"Where is the Tradition?", asks my Muslims friend. How would you respond?


#1

Hi,

Where is the “Tradition”, ask my Muslims friend? Not what is Tradition. I’ve shared the Catechism 78 and other part of the CCC, as well:

"78 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.“38”

I also read from Catholic.com that if there is a canon of scripture, the Church also as a “canon of Tradition”:

The indefectible Church

The task is to determine what constitutes authentic tradition. How can we know which traditions are apostolic and which are merely human? The answer is the same as how we know which scriptures are apostolic and which are merely human—by listening to the magisterium or teaching authority of Christ’s Church. Without the Catholic Church’s teaching authority, we would not know with certainty which purported books of Scripture are authentic. If the Church revealed to us the canon of Scripture, it can also reveal to us the “canon of Tradition” by establishing which traditions have been passed down from the apostles. After all, Christ promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church (Matt. 16:18) and the New Testament itself declares the Church to be “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).
catholic.com/tracts/scripture-and-tradition

How would you answer my Muslim friend?


#2

I’m not exactly sure what you’re asking. ‘Sacred Tradition’ is found wherever the teaching of the magisterium is found. So, for instance, in the documents of councils and in papal documents, there is Sacred Tradition.

Are you asking whether there’s a single bound volume of writings called ‘Sacred Tradition’? No, there isn’t (after all, since it is an on-going thing, it would never come to a conclusion – next year’s copy would (in all likelihood) have more in it than this year’s!). But, are there records of the various examples of Sacred Tradition? Of course!

So, point him to the documents of Vatican Council II and reply, “here’s an example of Sacred Tradition, right there!”


#3

I would think he’s referring to the cultural tradition which is still there if you know what you’re looking for.

It’s the priest acting in persona Christi that says “this is MY body, this is MY blood” as he consecrates the bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ on the Altar of Calvary. It’s the cantor and choir that chants the propers and ordinaries of the Mass and the organist that makes those marvelous sounds come out of that grand insturment. And of course there’s the Sister who runs the soup kitchen, the Brother that plows the fields, not to mention the countless lay people and religious running the schools all over the world.

Better question is, where isn’t the tradition?


#4

I would think he’s referring to cultural tradition which is easily identifiable when one knows what to for.

It’s the priest acting in persona Christi when he says “this is MY body, this is MY blood” as he consecrates mere bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ on the Altar of Calvary. It’s the cantor and choir that chants the propers and ordinaries of the Mass as the organist makes those marvelous sounds come out of that grand insturment. And of course there’s the Sister who runs the soup kitchen, the Brother who plows the fields, as well as the countless religious and lay people running all the schools around the world.

Better question is, where isn’t the tradition?


#5

It’s the priest acting in persona Christi when he says “this is MY body, this is MY blood” as he consecrates mere bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ on the Altar of Calvary.

It’s the cantor and choir that chants the propers and ordinaries of the Mass as the organist makes those marvelous sounds come out of that grand insturment.

And of course there’s the Sister who runs the soup kitchen which feeds the poor or the shelter which shields the homeless, or the Brother who plows the fields or tends to the animals.

What about the countless religious and lay people running all the schools around the world.

In a broader sense, looking at the culture and history of Western Civilization a better question might be “where isn’t the tradition?”


#6

Sacred Tradition (upper case T) is revealed truth; it’s source is God.

Ecclisial “tradition” (lower case t) are the rituals, prayers, devotions and popular movements of the Church.

Tradition – revealed truth - can be found within the ecclesial traditions of the Church.
[LIST]
*]Church Worship - Liturgy, feasts, sacraments, sacred music and art which helps us worship God.
*]Church Doctrine – encyclicals, creeds, catechism, councils, writings of the Early Church Fathers.
*]Church Fathers – Writings of those who lived close to apostolic times and who contributed to the foundations of our faith.
*]Church Life – Devotions, popular movements, lives of the saints
*]Religious Orders – a tremendous source of spirituality, prayer and practical application of the Gospel - the religious orders inform the secular Church. They are part of authentic and organic Catholic Tradition.
[/LIST]

