If the unappetizing fare on television these days isn't bad enough, one glance in your hometown paper's movie section will show you how far society has sunk. Consider the obscene profits an obscene teen flick gobbled up last week. It was a sequel no less and the unsuspecting moviegoer might think it is something wholesome. After all, wasn't Mom and apple pie as wholesome as it gets? Well the series of movies by that same misnomer have inundated the senses in the near completion of society accepting everything that is evil as good and 'wholesome.' Satan is a master at mockery!
American Pie 2 is a movie we will not allow our teen-age sons to attend as long as they still live in the home. We've been successful in keeping them away from most of the trash, figuring when it comes to regular network TV in reruns it will be tamed down and objectionable scenes and words cut out. We would hope that were true, but from the trends we have our doubts. We can't keep our children in a vacuum all their lives, but we can't allow them to be sucked in by the filth that is being passed off as normal fare today.
I was flipping channels the other night during commercials of the History Channel on Sir Frances Drake and came across a film on TNT about the future. This is not pay cable, this is TNT. Just as I was ready to return to the History Channel the "f" word caught my ear in a movie I later learned (upon looking it up in the paper) as Dred with Sylvester Stallone, that giant of acting talent.
I can remember when TV families Rob and Laura Petrie, the Nelson Family, and Ricky and Lucy slept in separate beds and the worst word said was 'darn.' Ah, how times have changed. Some might consider us 'old school' which translated means two things: 1. old-fashioned, 2. not sensitive to diversity (read: tolerance of sin). I dare say, I sometimes think I am too sensitive to it and don't speak out enough. The 'do-gooders' and 'sensitivity specialists' are doing all they can to brainwash a civilization into accepting every form of evil as 'liberating' and 'equal' and force-feeding a gullible population into expressing themselves in a spirit of accommodation for every lifestyle. The more this is foisted on us, the less our resistance, the less our outrage until we've been conquered without even realizing it.
There is hope however for history is cyclical. And it's the lesson of history that should prompt the Church into reestablishing itself as the moral authority. She did so here in America 67 years ago in 1934 when the Legion of Decency was established. The Bishops of America at that time realized the great scandals that were afoot and the power of the celluloid. Movies like Cecil B. DeMille's Cleopatra, Mae West's I'm No Angel, The Gay Divorcee with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Of Human Bondage and the racy Tarzan and his mate film with Johnny Weismueller in which Maureen O'Sullivan romped around the jungle in skin-tight animal skins and had a nude swimming scene. Enough was enough. The jungle of sin had to be cleared. The Legion of Decency came to the rescue with a strict ratings scale that would spell doom to a producer if it was rated "C" for condemned. Even a "B" rating was death's rattle for the studios. The reason it carried such clout was because Catholics everywhere took a pledge to uphold whatever the Legion of Decency said.
Pope Pius XI reinforced the Legion of Decency with his insightful encyclical Vigilanti Cura. In this Papal decree, which we urge you to read, he encouraged the American bishops to continue the course, affirmed that Hollywood indeed recognized the moral force of the Church, and showed how Jews and Protestants were in union with the Bishops' decision. Pius XI also pointed out that the fears that the industry would collapse if their 'literary freedoms' were curbed were totally unfounded.
Strengthened by the Sovereign Pontiff's backing, the Legion of Decency was the greatest boycott this country has ever seen. Hollywood got the message and, for the next three decades would enjoy the golden years of movie-making, always under the watchful eye of the respected and feared Legion of Decency. Back then Gone with the Wind was condemned because it dealt with divorce and the word 'damn' was in it. Some say that's too scrupulous. Yet look at the alternative. That would be what we have today when anything goes.
So what happened to the fail-safe Legion of Decency? It was caught up in the ill wind of aggioriamento in 1959 and its enforcement relaxed to where it lost all credibility with not only Catholics but the industry as well. The question is why? Many neo-Catholics falsely blame Pope Pius XII for relaxing the rules by issuing his encyclical Miranda Prorsus on September 7, 1957. It was his next to last. Rather than softening the approach, Pius XII sought to more strongly reinforce his predecessor's words. "The remarkable progress made by modern technology in the fields of motion pictures, radio, and television have given rise to great benefits, and to just as great dangers. For these new means of communication are within the reach of almost everyone, and thus exercise a powerful influence over men's minds. They can enlighten, ennoble, and adorn men's minds, but they can also disfigure them with dark shadows, disgrace them with perversity, and expose them to unrestrained passions, according as the shows they offer present our senses with objects that are proper or improper."
