive acceptance of information and entertainment natural and normal parts of human life. Family prayer life suffered. The attendance at nightly devotions in parishes suffered. Conversations among family members suffered. Reading of books declined. As time progressed and the cost of televisions became relatively inexpensive, many family members had sets in their own rooms, isolating them from other family members as though they were living in different cells of the same cave. This passivity made possible the gradual acceptance of more and more evils on broadcast television as early as the late-1960s.

Second, the programming fare of the 1950s, though innocuous, was not innocent. The situation comedies and dramas of the 1950s, although usually well-written and produced, conveyed the message of human self-redemption, that all of our problems could be resolved if we simply willed to do so. This is of the essence of Freemasonry, as is the aspect of religious indifferentism that was conveyed on television in the 1950s and thereafter, that specific denominational, credal beliefs are irrelevant to being a "good" person and a "good" American. Oh, there might be an occasional non-descript Protestant minister showing up in this or that situation comedy. However, anything considered "divisive" was avoided. Apart from Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen's Life is Worth Living, which, if you will notice, avoided overt references to Catholicism (his radio programs were more direct), the only time you saw a Catholic priest on network television was the several times a year one would show up on The Lone Ranger, which consistently showed priests in a favorable light throughout its 1949-1957 run on ABC-TV. Other than, though, television conveyed the impression that the strength of the United States of America was our religious pluralism, something that is in actual point of fact the absolute fatal flaw that is responsible for the little by little advances made by evil over the course of the past fifty years or so.

Television pushed the New Age movement and the macabre in the 1960s. Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, debuting in 1964 and 1965, respectively, promoted witchcraft as something "silly" and not at all threatening and that genies and other New Age fantasies are something to be fascinated with rather than repulsed by. I Dream of Jeannie also featured, apart from the immodest attire of its female star, the first instance of an unmarried woman living with an unmarried man, something that changed in the series' fifth and final season in the Fall of 1969 when Jeannie and Tony Nelson got married. The message had been sent, however: don't be so judgmental about "alternative" lifestyles, something that would be conveyed in the 1970s on Three's Company, which featured an unmarried man pretending to be a sodomite in order to gain the approval of landlords for him to live with two unmarried women. Also instrument in the 1960s in pushing the cultural envelope was Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, which went beyond the burlesque of Milton Berle and reveled in the social revolution taking place in the country at that time.

Sadly, my own favorite program, Ironside, was guilty of pushing a liberal envelope once or twice a season, doing so late in its second season, in March of 1969, with an episode, "A Matter of Love and Death," that in essence called for legalized baby-killing. I was guilty at the time of overlooking the gravity of that episode as an anomaly because I liked Raymond Burr and the concept of the series. This was a compromise I had made at the time that was the direct result of the many years I had been glued to the television as a child. I did not possess the sense of spiritual detachment at that time, at the age of 18, and simply turn off the television set and not watch my favorite program ever again. Oh, yes, I know only too well the compromises television can cause one to make.

Norman Lear used All in the Family and Maude, among other of his programs, to caricature anyone who was opposed to a "progressive" social agenda as an ignoramus along the lines of the bigoted Archie Bunker, who hated blacks and Jews and Catholics. An early episode in the second season of All in the Family, aired in the Fall of 1971, featured veteran character actor Philip Carey as a high school classmate of Bunker's. The character, who had been the star football player in high school, revealed to Bunker the secret he had been carrying his entire life: he was a homosexual. The message: sodomites are real men who should be accepted for who they are. And it was in the first season of Maude, the Fall of 1972, that Maude Findlay, a cousin of Edith Bunker's, had an abortion. The viewing audience couldn't get enough of these two shows. Lear cleverly used his genius to promote evils in a highly sympathetic and entertaining manner.

The promotion of sodomy, which is evidently something that is done all of the time now on network television, was not confined to Norman Lear in the early 1970s. An ABC television movie that aired in 1972, "That Certain Summer," featured Martin Sheen and Hal Holbrook as homosexuals. No one blanched. Progammers learned that they could get away with the sympathetic portrayal of objective evils and that they would not suffer any adverse consequences as a result. Gone by then were the days of the Legion of Decency, which kept Hollywood somewhat on its toes between the late 1930s and the early 1950s. Catholics had become willing participants in a culture that was degenerating more and more precisely because of the false foundations of the modern state, which itself was the fruit of both the Protestant Revolt and the rise of Freemasonry.

