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Challenges and Accomplishments: 2015 in Review, 2016 in Focus


Beginning on Christmas Eve, I walked away from the website. I took my wife and children to midnight Mass and stayed up way too late putting presents under the tree while enjoying some excellent bourbon. On Christmas day, we exchanged gifts, then feasted together with those of my siblings and their families who were in town and could make it. (My wife knows how to put together a celebratory meal, let me tell you.)

Beginning the day after Christmas, it was time to just unwind. To play with new toys and eat leftover rib roast and drink the unopened bottles of wine and watch movies (including the new Star Wars flick) and play board games and just…be. It’s the first break I’ve taken in a year, and it was very much needed. I admit, I had some backlogged work I had originally hoped to get to, but I didn’t. I spent the better part of ten days just doing nothing, and it was almost everything I hoped it could be.

All of this is not to say that my brain wasn’t quietly processing ideas in the background. I took a first crack at goal setting for 2016. There’s a lot I want to do with 1P5 that I simply haven’t gotten to because of the frantic pace of content production. I took some time to begin plotting out next steps. We had a very successful year last year as our audience and influence grew, and I have no doubt we can and will do it again in 2016.

But there are questions that need to be answered, too.

  • What makes us different than other Catholic publications?
  • What do we do best?
  • What do we need to improve?
  • Where can we add value?
  • Where are we wasting time or effort that could be better spent?
  • How can we produce more of the content that people love under our current time, budget, and staff constraints?
  • What new features can we add that will be of greatest interest to our audience?
  • What are we trying to accomplish as an organization?

For most publications like ours, I expect many of these would be considered internal questions. But I want to have that discussion with our audience. Without you, we’re just talking to ourselves.

In 2015, we had just shy of 3.4 million pageviews. Our top ten posts (by pageviews) were as follows – in descending order:

  1. Sister Lucia: “Final Confrontation between the Lord and Satan will be over Family and Marriage.”
  2. Who Would Dare to Love ISIS?
  3. What Did the Saints Say about Islam?
  4. Should Girls Serve at the Altar? A Former Altar Girl Weighs In
  5. The Schism is Here. Right Now.
  6. Was the Eucharist “Desecrated” At a Papal Mass in the Philippines?
  7. Ten Reasons To Attend The Traditional Latin Mass
  8. Bishop Lynch and the Dismantling of Summorum Pontificum
  9. A Warning About the So-Called “Latin Mass Society”
  10. Is Nigeria Experiencing a Marian Miracle?

What does this list tell us? That our readers are concerned about the state of the Church and the battle for marriage. That the jihadist threat — specifically through the rise of the Islamic State — is on their minds, and they want to better understand how to mount a proper Catholic response. That appropriate, reverent liturgy is — as always — of paramount importance. That the corrective intercessions of Our Lady in the affairs of men hold great interest in our troubled times.

Notably absent on this list is anything specifically about Pope Francis. I believe this reinforces what many of us already suspect: that while his influence in the Church has not been a positive one, his papacy is a symptom, not a cause. I have no doubt that he’ll continue to be a top newsmaker in 2016. I expect that when the post-synodal apostolic exhortation (or whatever other form the post-synodal document may take) is published, there’ll be some very serious and concerned discussion about its contents. But as Catholics, our concern is much more for the effect of all these things on the faithful, and upon the shape of institutional Catholicism for some time to come. Popes come and go. Catholicism is forever.

There is a subtext here. While I didn’t publish the total number of pageviews for each of the top ten posts, the first article had just less than double the pageviews of the second, and easily more than numbers three and four combined. It’s clear that not a few Catholics are wondering about how God will respond to the machinations of bad bishops and cardinals, and whether He will, in fact, intervene in a dramatic way.

Let me share some further thoughts with you.

I may have mentioned this in the past, but I’ll say it again: my skill as a publisher and editor comes down almost exclusively to the quality of my instincts – the choices I make, the essays I am willing to run, the talent I decide to work with. Many (if not most) of these are intuitive decisions. My gut told me in the spring of 2014 that a website like 1P5 needed to exist, and I felt strongly that God was calling me to do it, so I launched it that August. I believed that there were Catholic voices out there that hadn’t been heard and deserved a forum, so I published them. I believed that every Catholic had a story worth hearing, regardless of writing experience, and I was willing to do the work with them to help them get their thoughts into circulation.

I never could have expected how much we would grow, or how quickly, but I knew what we were supposed to do, so I took a leap of faith. And it worked. We were on the news. We were in the news. We shaped the narrative about some of the most important things happening in the Church today.  Our writers did fantastic work, brought new insight and perspective, and broke stories not heard anywhere else. Two of them got book deals directly related to their publishing here. Others no doubt will receive similar offers in the future. We had major secular outlets reach out to us for our insight and perspective. We established our credibility as thought leaders and influencers in 21st-century Catholicism on some of the most critical issues of our time. We went from total obscurity to prominence in less than a year, all because we were simply sharing the truth of our faith in ways nobody else was, and with the support of readers who wanted more of the same.

