Tradition: Evolving Still or Set in Stone?

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WhiteDove

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I’m a firm lover and believer in the traditions of the Church. It seems, though, that much of the strife between us revolves around some of them. Some of the threads here center around what some believe are challanges to tradition.

Probably, these cherished traditions were at one time controversial as well, right? Now, with 40 years post-Vatican II behind us, and a modern society that changes more in a decade than in olden times used to take over a century, where do we stand?

How do we balance assimilating new traditions with preserving all that we have? I agree that the Church is in danger of losing a great storehouse of beautiful traditions, just as all of society has lost so much in recent years. In some folks efforts to be ‘relevant’, they have discarded the old ways like a worn out pair of shoes.

But then, I see a reactionery element that is immediately suspicious and angry over anything new. So, where is the middle ground?
 
There is a difference betwee tradition and Tradition. Which do you propose here?

If you are talking “small t”, tradition can change. It is a way of doing things or a custom. However, many traditions are regulated by Canon Law or other Church documents, so we are not free to change them on our own (such as the rubrics of the Liturgy or abstaining from meat, etc). So, most traditions can only change within the framework of the Church. Now, your parish’s annual bazaar or pancake breakfast on Mother’s Day are “traditions” that can change as you see fit. A tradition such as celibacy, cannot change without a change in Canon Law and would be a very serious change.

Tradition, on the other hand, cannot change, it is the Deposit Of Faith.
 
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1ke:
There is a difference betwee tradition and Tradition. Which do you propose here?

Tradition, on the other hand, cannot change, it is the Deposit Of Faith.
On the other hand, our understanding of what has been left to us can deepen and develop over time.

The development of the Trinitarian dogma chased many of the faithful away from the Church.

It is as it was.

Peace in Christ…Salmon
 
There is a difference between the evolution of doctrine and the development of doctrine. To evolve means to change from one thing into something else. For example, it is not possible for the Church’s doctrine on the moral evil of artificial contraception to “evolve” into a doctrine that reverses that position.

Development is different that evolution. The Church can come to a deeper understanding of the deposit of faith over time, just as an immature child develops into a mature adult.

The assertion that doctrine can evolve is the heresy of Modernism (a heresy that has nothing to do with cassocks, wimples, Communion rails, the Mass in Latin, or any other of the other small “t” traditions of the Church).
 
With truly lamentable results, our age, casting aside all restraint in its search for the ultimate causes of things, frequently pursues novelties so ardently that it rejects the legacy of the human race. Thus it falls into very serious errors, which are even more serious when they concern sacred authority, the interpretation of Sacred Scripture, and the principal mysteries of Faith. The fact that many Catholic writers also go beyond the limits determined by the Fathers and the Church herself is extremely regrettable. In the name of higher knowledge and historical research (they say), they are looking for that progress of dogmas which is, in reality, nothing but the corruption of dogmas …

SYLLABUS CONDEMNING THE ERRORS OF THE MODERNISTS, LAMENTABILI SANE
Pius X July 3, 1907

papalencyclicals.net/Pius10/p10lamen.htm
 
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WhiteDove:
I’m a firm lover and believer in the traditions of the Church. It seems, though, that much of the strife between us revolves around some of them. Some of the threads here center around what some believe are challanges to tradition. …]But then, I see a reactionery element that is immediately suspicious and angry over anything new. So, where is the middle ground?
I share your concerns.

As someone already pointed out, there are Traditons and there are traditions.

Tradition (uppercase “T”) usually is a reference made to Divine Revelation passed down to us by the apostles which is not contained in Scripture (or at least not explicitly). “traditions” (with a lowercase “t”) refer to those practices of the Church which can change (like liturgical rubrics and disciplinary laws).

Tradition, which contains the doctrine of Jesus Christ handed on to us once and for all by the Apostles is “set in stone” so to speak; but our understanding of it can grow as time goes by (i.e. Development of Doctrine).

The other traditions which have to do with certain practices and laws in the Church can evolve. Take for example the Mass; there were changes made and prayers introduced throughout history that were made to better reflect our faith and our beliefs. These disciplines and practices are put forth to proclaim and protect what we believe and are changed for the purpose of better serving the faith. Not just change for the sake of change.

