- The Society of Ignatians is Traditional because the Society of Ignatians is Catholic.
Catholic Tradition is Catholic identity because “through Tradition ‘the Church, in her doctrine, life, and worship perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is…’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 78, citing Vatican Council II, Dei Verbum, 8, 1).
- Consequently, Ignatians uphold:
- Firstly, the core of Catholic Tradition
- In technical theological terms, this “core” refers to:
- Ignatians uphold divine tradition, divine-apostolic tradition, and ecclesiastical tradition
- as they have been conserved and transmitted by the Catholic Church in her ensemble
- both through the “sensus fidei” of the faithful and through the teaching of the Magisterium which must be, in order to be authentic, a traditional magisterium
- by means of the instruments of the professions of the Catholic Faith (the various instances of the Credo), the sacred liturgy, the consensus in the writings of the Fathers of the Church, the acts of the martyrs, and archeological monuments.
- In technical theological terms, this “core” refers to:
- Firstly, the core of Catholic Tradition
- Secondly, all that surrounds, expresses, and protects that core.
- Thus, Ignatians sensitively guard the traditions of our Catholic forefathers expressing the great Tradition in ancient liturgical rites, theology, spirituality, art, music, architecture and the other arts and so many beautiful customs of popular piety.
“The value of tradition to the social body is immense. The veneration for practices, or for authority, consecrated by long acceptance, has a reserve of strength which cannot be obtained by any novel device.” (Rear-Admiral Alfred T. Mahan, National Review, March 1902)
- Ignatians stand with Catholic Tradition because it functions as the infallible criterion of interpretation for deciding whether or not a theory is Catholic. Tradition has the role of “rule of faith” (regula fidei) because “it precedes the Scriptures in time, knowledge, and extension. It is different from the Scriptures (…) because it is not only a remote rule [criterion], but proximate and immediate” (Cardinal Louis Billot, De immutabilitate traditionis contra modernam haeresim evolutionismi).
- Ignatians uphold Tradition as the North Star because it alone empowers men to think and live coherently and with ease their Catholic identity. For the Catholic, Tradition is “the claim to transmit information that is divinely vouched for and concerns the whole of reality and the center of human existence”. (Josef Pieper, Tradition, 49)
- The Society of Ignatians is traditional because this is the only way to be ultra-modern since Catholic Tradition ‒ the eternally valid truths of the Catholic Faith and Natural Law ‒ “is the only thing that frees a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age” (G. K. Chesterton, Why I am a Catholic). Tradition frees Catholics to be Catholic, unshackling them from progressivism, conservatism, and false traditionalism, and, above all, from Modernism both as worship of the modern era and as heresy.
- We are traditional because from the purely pragmatic point of view, history proves time and time again that Catholicism has thrived wherever love for Tradition has thrived. Tradition empowers men to be revolutionaries who, unlike those of 1517, 1789, 1917, and 1968 build a culture, a society, a civilization of authentic truth, goodness, love, and beauty since they build it upon the truths of the Natural Law and of the Catholic Faith. Catholics like King Louis IX of France, statesman extraordinaire, Abbot Suger, the “Father of Gothic”, Palestrina, maestro of polyphonic and countless others.
- Ignatians are lovers of Tradition because Tradition empowers us to be counter-revolutionaries, opposing the sudden, violent, imposition of change by elites upon the masses, in defiance of eternally valid truths and time-tested customs that are the authentic social order in which man can find the environment in which to flourish.
- Ignatians know that living in Tradition is the engine of genuine progress for the individual and for society: “All the men in history who have really done anything with the future have had their eyes fixed upon the past.” ( G. K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World)
- Ignatians are Lovers of Tradition because they are lovers of Truth:
“Clearly we are not dealing with something new, evolution and metamorphosis. It is a question of preserving through all change the identity of something presupposed and preexisting, against the passage of time and in spite of it. All at once the slogans are fundamentally different. Instead of a “new way of looking at things” and “progress,” we hear, “The Word they still shall let remain.” One passionately resists “another Gospel” (II Corinthians 11:4).” (Josef Pieper, Tradition)
- To venerate Tradition is an act of modesty in the presence of history (to paraphrase Chateaubriand).
It is the attitude of being willing to learn from one’s spiritual forefathers, from all the truly great men and women of the past.
“It is obvious that tradition is only democracy extended through time. It is trusting to a consensus of common human voices rather than to some isolated or arbitrary record….Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. (G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, ch. 4)
- The Society of Ignatians honors Tradition because it honors our forefathers, their wisdom, their creativity, their love.
Ignatians recognize that Tradition unleashes the “power of gratitude” (Gabriel Marcel); that it is the educator of a heart sensitive towards our spiritual forefathers ‒ their spirit, intelligence, love, achievements ‒ and often heroism.
- Ignatians recognize that Tradition is the Worldview with the Most Ancient Horizons
Tradition in its widest sense is a way of looking on reality, a style of thinking that has characterized many of history’s greatest minds from Plato, Aristotle and Cicero to Confucius.
