Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Faith Transmitted To All Generations

God desires that all men know the truth of Jesus Christ. Before He ascended into heaven, Christ Himself gave the Church a mission, to go and “make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). Therefore, all Christians must proclaim the truth of the Gospel, fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, “so that all men can freely make a decision for Christ” (YOUCAT).

The Gospel has been transmitted in two ways. It was first transmitted orally by the Apostles, through their fellowship, their preaching, their teaching, and the guidance they gave. Second, it was transmitted in writing, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The latter we see clearly in the Sacred Scriptures, but the former way is somewhat less tangible. This is why the apostles appointed bishops as successors, so that this teaching could be handed on and preserved with authority. Guided by the Holy Spirit, apostolic succession makes the “living transmission” of the Gospel possible (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 78). This way, the “Father’s self-communication made through his Word in the Holy Spirit, remains present and active in the Church,” or as the Catechism puts it, God is able to continue speaking with the Spouse of His Son (79).

As Catholics, we accept and honor both Sacred Scripture and Tradition. For “there exists a close connection and communication” between them, and both, “flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end” (Dei Verbum, 9). This end is the fruitful transmission of the Word of God in its entirety throughout the world.

While the “Sacred deposit” of the faith (depositum fidei) was entrusted to the whole Church, the authentic interpretation of the Word of God has been entrusted to the Magisterium, or “the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter” (85). The Magisterium is at once a guardian and a servant of the Word of God, transmitting only what has already been handed on. We faithful remain open to this authority, allowing ourselves to be securely guided by dogmas defined by the apostles and their successors.

We also have a role in handing on revealed truth, for when we are anointed by the Holy Spirit, we are given a supernatural sense of faith (sensus fidei). Because of this, the “faithful as a whole cannot err in faith, because Jesus promised his disciples that he would send them the Spirit of truth and keep them in the truth” (YOUCAT, 13). Individual members can fall away, but the whole Church always remains in God’s truth.

As a Church, then, let us turn to Scripture and Tradition during this Year of Faith, so that we may grow more deeply and preach more wisely, the revelation of Jesus Christ that has been entrusted to us.

This is our fourth Year of Faith reflection on the Catechism of the Catholic Church here on Open Wide the Doors. See our first post here

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