The Phenomenon of the Catholic Blogosphere

Liam’s analysis of the NLM:

“perhaps NLM generates more traffic because it has a marginalized niche audience that is less able to have real instead of virtual conversations than those outside its base audience.”

Draws the ire of John Heavrin:

Ah, the freaks-in-their-Mom’s-basement insult. The traditionalist “niche” is growing all the time, friends; it now includes the Holy Father. Poring over the minutiae and felled forests of the last forty years, now there’s a niche.

But I don’t think Liam levels insult here. People who have been marginalized by liturgical changes have never had very big numbers. Certainly many of those who are occasionally bothered by the antics in their parish just keep attending Mass because of other good points of the Church. The internet has enabled many people who found few or no allies in their parishes to find them on blogs and other internet media. Good for them.

Liam, just maybe NLM’s just a more attractive blog.

Well, they do put more effort into pretty pictures and they do a darn fine job with layout. Too many darn books in their blogroll.

As for Fr. Z: now he does have a niche. He understands translation and he is expert in both Latin and Chanceryese. He is applying these skills to the various screeds and misinformation, as well as the better offerings, from official sources like Bishops and their staffers, and also unofficial ones, like publications. He’s wired in with a lot of the important Ecclesia Dei types in Rome and what he’s doing is very important. You don’t like it, so it becomes “pathetic.” I hope he keeps it up; there’s a lot of work to be done to prevent Summorum Pontificum from being strangled in the cradle, and he, unlike most, is in a good position to do it.

Father Z has been an internet presence for at least ten years. I don’t think he’s as expert as people think. He has a thin skin and the internet medium seems to work well for him. His medium of the fisk is more of a modernism than many would care to admit. The one thing it does have going for it is that it’s independent of video, and it works best as a written medium.

I wonder what his numbers are…

I’m sure they’re darn good. But neither he nor NLM have the range of the commentariat of this blog. You guys trump his posse every day.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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5 Responses to The Phenomenon of the Catholic Blogosphere

  1. Liam says:

    Thanks, Todd. And, actually, I had explicitly characterized the supposed “insult” as a counter-oversimplification intended to mirror one John had made. That apparently went unnoticed….

  2. Tony says:

    I’d be interested to hear from John how many like minded people he knows personally. Especially if he is marginalized in St. Kumbaya’s parish.

    I know a lot of people who are faithful, orthodox Catholics who don’t prefer the TLM.

  3. John Heavrin says:

    Tony, I’ve attended a TLM regularly for almost 13 years…we usually have two hundred for Sunday Mass, give or take. I guess I could say I “know” those people, even the ones I might not have met personally. I know another few hundred who come occasionally from time to time, and have an interest in the TLM and wish it well. I myself attend the novus ordo on Saturdays and when I can (seldom) through the week. I also sometimes attend a low Mass on weekdays, when I can get up early enough. So I would say that I “personally know” about 500 people who are “like minded.” Give or take. Maybe. Or not. I don’t consider myself to have a marginalized bone in my body, by the way. The parish that I live closest to, and the other two or three that I drive by on the way to Mass every Sunday: perhaps there I would be marginalized, who knows.

    Perhaps Liam didn’t mean to insult the NLMers by suggesting they flock to NLM because they’re “marginalized” in real life. It read like an insult to me, however. He said it was an “oversimplification.” I think it’s just incorrect. I will admit that it probably was an oversimplification on my part to suggest that the reason NLM is a better blog than this is because they have 15-20 times the readership; there are probably other reasons as well.

    And finally, I take issue with Todd’s claim about the “range” of the commentariat of this blog. It’s pretty much an Amen chorus, when it’s present at all.

  4. Tony says:

    And finally, I take issue with Todd’s claim about the “range” of the commentariat of this blog. It’s pretty much an Amen chorus, when it’s present at all.

    LOL!!! I am the anti-Todd. When he was thinking of dropping his blog, I invited him over to Catholic Pillow Fight for a “Hannity & Colmes” type experience. He didn’t bite, which made me somewhat sad.

    I was reading NLM when it first appeared on the scene. I was excited about the idea of reforming the liturgy, because I had seen too much craziness in some of the current Masses I’d attended. I thought the idea of injecting some new (old) ideas into the liturgy was great.

    Then those from the tridentine ghetto moved into the comment boxes, and the new liturgical movement took on a decidedly “angry traditonalist” tone.

    I told Todd my story in e-mail, so now I’ll give you a taste. I was about 8 years old when the Novus Ordo missae was promulgated. I was an altar boy, and I was fast tracking to the priesthood. Then my world came crashing down. After years of being taught I was not worthy, the body of my Lord was being placed in my hand. And women were giving it to me. All of the words of the Mass and the music changed.

    I figured in my young mind that if our religion was so easy to change, it was all bullsh*t. So I continued to go to Mass with my family never letting on that I had lost my faith.

    After about 40 years of “wandering in the desert”, I started to find my way home. The jump start was the internet, and the main impetus was our new pastor who celebrates each Mass like it’s his first and last.

    I fondly remembered the TLM, and we had an indult Mass in town, and I took my teenaged daughter (who had never been). I was gravely disappointed. I felt like an interloper. There seemed to be two communities at that parish instead of one. There was “the Latin Mass people” and “the other people”.

    That’s what I feel about the tone and commentariat at NLM. It’s full of “the Latin Mass people”, who are willing to bail to Latin Masses and not help “the other people” find the transcendence and beauty of what the Catholic Mass can be.

    A Novus Ordo “done right”, with Latin, chant and even ad orientem, beats the socks off of the extraordinary form. However we see the Novus Ordo done right far too seldom.

    So I think that NLM has lost its way, or “it’s way” is a place that I know that I don’t want to be. But that’s ok, blogs appeal to different clientele.

    But I have to agree with Liam. It appears you have a niche market that appeals to your particular commentariat. They have some place to vent where they are not criticized.

    But to me, ultimately, it’s not about my preference, it’s about what is required and what is prohibited. There seems to be a lot of flexibility in there. I don’t like a lot of it, but if it’s not prohibited, or is required and not being done, I don’t have a problem with it. I trust that God will guide our Church in a way that is best for the universal (catholic) church. Not necessarily little pockets of people who want it a certain way.

  5. Liam says:


    My intent was merely to reveal by mirroring something you had written; it’s usually easier to see that way. You did not find it so, I see.

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