Sacred Tradition


#1

I don’t think my mind has fully grasped the meaning of sacred tradition and how it works. I understand sacred tradition to mean the oral teaching of the apostles handed on through apostolic succession. The early church father writings are a witness to this tradition.

What will happen if the early church fathers writings were destroyed? How do we get access to sacred tradition?

I understand the Holy Spirit moves the magisterium in the context of sacred tradition but without patristic, artwork, etc. evidence how would we know what sacred tradition is?


#2

Good questions, Augustine.

I think the main point to understand is that the Church is a living Church. She doesn't just look back to texts of written oral Tradition and then deliberate on them. Rather, She is like a growing person: Tradition has formed part of her upbringing who She is, so that even if the writings of the Church Fathers were lost - like losing photos of yourself and your family when you were a baby - She still retains the Tradition within He because it is indelibly part of Her.

I hope that doesn't make things sound even more vague!


#3

[quote="Augustine3, post:1, topic:321540"]
I don’t think my mind has fully grasped the meaning of sacred tradition and how it works. I understand sacred tradition to mean the oral teaching of the apostles handed on through apostolic succession. The early church father writings are a witness to this tradition.

What will happen if the early church fathers writings were destroyed? How do we get access to sacred tradition?

I understand the Holy Spirit moves the magisterium in the context of sacred tradition but without patristic, artwork, etc. evidence how would we know what sacred tradition is?

[/quote]

Think of Sacred Tradition as a giant living cell. There is the chromosomes (the scriptures) and there is the cell architecture (Sacred Tradition) and finally there is the coordinated functions and reactions which keep the cell in a living condition (the magisterium).

Without any one of the three the cell dies or fails to regenerate.

peace
steve


#4

For what it's worth: What is Sacred Tradition? ;)


#5

[quote="Augustine3, post:1, topic:321540"]
What will happen if the early church fathers writings were destroyed?

[/quote]

We have copies. :)
And as others suggested of living tradition, their voice has carried through, and the Apostolic heritage, if you will, has already been passed on to the present.


#6

Thanks guys.

I’m sorry I’m still unclear...How do we access what the apostles taught if we don’t have tangible evidence?

Let’s take the ecumenical councils; don’t the bishops examine scripture and additional information (patristic etc.) to define dogmas? Without patristic evidence would the bishops just pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit and use the bible alone as a point of reference to define a dogma?


#7

I think this book

amazon.com/Tradition-Church-George-Agius/dp/0895558211/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1365049553&sr=8-5&keywords=The+Church+and+Tradition

"nails" the whole concept of Tradition.

This priest makes the hypothetical claim that the church didn't need scripture, because it was thriving on the tradition; he sees scripture as an extra gift from God.

This text is an edited and updated version of the original which was published in the late 1920's by someone who was not a native-English speaker.

His point is that tradition -- the handing on of faith -- gives us the certainty of faith and truth. Tradition includes the correct interpretation of scripture.


#8

[quote="Augustine3, post:6, topic:321540"]
Thanks guys.

I’m sorry I’m still unclear...How do we access what the apostles taught if we don’t have tangible evidence?

Let’s take the ecumenical councils; don’t the bishops examine scripture and additional information (patristic etc.) to define dogmas? Without patristic evidence would the bishops just pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit and use the bible alone as a point of reference to define a dogma?

[/quote]

In the hypothetical you posit, assuming it was possible to obliterate the "writings of the Early Church Fathers", then the Church would probably consult Scripture as well as the successors of the ECFs who had already passed on the ECFs teachings through apostolic succession, as well as embrace the guidance of the Holy Spirit to ultimately seal the deal.

Fortunately, we have a number of ECF texts preserved and instilled into the Church's theology already, plus we will not likely have to worry about all versions of all copies of ECF writings to disappear.


#9

[quote="MarcoPolo, post:8, topic:321540"]
Fortunately, we have a number of ECF texts preserved and instilled into the Church's theology already, plus we will not likely have to worry about all versions of all copies of ECF writings to disappear.

[/quote]

I believe there are also some copies online. And as many know, once something is uploaded to the internet, it is hard to take down (to an extent).


#10

God forgive me but it sounds like the Holy Spirit limits his guidance of the magisterium based upon the tangible evidence. How can the Holy Spirit work with them if they don’t have tangible evidence, I don’t think he deposits revelation in the bishops minds? The Magestrium can only work with the available evidence and the Holy Spirit ensures they do no draw the wrong conclusions based on their findings with this limited evidence...

How is this tradition living if it can die if we ceased to have tangible evidence?

Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m a very devout Catholic, I’m just trying to understand how it works...


#11

[quote="Augustine3, post:1, topic:321540"]
I don’t think my mind has fully grasped the meaning of sacred tradition and how it works. I understand sacred tradition to mean the oral teaching of the apostles handed on through apostolic succession. The early church father writings are a witness to this tradition.

What will happen if the early church fathers writings were destroyed? How do we get access to sacred tradition?

I understand the Holy Spirit moves the magisterium in the context of sacred tradition but without patristic, artwork, etc. evidence how would we know what sacred tradition is?

[/quote]

The Church lives her Tradition. For example, if we had nothing but scripture alone as our authority, as the Reformers did for the most part, we'd have no means to definitively resolve the question regarding whether or not Jesus is really present in the Eucharist. John 6 can be argued both ways, although the literal interpretation favors the Catholic position. But neither view can be proven with scripture alone. The Church, however, doesn't rely solely on scripture; she also appeals to her lived and experienced Tradition, the way she's simply always and everywhere practiced the faith.


#12

[quote="Augustine3, post:6, topic:321540"]
Thanks guys.

I’m sorry I’m still unclear...How do we access what the apostles taught if we don’t have tangible evidence?

Let’s take the ecumenical councils; don’t the bishops examine scripture and additional information (patristic etc.) to define dogmas? Without patristic evidence would the bishops just pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit and use the bible alone as a point of reference to define a dogma?

[/quote]

The Teaching of the Apostles exists within the life of the Church, the prayers, liturgies, Rites, and "way of living" that was once for all deposited to the saints. It is infallibly preserved in the Church by the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:41-42
42 They devoted themselves to the *apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. *

Luke 1:1-3
Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2 **just as they were handed on to us **by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,

This is the paradosis, or the transmission of the Sacred Tradition.

1 Cor 11:23-24
For I received from the Lord what I also **handed on **to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread...

1 Cor 15:3-4
3 For I **handed on **to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures,

2 Tim 2:2
2 and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well.

Rom 6:17
...have become obedient from the heart to **the form of teaching **to which you were entrusted....

1 Tim 6:20
Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you.

The Sacred Deposit of Faith is especially entrusted to the Bishops, whose chief duty is to guard it and pass it on to the next generation.

2 Tim 1:14
14 Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

It is the Holy Spirit living within that enables that treasure to remain pure.

Jude 3-4
Beloved, while eagerly preparing to write to you about the salvation we share, I find it necessary to write and appeal to you to contend for *the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. *

This was before a word of the New Testament was ever written.

1 Tim 1:3-4
I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may *instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, *

It is the duty of the Bishops to prevent heresy by ensuring that there is no departure from the Sacred Deposit of faith.

Titus 2:15
15 Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one look down on you.

Sacred Tradition is entrusted to the Church by the authority of Jesus, which He gave to His apostles, and they to their successors, the Bishops. How can we know what it is? We can trust that the Spirit of God is at work to guard the Sacred Deposit of His Word in the Church.

1 Thess 2:13-14
13 We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God's word, which is also at work in you believers.

Isa 55:11
1 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Jesus placed His Word in the Church to lead us all into Truth. He promised that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against us, and that the Church would remain until the end of the age. Sacred Tradition, the Word of God at work in the church, will accomplish the purpose for which He has sent it, and will remain in the Church until He comes to take His bride to heaven.


#13

[quote="Augustine3, post:10, topic:321540"]
God forgive me but it sounds like the Holy Spirit limits his guidance of the magisterium based upon the tangible evidence.

[/quote]

Yes, God will have to forgive you for such a faithless assertion. The bulk of Christianity is not what is seen, but what is unseen. The only reason we know that there even IS a Holy Spirit is because God revealed Himself t mankind. The Trinity is not "tangible", nor are any of the mysteries of our faith such as the reality of what happens to the human soul in baptism, the consecration of the Eucharist, etc, etc.

John 20:29
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

God of all that is seen, and UNSEEN!

[quote="Augustine3, post:10, topic:321540"]
How can the Holy Spirit work with them if they don’t have tangible evidence, I don’t think he deposits revelation in the bishops minds?

[/quote]

And why not? Is not the One Faith within your mind? In your heart? I guess if you cannot believe beyond the tangible, then you cannot believe in the resurrection and ascension either. You don't have any tangible evidence Jesus went to heaven, do you?

The teaching of the Apostles is handed down. It takes form in prayer, liturgy, and ritual. It is a way of life, called in the NT "The Way". One cannot reduce a world view and a lifestyle to any one "tangible" thing.

