Standing “Rad Trad” on its Head

confusedOver the last few years “rad trad” or “raddy traddy” was Catholic slang for the ultra traditionalist, Latin Mass, take no prisoners traditionalist.

I like the rhyme, but I’m for standing this on its head. Let’s take “radical” and “tradition” and recognize something that is cool and constant in being a Catholic, and that is that if you are a Catholic you can be both establishment and rebellious at the same time. You can be a revolutionary and a fogey, a conservative and a liberal, a die hard and a die young person all at once.  You can be a live fast and risky and a life safe and stable person.

In other words you can be a true radical and a true traditionalist all wrapped up in one simply by being a faithful Catholic.

So to stand it on its head I do not wish to be a “rad trad” but I’m happy to claim the title of a “trad rad”.

That is to say I am not a traditionalist, but I love tradition. I love the old ways because they have stood the test of time. I love the church’s traditions because they help me put down deep roots in a fast paced, changing and crazy world. I love tradition because it is built on the rock, and to be a Catholic is, by definition, to be universal, to be permanent, to be built on a firm foundation.

But I am a radical because to follow Jesus Christ is always radical. To follow Jesus Christ is always to challenge the hypocrite, puncture pomposity, skewer self righteousness. It is to be young and free not old and bound. It is to be on the quest–questioning and quizzing all who seem to have it all together. It is to laugh at the lugubrious, poke the proud and challenge all that is legalistic, sour and stuck in the mud.

To be “trad” is to be rooted and grounded. To be “rad” is to be free and spirit filled. To be “trad” is Benedict. To be “rad” is Francis. To be “trad” is Gregorian chant. To be “rad” is Taize chant. To be “trad” is incense, lace and solemn grace. To be “rad” is charismatic spirituality and healing grace. To be “trad” is “go and sin no more” To be “rad” is “neither do I condemn you.”

True Catholicism is therefore ever ancient and ever new. It is Benedict and Therese–an old man and a little child. It is the wisdom of age and the wisdom of innocence. It is at once a contradiction and a paradoxical complementarity.

And truth is always like that.

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