Dei Verbum

Last week the section on Dei Verbum finished with reference to the three-fold statement of Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium (teaching authority). The word ‘tradition’ here must be looked at very carefully. There is a difference between sacred tradition and traditions through the ages. Every place has traditions and traditional ways of approaching things — the sacred tradition does not include a lot of the local traditions that may feature in churches throughout the world. The tradition is very closely linked to the foundation of scripture and is spoken of in paragraph 8:

“And so the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved by an unending succession of preachers until the end of time. Therefore the Apostles, handing on what they themselves had received, warn the faithful to hold fast to the traditions which they have learned either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15), and to fight in defence of the faith handed on once and for all (see Jude 1:3) (4) Now what was handed on by the Apostles includes everything which contributes toward the holiness of life and increase in faith of the peoples of God; and so the Church, in her teaching, life and worship, perpetuates and hands on to all generations all that she herself is, all that she believes.

This tradition which comes from the Apostles develops in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. (5) For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down. This happens through the contemplation and study made by believers, who treasure these things in their hearts (see Luke, 2:19, 51) through a penetrating understanding of the spiritual realities which they experience, and through the preaching of those who have received through Episcopal succession the sure gift of truth. For as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfilment in her.