One of the difficulties of living in the modern world is that we can easily come under the influence of philosophies and errors that can mislead us. There are also many sinful influences that can corrupt our moral life. There is a traditional concept in the moral life known as “Custody of the Eyes” wherein a person is very careful as to what he allows himself to see. (cf Job 31:1; Mat 5:28; Psalm 119:37, etc.) And these days, in a world in which sound has a very profound influence, we also need to be very careful as to what we allow ourselves to hear. We must be careful to avoid evil, erroneous, and tempting influences. To put it more positively, we must actively seek constructive and truthful influence. We do this by keeping careful company, attending to the daily reading of Scripture and the study of the faith, and intentionally exposing ourselves to what is good, true, and beautiful.
Paradoxically, the modern world with all its problematic influences also provides us with many opportunities to craft our world and its influences. There are many options today insofar as how we choose to get our information and what we will allow to influence us. In the past we were stuck with just three networks and a few newspapers and magazines. Now there are endless possibilities available through the Internet, cable TV, and individual devices such as iPods.
I seldom watch television anymore. When I do, it is carefully selected: usually DVD-based viewing. I spend alot of time with instructive and helpful websites and blogs to get my information. I also spend a lot of time walking and driving with my iPod loaded “Catholic.”
There are many wonderful podcasts out there today that can both entertain, edify, and instruct you in the faith and in wholesome matters. Why don’t we start sharing what some of those sites and podcasts are so that we can help each other in the “custody” of our eyes and ears?
Let’s be clear, the sites and podcast you suggest should be orthodox, edifying, and instructive in the true faith. Let me get started by suggesting a few podcasts and sites I find helpful. Use the comments section to make your own suggestions.
EWTN has some great podcasts of its shows here: EWTN PODCASTS. I especially like the “Open-Line” call-in shows during which listeners to EWTN Radio call with questions about the faith.
EWTN and Catholic Answers also offer a huge number of talks, debates, and classes as mp3 downloads here: Catholic Talks and Teaching
I Podcast my own sermons, talks, and Bible Studies here: Sermons by Msgr. Pope
Lots of varied Catholic podcasts and other media formats are available here: SQPN
Patrick Madrid, a Catholic teacher and apologist, has a lot of material (some free, some for purchase) available here: Patrick Madrid
John Martignoni,, another Catholic teacher and apologist, offers a lot of free mp3 downloads here: Bible Christian Society
A 12-part Series by Scott Hahn on Mary is here: Hail Holy Queen
I know there are countless others but that’s a start. Please suggest others.
So here it is. Custody of the eyes and ears does not mean just shuttering your world and living with your head in the sand. It means directing your gaze in the proper direction and listening to what really helps. Load your iPod and get started. Before you know it, your mind and heart will begin to change, and little by little, you will acquire the mind and heart of Christ. Load those iPods with something Catholic and start walking (it’s a great way to lose weight too)!
Reason # 16: Protection From Error. One of the great advantages of making our home in the Catholic Church is that we are at the feet of a wise and experienced teacher who has seen it all. The Scriptures, the Catechism, the lives of the Saints—all the Church’s teaching is a wealth of knowledge and experience for us.
At this point I would like to let G.K. Chesterton to do the talking:
The other day a well-known writer, otherwise quite well-informed, said that the Catholic Church is always the enemy of new ideas. It probably did not occur to him that his own remark was not exactly in the nature of a new idea…Nevertheless, the man who made that remark about Catholics meant something; and it is only fair to him to understand it rather more clearly than he stated it. What he meant was that, in the modern world, the Catholic Church is in fact the enemy of many influential fashions; most of which…claim to be new. [But] nine out of ten of what we call new ideas are simply old mistakes. The Catholic Church has for one of her chief duties that of preventing people from making those old mistakes; from making them over and over again forever, as people always do if they are left to themselves…There is no other case of one continuous intelligent institution that has been thinking about thinking for two thousand years. Its experience naturally covers nearly all experiences; and especially nearly all errors. The result is a map in which all the blind alleys and bad roads are clearly marked, all the ways that have been shown to be worthless by the best of all evidence: the evidence of those who have gone down them. On this map of the mind the errors are marked…[but] the greater part of it consists of playgrounds and happy hunting-fields, where the mind may have as much liberty as it likes. But [the Church] does definitely take the responsibility of marking certain roads as leading nowhere or leading to destruction…By this means, it does prevent men from wasting their time or losing their lives upon paths that have been found futile or disastrous again and again in the past, but which might otherwise entrap travelers again and again in the future. The Church does make herself responsible for warning her people against these; she does dogmatically defend humanity from its worst foes… Now all these false issues have a way of looking quite fresh, especially to a fresh generation. ..[But] we must have something that will hold the four corners of the world still, while we make our social experiments or build our Utopias. From Twelve Modern Apostles and Their Creeds (1926). Reprinted in The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton, Vol. 3 Ignatius Press 1990
So here’s a reason to come home and stay home: the protection and guidance of a wise and experienced teacher—Holy Mother Church. You might say she’s been around the block a few times. She’s seen it all. Come home and benefit from centuries of experience.
