You might have heard the one or other old-ish man (or, more probably, woman) waxing lyrical about “The First Christians”.
I have always been suspicious of this kind of “Firstolatry”, as I have never been told that the “First Christians” had any title to liturgical or doctrinal infallibility. Still, they tend to be mentioned rather often, and I am reminded of the “Firstolatry” every time I assist to one of those Novus Ordo masses where some self-satisfied old men (or women) carry the gifts to the altar, generally coming back to their pews with a face indicating how very, very special they are.
It seems also clear to me that such a reasoning (“The First Christians did it, therefore we should too”) contradicts the very meaning of Catholic tradition. If The First Christians were right, then many centuries of Catholic Tradition would necessarily be wrong! It’s like saying the Church started with the right foot, but then suddenly started doing things the wrong way. I do not know about you, but this stinks mightily of Protestantism to me.
I also thought “tradition” comes from the Latin traditio, “transmission”. We receive from our ancestors and in turn transmit to our descendants. Therefore, the “recovery” of an ancient way of celebrating the Mass is nothing to do with tradition at all! Those old ways have, precisely, been abandoned instead of transmitted, because The First Christians thought they were not good enough! Where’s the “tradition” in that?
Pope Pius XII called this excessive attention to old and abandoned ways “archaeologism”, as always hitting the bull’s-eye.
Once again, it is easy to see good and strong Popes can recognise and correct wrong tendencies they see developing among the sheep; much less good and weak Popes are unable to stem the spreading of fashions – or worse, as in the case of the altar girls – even when they perfectly recognise the error.
Let’s hope the “Firstolatry” will abate with the time, as we slowly come back to reason in liturgical matters.