Answer: Yes, it is a sin to willfully look at, and to continue to look at, things that arouse one’s sexual desire. In addition, the Church also condemns even putting oneself in “the proximate occasion for sinning for a spiritual or temporal good of our own or of a neighbor” (Pope Innocent XI) which shows us that one is not even allowed to watch or listen to things like dangerous and worldly media or remain in situations where one can become tempted to commit a sin. This, of course, proves that the Church abhors every act of the will where we unnecessarily allow ourselves to be tempted, or to be in a place or situation where we know that there is a great chance that something will tempt us, or be against God.
Custody of the eyes is always necessary for obtaining salvation, and so it is clearly sinful to fix one’s eyes on a person or an object that one knows will arouse sinful thoughts and desires. “Brother Roger, a Franciscan of singular purity, being once asked why he was so reserved in his intercourse with women, replied, that when men avoid the occasions of sin, God preserves them; but when they expose themselves to danger, they are justly abandoned by the Lord, and easily fall into some grievous transgressions.” (St. Alphonsus Liguori, The True Spouse of Jesus Christ, Mortification of the Eyes, p. 221)
Our enemy, the Devil, first and foremost comes to us and enter our hearts through our eyes. No other sense is more potent in tempting man. Learning to control what you look at is absolutely crucial in order to be saved, for every time you look willfully with lust in your heart at an unchaste, enticing or unsuitable object, or any object at all for that matter, even if modest, you have most assuredly committed a mortal sin! Therefore, whenever you come across something sinful with your eyes (or even something licit but which is very beautiful) you must make a habit to look down or away – for the sin of lust will not be far away – making the sign of the cross and saying 1 or 3 Hail Mary’s, which is highly recommended since it helps against impurities.
Countless of Saints have rebuked people for the great error of failing to control their eyes. St. Ignatius of Loyola for example rebuked a brother for looking at his face for more than a brief moment. St. Bridget made a specific confession for every single face she saw during each day! This is true wisdom, but the world and current custom and habit tells you to always watch the person you are with, or looking at, in the face, even if they are on the Television! This is a bad custom or habit to say the least. This will many times lead to sins and impure thoughts and temptations of the Devil. Modesty and purity requires us to not stare people in the face, and especially the eyes, even at all, or only for a very short moment, even when we talk to them directly. In former times, this was common knowledge.
St. Alphonsus Liguori writes the following concerning this: “But I do not see how looks at young persons of a different sex can be excused from the guilt of a venial fault, or even from mortal sin, when there is proximate danger of criminal consent. "It is not lawful," says [Pope] St. Gregory, "to behold what it is not lawful to covet." The evil thought which proceeds from looks, though it should be rejected, never fails to leave a stain upon the soul.” (The True Spouse of Jesus Christ, Mortification of the Eyes, p. 221)
This virtue may indeed be hard to put into practice for many in the beginning, but overtime and with practice, it will become easier.
The above quote from St. Alphonsus also shows why most of the things broadcasted on the media are totally unsuitable to watch or read. News in itself isn’t evil or contrary to God or morals but most newspapers or news-channels today have totally unacceptable pictures or immodestly dressed or very beautiful tv-hosts, which make them extremely unsuitable to read or watch, or at least to fix one’s eye on. Remember, "It is not lawful," says St. Gregory, "to behold what it is not lawful to covet." To read newspapers which you know will contain many unchaste, immodest and sexual pictures and useless stories about sex, etc., is complete idiocy and will lead to sins of the flesh if you cannot guard yourself. Therefore, if you care for your salvation, you must not read any newspaper or magazine or watch any show or film that contains immodesty of people tempting you.
St. Alphonsus, On Avoiding the Occasion of Sin: “Now, no one can receive absolution unless he purpose firmly to avoid the occasion of sin; because to expose himself to such occasions, though sometimes he should not fall into sin, is for him a grievous sin. And when the occasion is voluntary and is actually existing at the present time, the penitent cannot be absolved until he has actually removed the occasion of sin. For penitents find it very difficult to remove the occasion; and if they do not take it away before they receive absolution they will scarcely remove it after they have been absolved.” (The complete ascetical works of St. Alphonsus, vol 15, pp. 543)
It is highly important for one’s salvation to block and not allow images to be shown when surfing the internet because without a doubt, almost all sites without exception will have some form or another of immodestly dressed women displayed; and, in the cases they are not immodest, they are still very beautiful or sensual looking. It’s unavoidable, even if the article may seem sound. In truth, I have seen and learned that from personal experience too many times.
