I have an undergrad degree in Radio and Television Communication from Loyola University of Chicago. I am happy about that degree for many reasons, one of which is the fact that while I was attending classes at Loyola, Fr. Philip Wozniak, OFM Conv., the Cleric Master and Rector of the Franciscan College House of Studies, would always tell me that if I got the degree I’d be the first. All those before me who attempted Communication Degrees left the seminary. Reflecting back on those days of the early seventies, I can certainly understand why.

Nevertheless, here I am in the 21st Century! My communication’s degree from 1973 may as well have been written on the back of a shovel for the ways in which the field has expanded and changed over those years.

One thing I find today is how much I don’t really like television. There’s very little that makes me laugh about the highly rated comedies and very little that holds my interest in “high octane” drama. Television programming has too much “agenda” and I find myself uncomfortable with it, contrary to it, and to tell the truth, bored like crazy with it! Quite frankly, I don’t have much time to “watch” TV, so when I do, I am fussy. I do confess to being a “Downton Abbey” fan—but more often than not I simply buy the season DVD and watch the episodes on my own time.

One program, however, that has caught my attention for several reasons—not the least of which being the fact that it has remained on the air for four seasons—is a program airing on Friday nights called “Blue Bloods.” The show is a crime-action drama centering around Tom Selleck, the Police Commissioner of New York, his two sons, both police officers for the NYPD, his daughter, who works in the District Attorney’s Office and their families. The drama unfolds in their Irish, “law and order” family whose values and lifestyles are unmistakably mixed up with their unabashed practice and knowledge of their Catholic faith. For that reason alone I’m surprised it made it four seasons! Mind you, this is not some faith driven messenger series; but rather portrays the faith being served very well, better than I have seen on network television in many a year.

This family struggles with issues—personal, familial, and civil. Priests, Sisters, and the Church, Herself, are presented in a positive and balanced way. Catholic teaching is often considered in the middle of some fairly difficult human dilemmas and pondered as a part of the resolution of conflicts. Most episodes conclude with the family gathered around the dining room table—saying the traditional meal prayer—and offering a very positive view of putting Catholic faith into daily action. The program shows saints and sinners, but it is nice to know that the producers seem to think we are part of the winning team.

Newton Minow, who was born in Milwaukee in 1926, is the former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. In 1961 he offered a speech wherein he called television a “vast wasteland.” Today he considers it a “toxic dump.”

It is very important, especially for parents, to monitor the media to which we and our children are exposed. With so many choices and so many devices delivering programming it becomes even more difficult. Some things still remain tried and true:

  • Choose your friends wisely.
  • Know your children’s friends.
  • Choose your entertainment and that of your children with positive values in mind.
  • Create your own (non-electronic) entertainment.
  • Spend time at home—with family—especially family meals.
  • Make time for one another and create a home environment where everyone will feel included and comfortable.
  • Have safe boundaries and a reasonable structure.
  • Offer positive signs of affection.
  • Talk intelligently—meaningfully—with one another.
  • Listen.
  • Pray together.

And, of course, remember Sunday Mass!