Clinging to human tradition?

From today’s Gospel reading for the Novus Ordo:

 

He responded,
“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites,
as it is written:

This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.

You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”

 

Saint Clement of Rome said about this passage:

So let us devote ourselves to those at peace in their devotion to God, and not to those who seek peace through hypocrisy.  For he says in one place: "This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me."  (Is 29:13)  And again: "They blessed with their mouth but they cursed in their heart." (Ps 62:4)  And again he says: "They flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues.  Their heart was not steadfast toward him: they were not true to his covenant"  [Letter to the Corinthians 14]

Another Clement, of Alexandria, said about this:

God considers our inward thoughts.  Remember Lot’s sife.  All she did was voluntarily to turn her head back toward worldly corruption.  She was left a senseless mass, a pillar of salt.  [Stromata 2]

 

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21 Responses to Clinging to human tradition?

  1. Dan Hunter says:

    DEAR Father,
    Peace and hypocrisy do not live in the same house with each other.There would be an explosion otherwise.
    We see this in the United States,where men who advocate peace through abortion,radical feminism,trying to drag down The Almighty and the Blessed Mother by saying they are human, just like us.All this leads to chaos. Quite the opposite of peace.
    Thank you so much for posting this Gospel.
    Ave Maria.

  2. Dear Father Z:
    A great meditation for today with the musings of Clement of Alexandria, a doctor of the Church! Why? Because, as you so astutely highlighted, Clement of Alexandria encouraged seeking peace in our devotion to God. Where most aptly can this reality be possessed but in the Tridentine Latin Mass. It is in the ritual, the liturgy, the language, prayers, and readings that a supernatually pure statement has been made for all time on how we can find this peace that Clement seeks by the beautiful liturgy of this mass that so crystalizes the pardon, absolution, and remission of sin that we all seek. What a masterpiece Our Lord and his successors has created for us all, even today, if we have the fortitude and faith to want it, to fight for it, and finally possess it with all the fervor of our hearts and souls! God bless.
    j hughes dunphy
    http://theorthodoxromancatholic.com

  3. Tim says:

    I pray that the next time a French Cardinal (or, ahem, American ICEL-membership Bishop) speaks about the disruption of unity that the reintroduction Catholic Tradition will cause, they will think soberly back to this Gospel passage, and St. Clement’s commentary on it. I hope not to sound uncharitable, but this describes our “circle the wagons around the Novus Ordo (among other things)” Bishops quite succinctly.

  4. Andrew says:

    This statement points to an irony: keeping God’s commandments is a tradition also, for it is something that is “handed down” or “trans-given” (trado = trans do). But we have two traditions competing here one against another: the tradition of keeping God’s commandments against a tradition of cup-washing etc. And this later tradition was introduced after the first one. It claims to interpret the first one but it actually makes it void. So no one should say: “see, Jesus was against tradition”. Not at all! But even tradition has to be evaluated: it is not good merely because it is old. It has to be good on the basis of some objective criteria, such as how do we relate to God and neighbor.

    We can see these days how quick some of those who rejected some very old traditions in the Church, the same folks are now voicing their complains about the need to hold on to THEIR (newer) traditions: such as keeping the acclamation “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” – something they introduced 30 or so years ago. In fact, everyone likes to claim some kind of a “tradition” it would seem, even Lot’s wife could be said to have been moved by some inclination to “hold on to things of the past”. So the big question might be not whether we should hold on to traditions or not, but where is our tradition pointing us. Everything in Catholicism should point to Christ and be promoted simply as a logical consequence of our faith. Am I completely wrong?

  5. Diane says:

    It’s amazing just how these readings transcend time.

  6. RBrown says:

    We can see these days how quick some of those who rejected some very old traditions in the Church, the same folks are now voicing their complains about the need to hold on to THEIR (newer) traditions: such as keeping the acclamation “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” – something they introduced 30 or so years ago. In fact, everyone likes to claim some kind of a “tradition” it would seem, even Lot’s wife could be said to have been moved by some inclination to “hold on to things of the past”. So the big question might be not whether we should hold on to traditions or not, but where is our tradition pointing us. Everything in Catholicism should point to Christ and be promoted simply as a logical consequence of our faith. Am I completely wrong?

    1. Tradition doesn’t mean clinging to the past but rather refers to certain things have been “handed over” to us from earlier generations. Thus, I would not consider “Christ has died, etc” to be a tradition.

    2. In the same sense I think there is a great tendency, especially in the US, to have almost no understanding of the Church of the Middle Ages–and to reduce tradition to Trent and afterwards. This tendency, which is found among people all along the Ecclesial spectrum, is most likely due to the fact that the SJ MO has been the basis for the Church in the US. It has been my sad experience that almost no Jesuit has any understanding of St Thomas.