Here’s a little snippet of wisdom from the treasury of the Church’s Wisdom in the lives of the Saints. It warns us to avoid greed and materialism, two common and repeated errors of the world.
I found a very balanced and respectful video describing the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. What is interesting to me is that it is produced by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. While there are a few things with which I might quibble (for example, I think that it was more than just the controversy about indulgences set off the Protestant Reformation, and that the sampling of American Parish life is too limited), nevertheless the video is well-produced and quite thorough.
Here is the YouTube description of the video:
The purpose of this video is to help Protestant Christians and others develop a better understanding of the Roman Catholic Church, its history and basic beliefs by listening to Roman Catholics tell their own story...
The 35-minute program is organized into three parts: Roman Catholic beliefs, Church history, and Catholic Renewal. The program includes interviews with Roman Catholic theologians, scholars, pastors, and lay people. Portions of this program were recorded in Rome, Assisi, Trent, and Casino, Italy.
After centuries of mistrust, indifference, and even hostility, attitudes between Roman Catholics and other Christians are changing. Dialogue, cooperation, and understanding is healing old wounds, both locally and up to the highest organizational levels.
The Roman Catholic Church is the largest block of Christianity in the world. In the U.S., 65 million Roman Catholics are organized into 200 archdioceses and dioceses and more than 19,000 local Catholic parishes. Each year over one million infants and 70,000 adults are baptized in U.S. Roman Catholic churches. Yet for all its great size, influence, and long history, many non-Roman Catholics understand very little about the largest Christian denomination.
The Sacrament of Confession
A Brief Examination of Conscience
I. I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.
– Have I been more concerned with what people think of me than what God thinks of me? Have I been impious by ridiculing sacred things or rites? Have I engaged in superstitious practices of any kind? Have I been indifferent about the Lord’s teachings as proclaimed in the Scriptures and the teachings of His Church?
II. Thou Shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.
– Have I always spoken with reverence about God, the saints, and holy things? Do I use the name of the Lord often in Prayer?
III. Remember to keep Holy the Sabbath Day.
– Have I attended Mass on each Sunday and Holy Day of obligation? Have I seen Sunday as a day of rest set aside for the Lord or do I treat it like just any other day? Do I engage in unnecessary work on Sunday or pressure others to do so?
IV. Honor thy father and mother.
– Do I show respect and love for my parents? If I no longer live with my parents, do I call or write them often to show my love and concern? What about other lawful superiors and authorities in my life; do I honor, respect, and obey them as I ought?
V. Thou shalt not kill.
– Do I show reverence and respect for human life from conception to death? Have I in any way approved of violent or vengeful behavior? Have I nursed hatred in my heart for others? Have I endangered the lives of others by reckless behavior? Have I endangered the spiritual life of anyone by encouraging them to commit serious sins or by giving bad example?
VI. Thou shalt not commit adultery
– Have I entertained impure or lustful thoughts? Have I committed impure actions either with myself or someone else? Have I tempted others to impurity by immodest dress or suggestive talk? Have I ridiculed or downplayed the virtue of chastity? Have I intentionally looked at indecent magazines, movies, or pictures?
VII. Thou shalt not steal.
– Have I unjustly and intentionally damaged the property of another person? Have I cheated in any way or engaged in dishonest practices? Have I made illegal photocopies, audio, or video recordings? If I am an employer, have I paid a just wage? If I am an employee, do I give an honest day’s work for my wage? As far as possible, do I pay my debts in a timely manner?
VIII. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
– Have I lied about others? Do I care for the good name and reputation of others, or do I often endanger it by gossip and the spreading of rumors? Am I a truthful person? Have I rashly judged others? Have I told secrets about others that I am bound to keep?
IX. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife
– Have I entertained sexual desires or thoughts about someone who is not my spouse? Do I love my own spouse and thank the Lord for him or her?
X. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.
– Do I envy the success of others? Am I angry that others seem to have more than I do? Have I sought the things of earth more than those of Heaven?
The Celebration of the Sacrament
The penitent sits or kneels, makes the sign of the cross and says,
Bless me Father, for I have sinned
My last confession was __ (days, months, years) ago.
Then the penitent tells the priest the sins committed sin the last confession. Usually this is concluded by this or a similar phrase:
For these, and other sins which I cannot recall
at this time, I ask pardon and forgiveness.
Now the priest will offer some advice or encouragement to the person and then assign a small penance to be performed. He will then ask for an act of contrition. The following act of contrition is commonly recited, but others may be used.
An Act of Contrition
Oh My God, I am heartily sorry
for having offended you by my sins.