Both Piuses were prophets. We encourage you to read both encyclicals to see how far we have plummeted and that only through the Church will we be able to climb out of the deep and narrow tunnel man has dug for himself through his perversity. So if the traditional Popes strengthened the Catholic resolve to stand their ground, the conciliar Popes have allowed that strength to erode, rather to crumble.
Two years after Pius issued his encyclical, his successor Pope John XXIII expressed concern that Catholics were too harsh in criticism and should look for the good and not be so critical. In effect, knowingly or unknowingly, he was ushering satan right in the front door. Like it or not, the facts back this up.
Could it be that the Church relaxed its guard, thinking that the film industry could police themselves and the Legion of Decency was no longer necessary? Or could it be that the modernists were determined to forge their new-age thinking on a susceptible Catholic and non-Catholic population in any way they could? We do know that those same destructionists were instrumental in Vatican II. The whole agenda was to relax disciplines.
In this issue Dr. Marian Horvat provides an excellent review of the movie Chocolat, entitled A poison laced with Chocolat. We had a free pass at our local Blockbuster and so I used it to view the movie to see how insidious and subliminally the message she refers to was conveyed. In watching this boring and dull film that lulls you to sleep at times with its slow-moving, wasted shots, uneven music and shallow portrayal of life in the western countryside of 1959 France, I couldn't help but see the parallel of Chocolat and Vatican II. The seductress comes with a strange north wind - an ill wind; Vatican II was ushered in on the wind of 'aggioriamento.'
The pastor who had been there 50 years had upheld the institution and disciplines of the Church. However, he had died and had been replaced by a young cure 5 weeks out of the seminary. This, in itself, was implausible considering the plenitude of priests in the late 50's in France. No bishop would take someone still wet behind the ears and thrust him into the responsible position of pastor, not in 1959 at least.
Yet it was a strange conundrum for the clergy was taking advice from and relying on the laity in the person of the village mayor who alone was the pillar for the community to depend on. While stilted in echoing the mayor's words in his sermons, Pere Henri went off the deep end when he launched out on his own at the end of the film. He had to 'wing' his sermon on Easter morning because the mayor had not finished it in time. He was stone drunk on chocolate in the store window of the Chocolaterie. The pastor saw him there, disgustingly, embarrassingly plopped in the gooey, melting confectionery. Yet he didn't say a word. Instead, he - through the writers - delivered the 'feel good message of the movie' to his congregation and the audience. Anyone who doubts that this movie is a direct assault on the Catholic Church need only hear the words the writers put in Hugh O'Connor's mouth (O'Connor played the one dimensional pastor).
Here's the setting. Easter Sunday. Lent - that time of self-sacrifice and self-discipline - is over. Most of the faithful in this tiny hamlet had remained loyal to the disciplines encouraged by the Church. Instead of encouraging those who had fought the good fight, the young pastor caved.
Here are his words: "Do I speak of the Miracle of Our Lord's Divine Transformation? Not really. I don't want to talk about His divinity. I'd rather talk about His humanity." Can you see the twisting there? "I want" instead of "the Church calls us to remember..." But he was just warming up: "I mean, you know, how He lived His life here on earth." Yep, we're being set up for the punch line. Notice how the emphasis is in the temporal. "His kindness, His tolerance." That last one sent me looking for a brick. First of all, 'tolerance' is nowhere - NOWHERE in Sacred Scripture! It's a manufactured word by the liberal, radical progressivists to soften our stance against sin. I would venture to say that word was seldom spoken in French circles in 1959, but since it was written by minds thinking in the new millennium anything goes.
Now we get the real sermon the liberals are trying to peddle: "Listen, here's what I think. I think we can't go around measuring our goodness by what we don't do. By what we deny ourselves, what we resist and who we exclude." You see it doesn't matter what the perennial Magisterium of the Church has always said, what's important here is what he thinks. You can see right here the destruction of Church Authority in favor of individual interpretation. Protestant in every way. You can see that he is dissing penance and sacrifice and, denying Jesus Christ Himself and His ultimate Sacrifice - and therefore the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - when he dismisses denial of self.
