Tradition and traditionalism: revisted

There has been some discussion in the Catholic blogosphere on Tradition and Traditionalism. There was a series of reflections on Shrine of Holy Wapping in early February. (I commented on the post in its relation to Anglicanism.)

The author has posted another reflection, Tradition and Traditionalism: Some Food for Thought. I think of real interest is the last paragraph:

Both these pieces, I think, provide examples of a growing insight that even those sympathetic to the more widespread use of the Tridentine Rite and to more reverent liturgy in general are concerned about the problems of tradition becoming an “ism” instead of a vibrant, dynamic force in the Church. A spirit of generosity and charity will help to heal the wounds created by the iconoclasts of 40 years ago, rather than reopening them or seeking to inflict them on the other side.

The question is simple: when does a healthy respect of Tradition turn into traditionalism? When we enshrine an era of history as normative! Not only universally (as a community of faithful) but also individually. Sometimes I get annoyed at people who will quote Father So-and-So as an authority. They have enshrined that period of their spiritual upbringing as normative and Father So-and-So as the prime authority (dare, I say it, pope?) of that era.

The possible release of the Motu will not be a cure-all. It will not fix the accumulative liturgical problems of the Church. We cannot return to the 1950s or 1570s. The Church as a living reality is called to proclaim and enact her Lord now. That there are problems with the modern rite (or the implementation of the liturgical reforms of Vatican II) are beyond dispute. But a wholesale return to the pre-Vatican II liturgy will not solve these problems. It will only increase the confusion and chaos. Yet the spirit and beauty of that rite needs to be incorporated into the liturgical mix of today. Maybe it is a question of attitude? The wider use of the 1962 Missale Romanum will show an openness to the western liturgical tradition which has been lacking in the last 40 years.


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