Tradition is the Cure

By: Tony Capobianco

Book cover of my copy of “On Divine Tradition” by Cardinal Franzelin, translated from the original Latin by Ryan Grant.

Book cover of my copy of “On Divine Tradition” by Cardinal Franzelin, translated from the original Latin by Ryan Grant.

Previous Virgo Potens articles examined the crisis in the Church and noted the catastrophic consequences of abandoning Tradition. Modernism was shown to be the vile plague by which Tradition has been and sorrowfully continues to be assaulted. In Catholic media there is a nearly nonstop bombardment of bad news, scandal and confusion regarding the Church. Contrarily this article aims to present the remedy to this current apocalyptic crisis. How can we help to restore belief that Jesus Christ is substantially present in the Holy Eucharist? What practical things can we do to both practice Tradition and counter the damage done by modernists? How can we bring clarity to the current confusion about doctrine? How can we become saints? How can we help to purify the Church? Is there a cure for the diabolical heresy of modernism? Yes, there is a cure for the plague of modernism along with its many disastrous consequences. Tradition is the cure. Traditio est remedium.

One might say that we all know that the Sacred Deposit of Faith consists of both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition but we don’t need to study Tradition because the Ordinary Magisterium will tell us what we need to know. While such a remark may have been sufficient throughout most of the history of the Church, the current crisis makes it evident that it is not currently sufficient to blindly follow everything that the Ordinary Magisterium is teaching. Ryan Grant recently astutely pointed out the following on social media and he gave me permission to quote him here,

I think God is allowing current events to demolish the papalotria that has been built up over the last century; Vatican I is clear that Infallibility is limited to the Solemn Magisterium. When it comes to general papal teaching, it should be right, but it only becomes infallible if it is in a consensus with the universal Tradition. The problem we are running up against is not so much of infallibility, it is what the older theologians (e.g. Franzelin, Billot, etc.) that the teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium or Roman Congregations is ‘Securus’ —safe to follow, is not true today. Even if we could reconcile everything with authentic teaching, the plain sense of the words defies the mental gymnastics necessary to reconcile it all. When Tanquerey, Van Noort and other Theologians say if something seemed at variance with the tradition you could suspend your judgment and follow the prior tradition, they seemed to envision something that happened once in a while, not on a daily basis. There is a lot that needs refinement in the post Vatican II period.
— (Ryan Grant)

The current confusion, ambiguity and sometimes even the outright rejection of doctrine by not a few bishops, illustrates that Catholics (laity & clerics alike) need to learn about Tradition. Catholics need to understand that the Pope is to be the guardian of the Deposit of Faith, not its owner. Not even the Pope can alter the infallible doctrines which the Church received from God, Christ Jesus, and from the Apostles through the dictation of the Holy Ghost. The Popes and the bishops have the duty of passing on the Deposit of Faith in tact whole and entire as they themselves had received it. In fact, the word tradition derives from the Latin word traditio which comes from tradere which means to pass over or to hand over to someone else. If many churchmen neglect or refuse to pass over the Deposit of Faith in tact and if they themselves begin to add as well as pass down their own novel or heterodox teachings instead of the tradition, then how can we know what teachings are safe? How can we know which teachings are infallible? What are the different sources of infallible teachings? Ryan Grant gives a very succinct response to these critically important questions,

There are four ways in which infallible declarations or teachings are discovered.

1) Ex Cathedra declarations of the Pope or his solemn confirmation of the teachings of Ecumenical Councils;
2) Unanimous teachings of the Fathers (defined by Trent);
3) Unanimous teachings of the Schoolmen from the 11th century until the 18th century, which is when the Universities no longer enjoyed complete independence from the secular authority and communion with the Holy See (defined by Pius IX in Tuas Libenter);
4) When the ordinary teaching power of the Church confirms what has always and everywhere been believed (Theologians commenting on Vatican I).
— (Ryan Grant)

In a time of an apparent eclipse of the Church in which the living Magisterium’s teaching (the proximate rule of faith) is in doubt or worse, in error, the faithful Catholic ought to look towards the tradition (the remote rule of faith) in order to know what the Church authentically teaches. The Holy Ghost protects the truths of the Catholic Faith and He ensures that Christ’s promise that the Church will not be overcome by the gates of Hell is kept. It is a true promise given by He Who Is The Truth. In his magnificent work, “On Divine Tradition”, Cardinal Franzelin writes,

