St Tutilo

(entered heaven in 915)

Dear Tully,

I too have met the kind of folks you refer to in your last note, and I too have pondered the question you posed for me.  It is common for zealous Christians to react strongly against the mass media – sometimes too strongly. When they make a “zero tolerance” policy, refusing to watch any television, see any movies, use any Web sites, or listen to any music, I think their heart is in the right place.  But I also think they are being narrow-minded, and making a mistake (not a grave one, mind you, just a small one). The media are not evil in themselves; they are just often manipulated in evil ways. We have to approach them in a balanced way, controlling them so that they don’t control us.  Just because TV commercials appeal to and stimulate our basest instincts doesn’t necessarily mean we should never watch TV. Often there are excellent performances on the tube – classic movies, informative documentaries, important news coverage, exciting sporting events… Such things (though not necessary for our spiritual health) can be a healthy type of entertainment or formation; all we have to do is tape them and speed through the commercials, or change channels during the commercials – or find some other way to take advantage of the good that these media offer without imbibing the bad (and a lot of it is, admittedly, very bad).  The same goes with the Web, movies, and especially music: we should train ourselves to take advantage of the good and avoid the bad, as well as infusing Catholic values into these media.

After all, as today’s saint proves, anything that is true or beautiful is a bridge to God, the source of Truth and Beauty themselves.  St Tutilo discovered this during his schooldays in the famous monastery school of Saint-Gall in Germany. He loved the religious life and became a monk himself when his primary education came to an end.  It seems that he was a real Renaissance man (though he lived 500 years before the Renaissance), and devoted himself to painting, music (especially music – his great love), oratory, sculpture, metalwork, and mechanics.  No wonder they chose him to become headmaster of the school. He channeled his creativity and love for art and science into his evangelizing mission, becoming a favorite among the faithful who lived nearby (even being obliged to perform in the royal courts of the nearby cities, though he shrank from publicity), and his talents drew many people closer to God.  He is a link in the great chain of Catholic artists, who have put human creativity at the service of God’s glory since the dawn of Christianity. What a pity it would be if out of fear today’s Catholics broke that marvelous chain!

Your affectionate uncle, Eddy

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