Tuesday, October 29, 2013

And Why not Tradition?

The last days again, have brought heated exchanges, slaps, volleys fired back and forth (choose your description) between friends and acquaintances. George Weigel slamming Catholic Lite and Traditionalists and my tradition-minded friends inviting him in no uncertain terms to get a life. I've also seen much worse these days, as the "lite crowd", unmindful of recent history, attempts to win the world for the ho-hum social gospel which at best comes off naive after years of wreck and ruin, but stinks to high heaven of an unwillingness to accept the Lord Jesus at His word. What to do? Maybe risk fiddling from the rooftop? 

Despite all the dangers inherent in expressing the wish to recover something most of us never knew first hand, I really can't see how society can recover a sense of truth and a notion of the common good without tradition, without a sense of history. We cannot break with that of our past which represents continuity, faithfulness to Christ. I can't really argue with those who see much of the last 50 years as trading the Father's house for some unfriendly farmer's husks in a pagan land. The prodigal must return home; he'd be better off.

The unloved new form for the imposition of ashes to start Lent, "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel", says it quite well. We must be rooted and in nothing else but the Gospel as proclaimed by Christ's Church in faithfulness to the Divine Will. I'm thinking of a benevolent thought by Father Benedict Groeschel, about the crisis of the consecrated life, as the group most exposed to the currents and destructive tides the Council would have spared us. I love the word "retrench" when it comes to describing what is needed at this point in time, not sullen but sober about our possibilities if we do not grasp the extended hand of the One Who walks upon the waters.

Our world too eagerly shakes off too much. Whether backtrack is the right word does not matter much. The point would be that the working model was the tried and true. The teaching and interpretation of the Council needs to recover its millennial context. Wisdom dictates the return to the safe harbor of an ancient liturgical tradition as a part of that strategy along with what sensible folk know to be a definition of what is sacred. Marriage and family life, homeschooling and/or safe schools and environments for our children are a better plan than anything I see out there. 

I know there is a terrible amount of resistance to recovering the tradition or resetting the development process on the firm ground of the tried and true which once carried us. St. Augustine, in his homilies, more than once says that it is folly to think things were better back when, but that is not the point of the exercise. Without pointing fingers or judging we need our balance. Years back, I can remember my mother with very young grandchildren, wound tight with nervous parents, sitting quietly, playing, saying important things and preparing that needed nap. When you've tasted the old wine, who cares about the new?

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