    3. As an unrepentant Thomist, I am not fond of using tradition as a primary argument. But having said that, I think the presumption should be in favor of the tradition because it has proven itself across centuries. In the 60’s the presumption was in favor of Progressivism, with little or no consideration of why the tradition existed in the first place. This was little else than an ecclesial version of the comment attributed to Henry Ford: “History (i.e., tradition) is bunk.”

    4. There are good reasons laid down in Veterum Sapientia for the use of Latin in the Church, incl liturgy. Likewise, my argument in favor of the 1962 Missal is simply that it is a much better expression of the theology of the Eucharist than is the Novus Ordo.

  7. A possibly new interpretation of Genesis heard in this morning’s homily – that the two creation accounts in Chapters 1 and 2 have been reflected in a perennial tension in the liturgy.

    That the God of the Genesis 1 creation account is a transcendental God on high, and is reflected in the Tridentine Mass. The homilist went on to mention that this view of a remote God led historically to a sense of intense sacredness in the Tridentine Mass, but also to the abuse of a “cult” growing up around it, which amounted virtually to a form of “idolatry”, with the people being more remote from the Mass itself.

    That the God of the Genesis 2 creation account is an incarnational God everywhere all around us, and is reflected in the new Mass that the Fathers of Vatican II introduced as a correction to the previous abuse, one which involved us more personally and directly as a community. He went on to mention that because of mistakes in its implementation, the new Mass had itself seen a new crop of abuses (some of which he cited, ranging from trashy music to excessive informality, and all manner of uncited abuses “with which we’re all familiar”).

    Although it seemed pretty clear where he was coming from, he finally indicated that “as Catholic Christians” our problem today (as always) is to balance these approaches so as to respect our whole tradition, suggesting finally that we focus on this tradition as we see it in the lives of the saints.

  8. Henry: I can’t say I would have made that connection!

  9. Dan Hunter says:

    Henry,
    I believe,because of our fallen nature,and the inherant aspect of vile concupiesance therein,we have a most daunting problem when attempting to surmount that,”balance”,your homilist speaks of.
    The need for the Catholic to have an awe and fear of The Almighty in order to imbue reverence towards the Triune Godhead is imperative in the liturgical form.
    We naturally desire to pull everything down to our level,and make easy access to those matters which always,by thier very nature,should remain transcendant,such as adoration of The Trinity.
    How is it possible for the people to be remote from the Tridentine Mass,when by its very offering we are made partakers in Christ’s august sacrifice through the priest?
    The representation of Calvary is right there on the altar in a much more awe-inspiring fashion when the Classical Rite is offered as opposed to the majority of Novus Ordo offerings.
    Let us face the fact that most humans are of weak imaginations,and easily distracted.Acedia is commonplace with us sons of Adam,therefore any liturgical means to guide and coax our senses into realizing that something awesome is occuring on that altar,and it is,is essential.
    To be involved in a mass that completely overwhelms the sense’s in this fashion is to involve us in the most personal and direct fashion.
    I am sorry but I cannot see how a liturgy which completely fills our sense’S with awe and reverence, for what it is directly trying to accomplish,and represent, can ever be called in the most remote sense,abusive.
    God bless you.

  10. RBrown says:

    That the God of the Genesis 2 creation account is an incarnational God everywhere all around us, and is reflected in the new Mass that the Fathers of Vatican II introduced as a correction to the previous abuse, one which involved us more personally and directly as a community. He went on to mention that because of mistakes in its implementation, the new Mass had itself seen a new crop of abuses (some of which he cited, ranging from trashy music to excessive informality, and all manner of uncited abuses “with which we’re all familiar”).

    Let the name of the celebrant be entered on that interminable list of priests (and bishops) who are theologically illiterate. Thanks to the genius of the US hierarchy, we are served by a collection of clerical incompetents.

    1. Vat II said the liturgy was to be in Latin.

    2. The Novus Ordo was promulgated by Paul VI–not Vat II. Further, BXVI has said that the Novus Ordo is not what Vat II wanted.

    3. It is pantheism to say that we can have immediate experience of God through His creation.

  11. RBrown says:

    I believe,because of our fallen nature,and the inherant aspect of vile concupiesance therein,we have a most daunting problem when attempting to surmount that,”balance”,your homilist speaks of.

    It has nothing to do with our fallen nature. God is Infinite Being; Man is not. Therefore, God transcends man.

  12. Dan Hunter says:

    RBrown,
    man is still man, God is infinite.
    The balance is extremely hard to attain.
    The problem here is when Henry mentioned that a balance between the awe of the sacred and an active participation in the everyone do something involving movement meaning of the expression,is dangerous to our souls.
    Because of Original sin it is hard for us to mix the horizontal with the vertical,and set them at an even”balance”
    The Vertical aspect has to take precedence over the horizontal during holy mass.
    So after all it does come down to our fallen nature.It has become bottomheavy in the contemporary liturgy and we,because we are not God are limited in our understanding of the Divine so we need if you will to stay off balance when it comes to the litugy.
    I am addressing when Henry said OUR problem today is to balance these two approaches.
    I believe it is very difficult to do this,for us with the modern liturgy.
    God does transcend man.We are undermined by ourselves.
    God bless you

  13. RBrown says:

    Incorrect. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Original Sin. It is a metaphysical question not a moral one.