One could go on and on with a thumbnail sketch of how both cable and broadcast television become open vessels to portray pornography. The advent of the Fox Network in the late 1980s brough television to ever new lows of vulgarity and obscenity, now featured in the so-called "reality" programming that one can read about in newspapers. Although it might be instructive to do a more detailed chronological review of the progression of evil in the living rooms of most Americans, it is far more important to do something about the rot that seeks to undermine our sanctification and our salvation: do not participate in any of it. It is neither Puritanical nor Jansenistic to refuse to participate in cultural "fare" that pollutes our immortal souls with things that wounded Our Lord in His Sacred Humanity once in time on the wood of the Holy Cross and caused His Most Blessed Mother's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart to break as she stood so valianlty beneath the Cross.

Thus, here are a few suggestions to avoid being influenced by the evils around us as they advance little by little:

1) Throw out the television. Yes, a former television addict is recommending throwing out the television. "But what about news and talk programs?" They are a waste of your time. No one, including anyone on the Eternal Word Television Network, knows a blessed thing about the Social Reign of Christ the King and is not in the least interested in the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary as the fruit of a proper consecration of Russia to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart by a pope and all of the world's bishops with him. One can live without television quite nicely. A former news and politics junkie can tell you from first-hand experience that you will not miss the blather of the talk shows and the rhetoric of politicians promising to "save" us. You will live quite nicely and manage to keep yourself informed through good Catholic journals, such as The Remnant, Catholic Family News, Seattle Catholic, The Daily Catholic, The Latin Mass: A Journal of Catholic Culture, to mention a few. "But what about old movies?" Read about the lives of the saints.

2) Don't go to movie theatres. All right. The Passion of the Christ and the upcoming movie about Saint Therese of the Child Jesus are exceptions. Granted. Other than that, though, we should never step foot in a movie theatre for any reason. Why should we support an industry, Hollywood, that hates the Catholic Church and promotes indecency and sin as a matter of course?

3) Throw out your rock music. If you have any nostaglia for the 1950s or 1960s or 1970s, here is some advice: get over it. They're over. Rock music is evil. Throw it all out. Don't give it away. You don't want to put this rot in the hands of others. Just get rid of it.

4) Stop supporting professional sports. There is not one professional sport that does not feature the advertising of products that are inappropriate to mention in public settings and/or features pornographic advertisements of beer and food. Don't go to the games. As you have thrown out your television, you will not be supporting them by means of cable or satellite services. As I have not been to minor league baseball games, I cannot speak about the environment in which they are played. If they are wholesome and without offensive advertising or music, such games might be an option. If not, well, give it to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.

5) Flee to the fields. Although, I will be writing more about this in another month or so, it is important to note at this juncture that those of us witih children should seek to flee from the cities to rural areas (where the Traditional Latin Mass with all of the sacraments is offered on a daily basis) to avoid the contamination to be found in metropolitan centers. As a native Long Islander who is still attached to, although in exile from, his native place, I must credit Father Lawrence C. Smith with convincing me of the necessity of fleeing to the fields and attempting to live as simply as possible off of the land.

6) Carefully monitor your children's playmates. At the risk of sounding heartless and judgmental, it is important to stress the care that parents must exercise in order to monitor their children's activities. Children are very impressionable. Our twenty-eight month old daughter is picking up phrases from her cousins. Fortunately, her cousins are the children of traditional Catholics who assist only at the Traditional Latin Mass. The phrases our daughte is picking up are thus good ones. Children teach each other. If children learn to love Our Lord and Our Lady and to honor the saints and to imitate their virtues, then they will teach their friends to do the same. Younger children look up to older children. Thus, children who are permitted by their parents to watch television, to to movies, listen to horrible music and wear immodest attire, among other things, are not fit playmates for the children of parents who want them to get to Heaven. It is that simple. Example cuts both ways. While it is true that the good example of a traditional Catholic child might influence a child who is in a home where anything goes, the opposite influence is also very possible, if not probable. Why take any chances? And what applies to the children of parents who are immersed in the culture applies as well to the children of parents who are immersed in the culture of syncretism produced by the Novus Ordo. If you want your son or daughter to abandon tradition by marrying one who assists at the Novus Ordo, then read on. If you are serious about fostering an abiding commitment to Tradition that is willing to sacrifice all things for the sake of its restoration in order that God be better glorified and souls be better sanctified, then we cannot mix the authentic patrimony of the Faith with the conciliarist religion of self-congratulations and religious indifferentism.