The reactionary elements that you have seen on this board usually center on this issue. There have been many changes and introductions made in recent times and some Catholics have (and validly so) ask, “Why?” Exactly what do these changes contribute to the better understanding of the faith and exactly why were so many valid practices done before are now frowned upon or suppressed all together?

An example I’ll give of a new practice is Communion in the hand. What was wrong with receiving Christ only on the tongue and why was this practiced introduced? Is it productive in inspiring faith and reverence in the Real Presence which is commonly denied today? These are just some of the questions and concerns Catholics raise to the new “traditions” of today.

Miguel.
 
I would not say that tradition is evolving, what is evolving or developing is our understanding of all that was revealed once and for all to the apotles. We call this development of doctrine…
 
Thanks for your replies. I think that the tradition that I’m speaking of is the small ‘t’ kind of stuff. For instance, Catholics here are focusing on such details such as type of music, handholding, kneeling at certain times, where the tabernacle is located, church design, etc and so forth…

It seems as if all these issues cause a great deal of aninosity and division between us. I question the wisdom, for one thing, of introducing so many changes in so short of a time period. There are always going to be some who want to cling to old ways and some who love to embrace something new. By allowing so many rapid changes, it’s driven a wedge between Catholics. It really makes me sad to see people going after each other over some of these things.
 
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WhiteDove:
It really makes me sad to see people going after each other over some of these things.
One has to ask themselves this very serious question. Is the Catholic Church unified anymore. These forums have really brought this to light. It kind of reminds me of some protestant bible study group. There seems to be no direction or authoritive voice. People do and believe what they want. Accept what they want and throw away what they don’t.
 
Dear Mandi,
No, it’s obvious that the church is not unified.

For one thing, I think there is a lack of spine in our leadership. I don’t know why some of these issues aren’t being cleared up from on high. It should be addressed from the pulpit and in church bulletins exactly what is or isn’t allowed, and the reasoning behind it. Why isn’t this being done? If handholding is a great wrong, then spell it out in black and white, for goodness sakes! If it’s no big deal, then let people know that! Don’t leave people guessing.

Another thing is rampant individualism, esp in American society. Everyone want to express themselves. People don’t see the value in obedience anymore. I’ll admit that I’ve had this attitude myself, thinking it was my right and dignity.

Unfortunatly, many Catholics have lost trust in our leadership. Rightfully so, in some cases. Look at the scandals we’ve seen unfold. Plus, people are brainwashed by an American media that is obviously anti-Catholic, IMO.

These are just a few random thoughts, I wonder what can be done as a remedy?

Sincerely, WhiteDove
 
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WhiteDove:
…It should be addressed from the pulpit and in church bulletins exactly what is or isn’t allowed, and the reasoning behind it. Why isn’t this being done? If handholding is a great wrong, then spell it out in black and white, for goodness sakes! If it’s no big deal, then let people know that! Don’t leave people guessing…

Sincerely, WhiteDove
Let me interject with something that was considered “an issue” when I was growing up: Girl acolytes.

I remember this issue truly dividing the faithful. It eventually became clear that it was acceptable to have girl acolytes.

I think we need to instead focus our attention to what’s taking place at the mass. We’re not there to see if everything is in its rightful place, we’re there for Christ. We could be focusing more of our God-given energy & prayers to more pending issues than stewing on this.

The matter will be clarified. We all need to have faith that it will happen when it needs to. The Pope could send down an edict clarifying the Church’s position, but I think there are more important pending issues on his docket that need to be dealt with.
 
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Stylteralmaldo:
I think we need to instead focus our attention to what’s taking place at the mass. We’re not there to see if everything is in its rightful place, we’re there for Christ.
I understand and respect what you are saying… But I respectfully disagree. When you say “we’re not thre to see if everything is in its rigthful place, we’re there for Christ”… I do not think you can fully separate the two…

If I am there for Christ it would naturally follow that I would be pained to see him put in a closet in the back of the Church (i.e. tabernacle placement)

If I am there for Christ it would pain me to see irreverence in the mass.

If I am there for Christ it would bother me to see innovations in the liturgy. Innovations that people make to accomodate themselves and make themselves comfortable than to worship Christ.

Finally, if I am there for Christ it would and should bother me to see the mass used to attract people. Used for evangelization… rather than for the worship of Christ in spirit and truth. Evangelization should take place outside of the mass in order to bring the lost home and at the feet of calvary in Holy Mass.

