Tradition as Fidelity


Paul Claudel compared tradition with a man walking. In order to move forward he must push off from the ground, with one foot raised and the other on the ground; if he kept both feet on the ground or lifted both in the air, he would be unable to advance. If tradition is a continuity that goes beyond conservatism, it is also a movement and a progress that goes beyond mere continuity, but only on condition that, going beyond conservation for its own sake, it includes and preserves the positive values gained, to allow a progress that is not simply a repetition of the past. Tradition is memory, and memory enriches experience. If we remembered nothing it would be impossible to advance; the same would be true if we were bound to a slavish imitation of the past. True tradition is not servility but fidelity.

YVES CONGAR, OP, The Meaning of Tradition