Adblock or Adblock Plus extension for Firefox or Google Chrome web-browsers are also good tools to get rid of all internet ads, immoral or otherwise. And so if people don’t use a web-browser that can use extensions (or if they don’t have an Adblock installed) they must change internet browser and install an Adblock by virtue of obedience to God’s law that demands modesty and the avoidance of occasions of falling into sin when it is possible to do so.
That one must avoid the proximate occasion of sin in order to be Saved and receive Forgiveness of one’s sins from God is a certain fact of the Natural and Divine law that has always been taught by the Church and Her Saints. For instance, Blessed Pope Innocent XI during his papacy, condemned three propositions that denied this truth:
Pope Innocent XI, Various Errors on Moral Matters #61, March 4, 1679: “He can sometimes be absolved, who remains in a proximate occasion of sinning, which he can and does not wish to omit, but rather directly and professedly seeks or enters into.” – Condemned statement by Pope Innocent XI.
Pope Innocent XI, Various Errors on Moral Matters #62, March 4, 1679: “The proximate occasion for sinning is not to be shunned when some useful and honorable cause for not shunning it occurs.” – Condemned statement by Pope Innocent XI.
Pope Innocent XI, Various Errors on Moral Matters #63, March 4, 1679: “It is permitted to seek directly the proximate occasion for sinning for a spiritual or temporal good of our own or of a neighbor.” – Condemned statement by Pope Innocent XI.
Here we see that the Church confirms that the opinion that “It is permitted to seek directly the proximate occasion for sinning for a spiritual or temporal good of our own or of a neighbor” is directly condemned. And this condemnation is about those who “seek directly the proximate occasion for sinning” for a good cause, rather than for a selfish cause. But most people in this world do not even watch or listen to evil and ungodly media for a good cause but rather for the sake of pleasure or for other unnecessary reasons, and it is certainly not necessary “for a spiritual or temporal good of our own or of a neighbor.” This shows us that the Church and the Natural Law absolutely abhors and condemns the opinion that one can watch or listen to media that can tempt a person to sin. Indeed, not only the occasions of sin, like evil, worldly and ungodly media, but also the “the proximate occasion for sinning for a spiritual or temporal good of our own or of a neighbor” must be totally rejected and shunned if one wants to attain salvation.
People who reject this advice and continue to put themselves in a proximate or near occasion of sin will undoubtedly lose their souls, since God will allow the devil to fool them in some way since they rejected the Word of God, and chose to put themselves in the way of temptation. Many there are, indeed, who presumptuously claim that they won’t get tempted by watching or listening to worldly media, or that they will be able to control it, but here we see in the condemnations of Blessed Pope Innocent XI that one may not even put oneself in “the proximate occasion for sinning for a spiritual or temporal good of our own or of a neighbor”. God will undoubtedly leave a person who is presumptuous and prideful, and the Church and Her Saints have always condemned such individuals that trusts in their own strength. As a matter of fact, one can even understand from the light of natural reason that one is not allowed to put oneself in the occasion of sin, so those who do this act will have no excuse whatsoever on the day of judgment. In addition, a person who watches bad, worldly or ungodly media, tempts his fellow man to watch these evil things also, and thus, by his bad example, puts both himself and others in the way of damnation by his selfishness and presumption. So in addition to damning himself if he obstinately continues in such a course of life, such a person also actually tries to damn others by his bad example, trying to drag others with him into the eternal darkness and fire of hell. This is a kind of evil that is breathtaking to behold! It is thus a fact “that when men avoid the occasions of sin, God preserves them; but when they expose themselves to danger, they are justly abandoned by the Lord, and easily fall into some grievous transgressions.” (St. Alphonsus Liguori, The True Spouse of Jesus Christ, Mortification of the Eyes, p. 221)
The pitiful and unreasonable addiction to media by so many “Catholics” or “Christians” today is something new, and almost no one before the 20th century was so miserably addicted to it as the weak and bad willed population of our own times! The amount of pitiful and pathetic excuses that we have had to hear from bad willed people who try to excuse their act of putting themselves in the proximate or near occasion of sin is, simply said, almost endless. Even though they understand that they are not allowed to endanger their souls, they just couldn’t care since they are hooked on the media, just like a drug addict, who need his daily “fix” to endure the day. For about a hundred years ago, almost no media existed as compared to today, and people thrived and the crime rates was as nothing when compared to today. So the unreasonable addiction to media cannot be excused, for man does not need media at all to survive, and putting oneself in the near or “the proximate occasion for sinning for a spiritual or temporal good of our own or of a neighbor” is directly condemned by the Church.
