On the the intrinsic value of little traditions
The Eastern Churches have their own cultural-liturgical identities, which are value in and of themselves to an Eastern Catholic. What about for the Latin Catholics? If it is wrong for the Roman Church to make the Eastern Churches forget their traditions … then it is just as wrong, if not more, for the Roman Church to forget her own traditions. Her traditions should have value to her for the same reasons her sister Church’s traditions have value to her sister Church. For even were every Catholic to live in complete fidelity to the deposit of faith, the deposit of apostolic tradition, every Catholic is still owed by right — by Rite? — that littler deposit of littler traditions called cultural heritage.
Surely, even with the right kind of thinking, and even with the right kind of Christian living, a Roman still misses something without Roman cultural-liturgical orthopraxy. Roman orthopraxy is of value in itself, if only within the Latin Rite, for it is only tradition itself which substantially distinguishes the Latin Rite from the others. Indeed, if it were only historical accident which separated the Latin and Eastern Rites of the Churches in union with Rome, why not simply move towards ending all Rites whatsoever, in the twin spirits of visible unity and cold utility?
Here it is, and it is a paradigm shift for the Western rationalists, always trying to prove the mere utility of each segment of the liturgy, here is the real argument for tradition: To look at the traditions of the Church merely as a means to some end, any end, is like treating your wife as merely a means to children. We must value her in and of herself if our devotion is to mean more than the mechanical manipulation of an automaton, which can be replaced as soon as the old model wears out, freely upgraded, downgraded, degraded for whatever reason strikes your fancy, without regard to her personal integrity. Is it not enough for parts of a liturgy to have no purpose but to be? Why cannot a part be retained because it is beautiful, it is old, it is traditional? Must everything be slim and slender, ugly and functional?
For sometimes, at the de facto Novus Ordo, it is as if a committee sat to design a tree and drew a telephone pole.