So, what’s my read on 2016?

To be honest, I’m strangely optimistic. Despite long feeling that something ominous was on the horizon, I can’t shake the feeling that this is going to be a good year. How? I can’t say. Not yet. But it feels pregnant with opportunity. I have no doubt we’ll continue to grow. I believe we’ll be able to expand our offerings and reach new audiences. But I also believe that there’s a crucial ingredient we need to realize this growth: we have to get back to basics. We need to react less, and to be proactive more often.

You see, 2015 felt like a constant barrage of incoming bad news. Every time I tried to stop and think about editorial planning, there was some new scandal splashed across the headlines. A heretic empowered. A papal speech that left the faithful aghast. Synodal manipulation. Questions about magisterial authority in light of an inexplicable encyclical. We could never seem to establish our own narrative. We kept getting sucked back into the everlasting gobstopper of crisis stories.

Frankly, I’ve had enough of that.

I don’t know about you, but I’m done being baited by the Vatican. During Advent, and particularly as I took my break for Christmas, I noticed how refreshing it was to steer clear of the cesspool. I saw stories about Pope Francis saying inexplicable things. I was aware of certain goings on that I might have otherwise been tempted to comment on. But I wanted a positive focus as we entered the mystery of the Nativity, and so, I ignored it. All of it. And like a temptation resisted, it was swept away.

In the mean time, I had a conversation with a reader who is a recent convert to Catholicism and who even more recently discovered the Traditional Latin Mass. We spoke over the phone at some length about liturgy, and about how someone just discovering the TLM for the first time can find their way through a missal, which can at first be daunting. I had a conversation with some family members about the future of liturgy, and was surprised when one of them told me that despite their regular attendance at the Novus Ordo, they believe the TLM is the Church’s future, not just its past. I began reading some books about Catholic tradition, and found myself reflecting on what makes a persuasive argument in favor of returning to the Church’s venerable practices and what constitutes mere assertions of superiority. I want to read something that doesn’t just reach those who already believe; I want to read something that gives those who may have never considered such things a reason to believe. And if that doesn’t exist, I want to create it.

My takeaway is simply this: as a publication, we are not doing a good enough job of “rebuilding Catholic culture and restoring Catholic tradition.” While our coverage and analysis of the various crises in the Church are no doubt valuable to many, they can also be an occasion of despair without sufficient balance. I’ve heard from those Catholics who are so fatigued by the scandals perpetrated by the hierarchy that they wonder why they ever bothered becoming Catholic in the first place, or why they stayed that way.

What about them?

How do we reach the people interested in converting, who are now warily reconsidering the RCIA class they attend? How can we shore up the priests who are discovering the beauty and majesty of the Church’s liturgical and theological traditions but feel completely alone in their attempts to implement them, and entirely without diocesan support? How do we reach a new generation of Catholics, whether born into the Church or converts, who want to dive deeper into what was lost after the Second Vatican Council in an approachable, understandable way? How do we revive the practices that nourish and strengthen the faithful and clergy alike without unduly focusing on the tragedy of how they were lost?

These are the challenges we face. The same challenges we have always faced. But we need to work hard not to lose sight of them, all the while developing more effective approaches to meet these needs.

I have big plans for us in 2016, and I’ll be talking about them more as they’re closer to being ready to be implemented. If God blesses us, and our audience continues to support us, I believe we can accomplish great things.

The break was nice, and much-needed. But now it’s time to put our shoulders to the wheel and make a real difference in the Church, and in the world so desperately in need of her guidance and truth.

16 thoughts on “Challenges and Accomplishments: 2015 in Review, 2016 in Focus”

  1. Please continue to expose the evils of Modernism while sharing the beauty of Real Catholicism.
    Keep following your gut (and your heart).

  2. Usually, when I read Traditionalist blogs, theres nothing but despair and difficulty. Its very hard to find the edification in the midst of the complaining. This article is actually hopeful and I look forward to the things mentioned in the last 6 paragraphs of this post. We as Traditional Catholics, should be edifying and encouraging, and breaking out of the abstract thoughts and moving into the practical application of our thoughts. We know we have the full “meat and potatoes” of the Faith, none of that watered down dribble, this article ought to reminds us of what it means to part of the Church Militant.

    May God’s Wisdom Enlighten Your Mind, God’s Love Set Your Heart Ablaze, and May He Be Loved and Glorified in 2016, unlike in any year since. The Crisis is coming more to the foreground, and God I believe will work something wonderful in this year and the one to come.

    Godspeed Steve, you have my prayers.

      • I actually do believe that of those ‘educational’ things mentioned, I think it would be highly beneficial to give light on the Interior Life, we should always be cultivating it, but in these day’s it’s quite literally the heart of the matter, there will be much warfare here, it needs to be fortified, informed, and edified.