Well, what is what to do with one's time? Oh, there are lots of options.

1) Assist at the daily offering of the Traditional Latin Mass if it is offered in your area by a validly ordained priest who is not a sedevacantist. Familys schedules, distances from a traditional church or chapel, unexpected circumstances and a host of other variables might preclude one from getting to Mass every day. However, getting to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass every day ought to be a fundamental goal for us, as is explained on an article on this site, "Get Ye to Daily [Traditional Latin] Mass."

2) Spend time before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer on a regular basis. Once again, it may not be possible to visit Our Lord at length every day. This should nevertheless be a goal of ours, something that our children should learn as part of the routine of life. We must explain to them that if we want to spend all eternity with God in Heaven then it is a pretty good thing to start spending some with Him in His Real Presence now, keeping company with Our Lady and all of the angels and the saints.

3) Pray the Rosary as a family every single day. Every member of every family should be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Such consecration includes the daily meditation of Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary, the offering up of all of our merits and sufferings to her to be used as she sees fit, aspirations offered up in honor of Our Lady, the wearing of the scapular and the Miraculous Medal, and a frequent praying of the Litany of Loretto, among many other things.

4) Visit shrines and pilrgrimage sites, not tourist attractions. We are Catholics. Our lives should center around the Faith. We should never visit places such as Disneyland or Walt Disney World that are owned by the enemies of the Holy Faith. And while it might be interesting to visit some of the natural wonders of the world created by God in six days at the beginning of time, of prime importance must be the frequenting of shrines and pilgrimage sites. And everything must be subordinated around the availability of the Traditional Mass. Remember, one can lose graces. One can regress. That's why it is important to stay close to the Traditional Mass and under Our Lady's mantle of loving protection.

5) For a change of pace at home, visit zoos and parks. We take our twenty-eight month old daughter to zoos across the nation. And while knows that God made all things ("God made the lion, Dada"), we make it a point to explain quite audibly in the presence of those around us that God wiled each of the animals we see to come into existence exactly as we see them when He created the world in six days. This drives a lot of the other folks a little batty. However, it instructs our children and might just catch the ear of someone who is open to the grace Our Lady sends them to respond to a little seedling. We have found a wonderful little park and zoo in Beemerville, New Jersey, Space Farms, located in the mountainous and very rural northwestern part of the Garden State. Owned and operated by Catholics, Space Farms has more animals than many zoos--and a wonderful collection of old cars and toys and tools and tractors. It's a marvelous place to spend an afternoon. Although it's fairly unique in what it has to offer, there are lots of petting zoos and places to take our children for pony rides. We don't have to go to malls or to theme parks to give our children some exercise and a lesson or two about the omnipotence of God in the wonder of the variety of the creatures He made for us to behold. As the essence of God is simplicity, we should keep our children's lives simple and get them used to enjoying the simple pleasures of the world God created.

6) Expose your children to good classical music and to images that uplift the soul. The eyes are the windows of the soul. The ears are the aural passageways of the soul. An antidote to the rot of popular culture is the good that God has permitted men to create over time that soothes the senses and uplifts the soul to Him. Compact discs or tapes or vinyl records (remember them?) of traditional hymns and melodies are important to play when our children are preborn so that they will be conditioned to love them after birth. This will lead in due course to music lessons and singing lessons conducted by other traditionally minded parents.

Yes, evil advances in most instances little by little. We must not participate in a culture that is the product of the forces of modernity and Modernism. We must be Catholic in all we do at all times without any hint of compromise with the novelties of the world or the regime of novelty that has devastated the Faith within the Church in the past four and one-half decades. If we are willing to suffer the white martyrdom of ridicule and ostracism for taking the measures we need to take to protect our own souls and those of our children, we will attach ourselves all the more to the will of God and to trusting completely in His Most Blessed Mother to protect us as we seek her intercession nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen,











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