Concerning music, it is just a fact that all kinds of popular music are mortally sinful trash that is made by the Devil for the sole reason to drag your soul to an eternal hell fire. There will be countless of impure suggestions toward sin along with a rejection of any kind of morality and decency. Popular music praises sin, and oftentimes speak against God and morality. In short, it contains the same errors and sins that worldly media have, such as: immodest clothing, adultery, blasphemy, foul language and cursing, greed, fornication, make-up, vanity, gloating, magic, occultism, acceptance of false religions, idol-making of mortal humans etc... and are many times even worse. Popular songs that doesn’t praise the idolatry and worship of man is hard to find today, and it’s even harder today to find popular songs which does not praise or worship sin and worldliness as norm. But worse still are the music-videos. A person cannot even listen to these songs without grave sin, but how much more then does a person sin when watching these sinful music-videos with half naked women/men worshiping sin and the occult by deed and example? This is sadly what many of your children are watching daily on the TV you have given them! You must reject this evil music entirely and not accept this to be played in your home.
Not all music are bad or sinful, you can, for example, listen to religious music, instrumental music, classical music or other music in line with decency and morals. But the highest good is of course not to listen to music at all. Giving up one’s own will is always the highest good.
The best music which one may listen to is of course religious music, since it draws your mind and heart toward our Lord Jesus Christ, Mary, the joy of Heaven, etc.
The next best music which one may listen to is classical music and instrumental music where no singing is involved, for this will not affect your mind toward worldly things as worldly songs always otherwise do.
The worst kind of music one could listen to is music which sings about worldly affairs. A person that listens much to music should avoid listening to worldly songs, otherwise he or she will be drawn toward these worldly things and affairs which are sung about. It is also very necessary to test yourself if you are addicted to music in any way, even totally acceptable music. This is easily done by going a few days without music so that you can test if some withdrawal symptoms effect you. All addictions of earthly things are evil and effect the soul in a harmful way. Just because you don’t see or understand the effect doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening. Spiritual sloth and depression among other things are common attributes of an addiction to media or music.
The effects from the wrong kind of music, and secular songs are very dangerous. There are numerous quotes from the secular world that can be brought forth to prove this point.
"Music directly represents the passions of states of the soul-gentleness, anger, courage, temperance... if one listens to the wrong kind of music he will become the wrong kind of person..." (Quote from Aristotle)
Brain specialists, Dr. Richard Pellegrino declared that music has the uncanny power to "...trigger a flood of human emotions and images that have the ability to instantaneously produce very powerful changes in emotional states." He went on to say: "Take it from a brain guy. In 25 years of working with the brain, I still cannot affect a person's state of mind the way that one simple song can."
Dr. Allan Bloom is quite correct when he asserts that "popular music has one appeal only, a barbaric appeal, to sexual desire... but sexual desire undeveloped and untutored... popular music gives children, on a silver plate, with all the public authority of the entertainment industry, everything their parents always used to tell them they had to wait for until they grew up... Young people know that rock and popular music has the beat of sexual intercourse... Never was there such an art form directed so exclusively to children... [Every Catholic must of course understand that masturbation is a clear mortal sin!] The words implicitly and explicitly describe bodily acts that satisfy sexual desire and treat them as its only natural and routine culmination for children who do not yet have the slightest imagination of marriage or family." (Dr. Allan Bloom, Closing of the American Mind, pp. 73-74).
Dr. Allan Bloom: "Today, a very large proportion of young people between the ages of 10 and 20 live for music. It is their passion; nothing else excites them as it does; they cannot take seriously anything alien to music. When they are in school and with their families, they are longing to plug themselves back into their music. Nothing surrounding them - school, family, church - has anything to do with their musical world. At best that ordinary life is neutral, but mostly it is an impediment, drained of vital..."
