4. Buttress of Holy Living Tradition:
Cruciform Cathedral Diagram Diagram of a Cruciform Cathedral: Top; the Apse, always facing East where the High Altar is located. Left; South Arm, Lady Chapel. Right; North Arm, Angel's Chapel. + part, The Great Crossing. Bottom, Narthax, always facing West.

To best appreciate the Living Tradition of our Faith recall from Origen how the formerly barbaric sentiments in the Old Testament have been transformed into spiritual meanings by the Resurrection of Christ. We do not slay the Canaanites (or other human beings) but rather the spiritual Canaanites who are the invisible forces of the devil for, as St. Paul tells us, "we wrestle not against flesh and blood".


We shall take the picture of the legend of St. Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland as our representative window. It is, of course, an allegorical picture -- the snakes represent the evil forces being driven out of this formerly pagan country by the preaching of Christ's Resurrection, the Good News. Now, beginning with the apostles and through their early followers and later the first great teachers, the Fathers of the ancient church, Christians read not a cruel tribal account of the Hebrews but rather an allegorized one transformed by the Holy Spirit.

St Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland NOTHING IN MYSELF
God's might to direct me,
God's power to protect me,
God's wisdom for learning,
God's eye for discerning,
God's ear for my hearing,
God's Word for my clearing.
--- Saint Patrick

From the Psalms -- "Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones."

To speak this literally (or any other texts of cruelty and genocide) is to be unchristian, brutal, and barbaric. This does not question that such horrendous things happened nor is it a to judge what men felt God had ordered against an utterly wicked society. But we are children of the Resurrection and see these accounts as a warfare against the unseen demons who incite wickedness into earthly history -- such texts must be to us holy allegories or else we may not reverence them as true Scripture.

Thus: Happy are we who, in the light of Thy Resurrection, cast down Satan's thoughts which he so cunningly steals into our minds and hearts. Let the diabolic cruelties, the devilish meanesses, violences, and immoralities which are all his "little ones" be dashed by us against the Rock of Ages. Alleluia!

Begone (name the evil thoughts) in the Name of Christ, by the power of His Resurrection. Amen
by the power of His Incarnation, Begone Satan!
by the power of His passion and death, Begone Satan!
by the power of His Ascension and coming again in glory!, Begone Satan!


In my humble opinion the bishops of the Second Vatican Council expressed wonderfully what we Christians mean by the Living Tradition. Their words are well worth our study and meditation. I have excerpted from the appropriate document of that council "On Revelation":

The words of the holy Fathers witness to the presence of this living tradition, whose wealth is poured into the practice and life of the believing and praying Church. Through the same tradition the Church's full canon of the sacred books is known, and the sacred writings themselves are more profoundly understood and unceasingly made active in her; and thus God, who spoke of old, uninterruptedly converses with the bride of His beloved Son; and the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel resounds in the Church, and through her, in the world, leads unto all truth those who believe and makes the Word of Christ dwell abundantly in them (see Col. 3:16).

9. Hence there exists a close connection and communication between sacred tradition and sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For sacred Scripture is the Word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, while sacred tradition takes the Word 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, so that led by the light of the Spirit of truth, they may in proclaiming it preserve this Word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known. Consequently it is not from sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence

10. Sacred tradition and sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the Word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit the entire holy people united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the Apostles, in the common life, in the breaking of the bread and in prayers (see Acts 8:42, Greek text), so that holding to, practicing and professing the heritage of the faith, it becomes on the part of the bishops and faithful a single common effort.

But the task of authentically interpreting the Word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the Word of God, but serves 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; it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.

It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God's most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.

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