You and I are living in a forward-looking time. Adventure and progress are the themes of the day. Individuals and groups are breaking out of old forms and moving ahead into what they hope will be a bright new day.
Though we are sometimes frightened by this rapid change, we dare not sit in total condemnation of it. A lot of things needed to be changed for a long time. But in days such as these, we should also recognize that there is a danger of throwing overboard some valuable cargo that ought to be kept. So, in the midst of changing times, we ought to think for a moment of some traditions that are worth keeping.
The family, in the last decade or so, has been under concerted attack. Many have called it obsolete and given it up in favor of various other arrangements. Young people are living together without the benefit of marriage. The purpose for such an arrangement, we are told, is to determine whether they are suited for each other before taking the step of matrimony. At the same time, some married couples are deciding that fidelity is old hat and needs to be cast away. They call themselves open-minded, progressive, modern thinkers.
One fallacy with all of this is that there is really nothing new about it. Across the centuries, human beings have experimented with every conceivable kind of sexual relationship. Nothing new can possibly be added. And out of this long history of experimentation has come the great tradition of the family. One man and one woman love each other for life and provide a permanent home for the rearing of children and the enjoyment of grandchildren. No one has ever yet improved on that arrangement. It isn’t easy; no one has ever suggested it would be. But it’s good and it works.
Another tradition that is worth keeping is our Christian moral tradition. We are not speaking now of petty rules and laws but of great moral principles. Such things as courage, compassion, self-sacrifice, integrity, and respect for others are not expendable.
When a person is possessed of high principles with deep roots, he does not have to decide every issue as he gets to it. Many of them are decided way in advance. Some things are beneath him; some things he simply cannot do because they are in violation of the moral tradition that is a part of his very being.
You and I need that kind of tradition to draw upon. It is risky business to fly through life by the seat of our pants, making every decision on the impulse of the moment. I would not trust myself to do that; I know myself too well. I am grateful for some deep roots that enable me to decide some issues even before they come up. We have at our disposal the benefit of a great moral tradition taught to us by Jesus.
Let no one tell you that our Catholic traditions are dying out. Only the form will change. The real things, the great principles, the high ideals, the deep faiths, will outwear and outlast everything. Hold on to these, carry them with you; they are worth keeping.