Sorry to be divisive again, it is true that we are not unified. But I think what must be said must be said. God Bless all of you, even if we may not agree on some of this stuff. 🙂
 
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WhiteDove:
Thanks for your replies. I think that the tradition that I’m speaking of is the small ‘t’ kind of stuff. For instance, Catholics here are focusing on such details such as type of music, handholding, kneeling at certain times, where the tabernacle is located, church design, etc and so forth…

It seems as if all these issues cause a great deal of aninosity and division between us. I question the wisdom, for one thing, of introducing so many changes in so short of a time period. There are always going to be some who want to cling to old ways and some who love to embrace something new. By allowing so many rapid changes, it’s driven a wedge between Catholics. It really makes me sad to see people going after each other over some of these things.
I do not think it is the changes themselves that have people here discussing or ‘going after each other’… I think it is the unauthorized changes that people here are rightly disagreeing with. Recall, I did comment that even “t” traditions are regulated by Canon Law and other church regulations-- therefore individuals are NOT free to change them on a whim, including priests. Hence the disgust over ad lib liturgies that interject hand holding, non-sacred music, un-approved postures, etc.
 
This issue, like so many in the church today, seems to emphasize for me the need for discernment.

The church is a community and everyone in that community has a part to play. We, as the lay members of the church, have the challenge of living out our faith in the face of an increasingly secular society. I feel it is not only inevitable, but important that we bring these challenges to the hierarchy of the church. They are God’s ordained ministers and it is their challenge and responsibilty to discern what is the most truthful response to these challenges and to propagate the truth.

Therefore, I don’t feel that it is wrong for us to question our traditions, if our intention is to develop truthful responses to the new challenges thrown at us by developments within secular society, and if we do it with love. I also don’t think it is wrong for the College of Bishops to put their collective feet down and lay down the law. After all, what is the point of believing in the authority and infallability of the Pope, if we rebel against his teachings whenever they don’t suit us?

The bottom line for me is that if we all play our part and do it with love, the church will only emerge from any challenge or crisis as the much strengthened Body of Christ. We should never let these challenges undermine our traditions and faith. Instead, we should see these challenges as a call to enhance the understanding of our traditions and to strengthen our faith.
 
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1ke:
I do not think it is the changes themselves that have people here discussing or ‘going after each other’… I think it is the unauthorized changes that people here are rightly disagreeing with. Recall, I did comment that even “t” traditions are regulated by Canon Law and other church regulations-- therefore individuals are NOT free to change them on a whim, including priests. Hence the disgust over ad lib liturgies that interject hand holding, non-sacred music, un-approved postures, etc.
This post goes to the core issue of what causes dispute, and many see the ‘unauthorized’ changes as the BIG ‘IT’.

KOTTON 👍
 
I think the last word on this topic has to go to Saint Vincent of Lerins. From his Commonitory for the Antiquity and Universality of the Catholic Faith against the Profane Novelties of All Heresies:
  1. Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense “Catholic,” which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors.
  1. But some one will say. perhaps, Shall there, then, be no progress in Christ’s Church? Certainly; all possible progress. For what being is there, so envious of men, so full of hatred to God, who would seek to forbid it? Yet on condition that it be real progress, not alteration of the faith. For progress requires that the subject be enlarged n itself, alteration, that it be transformed into something else. The intelligence, then, the knowledge, the wisdom, as well of individuals as of all, as well of one man as of the whole Church, ought, in the course of ages and centuries, to increase and make much and vigorous progress; but yet only in its own kind; that is to say, in the same doctrine, in the same sense, and in the same meaning.
  1. The growth of religion in the soul must be analogous to the growth of the body, which, though in process of years it is developed and attains its full size, yet remains still the same. There is a wide diference between the flower of youth and the maturity of age; yet they who were once young are still the same now that they have become old, insomuch that though the stature
    and outward form of the individual are changed, yet his nature is one and the same, his person is one and the same.
    An infant’s limbs are small, a young man’s large, yet the infant and the young man are the same. Men when full grown have the same number of joints that they had when children; and if there be any to which maturer age has given birth these were already present in embryo, so that nothing new is produced in them when old which was not already latent in them when children. This, then, is undoubtedly the true and legitimate rule of progress, this the established and most beautiful order of growth, that mature age ever develops in the man those parts and forms which the wisdom of the Creator had already framed beforehand in the infant. Whereas, if the human form were changed into some shape belonging to another kind, or at any rate, if the number of its limbs were increased or diminished, the result would be that the whole body would become either a wreck or a monster, or, at the least, would be impaired and enfeebled.
  1. **In like manner, it behoves Christian doctrine to follow the same laws of progress, so as to be consolidated by years, enlarged by time, refined by age, and yet, withal, to continue uncorrupt and unadulterate, complete and perfect in all the measurement of its parts, and, so to speak, in all its proper members and senses, admitting no change, no waste of its distinctive property, no variation in its limits. **
  1. For example: Our forefathers in the old time sowed wheat in the Church’s field. It would be most unmeet and iniquitous if we, their descendants, instead of the genuine truth of corn, should reap the counterfeit error of tares. This rather should be the result,–there should be no discrepancy between the first and the last. From doctrine which was sown as wheat, we should reap, in the increase, doctrine of the same kind–wheat also; so that when in process of time any of the original seed is developed, and now flourishes under cultivation, no change may ensue in the character of the plant. There may supervene shape, form, variation in outward appearance, but the nature of each kind must remain the same.
 