I detest all my sins
not only because I fear
the loss of heaven and the pains of hell
but most of all
because they offend Thee my God
Who art all good and deserving
of all my love.
I firmly resolve with the help of Thy Grace
To confess my sins
To do my penance
and to amend my life.
The priest then gives the absolution by extending his hand over the penitent and saying these words:
God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the Church may God grant you pardon and peace and I absolve you from your sins in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The priest will often bid the penitent farewell by saying,
The following video is a little silly (due to its rather mechanistic format), but it actually does a pretty good job of laying out the process of going to confession.
Reason # 15: E Pluribus Unum (from the many there is one). I was at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception last Sunday afternoon as the Archbishop of Washington, Donald Wuerl, greeted men and women preparing to enter the Catholic faith this Easter. The Basilica is one of the 15 largest churches in the world, and is surely the largest Catholic Church in this fair city. It seats well over 3000 and was filled. What was amazing, though, was the diversity manifested in those who were gathered. Quite literally, there were people from all over the world: Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, the Philippines, Japan, China, and of course, from right here in the USA.
The word “catholic” is actually an adjective that means “universal.” Christ had told the apostles to make disciples from all nations. That is what I saw last Sunday afternoon. All of humanity was represented. I saw that day young and old, rich and poor, famous and not so famous, clergy and laity, and religious brothers and sisters. It is clear that all are invited; no one is excluded who will accept Jesus and his teachings.
All of this diversity makes for a rich experience in Church life. We all celebrate the one true faith and are united in the celebration of one liturgy, but there is a great diversity as to things such as music, language, preaching style, etc. Some people say they have left the Catholic Church because of boredom. But my challenge to you is that if you don’t find a parish you like in your own immediate neighborhood, look around! You’ll be surprised at what you see. Some of our downtown city parishes feature very formal liturgies, wonderful choirs, and traditional music. Our African-American Catholic parishes feature dynamic gospel choirs and exuberant preaching. One of our largest and most diverse parishes is St. Camillus in Silver Spring which features, among other things, a large multicultural choir. We have Korean parishes and Hispanic and Latino parishes. Several of our parishes also have a large Filipino communities. Mass is celebrated in over a dozen languages in the Archdiocese every Sunday. Some of our parishes also celebrate the ancient form of the Latin liturgy.
If you think every parish is the same, look again! E pluribus (and there’s a lot of pluribus) unum: “among the many there is one.” There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism; but all of it is manifest in the rich tapestry that is the Roman Catholic Church. Come on home—you might be surprised what you find if you’ve been away for a while!
I’ve featured this video before, but it makes sense to do so again in this post.
If you have never seen this video about the vocation to the Holy Priesthood then I dare you to watch it! This is one of the best vocations videos ever produced.
And Here is Part Two:
Why not call and get things started?
Office for Priest Vocations in the Archdiocese of Washington (301) 853-4580
Reason # 14: Here to Stay! When I think of the Church, I cannot avoid coming to the conclusion that the Church is a miracle! If the Catholic Church’s survival were dependent upon human beings, how long would she have lasted? I suppose, about twenty minutes, max! But here we are 2000 years later. To me, this is a miracle and a very clear sign that Jesus both founded and sustained the Catholic Church. The Roman empire is gone. Other nations and empires have come and gone. Chinese dynasties have risen and fallen. Fads and fashions, political movements and theories, all these have had their time only to fade away and disappear. But through it all, the Church has remained. There’s just something about the Church. Sometimes she’s loved by the world, more often she is hated, but in the end she remains, firm and fixed, as everything else comes and goes. And she will remain until the end!
You may say that this sounds arrogant, but I do not base it on any human promise. Rather, I base it on the promises of Christ. The place was Caesarea Phillipi: Simon had just confessed Jesus’ divinity and that He was the Messiah. Jesus said, “Blessed are you, Simon son of John, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are rock(Peter), and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:17 -18). Thus Christ promised that the Church is here to stay. There have been many times in history that the world in some way announced the death of the Catholic Church; but here we are, still! The Church’s influence may have waxed and waned, her numbers risen and fallen, but still we remain. Do you see the miracle? No human effort could ever have sustained this 2000- year unity. Only God can do that. Don’t argue with God; behold the proof that he both founded and sustains the Catholic Church. All other human institutions that you see around you will one day disappear, but the Church is here to stay. So why is this a reason to come home? Well I don’t know about you, but if I have such strong evidence that Jesus both founded and sustained His Church, I want to make darned sure I’m on the winning team. And it’s the winning team for no other reason than this: Jesus Christ is the head of the Body, the Church. You may hear the Church ridiculed, scoffed at, and called “out of touch.” But do not be fooled. She alone is the winning team, for she alone has the promise that she will be here to the end. Jesus guarantees it! Join the winning team.