Tradition as Challenge is the title of Josef Pieper’s recently published and long awaited English translation of Tradition als Herausforderung — his deeply reflective and engagingly varied book of collected essays and speeches first published as a whole in Munich, Germany in 1963, over a half century ago. This counterpointed collection still has much to teach an attentive and receptive reader, especially those who want to understand more fully, and in a more differentiated way, the Concept and Reality of Tradition. Although the book’s original reflections were first published just after World War II — and mainly between the years 1952-1960 (with one exception, in 1962, an essay on the concept and reality of virtue) — Dr. Pieper’s insights are both timeless and also timely. For, it is the case that many professed Catholics today, even high prelates of the Church, are dismissing or irreverently trivializing the meaning and reality of Sacred Tradition, not only certain longstanding ecclesiastical traditions, but also fundamental Tradition as such as an indispensable source of Divine Revelation, to include the reliable authority to have chosen the adequate and final Canon of Divinely Revealed Sacred Scripture.
Although this essay proposes now to consider only a few of Josef Pieper’s reflections in his versatile Anthology, we hope that the reader will be thereby sufficiently inspired to read and to savor the entire book.