Dr. Paul King, medical director of the adolescent program at Charter Lakeside Hospital, in Memphis, TN, says more than 80% of his teen patients are there because of rock music. Dr. King says, "the lyrics become a philosophy of life, a religion."
To allow yourself or your children to have any kind of evil or ungodly music like rock, pop, rap, techno, trance, or any kind of music that is even remotely similar to this is mortally sinful and really idiotic when presented with these facts. Billions of souls are burning now as we speak in the excruciating fire of hell since they refused to stop listening to bad and sinful music! You will have your children eating your heart out for all eternity in hell because of the violent hatred they will have against you, since you could have hindered them in their sin, but refused to do so. In short, just like with all bad or worldly media, God will abandon a person who listens to such worldly music since they chose to put themselves in the proximate occasion for sinning.
In conclusion: We advice all people to use the internet in this safe way as described above, and always have images blocked. And we want to warn people not be deceived by the Devil or their evil attachment to images on this point. Again, remember what St. Alphonsus says: “when men avoid the occasions of sin, God preserves them; but when they expose themselves to danger, they are justly abandoned by the Lord, and easily fall into some grievous transgressions.”
Attachment to images made me delay using the internet in this safe way for way too long. If there are images you want to view, then you can always open another web-browser (with an ad-block installed!) where images are enabled, or enable them quickly on the web-browser you’re currently on. (Or you can just right click on the image and press “view image” on Firefox so that the image can be seen.) Most of the time there are no real reason or necessity to see any images anyway. Only curiosity makes us want to see them. Of course, when images are necessary or needed, then it is lawful to surf with them on for as long as it is necessary, provided it is not a danger to one’s soul and the site is not bad. But how often do we need to see images at all times? Never. Only at a particular time or occasion, such as for a work, or for curiosity when reading some article, but other than that we have no reason or necessity to have them on, and therefore, they must be off.
The best and easiest user experience in using the internet in this safe way is using Google Chrome or Firefox web-browser with an add-on or extension installed that manually blocks and unblocks all images easily with just one click of a button, which means that you will not have to enter settings all the time to do this. By using extension to block images, you can just click on the icon visible on the top-right side of the web-browser, thus manually blocking and unblocking all images.
Also, on Firefox, the images displayed by Google is not blocked by image blockers. I don’t know why this is. On Chrome however all images get’s blocked. (That is why we recommend users to use Google chrome instead of Firefox.) So when you search for something on this browser, you will not risk seeing something bad being displayed by Google against your will. The only option for Firefox is to block these images manually through adblock filters. If anyone want help with this, just contact us and we can give you the information and code needed.
Always surf without images on. Don’t be a fool by rejecting this advice of the Popes and Saints of the Church concerning the unlawfulness of putting oneself in the proximate occasion for sinning and of looking on things that are unlawful to covet or behold and that are a danger to one’s salvation. If you want to see images on some site, then allow the images only temporarily and afterwards block it again so that you do not continue surfing the internet with images on.
And yes, it is a sin to refuse to follow this advice since it’s virtually impossible to escape bad and immodest images and commercials of men or women tempting you every day when surfing the internet (and the same of course applies to watching most media too, which is why we recommend people never to watch movable images and that they only listen to the audio). Only a condemned person not fearing God or sin at all would refuse to follow this good advice that helps him avoid falling into sexual temptations and sins everyday.
St. Alphonus, On Avoiding the Occasions of Sin: “We find in this day’s gospel that after his resurrection Jesus Christ entered, though the doors were closed, into the house in which the apostles were assembled, and stood in the midst of them. St. Thomas says that the mystical meaning of this miracle is that the Lord does not enter into our souls unless we keep the door of the senses shut. (On John, 20, 4) If, then, we wish Jesus Christ to dwell within us, we must keep the doors of our senses closed against dangerous occasions, otherwise the devil will make us his slaves. I will show today the great danger of perdition to which they who do not avoid the occasions of sin expose themselves.
