Point 30. The Exemplary Tradition
“ The Church is Jesus Christ spread and communicated ” (Bossuet). She is, therefore, in every epoch the realisation of what God, in His foreknowledge and predestination, had fixed in accordance with the mysterious design of His wisdom. From her foundations down to our day, in her highs and her lows, in the merits and the crimes of her members, in her saints and her sinners, she is in the final analysis what God has willed her to be. Over and above His “ signified will ”, the absolute norm revealed through His commandments, she is what was decreed from all time by “ the will of His good pleasure ”, revealed in the actual course of events. Thus the Church is the visible manifestation of the glory of Christ in the world.
1. Despite this inseparable mixture of the divine wishes and the human acts of history, a mixture of good and evil, the Church – through the infallible “ biological ” assistance of the Holy Spirit – operates a perfect and instinctive discernment. By the steady refinement of her own experiences, she rejects what were human sins and errors, whilst retaining and canonising the gifts of the Holy Spirit that enriched her treasure and directed her tradition. Because of her constant association with truth and error, good and evil, saints and sinners, the Church can only survive and progress throughout the centuries by purifying herself of every stain and evil, and by recognising as gifts of the Holy Spirit – through a divination peculiarly her own – the beauty, goodness, and truth which make of her traditions and her Tradition – for they are all one – an exemplary norm for the present and for the centuries to come.
2. Consequently, the Phalangist experiences a veneration and a jealous attachment for the past centuries of the Church and of Christendom, in which he sees, unlike all the frenzied revolutionaries and reformists, the very work of God, fashioned by His “ two tireless hands ”, Christ and the Spirit, each a Paraclete. And he conceives of the future as the development of this ancient religion and civilisation, a development marked not only with the imprint of his wise and holy forebears, but with the imprint of God.
And so any theory of a necessary mutation of the Church or of a surpassing of Christendom leaves him cold, for he is convinced that such impatience and rebellion are inspired by the pride of Satan rather than by the Spirit of Christ.