-Tim-


#7

Right – but, it’s important to make the distinction crystal clear here, since many (including those outside of Catholicism) might get confused and think we’re saying that “the Mass (or the cantor or the soup kitchen) is Sacred Tradition”, as ServusHumilis seems to be doing (apologies in advance if I’m misinterpreting you, SH). So, ‘Sacred Scripture’ is found in the Mass, but it’s not like we’re pointing to a Mass and saying “this is Sacred Scripture” or to a prayer service and saying, “this is Sacred Scripture.” Similarly, we wouldn’t point to the Mass and say, “this is Sacred Tradition” (although we would point to it and say, “elements of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition are found here”). Without that distinction, it would be too easy to misunderstand, leading to confusion (i.e., “hey! wait a minute! You said that Sacred Tradition is inspired by God and is expressed infallibly! But, you guys just changed some prayers in your Mass! So, either the older ones were less right and the new ones moreso, or vice versa! That’s not perfection! That’s not infallibility!” :wink: )

Tim, I think you and I are saying the same thing – that elements of Sacred Tradition are found in the items you list, but that this doesn’t mean that Sacred Tradition “is” those things. (More to the point, you’d have to already know what Sacred Tradition is, before you could point to something in the Mass and ID it as such – otherwise, you’d be left asking yourself, “the Sign of Peace – is that Tradition? This homily – was it Tradition?”) But, I don’t think that this is what the OP’s friend is getting at. He can easily enough pick up a Bible and say to himself, “this is what Catholics mean by Sacred Scripture”, but what can he pick up so that he might say, “and this is what Catholics mean by Sacred Tradition”…? That would be Apostolic Teaching…!


#8

I would answer him as you did.

I would also talk to him about the Incarnation.
God assumed human nature.
Christ is a person not a book.
Christ lives.
And Christ interacted with other persons (apostles, disciples) and gave them a mission.
The foundation and transmission of our faith (Tradition) is essentially a person, not a book.
Because that person (Christ) lives, and gave a living faith to the Church, Catholic Tradition is living, the Magisterium is living, and we have the living word of God.

So, to answer the question, “where is Tradition?”, it is “in Christ”, through his Mystical Body.


#9

For Muslims, “tradition” is one of the Hadith (the plural is Ahadith). They are testimonies collected from eyewitnesses, and either remembered by heart until written down many years later, or written down shortly after Mohammed’s death. (Or forged. There are a lot of forged ones from hundreds of years later.)

So there are thousands of these written ahadith, and there’s a hierarchy of which ones are thought more reliable by Muslim historians from back in the Middle Ages, and which ones are thought to be total forgeries. Many of them have legal standing, and many of them determine how to interpret the Quran or how to make people behave. It’s a big deal.

We don’t really have anything auxiliary like that. There was a guy named Papias who set out to collect testimonies from eyewitnesses to Jesus and the apostles and their teaching, and he had five volumes of it. We only have tiny fragments of his book. God apparently didn’t want us clinging to Papias as well as the Bible, and didn’t help us preserve it the way He has helped us keep the books of the Bible.

Of course, our Gospel is composed of eyewitness accounts collated by the Evangelists with information to help us understand, and the rest of the New Testament consists of histories, letters, and prophecies that tend to explain and enrich the eyewitness accounts. So in some ways, those are our written Traditions.

The other thing is that even though Ahadith have authority, they aren’t supposed to be inspired by God in the same way as the Quran (which is supposed by Muslims to always have existed eternally in its current format, even though of course there have been changes over the years - which is why a lot of early Qurans were destroyed by sultans and such).

We believe that Sacred Tradition is inspired by God in the same way that Sacred Scripture is. The things which Jesus said and did which were not recorded are just as holy as the things which were. This is related to Jewish beliefs that there is the written Torah and an oral Torah of unwritten traditions and practices, and both are from God.

However, we believe (according to various promises by Jesus) that the Holy Spirit, and our bishops and teachers, as well as the “sense of the Faithful,” ie, of laypeople who think with the Church, will all help us to remember what has been passed down to us, both in writing (the Bible and various ecclesiastical writings) and by word of mouth. Most Catholics and many Christian people know what the Tradition is, even if they don’t know whys and wherefores. If you read something from St. Justin Martyr at the beginning of the Church, much of what he says will sound awfully familiar.

