Introduction to Catholic Tradition

Introduction to Catholic Tradition

This course gives a survey on the Catholic tradition by examining a series of documents like Lumen Gentium and other documents of Vatican II to show that the Catholic Church does not possess one rite only, but that she embraces all the ancient rites of Christendom and thus her unity consists not in a mechanical uniformity of all her parts, but on the contrary, in their variety, according in one principle and vivified by it. The readings of the documents enable to see the Church’s intent to move always in the direction of unity.

Course code: THEN71

ECTS Credits: 3

Professor: Dr. Jesmond Micallef


The Second Vatican Council ("Vatican II") wrote an important document called "On Divine Revelation" (Dei Verbum in Latin). It's quite readable, and contains definitive teaching on the full meaning of Catholic Tradition.The Council notes the importance of seeing that Catholic Tradition is firmly rooted in the Apostles: it is Christ's whole gift to them, and to us. The Council writes:
In His gracious goodness, God has seen to it that what He had revealed for the salvation of all nations would abide perpetually in its full integrity and be handed on to all generations. Therefore Christ the Lord in whom the full revelation of the supreme God is brought to completion..., commissioned the Apostles to preach to all men that Gospel which is the source of all saving truth and moral teaching, and to impart to them heavenly gifts. 
(Dei Verbum, 7). It is specifically this "commissioning of the Apostles" that is fulfilled in the handing on of Catholic Tradition.
The Apostles dedicated themselves to this mission, and they appointed other faithful men to succeed them and carry on their work. That same passage of Dei Verbum continues:
This commission was faithfully fulfilled by the Apostles who, by their oral preaching, by example, and by observances handed on what they had received from the lips of Christ, from living with Him, and from what He did, or what they had learned through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The commission was fulfilled, too, by those Apostles and apostolic men who under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing. 
(Dei Verbum, 7)
The catholic church takes ecumenism seriously since it is the command of Jesus to be united in one body. It is the command that she received at the very beginning and which it tries to implement so that Within the Catholic field all will become witness of unity in diversity, and within Orthodoxy they are witness of Catholicity. Their function is to bring Orthodoxy as well as the Latin West to appreciate the Universality of the Church.”