We spend a lot of time complaining about the lack of quality on television, in song lyrics, in literature, and in movies. Sitcoms make fatherhood look foolish. Songs objectify women. Books make premarital sex the norm and vampires look cool, and what has become mainstream movies make sexual, physical, and emotional abuse look exciting. How backwards has our society become? Isn’t fatherhood supposed to be respected? Aren’t women supposed to be protected? Isn’t sex supposed to be between a man and his one wife? Aren’t vampires supposed to symbolize the destruction of a sacred life, and isn’t abuse something to be avoided, the abuser someone to be shunned?
Few individuals understand that what is offered in modern media is not freedom. Few understand what freedom we surrender when we choose to solicit these materials. Those of us who do understand that freedom does not come in the form of what is popular today too often throw up our hands in a defeatist attitude, but recently, I had a different experience.
I had the opportunity to attend the Catholic Writer’s Guild conference in Somerset, New Jersey. One of the best speakers at the conference was Regina Doman who stressed that the way to change modern media is to change our buying habits. She stressed shopping at Catholic bookstores and through Catholic online websites. I live in an area that does not have many Christian bookstores and I didn’t even know strictly Catholic bookstores existed until that day, but her words got me thinking and I wondered why it hadn’t occurred to me to look for Catholic companies before.
After the conference, I walked to the facility housing the Catholic Media Network’s trade show which had been paired with the conference. I walked into a large warehouse of a facility and was shocked to discover the great number of Catholic companies promoting high quality goods: goods, materials, and services I had never imagined existed and certainly wouldn’t have thought to look for! I began, in awe, to walk through the building going from booth to booth thrilled to see faces I recognized from my work with Single Mom Smiling. I am always a bit skeptical about buying online but was pleasantly surprised by what appeared to be genuine integrity and a desire to promote God’s will over personal wealth that pervaded over the vendors, and I went out of my way to meet some of them.
The first people I met at the conference were the Kiczeks, a Catholic, pro-life family that is even more beautiful both inside and out than their website makes them appear to be. Their youngest little girl held her Saint Therese of Lisiuex doll which the family designed as part of its Dolls From Heaven collection. As I spoke to the family, I remembered the exquisite Madam Alexander dolls I had looked forward to receiving each Christmas and wondered why saint dolls hadn’t been part of my play back then and why they weren’t been part of my adult gift-giving today? I thought of how amazing it would be to give these dolls as gifts to little girls, of how wonderful it would be for little girls to be introduced to the Catholic faith through dress up and play and inspiring real life stories rather than to be introduced to today’s message of degradation and unreality through Cabbage Patch kids, Disney princesses, and Bratz dolls.
I continued through the facility amazed at the number and scope of Catholic products. There were products you’d expect at a Catholic Marketing Network event. There were Bibles and Rosary beads of every size and design imaginable. There were books dealing with issues tearing apart today’s society, books dealing with divorce, the breakup of the family, pornography, and addiction. There were how to manuals, how to get out of debt, how to find peace, how to consecrate yourself to Jesus, and many more.
While there were the typical Catholic items at the CMN event, there were also so many things that I hadn’t known existed. There were books for teenage boys like For a Greater Purpose and My Rock and Salvation with cool looking covers and games, puzzles, videos, and crafts for children. There were teddy bears, called Holy Bears, with Catholic messages and names of saints embroidered on them. My five year old immediately fell in love with a First Communion bear and the owner of the company let him have it for free. I don’t think my son has put the soft little guy down for long since!
There was Catholic clothing. Imagine an alternative to today’s fashion! I bought a scarf for myself (actually I bought two!) from a woman who developed the company Write for Her. The scarf says, “I am amazing, strong, beautiful, kind, of great worth, honest, Loved. I am a daughter of God.” The positive message is a much needed reminder to a single mom, and I picked up an extra for a friend who could use the reminder too. I began thinking of what great gifts these would be for teachers, parents, friends who have almost everything, birthdays, Christmases, graduations, and all sorts of other events.
I left the conference and trade show with a new sense of inspiration and wondered why I had been content shopping regular stores, settling for the latest fad. Why hadn’t I been looking harder to support Catholic businesses. Why don’t other people? There really are a lot of good quality Catholic products out there and many of them are very reasonably priced, but it’s hard to know to look for those products if we don’t know they are out there.
Next time you are shopping for a gift for yourself, your home, or someone else, think of shopping Catholic. To make a difference in today’s modern media, we must put our money where our mouth is and change our shopping habits. The good news is that there are so many good quality Catholic products out there if we are just willing to look for them. I hope you choose to do so.