What does it mean to be a Traditional Catholic by Father Stefan

What do it mean to be a Traditional Catholic?  Some people think to be a traditional catholic you have to wary of anything that came out of the 60, you certainly can’t approve of altar girls or allow guitars at mass.

 I was explaining to a friend that Vatican II spoke of a living tradition. A living tradition is like a river, and Vatican II is part of that river of our living tradition.

 My understanding of tradition comes from the Dominican priest Congar. His thinking helped form Vatican II thinking on tradition. First of all tradition is living, this mean that any appeal to tradition that takes some cannon in the 16 c and apply it without any qualification to the 21c is a mistaken notion of tradition.

 Some people think of tradition like a fossil. They pick and choose thoughts, cannon from the past and apply to the present without qualification.

 Congar mentions that tradition means to hand on, ie when St Paul says in “What I have received I hand to you, on the night He was betrayed…” The image he uses in his book ‘Tradition’ two runners in a race handing the baton to each other.


In one sense the faith never changes but each generation of believers understands the faith at a deeper level… this is tradition.

Congar also uses this image to show that tradition is not opposed to development but is needed for development. He uses the image of man walking. A man can’t take a step forward if he doesn’t have a foot planted firmly behind him. Meaning that the man can’t move forward if he is not first rooted in the past.

Only the person who is truly rooted in the past can be original in the present. This is certainly true of artists.

When I say I am a traditional catholic I mean I try to embrace our entire tradition. Pope Benedict in allowing greater access to the mass in the extraordinary form is saying the Church didn’t begin in 1960 nor did it end in 1960.

I always like when people are comfortable with Latin and English, Guitars and Organs at mass, praise and worship music and chant.

One of the reasons why I accepted the charismatic renewal was an appeal to tradition. When I learned that the experiences of charismatic renewal were found in the writing of the early church fathers.

We find a biblical image of tradition in this passage from scripture. The Kingdom of God is like a man who threw a net into the sea. In the net there were things that were both the good and bad.

Let us be traditional Catholic and throw our nets into the sea to capture what we can find in our tradition to respond to the unique challenges of the 21 c.


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