I have been often asked to explain the place of the Tradition in the life of the Church. There is nowhere near enough space to do that properly here so I am not even going to try. However, I will call to mind a few points that might help us begin to understand its role.

When we remember the lives of people like Peter and Paul we remember what they have done for the life of the Church many years ago. The Church is not a static entity. It is alive and active. It is constantly being added to in many different ways, yet, at the same time, it is the one a same Church that Jesus initiated nearly 2000 years ago! How can this be the case?

There is a foundational deposit of faith that is the Tradition (big ‘T’) of the Church. This foundational deposit covers many areas of theology such as the nature of Christ, the nature of the Church itself, the person of the Holy Spirit and many more. There are also traditions (little ‘t’) that are constantly coming and going such as various devotions, aspects of the cult of the saints and so on.

Sts Peter and Paul contributed immensely to the Traditions of the Church not least of all through their writings. The Scriptures are a part of the Tradition of the Church and as such will remain normative for the Church’s life forever. However, it was the Church, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who decided what texts were to be included and what were to be left out of the Canon of Scriptures. Thus we can see that there is an interdependent relationship between these two aspects of the Church’s life. The Second Vatican Council confirmed this in its description of the Church flowing from the double spring of Tradition and the Scriptures.

The Church will continue to benefit form the Traditions laid down by our apostolic forbears as she continues to seek to proclaim the Gospel to the world. We will not discover any more new truths regarding salvation (revelation necessary for salvation was completed at the death of the last apostle). However, we must, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, try to find new ways to express the Church’s traditions so that we can challenge the world to turn back to the Gospel as the supreme norm of human life. The Traditions of the Church will always be there. How we understand them and express them has and will continue to change through the ages. Let us pray that we will remain faithful to the true deposit of faith bequeathed to us in the lives of people like Sts Peter and Paul.

Do I strive hard to think of new ways to present the Gospel to those around me or do I leave that job up to others?

Lord Jesus, give me an unquenchable fire in my heart for the salvation of the world. Help me to understand my faith more clearly so that I will be better able to explain it to others. Lord, I want to serve you. Show me your will for my life and grant me the grace to follow it.