Catholic bloggers have been somewhat at the centre of the attention in the recent months, as even the Vatican starts to see the role they can have in spreading – in the absence of proper catechesis due to the many cowardly or even heretical priests; which btw the Vatican doesn’t tell you – Catholic values.
Still, the reality of the matter is that Catholic bloggers will never be able to reach a vast part of the Catholic population, but only that relatively tiny minority interested enough in religious matters to devote some of their free time to them. In addition, it is clear that not everyone has the time, the inclination, the writing ability or the fighting attitude necessary to be an effective Catholic blogger.
Therefore, the question arises as to what the real effectiveness of Catholic blogging can be. My answer is that Catholic blogging should – particularly as long as the appalling absence of proper catechesis continues – work as a kind of Catholic starter engine for a broader public. Not everyone can be as articulate as a good blogger, but everyone can and should: a) use Catholic blogs to remain on the straight and narrow path of Catholic orthodoxy and b) become fit enough to offer a good argument in every discussion with friends, relatives, and colleagues.
In my opinion, every reader of Catholic blogs should see himself as not only a receiver, but a transmitter of values. He should see this not as an option, but as a duty as Christianity is not a private hobby, but something we must share with the world around us. Therefore, a Catholic should read Catholic blogs with his evangelisation work in mind, remember the frequent discussions in his own circle of acquaintances and use good Catholic blogs to seek Catholic answers to it. In time, he will become fit enough to be able to give a tremendous contribution to the spreading of Truth in his own circle.
I would suggest to every Catholic to do the following:
1) buy a good consultation work, like “Catholicism For Dummies”. These works are well organised, explain everything in simple words and can be used again and again examining only the part one is interested in at the moment;
2) use one’s own free time for instructive reading. Books like “Why Do Catholics Do That?” are not only extremely well written, but in convenient pocket format and easy to read on the train, or carry around with you wherever you go;
3) buy and seriously read a simple Catechism, like the excellent Penny Catechism. This little, beautiful booklet has been learned by heart by countless young Catholics. A thorough knowledge of this little book alone will put you ahead of most of your Catholic friends and acquaintances, and will allow you to validly oppose the inevitable verse-spitting, bible-worshipping Protestants. This little booklet can also be carried with you almost everywhere;
4) use your technology: Kindle, Ipad, Iphone & Co. offer more and more opportunity to improve your knowledge, and they will only increase in the future. For example, you can buy a kindle edition of the excellent Catechism of St. Pius X, or of the “Catholicism for dummies” mentioned above, or perhaps try something new like this one. Think of it: always in your Kindle at no additional weight or inconvenience, ready for you to instruct yourself whenever you have three minutes available.
5) Use internet resources available. Since inception of this blog less than a year ago I have endeavoured to put together those blog post meant at Catholic instruction in the “Catholic Vademecum” page you find at the top. The idea is that as you keep (hopefully) returning to the blog you have an opportunity to rapidly and conveniently peruse my take on each one of the points dealt with and to be constantly reminded of basic Catholic fare (you’ll note that the Rosary is paramount. The Rosary is, in fact, always paramount). Also, I have a series of commented Vintage Catholic booklets sections. Whenever you visit a good blog, check whether it has general knowledge parts that you can use to improve your instruction.
In the end, one doesn’t need to become a theologian, nor does he need to have rhetorical skills. Even a solid knowledge of basic Catholicism will put you ahead of most of your friends and relatives and allow you to effectively transmit the Catholic truth to them. In time, you’ll become more and more persuasive as your knowledge improves, but in the face of attack it is better to oppose a moderately articulate resistance than no resistance at all.
In the end it is not so important how many bloggers are around; but whether everytime that Catholicism is challenged there is some good soul around able to say an honest, intelligent word about the matter.
See here a very optimistic Michael Voris about the soon to be released Instruction regarding Summorum Pontificum, about which much has been written on these pages.
Voris’ message is that his sources indicate two powerful measures in favour of the scope of Summorum Pontificum:
1) the instruction that one part of the seminarians (in every seminary, I assume) is to be instructed in the celebration of the Tridentine, and
2) words aiming at appealing to the bishops to stop boycotting Summorum Pontificum.
Whilst this sounds good at first sight, i can’t avoid posing myself the following questions:
1) what is of the already leaked – and confirmed from several sources – restrictions to the celebration of the Tridentine in the Diocese of Milan (Ambrosian Rite)?
2) What is of the also leaked rumours of ban of celebration of the Tridentine for ordinations, and of the old version of the Masses of religious orders?
Voris doesn’t say anything on this. One hopes that the outcry has been the end of those provisions. They were most certainly there as confirmed even by those who disputed their devastating influence on the edifice of Summorum Pontificum. But it goes on:
3) Why should the rectors of the seminaries take heed of what Pope Benedict says, perhaps giving some lips service if they really can’t avoid it, and
4) why should the bishops stops ignoring the Pope’s wishes now, when ignoring him is exactly what they have been doing all these years, unpunished.
At the root of the problems are not the bishops – whose allergy to proper Catholicism was always obvious – but Pope Benedict himself, who doesn’t do anything concrete to care that his “reform of the reform” is not only proclaimed, but seriously put to work. What we have, on the contrary, noticed is that those very same bishops who drag their feet and undermine his work are not only not punished, but are often promoted. There is nothing in Pope Benedict’s work that says that he doesn’t want to be only an innovator, but an enforcer of his own innovations.
On the other hand, the day Pope Benedict decides to force his bishops to acquiescence – I doubt it very much, but would be extremely happy to be contradicted by facts – he will not need any new documents, the removal of a dozen of the hardest cases being a rather more effective and immediate mean to this end.
As it is today, the impression is that Pope Benedict is happy to be the one who paves the way for a recovery of traditional Catholicism, without being the one who actually takes care that this recovery also happens in the lives of Catholics the world over. He probably thinks that this gradualisms will – as the Italians would say – save the goat of the “reform of the reform” together with the cabbages of the internal peace.
We will see. For the moment, I allow myself not to share Voris’ optimism both on the content of the Instruction, and on its ultimate application.