Then the writers insert the sodomists' anthem to brainwash even further: "I think we've got to measure goodness by what we embrace. What we create and who we include." After all, we are all gods ourselves and we can create anything, but we must include all regardless of their beliefs and lifestyle. That is the only stipulation. If we don't, the modernists, pro-aborts, sodomists and all other isms won't tolerate our refusal to go along with sin.
It's a one-way street. They dictate that we accept their sinful lifestyle or else. In other words, we pay the consequences if we choose to follow Christ. It's nothing new. Our Lord told us that in Matthew 5: 11, 44; 23: 34; Luke 11: 49; 21: 12; and especially in John 15: 18-25.
The tale of Chocolat parallels the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Yes, it looked enticing and the promises it falsely held lured our first parents away from the Truth. The victor was satan who continues to this day to masquerade evil in the most attractive packages. We're the doofuses that fell for it, by sitting idly by and allowing the Legion of Decency to gather cob-webs, for not challenging false doctrine by merely comparing it to solid doctrine, by accepting whatever came down the pike as gospel, by being swallowed up by public opinion, and by not speaking out against the atrocities that Pius XI and Pius XII and many Pontiffs prior had warned us about. We've been reeled in hook, line and sinker.
And so we find ourselves in the third millennium and, albeit much deeper in malaise, yet not unlike similar rumblings in 1934. Remember back then the world had just gone through a world war in Europe and could see the signs of a much more devastating one on the horizon. Five years is not a lot of time in history. So let's fast-forward 67 years. We can do that now with our modern technology. Arriving back in our time, we must realize that it's time to resurrect the Legion of Decency. But how?
It begins with the bishops standing up and being counted by soundly rebuking and announcing the self-excommunication of all those Catholics who insist on voting for, or legislating murder of the unborn. That's a start. But it also can't be done if the Pope doesn't push them.
In 1934 the American bishops had the foresight and holiness to ensure that their flocks were protected. Sadly today we do not have that kind of leadership, anything near it. The present crop, save for a few good ones, have lost all credibility and trust by their inaction and accommodating secular values.
I would be willing to bet that if he could do it all over again, Pope John Paul II would not have elevated two-thirds of the bishops he has. I'd also be willing to wager that if he could replace them he'd do a wholesale sweeping of each diocese, dump the rascals and put in orthodox prelates who would get things back in order. Yet the corruption is deeper than just those in the red and purple robes. It stems down into the chanceries and seminaries where the stench can only be appreciated by the one who has long been accustomed to brimstone.
The longer it is allowed to continue, the worse it will stink and the deeper the pile of regrets. That is why we have so firmly embraced the Traditional movement for it alone is the hope of Holy Mother Church. The traditional course is the only one which upholds the true Roman Catholic principles and disciplines. Many may not realize it but Catholics are not outraged by the immorality running amok today because the Church has relaxed its disciplines. So many have become immune and consequently seduced. It's time to resurrect self-denial and penance. If we don't, God will do it for us. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather do it voluntarily in harmony with His Holy Will than be scared into it. But many may have to be scared. It worked before. It scared Hollywood and they responded with quality...for awhile. It worked often with the Jews of the Old Testament. There's nothing wrong with a good fire and brimstone sermon every now and then and again and again until it sinks in.
Speaking of sink, the only way goodness can win out is not filling the basin with more 'tolerance' or allowing it to drain down to man's guttural level, but by raising the rim. That can only be done by reinforcing the disciplines that sustained the Church Militant for so many centuries. The time of 'experimentation' is over. It has been a dismal, pathetic failure. Own up to it. Just as Hollywood cannot police itself, so also Catholics cannot police themselves. They need the structure of a strong Church to show them the way and to curb their wants. They need the structure of a strong, orthodox Church to emphasize the need for sanctifying grace. Yes, the need - the desperate need for grace. Vatican II and all that came after has been a total bust devoid of any fruit. A good scrubbing is necessary.
For over half of a year there has been a petition out there calling on the Pope to speak out and hold his bishops to the line on enforcing the latae sententiae of Canon Law. Colombia's bishops and the Cardinal of Mexico have already issued the edict that any Catholic politician or voter will have excommunicated themselves if they persist in promoting abortion. It's time for accountability by the sorry lot of American bishops. It's time to save the babies by throwing out the dirty bathwater of progressivism.
It may be a while before the disciplines are reinstated. We may have to wait for a resurgence of the Legion of Decency, but there's no reason we have to wait for our shepherds to act decently. Or is insisting on decency asking too much?