[quote="Augustine3, post:10, topic:321540"]
The Magestrium

[/quote]

Mages = teachers
Magesterium = collection of teachers

[quote="Augustine3, post:10, topic:321540"]
The Magestrium can only work with the available evidence and the Holy Spirit ensures they do no draw the wrong conclusions based on their findings with this limited evidence...

[/quote]

The once for all deposit of faith was given to the Church.

Jude 3
...the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.

It includes the final revelation of God by Himself to mankind. It is limited only by what God intends for us to know in this life. The revelation of God is not a matter of people drawing "conclusions" as if by scientific evidence. It's origin is in God, not in man. God is not limited in how He can reveal Himself. Neither is God hampered or hamstrung by the limitations of mankind.

1 Cor 2:9-13

"What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the human heart conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love him" —

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God's except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. 13 And we speak of these things in words **not taught by human wisdom **but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.

[quote="Augustine3, post:10, topic:321540"]
How is this tradition living if it can die if we ceased to have tangible evidence?

[/quote]

Fortunately, your premise is in error. The revelation of God of Himself is not limited to tangible evidence.

[quote="Augustine3, post:10, topic:321540"]
Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m a very devout Catholic, I’m just trying to understand how it works...

[/quote]

It might help if you refrained from placing limitations upon the work of God.


#14

This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, "the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes."37 "The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer – Paragraph 78 CCC

What is meant by the “life of the Church”?


#15

[quote="Augustine3, post:6, topic:321540"]
Thanks guys.

I’m sorry I’m still unclear...How do we access what the apostles taught if we don’t have tangible evidence?

Let’s take the ecumenical councils; don’t the bishops examine scripture and additional information (patristic etc.) to define dogmas? Without patristic evidence would the bishops just pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit and use the bible alone as a point of reference to define a dogma?

[/quote]

Think of Sacred tradition as being the unbroken continuity of the Church in her teachings...

catholicapologetics.info/apologetics/protestantism/wbible.htm#CHAPTER%20I

Our Blessed Lord Himself never, so far as we know, wrote a line of Scripture—certainly none that has been preserved. He never told His Apostles to write anything. He did not command them to commit to writing what He had delivered to them: but He said, 'Go ye and teach all nations', 'preach the Gospel to every creature' , 'He that heareth you heareth Me'. What He commanded and meant them to do was precisely what He had done Himself, viz.—deliver the Word of God to the people by the living voice—convince , persuade, instruct, convert them by addressing themselves face to face to living men and women; not intrust their message to a dead book which might perish and be destroyed, and be misunderstood and misinterpreted and corrupted, but adopt the more safe and natural way of presenting the truth to them by word of mouth, and of training others to do the same after they themselves were gone, and so by a living tradition, preserving and handing down the Word of God as they had received it, to all generations.

philvaz.com/apologetics/debate23.htm

Christ does not write new Scripture, nor does He tell others to write Scripture. To pass on His truth Jesus selects twelve men to carry on His mission, gospel, and message of forgiveness and reconciliation (Matt 10:2ff,19f,40; Luke 10:16; John 20:21ff; Eph 2:19ff).


#16

[quote="Augustine3, post:10, topic:321540"]
God forgive me but it sounds like the Holy Spirit limits his guidance of the magisterium based upon the tangible evidence.

[/quote]

The whole foundation of the Church is founded on the tangible Incarnation, tangible witness to his resurrection...then on to tangible Scripture, etc... God teaching through tangible methods isn't a "limit." Certainly, the Magisterium also bears the inspiration of the Spirit. This is part of the faith.


#17

[quote="Augustine3, post:14, topic:321540"]
This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, "the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes."37 "The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer – Paragraph 78 CCC

What is meant by the “life of the Church”?

[/quote]

What is meant by "The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to..." ? Does this mean Sacred Tradition is depenant upon their sayings? OR just that their sayings give witness to what is already believed? I think you know the answer.

A further question you could ask is, are all the "sayings" of these ECF's preservedin writing? Or might some of them be relfected in the life of the Church through its teachings? I think you know the answer to that as well.


#18

[quote="ahs, post:17, topic:321540"]
What is meant by "The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to..." ? Does this mean Sacred Tradition is depenant upon their sayings? OR just that their sayings give witness to what is already believed? I think you know the answer.

A further question you could ask is, are all the "sayings" of these ECF's preservedin writing? Or might some of them be relfected in the life of the Church through its teachings? I think you know the answer to that as well.

[/quote]

I appreciate what you’re saying but I’m unclear about what is meant by the life of the Church..does that mean how our daily living is implemented in the belief of faith and morals?


#19

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