After revelation was completed through God himself and manifested in the flesh through the Apostles, no greater legates of this kind could exist, through whom a new revelation might be handed down to men that is necessary to salvation and must be believed and embraced by all. This is because Christian revelation had already been perfected before so many centuries, that revelation was not destined to be made for men of that age alone, but for all men who would ever be even to the end of the world. Thus it follows a) Christian revelation both now and for every age remains complete for the human race, and the idea that it could fall away would be opposed to its very end as well as to its designation and intimate truth. For, the endurance of the Christian religion pertains indeed to the very proper character and innate perfection of the same, even to the consummation of the age. Hence b) it is manifest, the same divine revelation was received complete by the fathers, and thereupon it was propagated even to us by the Apostles through a series of generations. For which reason c) it is certainly absurd to wait for new revealers, in the way that it happens in the many sects of Protestants of our age; rather, care is especially to be taken, in order that revelation should be preserved for us whole and true, become known for certain, either by instruments and monuments or by the living organs and custodians, as the first revelation from Christ and by the Apostles had been handed down to the whole human race, and how the same ought to be received by us whether by those monuments or by these custodians.
— (Franzelin & Grant. Pages 3-4)

What are we to do when wayward bishops teach the following errors?  The Devil is merely a symbol of evil and he is not a real creature. Hell isn’t real and therefore it isn’t a place of eternal suffering. Hell may be empty because all will one day be saved. The Catholic Church is merely the privileged path of salvation. Women can and should be priests. Proselytism is solemn nonsense. Sodomy should be celebrated. If bishops teach such errors or preach a new gospel of the brotherhood of man without the Lordship of Christ, one can look to both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition to resist and correct such errors. Tradition is the cure. Traditio est remedium.

Within Tradition, one can find how and in what sense the Church has always understood Her doctrines and how She has interpreted specific Scripture passages. In a previous quote, Cardinal Franzelin spoke of Monuments and he noted that the Deposit of Faith will always be passed on by the living Magisterium or the Monuments. The Monuments are a part of Tradition. Monuments include works of pius sacred art and the beautiful Catholic architecture of church buildings. Such works of art vividly illustrate elements of the Catholic Faith. Monuments also include the written teachings of previous generations of the living Magisterium and papal encyclicals are one such example. Additionally, Monuments include the writings of the Church Fathers as well as the writings of the saints. The ancient rites of the Church are also monuments and this includes the ancient Holy Latin Mass. The point here is that not only can the sources of infallible doctrine as mentioned by Ryan Grant be rather easily discovered in the tradition, but the manifestation of authentic traditional Catholic belief can also be found in the nearly incomprehensible depth of the tradition. The remote rule of Faith is safe to follow. Tradition is the cure. Traditio est remedium.

The apocalyptic plague of modernism has gutted Tradition and consequently Catholic culture and traditional Catholic devotions have collapsed. When the traditional Holy Latin Mass which developed organically over the course of many centuries under the guidance of the Holy Ghost was suddenly replaced by the Novus Ordo Mass which became the ordinary form of the Mass, many negative consequences followed. As discussed in a previous Virgo Potens article entitled “The Abandonment of Tradition is the Problem”, the altering of the way we pray necessarily alters the way we believe and the way we live. Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi. The law of praying is the law of believing is the law of living.

Fortunately the traditional Holy Latin Mass is growing in popularity and it is becoming easier to assist at Mass in the ancient rite. The Ancient Latin Mass is one of the Monuments of the Church as it is part of the tradition. Assisting at the traditional Holy Latin Mass, one will pray as many of their Catholic ancestors prayed. This unites we who are living in the present with Catholics who lived in the past. Manifestations of what the Church teaches are beautifully evident within the Latin Mass itself, through its rich prayers, liturgical cycle, vestments, the ad orientem orientation of the priest as he faces liturgical east (the Tabernacle), the Communion rail, the reception of the Blessed Sacrament while kneeling and on the tongue, etc. The traditional Latin Mass both manifests and reinforces what the Church teaches. It is the Mass that formed saints and Doctors of the Church. The traditional Holy Latin Mass is most pleasing to God because He Himself guided its development and He has a right to be worshipped as He wants. Sincere belief in the Holy Eucharist is apparent in the Latin Mass in a way that is all too often unapparent in the Novus Ordo. If we seek to restore Catholic culture and to restore the prayer life of Catholics then it behooves us to restore the Holy Latin Mass as the ordinary form of the Mass. Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi. The law of praying is the law of believing is the law of living. Tradition is the cure. Traditio est remedium.