(In fact, at my first exposure to patristics as a teenager, I figured there was really no point reading Early Christian stuff, because it was all pretty much the same stuff I already knew.)

We have the best of both worlds: a living oral Tradition handed down in the family and by pastors and teachers, a living Scripture that is written down, and the interpretation of both of them preserved by the Holy Spirit working through the bishops and the Pope. The Holy Spirit does remind us of the things Jesus said, just as Jesus promised.

But I think now you see that what your Muslim friend was asking included his own cultural assumptions. We just don’t do it the same way.


#10

My essay on the matter from a while back.


#11

For a clear understanding of Holy Tradition I strongly suggest the book Tradition and the Church (1928) by Monsignor George Agius.

This is the must read book on Holy Tradition that every Catholic should read.
I have seen no other book that even comes close to being as clear and in-depth as this book.

amazon.com/Tradition-Church-Msgr-George-J-C-D/dp/0895558211/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415830967&sr=1-1&keywords=tradition+and+the+church

Ran Pleasant


#12

This book is quoted in my article above your post. :thumbsup:


#13

The question was “where is Tradition” and I’ve simply provided a few examples of where it can be physically found, though perhaps I could have said “It’s in the priest…” and “It’s in the cantor…” etc.

The answer of course isn’t limited to these things; I’m sure you or anyone could come up with a few places of your own where it might be found. :shrug:

By the way “this is MY body, this is MY blood” has never been changed and the cantor and choir still sing the propers and ordinaries.


#14

Your answer was very heart-warming: yet, it’s not precisely accurate. We do not find Sacred Tradition – that is, Apostolic Teaching – in the chords that the organist plays; we do not find it in the chants of the schola (although, to be fair, their lyrics might reflect Apostolic Teaching). Your answer points to the effects of Sacred Tradition, rather than to Sacred Tradition itself. :shrug:

By the way “this is MY body, this is MY blood” has never been changed and the cantor and choir still sing the propers and ordinaries.

Umm… “this is my body” isn’t Sacred Tradition – they are the words of Jesus himself, and are also part of Sacred Scripture. And no matter who sings the proper or ordinary, they’re part of our liturgical tradition… but aren’t part of Sacred Tradition, either. (I’m not saying that they are without merit, or even that they’re contrary to Catholic teaching. It’s just that they’re not part of Sacred Tradition; and, asserting that they are simply leads to confusion. :wink: )


#15

I don’t understand the question. Does he not have a dictionary to look up “Tradition”? Perhaps he could rephrase the question into something more intelligible.


#16

Congratulations! Without realizing it, you have precisely hit upon one of the principal problems in talking about theology with those who are not Catholic theologians! As it turns out, there is a non-trivial amount of jargon in theology, which means that there are terms whose theological definition is not the same as the dictionary definition of these terms! ‘Tradition’ is one of these terms. Look it up in the dictionary, and I guarantee you, you will not walk away with the understanding that the Catholic theological definition of Sacred Tradition is “the living transmission of apostolic teaching, accomplished through the Holy Spirit, through a continuous line of succession until the end of time” (cf CCC #77-78). :wink:


#17

Hi,

I am going to quote your quote.

Seek and you will find, says Jesus. I do my best to truly respect all people. I just do not understand how St. Thomas could say those who propose untruths sought the truth, because Jesus says if you seek Him you will find the Truth. Perhaps, the only way to answer my objection is that if a person continues to seek, they will find. Sound right? I found the quote interesting enough to ask your thoughts! :slight_smile:

Any thoughts?


#18

Thank you for such an indepth analysis… and all of those Traditions continue to grow…

It seems there is some overlap between big T and small T tradition? Based on your list… prayer being one of them. I like the way you tried to explain it though. I am a sort list and database guy myself!


#19

Thank you for clarifying!!! I believe you get the gist of my question and have answered well.


#20

WELL SAID… That is what i was trying to get across to my friend.


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