Hi Mark -
[quote=mark a]Tradition…What exactly is it. . . . and isn’t it?
Tradition in the Church is a continuation of practices established by Christ and His Apostles. Because they were established by Christ they carry the same weight as scripture. The sacraments are examples of Traditions that Christ began. Veneration of Mary is an example of Tradition that was established by the apostles.
Does it have to be oral? Or is it simply written accounts of Apostolic oral Tradition?
It exists in both forms. It is written in scripture and by the Church Fathers. We can refer to early christian writings, including scripture, for understandings and practices of the faith. It is orally transmitted in sermons and speeches, and also in private conversation.
Is tradition considered (capital “T”) Tradition if not passed on by the Apostles, but Holy men who came later? Is there a cut-off date for Tradition?
Capital “T” Traditions are those established by Christ. They are essentials in the practice of the faith. Carrying the same weight as scripture, the are unchanging. Lower case “t” traditions were established by men and communities who came later. Celebrations of holy days (i.e., Christmas, et al) are examples of later traditions and can vary from community to community. These traditions can begin and end. They can never have more importance than Christ’s Traditions, nor can the have more importance than God’s laws and traditons as established in scripture.
Here is the catechism on Tradition and it’s place in Christianity…
It is the confusion over the practice of these holy Traditions, along with abuses by the Church during the middle ages, that began the Reformation, started by Martin Luther. They remain debated even today.
Hope that helps,