MOSAIC Spring 2015 - Page 7

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.” This is the task of faithfully handing on without diminution or adulteration the “deposit of faith”—paratheke in the Greek of the New Testament, which means that which has been handed over as a trust. The Role of the Magisterium The Church is a fully human body, the result of a genuine incarnation in time and space. Thus, the task of passing on the deposit of faith intact belongs to a “living teaching office,” the Magisterium (DV, no. 10). This office belongs to the bishops, in union with the pope, whose commission is not to rule over the word of God but to serve 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,” in order to draw “from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed” (DV, no. 10). It belongs to the Magisterium to maintain, with the help of the Holy Spirit, the integrity of the deposit of faith so to hand it on in its integrity. At the same time, it falls to the Magisterium to discern the difference between what genuinely belongs to the deposit of faith and what might be a venerable and valuable custom, but not essential to the gospel. Distribution of ashes at the beginning of a forty-day season of penitence is not essential, but the call to repentance is. As a living institution, the Church grows and develops. She learns, gains new insights, and moves forward. Tradition is stable but not inert. The deposit of faith has been handed on whole and entire, but the Church’s penetration of it grows, through contemplation, study and the guidance of the Holy Spirit through time, until, as Dei Verbum no. 7 expresses, “she is brought finally to see Him as He is, face to face (see 1 John 3:2).” Dr. John Yocum is an adjunct instructor of theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. He is a leader in the Servants of the Word brotherhood in North America. St. Cyril of Jerusalem Defender of the Creed B ecause of his deep understanding of the Faith, St. Cyril of Jerusalem (313386) was asked by his bishop to give catechetical teachings to catechumens. In his Fifth Catechetical Lecture, St. Cyril gives an apt illustration of the relation between Scripture and Tradition as embodied in the Nicene Creed. He points out, as does St. Irenaeus before him, that the gospel must be able to be passed on in unwritten form; otherwise, how would the illiterate (the great majority of those in the ancient world) ever have been evangelized? He further shows how the Creed, a paradigmatic specimen of the Church’s tradition, passes on the true interpretation of Scripture, and Scripture proves the content of the Creed. (St. Cyril attended the Council of Constantinople in 381, where the Nicene Creed of 325 was ratified and the Arian heresy condemned.) “For since all cannot read the Scriptures, some being hindered from knowing them by lack of education [here primarily meaning illiteracy], and others by a lack of time [for careful study], in order that the soul may not perish from ignorance, we summarize the whole doctrine of the Faith in a few lines. . . . For the articles of the Faith were not composed as seemed good to men; but the most important points collected out of all the Scriptures make up one complete teaching of the Faith. “Take heed then, brethren, and hold fast the traditions which ye now receive.” shms.edu 5