- Ignatians Traditional Mentality is a Cosmopolitan Mentality: All Races, All Lands ‒ No Exceptions
Vast are Tradition’s horizons, stretching through the millennia to Our Lord Jesus and to His Apostles and beyond them to all that is true and beautiful from the Church’s history, whether from East or West. Indeed, the Ignatian’s glory and joy is to be the inheritor of four millennia of glorious achievements accomplished by men and women of heroism and genius, starting with the greatness of his spiritual ancestors among our saintly Jewish forefathers, the Patriarchs and the Prophets.
- Ignatians know that Tradition is the only defense against the assault by the Dictatorship of Relativism and modern utopias
“The only reason we are still alive is our inconsistency in not having actually silenced all tradition” (Gerhard Krüger, Geschichte und Tradition)
“Confronted by the liberal historian who is hysterically rejoicing in the good fortune of bathing in the stream of the river Lethe [the mythical river of amnesia] in order to wash away every memory of religion, philosophy, and poetry and then walk to the shore as naked as the first man, he answers with the decisive judgment: ‘Freedom achieved by forgetting is empty’.” (Josef Pieper, Tradition, 2010, p. 67)
- For Ignatians Tradition is the lighthouse identifying “our new old Enemies”
“I believe we can profit,” wrote Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters, “from the study of the classical texts as never before. The veneer of civilization, so recent and fragile, is being stripped from much of the world. The old problems are today’s problems – and tomorrow’s. If we want to know ‘Who is our enemy?’ we must look within.” (Ralph Peters, Lines of Fire: A Renegade Writes on Strategy, Intelligence, and Security, 2011, p. 53)
To look within however we need a sure guide with strong enough light. We need more than mere facts or mere morality. We must have the ultimate meaning for the cosmos, for man’s existence on Earth, and the purpose of all human activity. Only Catholic Tradition will answer these questions coherently on the basis of Divine Revelation and the use of human reason liberated by sanctifying grace.
- For Ignatians to be on the Track of Tradition is to be on the highway to the Future (of authentic progress)
“The great originators of Western philosophy, on whose thought it largely lives, Plato and Aristotle, not only found and recognized a ‘traditional’ interpretation of the world alive and vigorous ‒ they accepted it as their starting point when they began to philosophize.” (Josef Pieper, Leisure)
- For Ignatians Tradition is the Gateway to the Genius and Heroism of Catholicism
Indeed, not only in Catholicism but in the fields of literature and science it is easy to show that the great creators among mankind have always been people who immersed themselves in the achievements of the past.
- Ignatians follow the Saints: the Greatest Lovers of Tradition
It is remarkable how the great reformers of the Church throughout history although revolutionary in their accomplishments have never been overthrowers of Tradition and venerable traditions. Rather, they have acted as counter-revolutionaries in the sense not of wanting “a contrary revolution, but the contrary of revolution” (Joseph de Maistre, Considérations sur la France)
The great reformers such as Benedict of Aniane, the leaders of the Cluny movement ‒ the saintly abbots Odo, Majolus, Odilo and Hugh ‒ Dominic and Francis and Norbert, sixteenth century reformers such as Philip Neri with his Oratory, Ignatius Loyola with the Spiritual Exercises, Anthony Zaccaria through his foundation of the Theatines, Charles Borromeo with his promotion of seminaries for priestly training: all sealed their efforts with a burning love for the Church’s Tradition and traditions and with an undeterredness to bring them to the hearts of their contemporaries using the most effective methods possible.
- For Ignatians Tradition is Liberating for Avant-Garde Creativity.
Love for Tradition will put “nerves” in us! It will make us restless, put passion where there is apathy, and zeal where lies only nonchalance!
Face to face with the great ones of Catholic Tradition and their deathless deeds, our minds give way to admiration, admiration provokes desire, desire a sense of adventure and a “contagious” attraction towards imitation and emulation – a fine foundation indeed for the secret triumphs of grace in our hearts.
- For Ignatians Tradition is the Building Quarry for Creative Minorities
Tradition empowers us to find solutions to the problems of the present
“Now let us take into consideration Church history from the theological viewpoint, highlighting another important aspect. Its essential duty, in fact, turns out to be the complex mission to investigate and clarify that process of reception and transmission, of paralépsis and of paràdosis, through which was substantiated, in the course of the ages, the Church’s raison d’être. Indeed, it is beyond a doubt that the Church can draw inspiration for her choices by drawing on her centuries-old treasury of experience and memory”. (Pope Benedict XVI)
- For Ignatians Tradition is the Great Source of Hope from the Secrets of Yesteryear
Knowledge of the Tradition through the study of history will also throw floodlights on the causes of past decadence in the Church and how renewals have occurred thus giving us the “historical imagination” so valuable for rebuilding and renewing the Church of the present, flinging far from us cynical criticisms and sterile pseudo-reforms not based on personal holiness.
As the historian, Christopher Dawson, remarked about the barbarian destruction of monasteries in the Dark Ages:
“Ninety-nine out of a hundred monasteries could be burnt and the monks killed or driven out, and yet the whole tradition could be reconstituted from the one survivor, and the desolate sites could be repeopled by fresh supplies of monks who would take up again the broken tradition […] after more than a century of utter destruction.” (C. Dawson, Religion and the Rise of Western Culture)