“1. We read in the Scriptures that Christ and Lazarus arose from the dead. Christ rose to die no more: "Christ rising from the dead, dies no more." (Rom. 6. 9); but Lazarus arose and died again. The Abbot Guerric remarks that Christ arose free and unbound; "but Lazarus came forth bound feet and hands." (John 11.44) Miserable the man, adds this author, who rises from sin bound by any dangerous occasion: he will die again by losing the divine grace. He, then, who wishes to save his soul, must not only abandon sin, but also the occasions of sin: that is, he must renounce such an intimacy, such a house; he must renounce those wicked companions, and all similar occasions that incite him to sin.
“2. In consequence of original sin, we all have an inclination to do what is forbidden. Hence St. Paul complained that he experienced in himself a law opposed to reason: "But I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind, and captivating me in the law of sin." (Rom. 7.23) Now, when a dangerous occasion is present, it violently excites our corrupt desires, so that it is then very difficult to resist them: because God withholds efficacious helps from those who voluntarily expose themselves to the occasion of sin. "He that loves danger shall perish in it." (Ecclus. 3.27) "When," says St. Thomas, in his comment on this passage, "we expose ourselves to danger, God abandons us in it." St. Bernardine of Siena teaches that the counsel of avoiding the occasions of sin is the best of all counsel, and as it were the foundation of religion.
“3. St. Peter says that "the devil goes about seeking whom he may devour." (1 Pet. 5.8) He is constantly going about our souls, endeavoring to enter and take possession of them. Hence, he seeks to place before us the occasions of sin, by which he enters the soul. "Explorat," says St. Cyprian, "an sit pars cujus aditu penetret." When the soul yields to the suggestions of the devil, and exposes itself to the occasions of sin, he easily enters and devours it. The ruin of our first parents arose from their not flying from the occasions of sin. God had prohibited them not only to eat, but even to touch the forbidden apple. In answer to the serpent tempting her, Eve said: "God has commanded us that we should not eat, and that we should not touch it." (Gen. 3.3) But "she saw, took, and ate" the forbidden fruit: she first looked at it, she then took it into her hands, and afterwards ate it. This is what ordinarily happens to all who expose themselves to the occasions of sin. Hence, being once compelled by exorcisms to tell the sermon which displeased him most, the devil confessed that it was the sermon on avoiding the occasions of sin. As long as we expose ourselves to the occasions of sin, the devil laughs at all our good purposes and promises made to God. The greatest care of the enemy is to induce us not to avoid evil occasions; for these occasions, like a veil placed before the eyes, prevent us from seeing either the lights received from God, or the eternal truths, or the resolutions we have made: in a word, they make us forget all, and as it were force us into sin.
“4. "Know it to be a communication with death; for you are going in the midst of snares." (Ecclus. 9.20) Everyone born in this world enters into the midst of snares. Hence, the Wise Man advises those who wish to be secure to guard themselves against the snares of the world, and to withdraw from them. "He that is aware of the snares shall be secure." (Prov. 11.15) But if, instead of withdrawing from them, a Christian approaches them, how can he avoid being caught by them? Hence, after having with so much loss learned the danger of exposing himself to the danger of sin, David said that, to continue faithful to God, he kept at a distance from every occasion which could lead him to relapse. "I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep your words." (Ps. 118.101) He does not say from every sin, but from every evil way which conducts to sin. The devil is careful to find pretexts to make us believe that certain occasions to which we expose ourselves are not voluntary, but necessary. When the occasion in which we are placed is really necessary, the Lord always helps us to avoid sin; but we sometimes imagine certain necessities which are not sufficient to excuse us. "A treasure is never safe," says St. Cyprian, "as long as a robber is harbored within; nor is a lamb secure while it dwells in the same den with a wolf." (Lib. de Sing. Cler.) The saint speaks against those who do not wish to remove the occasions of sin, and still say: "I am not afraid that I shall fall." As no one can be secure of his treasure if he keeps a thief in his house, and as a lamb cannot be sure of its life if it remain in the den of a wolf, so likewise no one can be secure of the treasure of divine grace if he is resolved to continue in the occasion of sin. St. James teaches that every man has within himself a powerful enemy, that is, his own evil inclinations, which tempt him to sin. "Every man is tempted by his own concupiscence, drawn away, and allured." (James 1.14) If, then, we do not fly from the external occasions, how can we resist temptation and avoid sin? Let us, therefore, place before our eyes the general remedy which Jesus has prescribed for conquering temptations and saving our souls. "If your right eye scandalize you, pluck it out and cast it from you." (Matt. 5.29) If you find that your right eye is to you a cause of damnation, you must pull it out and cast it far from you; that is, when there is danger of losing your soul, you must fly from all evil occasions. St. Francis of Assisi used to say, as I have stated in another sermon, that the devil does not seek, in the beginning, to bind timorous souls with the chain of mortal sin; because they would be alarmed at the thought of committing mortal sin, and would fly from it with horror: he endeavors to bind them by a single hair, which does not excite much fear; because by this means he will succeed more easily in strengthening their bonds, till he makes them his slaves. Hence he who wishes to be free from the danger of being the slave of hell must break all the hairs by which the enemy attempts to bind him; that is, he must avoid all occasions of sin, such as certain manners of speech, places, little presents, and words of affection. With regard to those who have had a habit of impurity, it will not be sufficient to avoid proximate (near) occasions; if they do not fly from remote occasions, they will very easily relapse into their former sins.
