A little over two years ago traditionalist Catholic writer Kevin Tierney wrote a piece titled Tradition Begins at Home.” It was a very good article that addressed an issue that has been overlooked by many well-meaning traditionalists and other conservative orientated Catholics. This has to do namely with the lack of promoting traditional Catholicism at the expense of being way too preoccupied with the world amongst us. In the case of the Traditionalists this has to do with being way too preoccupied as to what some clergy, bishop, cardinal, or even the pope somewhere around the world said, even after such action or statement is forgotten several days later. In the case of the “conservative” Catholic this has to do with being often way too preoccupied with what are deemed secular or “culture war” issues. Issues which too, come and go. Now to be fair there is nothing wrong with having a genuine concern about any of these issues, be they ecclesial or secular. The problem is that traditional Catholicism is often neglected when man is way too preoccupied with issues he has little or no control over.
What then is the solution to this? What must be done for us to indeed fix the secular and especially ecclesial and religious issues that affect our daily life? I would say that the solution is that as Kevin Tierney says tradition does indeed begin at home. I would call this “local traditionalism.” There are many ways by which we can become local traditionalists and reasons by which this type of bringing about tradition is most effective. It is the same reason why local politics and grassroots efforts often end up being very effective. It is precisely because it involves engaging those very issues that affect our very life and which we have actual control over. It is the difference between spending a great amount of time trying to influence the president, rather than say influence our local politicians. Hence in a spiritual sense it is the difference between constantly trying to send letters to the Pope, or some high ranking official in the Congregation of Divine Worship or of the Doctrine of the Faith, rather than say working and becoming involved in the life of our own diocese, priests, pastors, bishops, and even our lay brothers and sisters.
In what way can we then be a “local traditionalist?” In what ways can we really put tradition into action and practice? And in what ways can we do this effectively? I would say that it starts with us. What are we doing as Catholics to promote a sense of the sacred and reverence; and above all in what would be deemed aspects of traditional Catholicism? I lay some of these fundamental things that we can do in an earlier article I had written, on bringing about the unity and restoration of Christendom. Amongst some of which are 1) Being of one heart and mind to the teachings of the Catholic Church 2) living in a state of grace and working towards holiness, 3) engaging in Christian Charity, 4) promoting a culture of life 5) promoting a domestic Catholic family life 6) being countercultural in how we dress and on the things we watch and hear 7) living sacramentally based lives, 8) and lastly practicing our faith both privately and publicly, including promoting public manifestations of our faith such as public processions, and also in taking an active role in Catholic politics and Catholic Action initiatives.
This leads us to the way we transmit this tradition “the passing down of teachings and pious customs orally or in writing.” In what ways are we involved in the lives of our parish? Instead of writing constant but utterly ineffective letters to the pope and some cardinal 2,000+ miles away in the Curia, why are we not instead talking to our local clergy, our priests, pastors, and bishops which are actually within our reach and whose impact we actually feel in a more ordinary and actual way. In what ways are we involved in local liturgical conferences and committees. Are we doing everything we can to promote reverence and traditional liturgies? Have we done everything in our power to promote the use, say of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (The Tridentine Mass), or even the use of Latin, incense, Ad Orientem, Communion rails, etc. in the Ordinary Form (The Novus Ordo)? Have we been helping with the local Una Voce society, Juventutem and other traditional minded groups and associations which can have a direct impact into our daily lives?
It is only when we do this that we can indeed put tradition into effective action and practice. It is only by being in a literal sense a “local traditionalist” that such tradition can actually be actualized and brought into fruition.