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Catechism Project, #74-79

Now we start getting into, as one of my friends on plurk put it, the “interesting stuff”.  Up to now we’ve been dealing with topics that are largely uncontested among Christians of most denominations – today that changes a little.  No, actually a lot.  But I get ahead of myself.

God ‘desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’: (1 Tim 2:4) that is, of Christ Jesus.  Christ must be proclaimed to all nations and individuals, so that this revelation may reach to the ends of the earth” (CCC #74).  One thing we can all agree on is that if God wants something, He makes sure to create situations where whatever it is He wants can happen.  Christ commanded his Apostles to go out and preach the Good News to all the world, and immediately began what we know as the oral tradition in the Church.  The Apostles preached what they learned from Christ Himself and charged others with proclaiming that same truth of which they had become the stewards and guardians.  Only later did the Apostles set their teachings to writing as the necessity of doing so to ensure the continued continuity in proclaiming this Good News.

Many of our Protestant brethren who hold to a Sola Scriptura belief have issues dealing with what the above necessarily implies.  First, that there is an oral tradition parallel to and older than the written tradition.  The classic arguments against Sola Scriptura are well documented across the Internet and I’d rather not repeat them here in what could only be a diluted form.  The second issue many people simply cannot (or at least will not) admit is the clear creation of an institutional structure headed by the Apostles and charged with protecting and proclaiming the truths revealed by Christ as understood by the Apostles and the Church of which Christ is the head.  This is well recapitulated in CCC #77:

“In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors.  They gave them ‘their own position of teaching authority.'”  (DV 7)  Indeed, “the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time.” (DV 8)

You can see in this just a hint of what a great gift to each of us is the Church.  Without it, and without its protection by the Holy Spirit, the teachings of Christ would have been corrupted to suit the desires of the day or even worse lost to time entirely.  It is by the beautiful gift of the Church that Christ has ensured His teachings continue on to our day and beyond and by the protection of the Holy Spirit that they remain intact and pure despite the pressures of potentates and challenges of critics.

My Diocese just this week celebrated the installation of her new Bishop, the tenth Bishop in her history.  It is at times like this that we as Catholics have a great opportunity to reflect on the wondrous gift we have and the miracle it is that she has survived.  Perhaps this would be a good time, if you are a Catholic, to look up the lineage of your Bishop and realize that they all can, through sometimes many twists and turns, trace it all the way back to the Apostles through one laying on of hands after another.

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