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Stylteralmaldo:
Let me interject with something that was considered “an issue” when I was growing up: Girl acolytes.

I remember this issue truly dividing the faithful. It eventually became clear that it was acceptable to have girl acolytes.
I believe that this is still an issue. Although I do not have the source to back myself up and it may be accepted but I distinctly recall reading that the Pope said no to girl acolytes. Is there someone out there who can provide accurate information to this one way or another?
 
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Mandi:
I believe that this is still an issue. Although I do not have the source to back myself up and it may be accepted but I distinctly recall reading that the Pope said no to girl acolytes. Is there someone out there who can provide accurate information to this one way or another?
No there is no issue, female altar servers (they are not acolytes) are allowed at the Bishop’s discretion. They are allowed, but not required so individual diocese and parishes can make that decision.

Some people dislike female altar servers because previously there was a minor order of “acolyte” which was of course a step towards the priesthood… and therefore could only be filled by males. Today’s altar server is not the same thing, and is not restricted to men.
 
James_2:24:
…When you say “we’re not thre to see if everything is in its rigthful place, we’re there for Christ”… I do not think you can fully separate the two…

…if I am there for Christ it would and should bother me to see the mass used to attract people. Used for evangelization… rather than for the worship of Christ in spirit and truth. Evangelization should take place outside of the mass in order to bring the lost home and at the feet of calvary in Holy Mass.

…Sorry to be divisive again, it is true that we are not unified…
Sorry for the late response, but let me clarify my position:

I am not in favor of holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer. I will also agree with you that participation at Mass is for being there for Christ and not for “sprucing it up” so as to attract non-believers. Agreed also that evangelization should take place outside the Mass.

I can be bothered by all of the things that are “out of place” with the Mass - but not while I’m in the presence of the Lord. There’s a parish in my area that does not provide knealers for worshippers. This bothers me. However, I will not let it affect me at Mass.

I did not sense a divisive tone from your post. 🙂 Peace and God be with you.
 
My problem with female altar servers is twofold. Every church I’ve seen that doesn’t allow them seems to have a nice population of boy servers, except for older populations… Those that have girl servers seem to end up with a majority of girls for whatever reason…

Secondly, the presence of the females in the sanctuary, including female Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion seems to blur the edges around the women priests issue. Anyone who studies and meditates upon Christ as the Bridgroom, the Church as Bride, the Lamb’s Supper as the Bridal Feast, etc. easily sees the relevance of the Church’s teachings about a male priesthood in order to protect the symbolism of the original deposit of faith. It is also for this reason, that the gender neutral translations of Scripture are also not permitted.

I am still reeling from the Visitation reading we had where the fetal John “moved” in Elizabeth’s womb. As if “moved” equates with David’s leaping and dancing before the Tabernacle in 2 Samuel…

I believe in the ssslllllooooowwwwwwww… development of our understanding of the faith which allows for time to test the seeming developments for cohesion with Scripture and the original deposit of faith.

In Christ’s peace and joy,

Robin L.
 
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