While assisting at the traditional Holy Latin Mass is one practical way to apply the cure of Tradition, there are other Monuments of Tradition that we can benefit from and make use of. The holy rosary is a Monument of the Church. Praying and meditating upon the mysteries of the most holy rosary is a most efficacious way to pray and it is a truly pius Catholic devotion which helped to make saints out of some of our Catholic ancestors. Our Lady of Fatima asked us to pray the holy rosary daily and it is our duty to honor the wishes of the Mother of God. Tradition is the cure. Traditio est remedium.

The task of recovering Tradition may well seem daunting but it is best to remember that God only expects each of us to do our part so far as our state in life permits. The Church is the Spotless Bride of Christ and He is its head. His Majesty can and will purify His Church when He sees fit. All He need do is utter the word and His will shall be done. Until such time, we can however do practical things. We can as already mentioned, assist at the traditional Latin Mass. We can pray the holy rosary daily. We can properly make use of sacramentals. We can and ought to go to Confession regularly (Fr. Ripperger suggests Confession once a month). We can study the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas as Pope St. Pius X recommended as a means to combatting modernism. We can fast and abstain from meat on Wednesdays and Fridays as was the traditional practice in the Church. We can make acts of Faith, Hope and Charity daily. We can learn more about Tradition, whose depth is deeper than the deepest ocean and whose beauty exceeds the greatest work of man’s hands. In the following quote from Fr. Ripperger’s foreword to “On Divine Tradition” by Cardinal Franzelin, Father tells us that if we want to defend and restore Tradition then we must first arm ourselves with the knowledge of what Tradition truly is,

Sadly, in the last 50 to 60 years, studies of tradition have devolved into looking at practices and things in the past without a grasp of the principles that govern tradition. Much less do modern discussions of tradition manifest a coherent and systematic knowledge of the taxonomy of the various aspects of tradition, how they function, what their sources are, their varying degrees of importance as well as what role they play in our understanding of the faith of our forefathers.

This lack of understanding of the basic principles, sources and causes of tradition has lead many recent discussions to a dead end. Conversely, those discussions that have embodied this understanding have shown that those who oppose the tradition do not have an adequate scholarly response to the tradition itself. Many who have a rightly ordered desire to defend and uphold the tradition are not suitably prepared to do so because they lack the depth necessary. It is for this reason that this work is of prime importance. If the defenders of the tradition will properly arm themselves with what is contained in this work, they will be in a position to win the war against modernism, which has as one of its primary ends the routing the tradition.
Much like the translations of Aristotle’s works in the medieval period, it is hoped that this translation will begin the process of strengthening the return to, a healthy adoption of and a love for the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, which is none other than the tradition that God inaugurated, has preserved and will defend.
— (Fr. Ripperger, PhD)

Is it a coincidence that the Lord is permitting this seemingly unprecedented current crisis in the living and Ordinary Magisterium to occur during these times in which the internet and books make discovering and studying the tradition possible for all? Where sin abounds, God’s grace abounds all the more. Modernists try to destroy Tradition and as traditional Catholics in the army of Christ it is our duty to resist these assaults and to vanquish the enemy within. Defend Holy Mother Church who has given so much good to us and to the world. Undo the destruction caused by modernism by recovering the very Tradition that they attempted to annihilate. Restore Tradition to restore the glory of the Church. Restore the glory of the Church and once again bring back the light which scatters the darkness. Restore the Church, restore the world. Tradition is the cure. Traditio est remedium.

Article by: Tony Capobianco

If after reading this rather lengthy article you want to learn more about Tradition, then I will offer two more suggestions. 1.) Firstly Fr. Ripperger has highly recommended the book “On Divine Tradition” by Cardinal Franzelin. Cardinal Franzelin’s magificent book is said to be to Tradition what St. Bellarmine’s “On The Church” is to ecclesiology. 2.) The transcriptions of Fr. Ripperger’s series of homilies on Tradition are very edifying and Father seems to draw a lot of the content of those homilies from Cardinal Franzelin’s “On Divine Tradition”. At the bottom of this page, I will provide a link to purchase “On Divine Tradition” from Ryan Grant’s Mediatrix Press publishing website. I will also provide a link to Fr. Ripperger’s series of homilies on Tradition.

Citations:

1.) Franzelin, John Baptist and Ryan Grant. On Divine Tradition. Sensus Traditionis, 2016.

The previous two articles of this 3 part series are linked below: