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LAITY IN THE CHURCH - page 7 / 21





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our real identity.  

Identity is closely attached to tradition.  Sometimes tradi­tion is viewed as a conservative force, and in the sense that it helps "conserve," it is true to describe it as conservative.  But even more, tradition helps ensure the continuity and identity of shared attitudes through successive generations.  The true meaning of tradition is the assimilation of the past in under­standing the present, without break in the continuity of the life of a society and without considering the past as merely outmoded.

Tradition helps us as a people and as individuals to press forward.  Claudel compared tradition with a man walking.  In order to move, he must push off from the ground with one foot raised and the other on the ground.  Whether he kept both feet on the ground or lifted both in the air, he would be unable to advance.  Pascal said, "The entire succession of men, through so many centu­ries, should be thought of as one and the same man, ever-present and learning continually."

Handing on tradition doesn't mean that we mechanically trans­mit a passive deposit but a living subject.  Handing on tradition means that we have to put something of ourselves into what we have received.  If we have a message to give to someone, we expect that message to be lived.  This is particularly true for

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