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Tradition and Reform
Catholic Exchange ^ | 09-04-06 | Marcellino D'Ambrosio

Posted on 09/04/2006 9:27:10 AM PDT by Salvation

Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D. by Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.

Other Articles by Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.
Tradition and Reform
09/04/06


One of the great battle cries of the Protestant Reformation was “sola scriptura!” It seemed to many that the problem with the Catholic Church over the centuries was that it had added all sorts of practices, customs and doctrines.

The “Reformers” read Jesus’ critique of the Pharisees’ traditions in this Sunday’s Gospel and thought they’d recognized the same pharisaical approach in the Church of their day. The solution, it seemed, was simple: Let’s purify the Church by ditching all these traditions and keep the Bible alone.

But if we read this portion of the Bible closely, the Lord is not telling us that tradition is a dirty word. His Apostle Paul, in fact, tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 to “hold fast to the traditions you received from us, either by our word or by letter.”

“Tradition” simply means something that is handed or passed on from one person to another, one generation to another. One question that needs to be asked in the case of any particular “tradition” is where it comes from. How we value it depends on its origin. Jesus? His Apostles? Some pious believers of some bygone era? The traditions Paul passed down were divine (from the Lord) and apostolic traditions, like the meaning and importance of the Eucharist (1 Cor 11:23-34) or the death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor 15:3-11) and so were of the utmost importance.

The traditions of the Pharisees were quite a different matter. They were not of themselves evil. But they were pious customs of human origin passed down to support the living out of the law. Unfortunately, the Pharisees seemed incapable of distinguishing divine law from its human support system. Worse than that, they actually used pious customs as loopholes to help them get around the difficult demands of God’s law.

If you get your Bible out and read the full text of Mark chapter 7, you’ll get a clearer picture of this. Everyone knows that when God gave Moses and the Israelites the Ten Commandments, He meant business. The fourth commandment, "Honor your father and mother," means not just that young kids ought to do what their parents tell them, but that adult children should provide for the financial needs of aging parents, assuring they live out their declining years in honor and dignity. But the Pharisees found a religious custom that absolved them from this weighty responsibility. They “dedicated” their money to God and thereby “protected” it from being able to be used to support their needy parents.

It’s not the tradition that’s the problem here, but the deviousness of the human heart that will use piety as an excuse to evade the obligations of true religion, which include, our second reading tells us, looking after orphans and widows and presumably elderly relatives in their distress (Jas 1:27).

And this is exactly Jesus’ point in this Sunday’s Gospel. The kinds of foods we eat don’t make us spiritually impure. No, it is the foul things that come out of the deep recesses of the human heart, wounded by original sin, that separate us from God and each other and lead to all the misery in this world.

The Pharisees thought they’d purify Israel through dietary laws and religious customs. Protestant Reformers of the 16th century thought they could purify the Church by leaving behind ecclesiastical traditions and customs. History has proven both endeavors to be futile.

The answer is simple: Let’s just commit ourselves to radical obedience to God’s Word. Let’s admit our need, our sinfulness, our tendency to make excuses, and humbly, genuinely lay open our lives and hearts before God’s word and listen. As Moses tells us in Deuteronomy (4:1-8) and James tells us in his letter, let’s do more than listen. Let’s really hear and obey. Let’s give ourselves no wiggle room, but act on God’s word, regardless of how much it may cost us.


Dr. D'Ambrosio studied under Avery Cardinal Dulles for his Ph.D. in historical theology and taught for many years at the University of Dallas. He now directs
www.crossroadsinitiative.com, which offers Catholic resources for RCIA, adult faith formation, and teens, with a special emphasis on the Year of the Eucharist, the Theology of the Body, the early Church Fathers, and the sacrament of confirmation.


(This article originally appeared in
Our Sunday Visitor and is used by permission of the author.)



TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Charismatic Christian; Current Events; Eastern Religions; Ecumenism; Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; History; Islam; Judaism; Mainline Protestant; Ministry/Outreach; Moral Issues; Orthodox Christian; Other Christian; Other non-Christian; Prayer; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics; Religion & Science; Skeptics/Seekers; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: catholiccaucus; catholiclist; holytradition; solascriptura
For your information and discussion.
1 posted on 09/04/2006 9:27:10 AM PDT by Salvation
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To: All

Please note -- this is not a "Caucus" thread. (I did not do the dimocrat thing and seek special privileges -- LOL!)

This discussion is open to all, however, I will ping the Catholic Discussion List.


2 posted on 09/04/2006 9:29:06 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: nickcarraway; sandyeggo; Lady In Blue; NYer; american colleen; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ...
Catholic Discussion Ping!

Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Catholic Discussion Ping List.

3 posted on 09/04/2006 9:30:44 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
Referenced radings from this article are contained in the following thead:
Catholic Caucus: Sunday Mass Readings, 09-03-06, Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
4 posted on 09/04/2006 9:34:04 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

I never knew much about solo scriptura as a part of the reformation or how it is used in other religions. But, I always wondered how someone could be expected to read the Bible and to understand its complete meaning. There are so many customs and traditions of Biblical times that are assumed knowledge. Without the church tradition and interpretation, I would miss a vast majority of the meaning.


5 posted on 09/04/2006 12:40:15 PM PDT by ga medic
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To: ga medic

You are so right here.

Why do we bless ourselves with the Sign of the Cross?

Why does the priest wash his hands during the Mass?

There are so many things that are connected with ancient Jewish tradition. (Some of which Christ was trying to debunk in this last week's Gospel when he said it is more important about what is on the inside than what the external Jewish traditions might be.)