“5. Impurity, says St. Augustine, is a vice which makes war on all, and which few conquer. "The fight is common, but the victory rare." How many miserable souls have entered the contest with this vice, and have been defeated! But to induce you to expose yourselves to occasions of this sin, the devil will tell you not to be afraid of being overcome by the temptation. "I do not wish," says St. Jerome, "to fight with the hope of victory, lest I should sometimes lose the victory." I will not expose myself to the combat with the hope of conquering; because, by voluntarily engaging in the fight, I shall lose my soul and my God. To escape defeat in this struggle, a great grace of God is necessary; and to render ourselves worthy of this grace, we must, on our part, avoid the occasions of sin. To practice the virtue of chastity, it is necessary to recommend ourselves continually to God: we have not strength to preserve it; that strength must be the gift of God. "And as I knew," says the Wise Man, "that I could not otherwise be continent, except God gave it, … I went to the Lord, and besought him." (Wis. 8.21) But if we expose ourselves to the occasions of sin, we ourselves shall provide our rebellious flesh with arms to make war against the soul. "Neither," says the Apostle, "yield your members as instruments of sin unto iniquity." (Rom. 6.13) In explaining this passage, St. Cyril of Alexandria says: "You stimulate the flesh; you arm it, and make it powerful against the spirit." St. Philip Neri used to say that in the war against the vice of impurity, the victory is gained by cowards -- that is, by those who fly from the occasions of this sin. But the man who exposes himself to it, arms his flesh, and renders it so powerful, that it will be morally impossible for him to resist its attacks.
“6. "Cry out," says the Lord to Isaiah, "all flesh is grass." (Isa. 40.6) Now, says St. John Chrysostom, if all flesh is grass, it is as foolish for a man who exposes himself to the occasion of sin to hope to preserve the virtue of purity, as to expect that hay, into which a torch has been thrown, will not catch fire. "Put a torch into hay, and then dare to deny that the hay will burn." No, says St. Cyprian; it is impossible to stand in the midst of flames, and not to burn. "Impossibile est flammis circumdari et non ardere." (De Sing. Cler.) "Can a man," says the Holy Spirit, "hide fire in his bosom, and his garments not burn? or can he walk upon hot coals, and his feet not be burnt?" (Prov. 6.27, 28) Not to be burnt in such circumstances would be a miracle. St. Bernard teaches that to preserve chastity, and, at the same time, to expose oneself to the proximate occasion of sin, "is a greater miracle than to raise a dead man to life."
