quod pro nobis traditum est

Monday, September 18, 2006

Liturgy and Tradition

Flying the Flag, saying the Pledge of Allegiance and singing the National Anthem serve not only to demonstrate one's allegiance but also they serve to keep alive the national consciousness and the memory of who we are as citizens of the United States of America and how the United States got to where we are today. This national support, or "patriotism," is passed down from generation to generation in the United States and in other countries around the world through certain traditions such as the ones mentioned above.

Praying the historic liturgy of the Church serves not only to confess the faith but also to keep alive the Church's consciousness and the memory of who we are as members of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church and citizens of the kingdom of God. The liturgy also demonstrates how we share the same faith held by the early church which is also the faith of the saints in heaven. This deposit of faith in Christ and in the Holy Trinity is handed down from generation to generation in the Scriptures and in the historic liturgy of the church catholic.

If freedom of religion comes to mean freedom from religion we can see how "Tradition" becomes a bad word. Constant revision and "creativity" erase the Church's memory and consciousness and re-defines the faith. On the contrary, we have a lot to be thankful for, including the Tradition that we have been given and that which we have received. This Tradition is not just the faith but Christ Himself and we would not know Him except for this Scriptural tradition carried on within the Church. By His holy incarnation, His suffering and death on the cross, His resurrection and ascension into heaven He has prepared the future for us. This future is given to us and received at certain times and places in the holy Word and Sacraments which we receive in the historic liturgy. In the historic liturgy we are brought into the long line of the faithful throughout the world who have been buried and raised with Christ and have received the name of the Triune God in Holy Baptism. These same have also remained in Christ and in His life in His Body and Blood at the altar. In the historic liturgy the Church continues to sing the new song of her life in Christ as she sings with the angels and archangels not only from where she has come from but also to where she is going.

So Tradition is not something we hold on to simply to fly one's flag. Liturgy and Tradition are simple means by which we are united with the Church of all times and places in the Lord's ongoing work in this world, which is, at the same time, united in Christ with the saints in heaven.


Pastor David Hansen said...

In his book Orthodoxy, GK Chesterton described tradition as the natural outcome, and the ultimate form of democracy. How can we deny a voice to so many, just because they happen to not be living? (don't have the book in fron of me, but that's the general point).

I think this is a great, and helpful way to think about tradition.

Rev. Timothy May, M.Div., S.S.P. said...

"It is obvious that tradition is only democracy extended through time . . . Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our father."
- G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Ch. 4, pp. 47-8.

This is a great quote. In connection to the liturgy it reminds me of the Preface and the Church on earth and in heaven - "with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven ..."