After having attended a sold-out and inspirational Handel’s Messiah, one was left to reflect upon the well-attended, enthusiastic and inspired crowd. In an age where much entertainment is reduced to sound bites and portable electronic devices, it was amazing to observe the great number who attended a two hour long musical performance that inspired and stimulated reflection and wonder, the opposite of just about everything in life today.
One must ask, how can this be? The answer might be summed up in one phrase: Christian tradition. Traditions tend to be a principled behavior based on good customs and many traditions have been cast aside to collect dust as man pursues rapid, successive, and intense momentary pleasures that interestingly enough, are never obtained. Yet for some reason, this particular tradition still maintains a hold on a substantial segment of public opinion.
One can better understand tradition as the good and notable events of the past that live in the present and continue into the future. A tradition cannot be evil, for then it is merely a bad habit.
It is particularly interesting to note the reaction of the audience during the Hallelujah Chorus. The entire audience rose to their feet immediately. This is the continuation of a beautiful tradition dating back to King George II, who was so moved during the performance that he stood during the chorus. It has been a tradition since March 23, 1743, decades before the founding of the United States.
It is not uncommon to hear liberals deride this act. Most likely they become very upset seeing a tradition like this that will not die, especially because it is fundamentally an act of reverence. Despite attempts to downplay the need to stand up for the chorus by some, it is a beautiful tradition that endures. It is a demonstration of the power of grace over public opinion that is so engrained, that without hesitation, everyone respectfully stands.
If only those who support some of the Christian traditions in America understood the importance of supporting them all, we might not be in the religious, moral and economic chaos that we now find ourselves.
We must resolve to create an inflexible public opinion that stands up for what is good, true and beautiful. This can be in the form of public worship, a public square rosary rally or a rally in defense of traditional marriage; by dressing in modest and uplifting ways and in true and public celebrations of Christmas. We should do all that we can to influence and contribute to the changing of public opinion and to re-enliven and support all Christian traditions.
By wishing another a Merry Christmas in public or by praying before meals in a restaurant is a good start. Let us yearn for the day when the powerful traditions of old and new become as reflexive as rising for the Hallelujah Chorus.