I always feel unsatisfied when bloggers blog about blogging, and yet, that is probably what the first of my posts will be.
Catholic blogging, for me, always seemed like something I could never do. As it is, Catholics are low on the radar, with only barely a voice in mainstream media. Sure, I guess we have Stephen Colbert (have you ever watched his Catholic Bender? Hilarious!) but he helped get Obama in office, so c’mon.
And frankly, until relatively recently, anyway, I didn’t really enjoy Catholic blogs, myself. I didn’t think that, were I a secularist, I’d come away from it any more informed on Catholic teaching, or more warmed to the religion that so many mistakenly think is harsh, judgmental, inscrutible and yet, paradoxically, for simpletons. I was looking for something earthy and real, that made the Catholic Church look like the reasonable, rational, timeless Entity that it is. The ones I found were jargon-happy, seemingly written for Catholics alone, who already had at least the basics down. Which is fine. Those have their place, but it wasn’t what I was looking for, which was something that would showcase the intellect behind our beliefs, and that yes, we really, really believe them with our minds, as well as our hearts.
And those were mainstream Catholic blogs–as mainstream as anything Catholic gets– written by members of the Conciliar Church who wept with joy at JPII’s beatification. I couldn’t imagine writing a blog that focused on what I believed as a Catholic and expect it to get much attention, except from the people who, though agreed with me at least as far as the Papacy was concerned, sometimes had other misinformed, small minded beliefs that embarrassed me. I can remember the sputterings of protest that ensued when I called some of my friends’ attention to the fact that Jesus would have looked like a Middle Eastern man and not the fair-faced European of our Renaissance paintings.
Now, there have been books– books!– explaining the Sedevacantist position. I’ll hopefully get a chance to address some of them individually and more extensively in later posts, but I’ll try to summarize. In short, and in layman’s terms, Sedevacantism–derived from the Latin for ‘The Seat is Vacant” in referrence to the Chair of Peter in Rome– is the belief that the popes and priests that practiced and spread the errors and heresies of the Second Vatican Council, and participated in the further abuses and heresies that it paved the path for, excommunicated themselves by default. And if the pope excommunicated himself, we were on our own, a Body without a visible Head. In the eyes of the Conciliar Church (the Church that recognizes Benedict XVI and a few of his predecessors as popes), we are in schism.
The main difference, along with the endless list of satellite and effectual differences, is that Vatican II was in error when it made changes in the Mass, in spite of the fact that in 1570, Pope Pius V made the Mass as it was then, the standard, as it remained until the 1960s, when Vatican II went into effect. Sedevacantists attend Mass in its old, Latin form, untouched as it was intended to be.
Ironically, I’ve found that non-Catholics are more willing to accept this explanation than practicing mainstream Catholics. Due to the objectivity that comes from being an outsider, they can more readily say, “Of course, if it goes against your religion to change something as fundamental as the ceremony it revolves around, and the punishment for changing such a thing would be expulsion from said religion, well then your position makes perfect sense!”
Our camp is small, and needy. When I’m in a romantic mood, I feel I can identify a little bit with the Roman martyrs of the early Church, at least in the sense that they are quietly rebelling against the “norm,” hidden underground, misunderstood and marginally unpopular, if known of at all. The Catholics who do know about us have a warped idea of what we believe, some viewing us as a cult, or opposed to the papacy as an institution.
One of the most–what’s the word I’m looking for?– edifying… conversations about my Faith, for me, was the first time I talked to Catholic columnist, Max Lindenman (now, happily, a friend, and one I will be citing occasionally) who writes for Patheos. He had heard of sedevacantism, but had probably never actually talked to a person who actually held the view, and had certainly never talked to one he believed had any sense. One of the first questions he asked me upon finding out this little quirk of mine, was if I had a problem with his Jewish ethnicity. When I laughed and revealed that I, myself, had Jewish roots, he was surprised as he had always believed sedevacantist were anti-Semitic. After setting a few more nasty and misinformed rumors straight for him, he generously conceded my sanity and had interest in things about sedevacantism that I had been taking for granted for years.
As I’ve explored more, I’ve found that I read more Catholic blogs nowadays than secular ones, and have found in them the down-to-earth intelligence I craved, at least in the most basic Truths of the Faith, and only sometimes do I have to skip over either a reference to one of the most recent “popes,” who now sit in Vatican City, or some new Novus Ordo-y practice that makes me wince. While those blogs have made me realize what I have in common with Conciliar Catholics, they’ve also emphasized the silence coming from my side, a silence I hope to fill once in a while.
To any readers I may have or attain later on, I ardently urge you to ask me questions about Sedevacantism. It’s much easier to address things on a smaller scale than try to capture the whole scope.