Message from Father William Bartoul
My dear Brothers Knights,
The foundations of our Catholic faith are Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Most Protestants use only Sacred Scripture (the Bible, sola scriptura). But Catholics, the Orthodox Churches and some mainline Protestants use Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.
Catholics place the highest value on God’s revealed Truths. Those revealed Truths are His Word to us. We believe that the Word of God comes to us in two forms. The written Word known as Sacred Scripture (the Bible) and the spoken Word known as Sacred Tradition.
Here are some important things to remember about Sacred Tradition or God’s spoken Word. It’s obvious that before the Word was written, It was first spoken. God first said, “Let there be light,” and later on, the divinely inspired author wrote those words on paper. Jesus first spoke His lessons to us. He didn’t dictate to any scribes. In fact, none of the Gospels were written during Jesus’ life on earth. Here are some dates of interest: Traditionally Jesus died in 33 AD, the earliest Gospel (Matthew) was written between 40 and 50 AD, the other three Gospels were written between 53 and 100 AD. Also, Luke and Mark weren’t Apostles – most of their information on what Jesus said and did wasn’t their first-hand eyewitness account; rather, their information was handed down to them by others who were witnesses. Now is a good time to remember what Tradition means: to hand down. The unwritten or spoken Gospel was handed down, preached and demonstrated, by the Apostles well before the Gospels were ever written.
In the Old Testament, things happened and were spoken long before they were written down. So, too, in the New Testament, Jesus preached and worked His miracles, died on the Cross, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven long before anyone wrote it down. No one took notes while He preached. Sacred Tradition predates and precedes Sacred Scripture, but both come from the same source: God.
Two points of great value: (1) we believe that Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition are inspired by the Holy Spirit…without error to their truths, (2) Sacred Tradition is not like human traditions that can be changed.
Here are some examples of Sacred Tradition which were later included in Sacred Scripture: before it was written down, the Apostles baptized, confirmed with the Holy Spirit, taught about the Trinity, Redemption, the Apostles’ Creed, they anointed the Sick, and laid hands on those men receiving Holy Orders, etc. The Holy Eucharist, the Mass, is from Sacred Tradition. Think about it: the Bible only tells us of the one meal that Jesus shared with His Apostles yet how we carry it on, and the fact that we do it at all, is a product of Sacred Tradition – it is what the Apostles taught and practiced. We have writings from some of the students of St. John the Apostle; Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp who in turn taught Irenaeus.
Sacred Tradition gives the insights of the early Church Fathers; the Apostles and their students. For further study, you may want to look into “Patristics”; the early Church Fathers.
Your Foundations Inspector,