6 posted on 09/04/2006 2:12:58 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

Odd, we attended Mass at a parish in a different part of town yesterday...a notoriously liberal and affluent part of the city.

The priest attempted to justify the "charismatic" prayer and singing by citing the readings during his homily.

...and that was right before the prayers of the faithful that included "fair wages" for construction workers, "fair taxation ensuring the most blessed pay their share" and NO REFERENCE to praying for our troops.

This is San Antonio - we have three major military posts here - and NO reference?

/rant


7 posted on 09/04/2006 4:16:01 PM PDT by AlaninSA ("Beware the fury of a patient man." - John Dryden)
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To: AlaninSA

Hey, I agree with you.


8 posted on 09/04/2006 5:14:25 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation; Dumb_Ox; Romulus
In the context of where scripture looks like it contravenes Catholic praxis, I'm looking for thoughts from Catholics on the following passage, quoted in three translations:

Douay-Rheims
Matthew 6: 7 And when you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens. For they think that in their much speaking they may be heard. 8 Be not you therefore like to them, for your Father knoweth what is needful for you, before you ask him.

NIV
Matthew 6: 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

AMP (Amplified Bible)
Matthew 6: 7 And when you pray, do not heap up phrases (multiply words, repeating the same ones over and over) as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their much speaking. [I Kings 18:25-29.] 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

9 posted on 09/04/2006 9:07:46 PM PDT by Anthem (One can not lie their way to the truth.)
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To: Anthem
From The Rosary

Critics, not knowing about the meditation part, imagine the rosary must be boring, uselessly repetitious, meaningless, and their criticism carries weight if you reduce the rosary to a formula. Christ forbade meaningless repetition (Matt. 6:7), but the Bible itself prescribes some prayers that involve repetition. Look at Psalms 136, which is a litany (a prayer with a recurring refrain) meant to be sung in the Jewish Temple. In the psalm the refrain is "His mercy endures forever." Sometimes in Psalms 136 the refrain starts before a sentence is finished, meaning it is more repetitious than the rosary, though this prayer was written directly under the inspiration of God.

10 posted on 09/04/2006 9:10:49 PM PDT by Pyro7480 ("Love is the fusion of two souls in one in order to bring about mutual perfection." -S. Terese Andes)
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To: Pyro7480

My immediate reaction is: Are we Christians or Davidians?


11 posted on 09/04/2006 9:18:07 PM PDT by Anthem (One can not lie their way to the truth.)
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To: Anthem

Huh??


12 posted on 09/04/2006 9:18:21 PM PDT by Pyro7480 ("Love is the fusion of two souls in one in order to bring about mutual perfection." -S. Terese Andes)
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To: Anthem

How does this tie into the topic of tradition and Reform?


13 posted on 09/04/2006 9:25:56 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Pyro7480
Maybe I should have said "Christians or Jews", as I wasn't refering to the Koresh cult. The point is why look past what Jesus taught for justification of what looks like a contravention of his teaching?

The interesting thing (to me) is that Jesus' teaching on this prevents the short circuiting of our reasoning faculties in our connection with God.

14 posted on 09/04/2006 9:27:28 PM PDT by Anthem (One can not lie their way to the truth.)
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To: Salvation

Tradition vs. sola Scriptura.


15 posted on 09/04/2006 9:28:25 PM PDT by Anthem (One can not lie their way to the truth.)
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To: Anthem

And your point is??????


16 posted on 09/04/2006 9:30:08 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
I don't get your protest. My point echoes the lead on your aticle, to wit:
One of the great battle cries of the Protestant Reformation was “sola scriptura!” It seemed to many that the problem with the Catholic Church over the centuries was that it had added all sorts of practices, customs and doctrines. [emphasis added]

17 posted on 09/04/2006 9:32:27 PM PDT by Anthem (One can not lie their way to the truth.)
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To: Anthem

So I am assuming that you support the Bible only?

The nest two paragraphs continue to point to Holy Tradition.

** The “Reformers” read Jesus’ critique of the Pharisees’ traditions in this Sunday’s Gospel and thought they’d recognized the same pharisaical approach in the Church of their day. The solution, it seemed, was simple: Let’s purify the Church by ditching all these traditions and keep the Bible alone.

But if we read this portion of the Bible closely, the Lord is not telling us that tradition is a dirty word. His Apostle Paul, in fact, tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 to “hold fast to the traditions you received from us, either by our word or by letter.”**

How do you interpret Paul's words then? What traiditon to you 'hold fast' to?


18 posted on 09/04/2006 9:36:49 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Anthem
Another thing -- there is much scripture that points to tradition; for example, in today's Gospel where Christ read from the Old Testament scroll (Yes, it was a tradition.) yet He was rejected in his home town.
19 posted on 09/04/2006 9:40:31 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
--So I am assuming that you support the Bible only?

No, I could probably be accurately described as heterodox. My point is why are we looking to Paul or David when we have Jesus' words on the subject? I am holding fast to his teaching.

As to Jesus reading Isaiah, he did as part of the traditional service, but his teaching directly after that was anything but traditional, thus their anger. The truth often makes people angry, especially when it shows the error in their tradition. The people in the synagogue revered Elijah, yet Jesus points out that few accepted him in his time.

20 posted on 09/04/2006 10:12:14 PM PDT by Anthem (One can not lie their way to the truth.)
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To: All
sola scriptura debate between Patrick Madrid and Douglas Jones [Catholic vs Reformed]
21 posted on 09/05/2006 9:04:44 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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