Tradition – The Handing on of Faith
St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians:
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, ESV).”
It would have been very easy for St. Paul to write the main truth directly:
Christ died for us, he was buried, and he rose from the dead.
But he adds three features to this:
1) that this truth is of first importance,
2) twice he mentions this is “in accordance with the Scriptures”, and
3) he delivered what he had received.
St. Paul is giving us, here, a model of tradition. Tradition comes from the Latin tradere which means “to hand on.” We have received the Faith, centered on the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Having received this gift, we freely give it.
But we do not give it by our own power! This truth is for us but it is beyond us. It is “in accordance with the Scriptures.” Thus, in written or unwritten form, the actions of God are relayed to us by Scripture and Tradition, guarded by the Magisterium, which we receive and hand on unchanged.
Parents are the First Teachers of the Catholic Faith
You, as parents, are the first teachers of your children in all things. This includes the Faith of the Church. Your children will look to you as the model for how to live their lives, how to navigate the world, and how to prioritize their values.
This can be daunting! Maybe you feel like you never sufficiently received the Faith. Maybe you feel ill-equipped to pass on the Faith. This, of course, does not change the very important duty we all have to pass on the Faith! Know, that you are not alone in this fight! Hopefully, in your local Parish, you have brothers and sisters in Christ who are ready and willing to support you as a parent, grandparent, or godparent.
How to Hand on the Faith
Transmission of the Faith is best done in a mentorship or an apprenticeship, often with one-on-one interactions. If you are just now discovering the treasures of the Church, there are many resources here on Catholic-Link which can help you to understand and to love these great gifts better. If we continue to personally fill ourselves with these treasures and share them with our children, they will encounter Christ and His Church. By God’s grace, we will renew the face of the Earth.
This means modeling the Faith at home. It means living the Catholic Faith in full. Living the Catholic Faith in full means accepting the full gift of the treasures of the Church, cherishing them, professing them, living Parish life, and receiving the pledges of eternal life and future glory in these gifts in a sacramental life and devotional life.
We take our cue from this phenomenal passage from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
This paragraph matches beautifully with Acts 2:42:
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42, ESV).”
The Profession of Faith is the teaching of the Apostles. Living in fraternal sharing is Christian fellowship. Living the Sacred Tradition of the Church is the breaking of bread (early term for the Mass, or the Eucharist) and prayers (both liturgical and devotional) and living each of the seven Sacraments, according to our state in life.
These are the four pillars of the Church, from the very beginning. Do we devote ourselves to the teaching of the apostles, fellowship, the breaking of the bread, and the prayers? Maybe, maybe not. But that is our focus from here on out, if we are to be intentional followers of Jesus Christ, if we are to live the Catholic Faith in full!