Tradition In Action
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Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz
to the booklet "Traditionalists", Tradition and Private Judgment Stephen Hand
published in The Wanderer, June 22, 2000.

Stephen Hand has done a distinct service by his fine monograph pointing out by means of careful research as well as by personal and anecdotal experience the reality of removing a cinder in one’s eye when such is there, but keeping the eye intact and not removing the eye out of exasperation, because of the annoyance and sometimes serious pain the cinder can cause.

It has been an axiom for many years in historical theology that what oftentimes begins or is declared to be a "return to tradition," in other words, a reaction, ends as being an innovation, that is a schism or a heresy. There are people who suffer from intense headaches, and find themselves utterly incapable of mastering the horrible pain that they frequently endure. In moments of frustration, such people will sometimes say, "I wish I could cut off my head to cure my headache." But they, and all who are rational and reflective in their presence, would always realize that the so-called cure would be far worse than the continuous enduring of even the most tragic pain. It takes a faith-filled and prayer-filled discerning Catholic life to distinguish liturgical abuses, doctrinal and moral aberrations, and grave disciplinary infractions occurring in the lives and practices of people within the Church, from the Church herself, which despite being composed of sinful members, remains the spotless Spouse and Bride of Christ, not a Church of Cathers or Albigensians, but a Church of those who carry within themselves the sad effects of original sin while at the same time bearing the grace of God, which is to say, the seeds of eternal happiness. St. Thomas Aquinas calls pride the queen and mother of all vices, and oftentimes those who perhaps rightly perceive grave faults and defects in people in the Church, even sometimes in people with positions of clerical authority, forget their own creatureliness and sinfulness, and the ability they themselves have to fall into serious error.

At the time of Jansenist crisis, for instance, the archbishop of Paris, speaking of Jansenist nuns at Port Royal, said they were as pure as angels but as proud as devils. Down through the centuries there have been countless sects, denominations, cults, and churches which have broken off from the Catholic Church under the pretense of being "holier than thou." We are witnessing the same occurrence in our time. Ironically, these groups are most often unknowing and indeliberate allies of the bitterest enemies of Christ and His Church, in effect, denying the abiding Presence of the Holy Spirit in the Catholic Church and promises that Christ bestowed on His Mystical Body from its inception.

In his masterful work, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, John Henry Newman points out how in the course of the Church’s history she occasionally appears to fall into deliquium, from which, under God’s grace, she emerges victorious and stronger than ever. Many of those who defy the Church and even leave the Church in the name of "tradition," thus contradicting the very word by which they choose to define themselves, are ignorant in their despair regarding the Church’s future or the realities of the Church’s history through 2,000 years. This work of Stephen Hand undoubtedly will assist those who are loyal to Christ and to His Church, and to His Vicar on earth, the Bishop of Rome, to labor zealously within the boundaries of the Church herself for her growth in holiness, and willingly, even joyfully, do all possible to eliminate doctrinal, moral, liturgical, and disciplinary aberrations, but, at the same time, conceding nothing to those who wish not to remove a cinder from the eye, but to remove the eye itself and perhaps replace its empty socket with cinders and decayed matters.

The Venerable Servant of God, Abbot Joseph Columba Marmion, who is scheduled to be beatified on September 3, 2000, once reminded his readers that "God resists the proud," and he added: "Is it not terrible to be alienated from God? But how much more terrible it must be to be 'resisted' by God Himself."

May his rhetorical question echo in the minds and hearts of those who make use of this fine work of Stephen Hand.

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Stephen Hand

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