“7. In explaining the fifth Psalm, St. Augustine says that "he who is unwilling to fly from danger, wishes to perish in it." Hence, in another place, he exhorts those who wish to conquer, and not to perish, to avoid dangerous occasions. "In the occasion of falling into sin, take flight, if you desire to gain the victory." (Serm. 250 de temp.) Some foolishly trust in their own strength, and do not see that their strength is like that of flax placed in the fire. "And your strength shall be as the ashes of tow." (Isa. 1.31) Others, trusting in the change which has taken place in their life, in their confessions, and in the promises they have made to God, say: Through the grace of the Lord, I have now no bad motive in seeking the company of such a person; her presence is not even an occasion of temptations: Listen, all you who speak in this manner. In Mauritania there are bears that go in quest of the apes, to feed upon them: as soon as a bear appears, the apes run up the trees, and thus save themselves. But what does the bear do? He stretches himself on the ground as if dead, and waits till the apes descend from the trees. The moment he sees that they have descended, he springs up, seizes on them, and devours them. It is thus the devil acts: he makes the temptation appear to be dead; but when a soul descends, and exposes itself to the occasion of sin, he stirs up temptation, and devours it. Oh! how many miserable souls, devoted to spiritual things, to mental prayer, to frequent communion, and to a life of holiness have, by exposing themselves to the occasion of sin, become the slaves of the devil! We find in ecclesiastical history that a holy woman, who employed herself in the pious office of burying the martyrs, once found among them one who was not as yet dead. She brought him into her own house, and procured a physician and medicine for him, till he recovered. But, what happened? These two saints (as they might be called -- one of them on the point of being a martyr, the other devoting her time to works of mercy with so much risk of being persecuted by the tyrants) first fell into sin and lost the grace of God, and, becoming weaker by sin, afterwards denied the faith. St. Macarius relates a similar fact regarding an old man who suffered to be half-burned in defense of the faith; but, being brought back into prison he, unfortunately for himself, formed an intimacy with a devout woman who served the martyrs, and fell into sin.
“8. The Holy Spirit tells us that we must fly from sin as from a serpent. "Flee from sin as from the face of a serpent." (Ecclus. 21.2) Hence, as we not only avoid the bite of a serpent, but are careful neither to touch nor approach it, so we must fly not only from sin, but also from the occasion of sin -- that is, from the house, the conversation, the person that would lead us to sin. St. Isidore says that he who wishes to remain near a serpent, will not remain long unhurt. "Juxta serpentem positus non erit sin illaesus." (Solit., Bk. 2) Hence, if any person is likely to prove an occasion of your ruin, the admonition of the Wise Man is, "Remove your way far from her, and come not near the doors of her house." (Prov. 5.8) He not only tells you not to enter the house which has been to you a road to hell ("Her house is the way to hell." Prov. 7.27); but he also cautions you not to approach it, and even to keep at a distance from it. "Remove your way far from her." But, you will say, if I abandon that house, my temporal affairs shall suffer. It is better that you should suffer a temporal loss, than that you should lose your soul and your God. You must be persuaded that, in whatever regards chastity, there cannot be too great caution. If we wish to save our souls from sin and hell, we must always fear and tremble. "With fear and trembling work out your salvation." (Phil. 2.12) He who is not fearful, but exposes himself to occasions of sin, shall scarcely be saved. Hence, in our prayers we ought to say every day, and several times in the day, that petition of the Our Father, "and lead us not into temptation." Lord, do not permit me to be attacked by those temptations which would deprive me of your grace. We cannot merit the grace of perseverance; but, according to St. Augustine, God grants it to every one that asks it, because he has promised to hear all who pray to him. Hence, the holy doctor says that the Lord, "by his promises has made himself a debtor" (cf. Romans 4:25).” (Hell’s Widest Gate: Impurity, by St. Alphonsus Liguori, Sermons (nn. 2-4) taken from Ascetical Works, Volume XVI: Sermons for all Sundays in the Year (1882) pp. 152-173)
We also advice you to never watch news on television or the like since it is so filled with sins that it’s almost impossible to watch without seeing things that will injure your virtue like immodesty, make-up, sensuality, blasphemy, gloating, useless and unnecessary stories, lust, adultery, fornication... continuing in infinity. However, to watch news daily is hardly necessary and St. Alphonsus clearly rebukes people for this in his most excellent work, The True Spouse of Christ.
We ourselves do not watch any videos anymore except exclusively when for the sake of making videos. Now we only listen to audio, having all the movable images blocked. On YouTube, when we still watched YouTube (we now have it blocked), we did not watch the videos but only listened to them by downloading them as audio (or video) and listened to them only in audio, or at least, by avoiding watching at the screen if we were watching it on youtube, or on other video sites. Anyone who cares about virtue and about their eternal salvation and for those who fear not to offend God by viewing or seeing bad scenes or images, will of course do the same thing, since it’s almost impossible to watch anything today that does not contain immodesty or that will harm one’s virtue. Even purely Christian films, whether on tv or youtube, have many bad and unacceptable scenes, statues or images in them. What then could be said about more secular media, documentaries, or series?