  3. Don’t forget your podcasts in your 2016 blitz. It would be interesting if you interviewed TLM pastors from across the US and let them tell their stories of how growing and maintaining the Latin Mass has gone in their neck of the woods.

    • My goal is to increase the frequency of podcasts and guests as much as possible this year. My hope is to provide something weekly, now that I’ve found a workflow that reduces my editing time.

      My biggest constraint is the lack of a dedicated studio. I work from a home office in a house full of small children. Eliminating the background noise is often the biggest production challenge. (A good challenge to have, mind you, but a challenge.)

  4. Congratulations Steve on a terrific year of hard work. I’ve appreciated your writing and that of your fellows throughout.

    Speaking as another 30-something with a gaggle of kids, I feel a strong tension between staying abreast of developments in Church and directing my energies towards the pursuing the sorts of preparations, even insulations, a well informed Catholic father must be about at all times – especially these times.

    I grew up around traditional Catholicism and have called it home for 10 years now, all the while digesting the bitter pill of slow realization that Modernism got the upper hand way before I was born. Gradually coming to terms with this has been a grace. In early 2013, I was still capable of surprise over Roman developments, long having let go of shock. Now I’m utterly unsurprisable, and dolt that I am, I’ve got some sense of how far back this ecclesial rot goes.

    I’m very much concerned for younger “conservative” Catholics or good-willed converts for whom this Papacy seems just some awful anomaly. They think either a brief rewind or skip ahead could work out the snags in the tape. The rapid rate of alteration the Church is set to undergo will either goad them along, sap them of faith, or hopefully disabuse them of that notion and get them down to brass tacks. For my part, I now believe that our churchmen, consciously or not, are constructing the foundations of an inverted religion. I would prefer a bold string of successors methodically deconstructing Babel, but in my heart I only anticipate a drastic Act of God. I don’t just say that with a shrug of resignation, either. Anyone who believes that should be shaken to his core over the state of his soul and those in his charge. Temporal concerns while creation gears up for this reckoning shouldn’t be too distant an afterthought either.

    Our increasingly technocratic world is uniformly turning on the Church. It is not content with Rome’s rate of self-demolition. As long as faithful Catholics are hanging on for dear life, wider society will not be satisfied. We are in for real trouble. Every rank of shepherd is bursting with men obstinate in their refusal to course correct or rightly fearful of suppression. A soft spot for the Latin Mass won’t cut it, folks. Christ wondered if He’d find faith on earth. Excepting various controversial means of accessing sacraments, Catholics have to mentally prepare for authorities ridding themselves by hook or by crook of this pesky Mass, all while the world hates you more than you ever bargained for.

    So, with that stereotypically bleak trad-rant off my chest, I would recommend One Peter Five keeps its audience informed about filial appeals to the Vatican. It’s praiseworthy and potentially beneficial (God knows) to call attention to and participate in such efforts. It may also help disillusioned Catholics if the site’s contributors further explain current-day heterodoxy in light of the previous century brimming with it. Personally, I would consider it a “value add” to find more content concerning family life, fatherhood, feeding one’s young in a world gone mad. I’m still hankering for a good Catholic weekly news roundtable podcast…you know the type where McLoughlin doesn’t start gushing about NFP. I’ve just lost the taste for long treatise on the finer points of liturgy or teapot tempests stirred up by some eccentric African Cardinal. Critiques of Islam that factor in the West’s multicultural malaise as an open invitation to jihad would be most welcome. Beyond the analysis though, I think this apostolate is well positioned to take a lead in networking Catholics professionally, socially…addressing a few of the more practical concerns of rebuilding Catholic culture.

    • Excellent commentary. I like your last suggestion that 1P5 could be a networking nexus for like minded folks. Discussion of alternatives for living the Orthodox Catholic faith, while being vilified and surrounded by hostility from Catholic Church along with the secular State, would be most welcome. Lets face it we are under siege and need once again to act and think like the early Christians. So………..maybe Steve could find someone to do on article on the survival tactics of the first Christians for us who may very well be the last.

  5. You do good work Steve as a leader of the Church Militant. Please continue to help us on the path to eternal life.

    On your top 10 articles. I see the top 3 being about the devastation to come, the next 6 about the current devastation in the Church and the last one, a ray of hope of how to deal with the top 9.

    To me what needs to be urgently proclaimed far and wide are the messages of Mary from her various appearances and how we should act on her advice. And the rosary is the weapon of choice for all of us who wish to be members in the Church Militant under Mary’s banner.

    • Thank you Michael. You’ve been a stalwart supporter from the beginning and I can’t sufficiently express my appreciation.

      I like your analysis of the top 10. It’s an interesting — and to me at least — unexpected list.

  6. My Patron Saint for this year is Pope Celestine V. Now,that is one reason to be optimistic this year. Anyway,have a Blessed New Year!


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