Jul 25, 2012
During these summer months, the Church shares some wisdom with the faithful concerning relaxation, leisure, and entertainment. Relaxation and leisure satisfy our need for pleasure. Yet, even as we guard leisure as a precious value, in practice it is challenged everywhere because it is often dismissed as time wasted. Leisure disengages us from the cares of life to enjoy and wonder at natural or artistic beauty. At these times, we catch our breath to renew our lives – culturally, socially, and religiously; personal and public responsibilities are also restored to balance.
Despite cultural differences, leisure bears certain universal similarities. It lifts up the spirit that brings freedom from external constraint, joy, and meaning to life. Sunday worship and prayer, reading a book, outdoor activities, watching good TV programs or a suitable movie, attending a music concert or art exhibit, or taking a coffee break are in essence the same: they refresh us.
Whenever we choose entertainment, we make a moral and aesthetic judgment. What are the criteria for selecting leisurely activity? "Decent entertainment has the obligation to serve the truth and support the inviolable dignity of the person and of the common good; this dignity is given by God and may not be violated or taken away by another person or government. Decent entertainment not only pleases its consumers, but also respects their intelligence and sensitivities." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2495-99)
That the culture of mass media affects us all is self-evident. As the most common form of entertainment, television daily enters our households, and in many cases, it serves as a companion. Though it is an industry, both autonomous and secularized, television opens the door of the world to its viewers. It can have a socializing effect as the lives of other people are immediately made accessible to us. Often commercial and cable television have risen to their best by offering events of universal interest in the fields of religion and politics, sports, human events, and matters of justice. Through television, we have witnessed heroic moral courage and non-violent struggle against injustice.