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Tradition vs. Traditionalism

August 31, 2011

This is a really interesting thought that popped up in the middle of an article about the Chieftains performing at the Communion and Liberation gathering (seems like too small a word) in Rimini, Italy. (Hat-tip to to my sister who was there!)

I think that there is an important distinction to be made, which Don Giussani, the priest who founded the movement this Meeting comes out of, made clear between tradition and traditionalism. Tradition is the wisdom of inheritance. It is something living. Traditionalism is the obsession that comes with preserving this, keeping it safe and free of all other influences, which is a terrible thing.

I think part of the problem we have with traditionalISM today is that tradition is under attack and it’s easy to respond to that attack in an unbalanced and inappropriate way. I find the distinction above extremely helpful in understanding where the balance lies. The whole article is quite fascinating.

You can read it here: RIMINI MEETING/ The Chieftains, a living tradition discovering the world

I was already a big fan of the Chieftains – their Christmas album, Bells of Dublin, is my favorite Christmas album ever, and I have the San Patricio album and at least one other one too.

By the way, the quote above also reminds me of something Pope Benedict said in his book, Light of the World:

…to what extent do people still belong to the Church in the first place? On the one hand, they want to belong to her and do not want to lose this foundation. On the other hand, they are of course also shaped and formed interiorly by the modern way of thinking. It is the unfermented coexistence, with and alongside each other, of the basic Christian intention and a new world view, which leaves its mark on all of life. To that extent what remains is a sort of schizophrenia, a divided existence.

We must strive to integrate the two, insofar as they are compatible with each other. Being Christian must not become a sort of archaic stratum to which I cling somehow and on which I live to a certain extent alongside of modernity. Christianity is itself something living, something modern, which thoroughly shapes and forms all of my modernity – and in this sense actually embraces it.

That a major spiritual effort is required here I expressed most recently by founding a “Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization”. It is important for us to try to live Christianity and to think as Christians in such a way that it incorporates what is good and right about modernity – and at the same time separates and distinguishes itself from what is becoming a counter-religion.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Leslie in VA permalink
    August 31, 2011 12:00 pm

    Great article Alicia and wonderful discussion topic. Thank you!

  2. August 31, 2011 2:31 pm

    Hmmm… I had hear traditionalists are not fond of Giussani–now I now why! ;-) I know some traddies who would most certainly have something to say here. ;-)

  3. August 31, 2011 8:34 pm

    Well, it’s important to keep in mind that there are different meanings of the world traditionalist and, naturally, not everything that is described as traditionalist is bad. An example that comes to mind for me of the problematic kind described above would be someone who strongly objects to the addition of the Luminous Mysteries to the Rosary. a) They probably have an unclear concept of the origins of the Rosary (and thus think Our Lady gave it to St. Dominic exactly the way it was before Pope John Paul II changed it, which is not correct) and b) I think anyone who looked at the concept objectively would see that it’s not only *not* a detraction to the Rosary or its particular tradition, but in fact an enhancement and completion of it – more like a restoration of something that was lost than any sort of negative.

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