Our Bishop on Nostalgia vs. Tradition

His Excellency Bishop Salvatore Ronald Matano writes, “It is not nostalgic to long for the return of the pillars upon which authentic civilizations and nations are built, namely honesty, respect, civility in language and in practice, and the exercise of charity, the lack of which creates division that boils over into anger and violence,” quoted by local Catholic Courier in totoIn Catholic faith, nostalgia distinct from Tradition. Some excerpts:

Tradition in the Church… is a living reality, the ongoing communication of the gift of salvation in Christ through Word and Sacrament. It hardly is an outdated, outmoded attachment to the past. Rather it proclaims the living eternal Word of God and culminates in our communion with Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist and in the Sacraments of the Church in the here and now.

At the same time, it commemorates the lives of the holy martyrs, saints, doctors, pastors and holy virgins in the Church’s liturgical calendar, seeking the intercession of those who have gone before as witnesses to the Church’s Tradition in their own times. This communion of saints embraces us in our own lifetime, as the saints are true members of our family in the community of believers and whose lives continue to represent commitment and love for Jesus, the same love and commitment we are called to through our Baptism in Christ.

Always and everywhere, the Church is our home. We cannot forget the faith into which we were baptized and the rituals that accompanied us along this journey of faith. Whether in a different language or in a different form, Holy Mass throughout the ages has inspired and continues to inspire so many of our vocations and life choices. These roots are not easily forgotten, nor does the Church expect us to divest ourselves of our personal experiences of faith that brought us into communion with Christ. Our “ancestry.com” reaches back to the time of Christ, and even before as He is prefigured in the Old Testament.

Benedict XVI advanced the Theology of Continuity, which embraces the Tradition of the Church in every age, allowing it to respond to the needs of contemporary society, such as the work of the Second Vatican Council, while always remaining faithful to the Church’s living and ongoing proclamation of the Church’s Creed. In this spirit of continuity, Benedict XVI has continuously supported and pledged his loyalty to Pope Francis. He who formerly occupied the Chair of Peter now gives filial homage to the one who now is Peter.

In his scholarly book entitled Nostalgia, Anthony Esolen wrote: “Happy talk about how all change is good and change that wipes things we have known clean off the face of the earth is extremely good – nobody in human history has thought or spoken so heartlessly. Nobody until our time” (p. 71). Properly understood, nostalgia in a positive sense is not meant as an unreasonable clinging to former accidentals of life or denying the positive improvements medically or technologically made in contemporary society. Rather, it represents a longing for those realities that can come under the umbrella of Tradition: the desire to protect the child of the womb, the nuclear family, the origin of the human person as created in the image and likeness of God, the preservation of peace, the freedom of religion and keeping whole and entire the Truths of our Catholic faith, and yes, our personal history of faith that fueled in us a desire to follow Christ.

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