  14. A couple of ironies strike me about a celebrant (however well-intentioned) like the one previously mentioned:

    (1) Likely he’s vaguely aware that his Novus Ordo congregation is not actually participating in the Mass as Vatican II allegedly envisioned, but is completely unaware that perhaps the only place in the diocese where he could see this active and conscious participation is probably an indult TLM.

    (2) He knows that his own Novus Ordo congregation — especially at a daily Mass — is predominately of the same over-the-hill generation as him (and me), but is completely unaware that the youngest and most vibrant congregation in the diocese is probably at that same indult TLM.

    Where incidentally, I observed Sunday two 8-child families, likely (for all I know) the only such ones in the whole diocese. Perhaps by the time we finally see Benedict’s motu proprio, “our side” will already have forged ahead through the inexorable course of demographics.

  15. Dan Hunter says:

    It has everything to do with Original Sin.We would not have the cascade of salutary manifestations leading to the sacrifice of mass otherwise.

  16. RBrown says:

    It has everything to do with Original Sin.We would not have the cascade of salutary manifestations leading to the sacrifice of mass otherwise.

    Incorrect. God is infinite, and man is not; therefore, the distance between God and man is infinite. There is nothing man did to cause it, nor is there anything he can do to change it.

    That is why the effect of grace is twofold: It heals (from sin), and it elevates a person into participation with the Divine Nature. Even without sin this elevation would still be necessary.

  17. Dan Hunter says:

    RBrown
    There is no abuse of a cult growing up around the Tridentine mass.Beacause it is an organic development of God’s will in our lives.
    The inorganic development of the Pauline Rite does not lend itself to any kind of a balancing act with the Classical mass.
    Concupiesance which is the fuel for Original sin does not let us see that this balancing act cannot take place.Therefor we must place our wills in His illumination which has its worldly manifestation in the great sensory assitance of the Tridentine mass.
    Original sin has evertthing to do with this.The fact of the matter is we have Original sin.There is no other reality.
    God bless you
    God bless you

  18. Ben D. says:

    Rbrown,

    3. It is pantheism to say that we can have immediate experience of God through His creation.

    Did someone here say this?

  19. Andrew says:

    Another thought comes to mind having to do with tradition and it has to do with that much disputed concept of “enculturation”. Tradition is spoken of as a “living tradition”. Clearly it is more than just a mere handing over of the same thing, from generation to generation. The Church allows the introduction of new elements, variances, that allow certain national or regional groups to express the faith in their own, unique way. Yet, not anything is considered appropriate for incorporation into the Church’s life. One might talk a lot about this but a fundamental question I often ask myself is this:

    what makes us Catholics living in the US (and elsewhere) Latin Rite Catholics? Does it still mean anything to us that we are of the Latin Rite? It’s easy to see and to explain how enthusiastically one might associate with his hometown football team (even that is some sort of a tradition) and how offended such individuals would be if anyone tried to challenge their affiliation. But it is indeed hard to see what makes us Latin Rite Catholics. To most of my catholic contemporaries it seems to mean nothing at all. The entire catholic culture in the US is not only indifferent, but I get the distinct feeling that it is hostile to the ROMAN ingredient of our catholicism. People don’t want to be Roman: they certainly do not wish to hear the Latin (Roman) language. The bishops don’t care about it. The priests have no need for it. What makes us Latin Rite Catholics?

    That long document on enculturation (I forget the name of it) talks at length about legitimate adaptations as long as the unity of the Roman rite remains intact, but they never explain what constitutes the unity of the Roman rite. There is, of course, no question with the TLM that the whole thing is Roman.

  20. Dan Hunter says:

    Andrew,
    Every single truth that we have as human beings has been entrusted to the Vicar of Christ and his chair is in Rome.
    God bless you.

  21. michigancatholic says:

    When one decides the right thing to do, one doesn’t necessarily choose the way you suggest. By this I mean that always the choice one makes is in the present: the questions is whether to do what was customarily done or what is different based on the logic, truth and meaning of each, which then falls into the flow of history one leaves behind. To avoid the choices of the past simply because they are of the past is bad logic; likewise to avoid the new options of the present simply because they are new is bad logic. [To be differentiated from worshipping modernity for itself, of course. That’s something else entirely.]

    If one is really Catholic and believes as a Catholic, then there are some things which are valued which may surely be historical, but over & above that, have intrinsic value which is not predicated merely upon their age. One can choose them without being “only of the past for the sake of the past.”

    I’m a convert, and I’m catholic not merely because the Church is old enough to suit my esthetic desires. What the Church teaches (and has taught) is true. That’s why I’m a convert. And why I’m a traditional Catholic.