Reply To: What is Tradition?

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I scanned through the postings rather quickly, so forgive me if this was covered before. As the late Abp. Fulton Sheen used to say, “In the US there are but a handfull of people who hate what the Catholic Church teaches, and millions who hate what they think it teaches.”

Tradition, comes from the latin word Traditio, meaning, “that which is handed down.” The Roman Catholic Church, (as do the Orthodox) differentiate between three types of Tradition.

Written Tradition: the inspired books of the Bible, (All the books, not just the books that Martin Luther and his compatriots tossed out of the Bible because they did not agree with his Theology).

Oral Tradition: those things taught to the Apostles that the Sacred Scriptures illude to when we read that after preaching to the crowds, our Blessed Lord took His Apostles aside and taught them further. Also in the last verses of the Gopsel according to St. John, where we read: “These and many other things did our Lord say and do, if they where all written down, not all the books, (libraries) of the world could hold them.”

A third is usually spelled with a lower case T, this tradition, are the rites and customs surrounding the everyday practices and histories passed down to us from those who upheld the Faith before us, Things like clerical celebacy, abstaining from meat on Fridays etc. Things that can be changed by lawful authorities in the Church. As these traditions are man made, (with the authority given the Church by Christ) they can also be changed by men. The first two cannot be changed, as they where not given or made by men. The last a competent authority in the Church can change.

One thing many people forget is that when changes where made in the past, lets say to abstaining from meat on Fridays; Pope Paul VI praised those who kept the old customs, and for those who no longer abstained instructed them to find some other suitable way of remembering our Lord’s great action on Good Friday by marking the day with some other form or mortification or charity. When Pope Paul VI changed the Eucharistic fast to one hour, and Pope Pius XII to Three hours (when he also permitted Masses to be offered after Noontime), from the traditional Midnight fast, they both praised those who could and did keep the old midnight fast, and encouraged them to do so.

Sorry I write so much gang!