Friday, March 14, 2014

Bubble Catholics

Behold The Bubble Catholic
I remember a man I knew in the 70's who lived in the 50's. He would take his 1962 missal with him to Mass, and his rosary, and sit at the back of the church in his personal Tridentine time warp, quietly doing his own thing while everyone else clapped and held hands. His house was filled with stacks of old Catholic books and copies of The Wanderer. You could navigate only through narrow paths between the stacks.

He was the first Bubble Catholic I ever met. Bubble Catholics are making a comeback with the advent of the Franciscan Church.

Bubble Catholics live in isolation from the latest trends in the Church. They are the ones the Pope speaks of that seek "exaggerated doctrinal security." (What exactly is "exaggerated" security if the doctrines are infallible?) They find comfort in the old images of the Church that depict rescue and safety: Noah's ark, the sheepfold. (Or as the pope puts it, they "stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists.") Sure, they know that the new image is People on a Journey, but Bubble Catholics tend to think the journey's over once you're home.

Bubble Catholics see the Church as more than the latest image of Pope Francis on television, hear the voice of the Church in voices far older than his latest newspaper interview. Their companions are saints, and holy popes, and their prayers are the Rosary, and maybe even Divine Office. Their homes may have crucifixes on the walls, and images of the Sacred Heart. The Holy Father is mistaken. The Church's past indeed exists. It exists within the temporal-spiritual anomalies of the Bubble Catholics.

Bubble Catholics are not necessarily isolated. They can be active in their parishes, and do good works, although they usually don't make a fuss about it. (Concern for the poor was not invented by the Franciscan Church, although Bubble Catholics probably refer to the Corporal Works of Mercy. They also retain the Spiritual Works of Mercy, the first of which is not Do Not Judge, but Admonish the Sinner.) They enjoy the company of other Bubble Catholics, and their individual bubbles easily merge into a single bubble large enough to accommodate all the Bubble Catholics in the gathering.

Bubble Catholics aren't going anywhere. They're not the ones with the sedevacantist websites. Their aims are as modest and audacious as ever. To live normal, Catholic lives according to the Church's historical consensus, and, with God's grace, to become saints. They will come out of their bubbles one day when the Church -- all of it -- is brought out again. They realize they are not likely to see that in their lifetimes. That's fine. It's hard to feel cramped in an infinite bubble.


  1. A most interesting piece. I was not even aware of the term "Bubble Catholic" though it appears that I am one.

  2. Of course you were not aware of the term. The Bear just made it up lol. The Bear suspects most of his readers are Bubble Catholics.

  3. I am a reluctant Bubble Catholic when I am not at my (Ordinariate) parish - which I can't always get to, since it is 50 miles away.

  4. Bubble Catholic and proud of it! Foot nailed firmly to floor of FSSP Chapel ( am so blessed!) even if only manage to attend once a month due to husband being currently firmly nailed to anti-catholicism.

  5. I'm getting too many labels lately. I think I'm a Deplora-bubble Catholic.

  6. Oh gosh, I guess I've been doing the Bubble thing.


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