What is the source of our tradition?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread
Understanding Catholicism begins with our understanding of "Tradition."
Since I joined the Church about ten years ago, I've noticed a fundamental difference of opinion between different "camps," both from within and "outside" the Catholic church. This dissagreement seems to be extremely prevelant by the regular participants in this chat room. These dissagreements stem from differint viewpoints on our basis for sacred tradition.
I realise that I could never change someone's point of view if they are already Catholic and set in their ways . . . but for someone new to the church or still sitting on the outside looking in, I would like to share a point of view, which might shed light on the source of dissagrements shared here.
I also feel that it is a shame that such a simple clarification of tradition has never been precisely defined in our church population. Why is it allowed to fester. In our own church, there are individuals who silently harbor resentment toward the church and believe that the church as a whole has been led astray from what is "pure." It seems to me that a simple clarification of tradition would help to keep us all on the same page, focused on "things" of true importance as we carry out our call to share what we have in our church.
Tradition has different meanings to different Catholics. It seems to me that for traditional (pre-Vatican II, cradle Catholics) Catholics; Catholics who persist in believing that Vatican II compromised or wounded our church, tradition includes, “all things Catholic,” the liturgy, the Church, the vestments, the paintings, the prayers, everything that is Catholic is a part of the Church’s tradition.
For Catholics who believe that Vatican II refocused our church. Tradition with a big T is what Jesus gave us. He gave us his life, his teachings, his miracles, his parables. He gave us a new way of "looking at God," and he gave us a new way of "looking at the world." He gave us his Apostles or disciples and his followers who formed the early church and he gave us the Spirit. All the other "things" of the church came from that simple beginning.
It’s important to remember, when we have discussions about the church, that the "church wasn’t born out of the bible, the bible was born out of the church and her original "Tradition." Our church tradition doesn’t come from the Bible, it comes from Jesus, it comes from his apostles, 12 simple men with very humble backgrounds and it comes from the Holy Spirit.
By the same token, our liturgy, our prayers, our laws and our rules are not a part of "sacred tradition," they exist only to serve our "sacred tradition" . . . which is:
Jesus - His Apostles - His Followers - and The Holy Spirit, who continues to live in his church to lead us and guide us and keep us from "going astray."
-- Leon (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 06, 2003
Every church, indeed every human institution which has been in existence for an extended period of time, has its traditions - ways of doing things that have developed over time, which contribute to achieving the stated goals of the institution. Such traditional norms serve as guides for the daily life of the body. However, the requirements of the body may change over time, and some such traditions may have to be altered in order to continue to be useful to a changing population in a changing world.
This is the kind of tradition that was under discussion in Matthew 15 ... "Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread. And He answered and said to them, "Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? (Matthew 15:2-3)
and in Galatians 1 ... "I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions." (Galatians 1:14)
However, the Church also possesses Apostolic Tradition, or "Tradition with a capital T". This does not exist in all human institutions. It does not exist in all religions. It exists only in Christianity, found in its fullness in the Holy Catholic Church, and partially present in other Christian Churches, having been brought there from the Catholic Church. Apostolic Tradition consists of everything Jesus Christ taught the Apostles. As such, it actually includes all genuine Christian teaching, since Jesus originally delivered all of His teaching in the form of oral Tradition, and the Apostles initially passed on His teaching solely in that same form.
This is the Tradition Paul referred to in writing to the Church in Corinth ... "Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you." (1 Corinthians 11:2)
and the Church in Thessalonica ... "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us" (2 Thessalonians 2:15)
Obviously, Paul was not referring here to revered customs which had gradually developed over the centuries. What he was teaching was new material, which had first been presented by Christ, only a few years earlier - nothing "traditional" in the usual sense of the word. Eventually, the Apostles and other early leaders put some of this oral Tradition into writing, and the Church assembled some of these writings into a book, declaring the contents of that book divinely inspired. However, this collection of sacred writings was not intended to be a complete handbook of Christianity. The teaching of the Church, which had been the source of the material included in the book, was still the central means by which the Tradition of the Apostles was passed on to others; and the fullness of Christian life, the fullness of Apostolic Tradition, was what the Church continued to pass on, not just those portions which had been included in the book.
Today we speak of Sacred Tradition as that portion of Apostolic teaching which was not spelled out in the letters and gospels which comprise the Bible. And we speak of Sacred Scripture as that portion which is clearly delineated in the written works. But it is just as valid to speak of Oral Tradition and Written Tradition, just as Paul did in the above message to the Thessalonians. Both are necessarily the Word of God, since the entire Word of God was originally oral Tradition. Surely the Apostles' setting some of it down on parchment did not invalidate the rest.
-- Paul (PaulCyp@cox.net), October 06, 2003.
Very well said Paul. I'm going to copy your reply to my personal notes, for use the next time I teach on the topic. Your influence here has been a blessing and a centering voice.
-- Leon (email@example.com), October 07, 2003.
-- Horst (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 07, 2003.
Paul, --It's helpful here to add one more insight to your fine work:
The Holy Spirit is Who gives Tradition it's validity and eternal trustworthiness within Christ's Church. It will not fail nor mislead for the ages, because the Holy Spirit is our Advocate. Nothing God teaches can deceive His Church. Outside His Church, however, this is a false hope for many. They may expect every bit as much help from the Holy Spirit, but He won't sustain them. There is no tradition that lives long outside the Catholic Church.
-- eugene c. chavez (email@example.com), October 07, 2003.