Saturday, April 15, 2023

Announcing Dr. Kwasniewski’s Substack, “Tradition & Sanity”

On April 13th, I launched “Tradition & Sanity,” with a post entitled “Why Here, and Why Now?” Here’s a brief excerpt:

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The fundamental principle behind this Substack is that which Benedict XVI enunciated on 7/7/07: “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place” (Con Grande Fiducia).

I call this the “sacred and great” principle.

To my mind it covers far more than liturgy — even if liturgy is the still point, the axis around which Catholicism revolves, both here on earth and in the world to come where the Lamb once slain, bearing His glorified wounds, receives the homage of all creation and offers its worship, gathered into His Heart, to the Father Almighty. No, the principle goes well beyond this, permeating the whole of reality.

All of the riches that have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, indeed all of the riches that have developed beneath her protecting mantle and under the shadow of her wing — the fine arts, the great music, architecture, painting, sculpture, and poetry, the luxuriant garden of patristics, the towering fortresses of scholastic philosophy and theology, the schools of spirituality, devotions of every sort, the “other modern” that consists of fruitful engagements with tradition, the nearly infinite ramifications of the multitudinous epiphenomena of Catholicism — yes, it behooves us to preserve all of this, to ponder what is good, noble, true, right, beautiful, and holy, and to give it a proper place in our hearts, in our churches, in our world.

Roots, branches, and flowers

This is not a form of (the recently much-maligned) “backwardism” but, on the contrary, a commitment to fruitfulness, since no fruit can be expected from a tree cut off from its roots or its branches. Our commitment to the great inheritance of faith and reason that is Catholicism is a matter of fidelity to the gifts and calling of God, which are irrevocable. What was sacred, remains sacred and great; what was true remains true; and so with all the treasures we have received.

Receiving and handing on is the natural way in which man lives as a rational, social, linguistic animal, engendering a society and simulaneously a culture at the heart of it; and since grace builds upon nature, the same is true of the Christian life: we live as members of the Mystical Body by receiving gifts and handing them on. That, in fact, is the Marian way of life.

This process of receiving and handing on has been violently assaulted in modernity. I will be writing plenty about this in the future, but let it suffice for the moment to say that what was self-evident to all civilizations and all societies — the rightness of receiving and handing on — has been called into question and decisively rejected not only in the secular world emerging out of the Reformation and the age of Revolutions, but also, appallingly, in the Catholic Church on earth, where tradition plays a constitutive role in our beliefs, our life, our ideals and aspirations, our mission and purpose, our self-understanding and basic identity. MacIntyre rightly spoke of “tradition-constituted rationality,” and it is no less correct to speak of “tradition-constituted religion,” for religion is that which binds us to each other and to God in continuity with His revelation and His providential guidance.

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Read the rest there, and I sincerely hope you’ll subscribe (it’s free). 

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