That so much naked religious images have been made, spread and depicted even in churches! during the last 700 years or so is undoubtedly a sign of the gradual falling away from God and the corruption of morals within and without the Church by the people, and indicates why God ultimately abandoned the Church to what it is has become today.
Also consider that it is very easy to sin in one’s thought. In fact, one consent to an evil thought is enough to damn a person to burn in Hell for all eternity! and all the bad scenes one sees in all the films, television, movies, series etc. tempts one to commit exactly this sin against God.
St. Alphonsus: “Listen to this example: A boy used often to go to confession; and every one took him to be a saint. One night he had a hemorrhage, and he was found dead. His parents went at once to his confessor, and crying begged him to recommend him to God; and he said to them: "Rejoice; your son, I know, was a little angel; God wished to take him from this world, and he must now be in heaven; should he, however, be still in purgatory, I will go to say Mass for him." He put on his vestments to go to the altar; but before leaving the sacristy, he saw himself in the presence of a frightful spectre, whom he asked in the name of God who he was. The phantom answered that he was the soul of him that had just died. Oh! is it you? exclaimed the priest; if you are in need of prayers, I am just going to say Mass for you. Alas! Mass! I am damned, I am in hell! And why? "Hear," said the soul: "I had never yet committed a mortal sin; but last night a bad thought came to my mind; I gave consent to it, and God made me die at once, and condemned me to hell as I have deserved to be. Do not say Mass for me; it would only increase my sufferings." Having spoken thus, the phantom disappeared.” (The complete ascetical works of St. Alphonsus, vol 15, p. 167)
“O eternity, eternity! The saints tremble at the mere thought of eternity; and ye sinners, who are in disgrace with God, you do not fear? You do not tremble? It is of faith that he who dies in the state of sin goes to burn in the fire of hell for all eternity!” (Ibid, p. 108)
Scripture teaches that few are saved (Mt. 7:13) and that almost the entire world lies in darkness, so much so that Satan is even called the “prince” (John 12:31) and “god” (2 Cor. 4:3) of this world. “We know that we are of God, and the whole world is seated in wickedness.” (1 John 5:19)
Why are most people damned? Most people are damned because they don’t care enough about God nor fear Him enough to avoid all sin and the occasions of falling into obvious sin, nor do they love Him more than they love their own perverse will or self-love—which is the direct reason for their indifferent lifestyle; neither do they care enough about God so as to avoid even what they obviously know will lead them into possible sin. The great St. Ambrose said concerning this: “True repentance [and thus love of God] is to cease to sin [all sin, however small].”
That of course means that one must do all in one’s power to avoid not only mortal sin, but also venial sin. It also means to in fact never even have a will to commit even the slightest sin that one knows to be a sin culpably or with full consent against the all good God — and now we may deduce already why most people in fact are damned.
Hence that most people are damned and always have been. So the only reason it would be hard for someone to be forgiven his sins and be saved is if he don’t love God enough, fear God enough, nor trust God enough with his whole heart—trust and love, such as believing in Him and that He will forgive you if you do what you must—and that He hears all your prayers and grants all your prayers that are good for you, such as all prayers for the grace of attaining forgiveness and salvation. Therefore, it is only hard to be saved for the bad — and not for the good souls.
Also see: About the sacrament of penance and contrition and about receiving forgiveness without an absolution
Generally, one of course cannot know whether a film, documentary or show that one watches or desires to watch will have any bad images or scenes in them—before having already watched it. (There are some sites that offers warnings of immodesty, bad language, nudity etc., but their warnings probably are not enough, nor will they, in all likelihood, include a warning against the so-called modern day women’s fashion in which women show of their womanly figure by pants or revealing and tight clothing since this is how every one dress today (which in itself would be bad enough to forbid watching these shows entirely), and of course, the modern day “Catholic” or “Christian” standard of modesty is not enough and is even evil in many cases.) Therefore, it is playing with fire to watch movable images and risk one’s soul; and as we have seen, God will ultimately abandon a person that willfully put himself in danger of falling. Again, remember what St. Alphonsus said: “WHEN MEN AVOID THE OCCASIONS OF SIN, GOD PRESERVES THEM; BUT WHEN THEY EXPOSE THEMSELVES TO DANGER, THEY ARE JUSTLY ABANDONED BY THE LORD, AND EASILY FALL INTO SOME GRIEVOUS TRANSGRESSIONS.”