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Monday, February 18, 2013

Catechism of the Catholic Church - Proclaim the Gospel to Every Creature - CCC 50 -141

Catechism of the Catholic Church*

The Profession Faith
Chapter 2 God Comes to Meet Man CCC #50-141

Proclaim the Gospel to Every Creature
CCC #74-141 A Study

"God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth:  that is, of Christ Jesus.  Christ must be procalimed to all nations and individuals, so that this revelation may reach to the ends of the earth:  God graciously arranged that the things he had once revealed for the salvation of all peoples should remain in their entirety, throughout the ages, and be transmitted to all generations." (CCC #74)
This section of the Catechism is rather long, so I have attempted to condense it, focusing on the relationship between Apostolic [Sacred] Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium.

Tradition and Scripture form the Deposit of Faith to which the Magisterium, the teaching portion of the Church, has a duty to protect and hand on to the faithful from generation to generation through Apostolic Succession until the end of time.   

"Go into the whole world and
proclaim the gospel
to every creature
." (Mark 16:15)

Transmission of Divine Revelation 

After the resurrection Jesus appeared to the apostles commissioning them to go out and make disciples of all nations, to proclaim the gospel to every creature, and to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15) In keeping the Lord's command transmission of Divine Revelation through the Gospel was handed down in two ways:
"- orally [Sacred Tradition] by the apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received - whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or whether they learned it at the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
- in writing [Sacred Scripture] by those apostles and other men associated with the apostles who, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, committed the message of salvation to writing." (#77)

"In His goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal Himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will (Ephesians 1:9) by which through Christ, the Word made flesh, man might in the Holy Spirit have access to the Father and come to share in the divine nature (Ephesians 2:18; 2 Peter 1:4).  Through this revelation, therefore, the invisible God (Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17) out of the abundance of His love speaks to men as friends (John 15:14-15) and lives among them in fellowship with Himself."  (#2 Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation - Dei Verbum - Pope Paul VI, 1965**)
Apostolic Succession
In order that the Gospel message would always be preserved and passed on from generation to generation, the Apostles elected successors.  Saint Paul affirms the election of successors to the Apostles in 1 Timothy 2:2. "And what you heard from me [Paul] through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well."
In the 1st Century, Pope Saint Clement I, the 4th Bishop of Rome, stated "Through countryside and city [the apostles] preached, and they appointed their earliest converts, testing them by the Spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers." 
In order that you and I would receive the Gospel 2000 years later, "the apostles left bishops as their sucessors. They gave them their own position of teaching be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time. This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit is called Sacred Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it."  (CCC #78; #7 Dei Verbum)

"Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast
to the traditions that you were taught,
either by an oral statement
or by a letter of ours
." (2 Thessalonians 2:15)

Apostolic Tradition

The first Christians did not have a written New Testament. Though the majority of the New Testament was written in the second half of the 1st Century, the complete list of the canonical books of the Old Testament and New Testament would not be established until the Council of Rome in 382.

So what did the early Christian's do to pass on the Gospel?  They passed on the faith by oral Tradition.  The word tradition actually means handing down something from one person to another.  The tradition which was handed down fom the Apostles developed in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Some wonder if the handing down of tradition is scriptural.  The answer is, absolutely.  Saint Paul testified to this mode of transmitting the faith in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians, I Corinthians 11:23, 15:3 and Second Timothy 1:11-14, 2:1-2.   

"Sacred Scripture is the speech of God
as it is put down in writing under the
breath of the Holy Spirit
."  (#81)

Sacred Scripture

 "In order to reveal himself to men...God speaks to them in human words...Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only one single Word, his one Utterance in whom he expresses himself completely." (# 101-102)

"In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the propets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a Son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe."  (Hebrews 1:1-2)

"For this reason, the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord's Body...In Sacred Scripture, the Church constantly finds her nourishment and her strength,  for she welcomes it not as a human word, but as what it really is, the word of God.  In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them." (# 103-104)

God is the author of Sacred Scripture (#105).  He inspired the human authors to compose the sacred books (#106).  The inspired books teach the truth faithfully and without error (#107).

"Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture
make up a single Sacred Deposit
of the Word of God
." (# 97)

The Connection

"There exists a close connection and communication between Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture.  For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end.  For Sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, while Sacred Tradition takes the word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and hands it on to their successors in its full purity, so that led by the light of the Spirit of truth, they may in proclaming it preserve this word of God faithfully...Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture form one Sacred Deposit of the Word of God, committed to the Church. " (#9-10 Dei Verbum)

"The task of interpreting the Word of God
authentically has been entrusted solely
to the Magisterium of the Church,
that is, to the Pope and to the bishops
in communion with him
."  (# 100)

The Magisterium 
The Magisterium is the teaching office of the Church made up of the Pope and the Bishops who teach in union with him. It is their task to authentically interpret the Word of God, whether written or orally handed on.

The authority of the Magisterium is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.  Their teaching is not above the Word of God, but serves it, “teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one Deposit of Faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.” (CCC #95 #10 Dei Verbum)

The Three Legged Stool

In other words, the Deposit of Faith of the Catholic Church which consists of Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, are to be guarded and interpreted with the help of the Holy Spirit and passed down faithfully by the Bishops in union with the Pope.

Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium have been equated with a three legged stool, each leg having its own specific function.  If one were to become loose or crack the stool would become unstable and fall over.

"It is clear, therefore, that Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church [the Magisterium], in accord with God's most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls." (#10 Dei Verbum)
Next: The Profession of Faith
Chapter 3 Man's Response to God - CCC #142 - 184
*Catechism of the Catholic Church Vatican site
**Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum
Jesus Calls Saint Peter and Andrew - Duccio di Buoninsegna
The Calling of Sts Peter and Andrew- Caravaggio
Apostles Receive Their Mission - Jean Fouquet
Saint Peter Receives Keys to Kingdom -  Perugino Pietro
Decent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost - Duccio di Buoninsegna
Original Post of Catechism of the Catholic Church with index

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