It's July! Get this month's booklet of prayers and devotions here as a print-at-home pdf or here as a paperback booklet. The July installment of the Catholic All Year Liturgical Living Show is ready to go, I just need to get it captioned and write a post for it, so it should be up in the next day or two. But first, I figured we should talk about my last post . . .
In an interesting confluence of events, the day I was writing up my post about the similarities and differences of the TV shows Good Omens and Lucifer, I got a message from a priest friend who is a pastor and does campus ministry. He wanted to know if I, as a woman with whom other Catholic women compare themselves and sometimes feel themselves lacking and become frustrated or angry, had any advice for young women he counsels who appear to have it all together, but can feel alienated because of it. He pointed out that it probably wasn't something I or anyone else could blog about because I couldn't help but come off poorly in the attempt, but here goes anyway. 🤷♀️😆
I told him that my habit of putting my "best foot forward" as it were in public (both online and IRL) is a combination of personal preference and natural introversion. I prefer seeing the good and beautiful parts of life, and while I really do appreciate the realness of some of the more hot-mess-flavor social media Catholic moms, they stress me out a bit. I honestly want to stop what I'm doing and drive to their houses and try to fix their chaos. But they wouldn't like that. And, of course, I have my own life to manage!
But also, online and IRL, the best foot forward approach can be a way for me to keep people at a distance, and avoid being open and vulnerable.
So my advice to him for women who feel intimidated by particular social media accounts or IRL friends who seem to have it all together was to understand that those women certainly have their own personal and family struggles and their own hardships and faults and shortcomings, they just don't necessarily choose to share them widely. And if knowing that isn't enough to set their minds at ease, I'd encourage them to NOT FOLLOW social media accounts that stress them out. Take a break for a while, or forever. If something on social media isn't a net positive in your life, it shouldn't be there.
And my advice for women who are the ones who seem put together was to get to know their temperament and how that can affect their relationships, so they can work to counter some of their natural tendencies and be more open and vulnerable which will make others feel less intimidated and more comfortable around them.
I do realize that some people online might perceive me as some sort of perfect Catholic mom who never yells or neglects the Rosary or gets dinner on the table very late or wastes time on nonsense. (None of that is true, by the way!) But I really wasn't consciously thinking about it as I went back to writing my review of silly TV shows post, and it's not a persona I'm actively trying to cultivate. We had discussed the merits and shortcomings of these two TV shows at our Catholic homeschool group parkday without incident, and while I knew that neither show would be for everyone, and I tried to be forthcoming about the reasons some folks might want to avoid either or both, I wasn't prepared for the level of disappointment in me for having watched Lucifer, in particular, that followed my post.
Some folks had seen it also and agreed with my point that even though it appeared worse on its exterior, Lucifer actually had at its heart overall True and Christian messages, whereas Good Omens seemed more innocent but was overall more problematic.
But quite a few (pretty charitably, it should be noted) accused me of creating scandal and leading others into sin by recommending a show that mischaracterizes the devil as charming and penitent and, while it doesn't have swearing or nudity or simulated sex, does talk a LOT about deviant sexual activity.
So, what IS scandal?
Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor's tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.
Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep's clothing.
Catechism of the Catholic Church 2284-2286
Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion.
So I find myself in the difficult position of for sure not wanting to tie any millstones around my neck or lead others into sin, but also wanting to be "real" and share with you guys actual things I'm watching on TV, and have found to have some value, even if they also have some moral problems. I've never felt called to shun secular entertainment completely. I have always felt drawn to the idea of finding and celebrating the good in our culture, even our pop culture, even though there is so much bad. I think it's a good way to relate to others who are also somewhere along this journey.
I hold the position that while perfect things are best, better things are preferable to worse things, and can be a nudge in the right direction for people who need it. But that’s a controversial opinion to have, publicly, (just ask Pope Benedict) and it’s tricky to get it right. In the comments on that post and on Facebook, I explain why the show was inside my comfort zone, but comfort zones are different for different people, and mine has definitely changed over the years.
I have personally felt scandalized when I chose movies to watch with my husband on the recommendation of Catholic bloggers, that then turned out to have sex scenes I found too graphic and messages I didn’t agree with. There are recommendations back in the archives of my blog for at least one show that I watched and enjoyed many years ago, but would definitely not watch or recommend now (I should probably go back and put disclaimers on those posts). I have heard from some Catholics that shows like Game of Thrones and Outlander are awesome, and from others that they are pornographic and overly violent. Those I have skipped. (*Also Scandal, by the way. Haven’t seen it. Doesn’t SEEM like it has a great message.)
So, all that to say, I don’t feel like I have the exact right answer here. I’m not sure there is one. If you’ve been scandalized by a recommendation of mine, I apologize. I never set out to style myself as the perfect Catholic mom or the arbiter of Catholic entertainment, but I AM trying to get myself to heaven and I’d love to bring as many of you with me as I can. As someone who is a devout Catholic, and publicly so, I know I have a responsibility to comport myself in a manner befitting that station. To that end, I really do think about how I spend my time and what is appropriate for me to read/watch/listen to. I hope that everyone will use her own discretion when choosing entertainment, and it will always be my goal to be forthcoming about the positive and negative aspects of anything I recommend. But please, keep me (and the entertainment industry) in your prayers!