Sacred tradition

Sacred tradition, or holy tradition, is a theological term used in some Christian traditions, primarily those claiming apostolic succession, such as the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Assyrian, and Anglican traditions, to refer to the foundation of the doctrinal and spiritual authority of the Christian Church and of the Bible.

Christians believe that the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles were preserved in the scriptures as well as by word of mouth and were handed on. This perpetual handing on of the tradition is called the "Living Tradition"; it is believed to be the faithful and constant transmission of the teachings of the Apostles from one generation to the next. That "includes everything which contributes towards the sanctity of life and increase in faith of the People of God; and so the Church, in her teaching, life and worship [the Creeds, the Sacraments, the Magisterium, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass], perpetuates and hands on to all generations all that she herself is, all that she believes."[1] The Deposit of Faith (Latin: fidei depositum) refers to the entirety of divine revelation. According to Roman Catholic theology, two sources of revelation which constitute a single "Deposit of Faith", meaning that the entirety of divine revelation and the Deposit of Faith is transmitted to successive generations in scripture and sacred tradition (through the teaching authority and interpretation of the Church's Magisterium (which consists of the Church's bishops, in union with the Pope), typically proceeding synods and ecumenical councils).

In Eastern Orthodox theology, Holy Tradition is the inspired revelation of God and catholic teaching (Greek katholikos, "according to the whole") of the Church, not an independent source of dogmatic authority to be regarded as a supplement to biblical revelation. Tradition is rather understood as the fullness of divine truth proclaimed in the scriptures, preserved by the apostolic bishops and expressed in the life of the Church through such things as the Divine Liturgy and the Holy Mysteries (Eucharist, baptism, marriage, etc.), the Creed and other doctrinal definitions of the First seven ecumenical councils, canonical Christian iconography, and the sanctified lives of godly men and women.

According to the Christian theological understanding of these Churches, scripture is the written part of this larger tradition, recording (albeit sometimes through the work of individual authors) the community's experience of God or more specifically of Jesus. Thus, the Bible must be interpreted within the context of sacred tradition and within the community of the church. That is in contrast to many Protestant traditions, which teach that the Bible alone is a sufficient basis for all Christian teaching (a position known as sola scriptura).

Usage of term

The word tradition is taken from the Latin trado, tradere, meaning "to hand over, to deliver, to bequeath". In the English language, "sacred tradition" is more likely to be used in reference to Catholicism and "holy tradition" in reference to Eastern Orthodoxy, although the two terms are interchangeable in meaning.

History

Among the earliest examples of the theological appeal to tradition is the response of early orthodox Christianity to Gnosticism, a movement that used some Christian scripture as the basis for its teachings.[2] Irenaeus of Lyons held that 'rule of faith' (regula fidei) is preserved by a church through its historical continuity (of interpretation and teaching) with the Apostles.[3] Tertullian argued that although interpretations founded on a reading of all Holy Scripture are not prone to error, tradition is the proper guide.[4] Athanasius held that Arianism fell into its central error by not adhering to tradition.[5]

The Second Vatican Council taught on tradition, scripture, and magisterium in Dei verbum, n. 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 2, 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. 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.

Thus, all of the teachings of the Catholic Church come from either Tradition or Scripture, or from the magisterium interpreting Tradition and Scripture. These two sources, Tradition and Scripture, are viewed and treated as one source of Divine Revelation, which includes both the deeds of God and the words of God:

This plan of revelation is realized by deeds and words having in inner unity: the deeds wrought by God in the history of salvation manifest and confirm the teaching and realities signified by the words, while the words proclaim the deeds and clarify the mystery contained in them. (Dei verbum, 2)

The magisterium has a role in deciding authoritatively which truths are a part of sacred tradition.

In the Catholic and Orthodox churches

Illustration for Papal Infallibility page 131 Christ in His Church by Lucas Caspar Businger
1881 illustration depicting papal infallibility in a Catholic church history book.

Holy tradition for the Eastern Orthodox is the deposit of faith given by Jesus to the apostles and passed on in the Church from one generation to the next without addition, alteration, or subtraction. Vladimir Lossky described tradition as "the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church."[6] It is dynamic in application yet unchanging in dogma. It is growing in expression yet is always the same in essence. The Eastern Orthodox churches do not regard tradition as something which accrues or expands over time. Rather, Orthodox believe tradition is the faith which Jesus taught to the apostles and which they gave to their disciples without any development or deepening in understanding of the faith. It is merely that faith once delivered as understood within the context of lived history.

The Catholic Church views tradition in much the same terms, as a passing down of that same apostolic faith, but, in a critical difference from the Eastern Orthodox position, Catholicism holds that the faith once delivered continues to deepen and mature over time through the action of the Holy Spirit in the history of the Church and in the understanding of that faith by Christians, all the while staying identical in essence and substance. Thus, the doctrines of the Trinity, the two natures of Christ, the divine motherhood, the Immaculate Conception, and the Assumption of Mary, along with other Catholic dogmas were always part of the orthodoxy of the Church, but were not precisely defined for many years, according to the need for clarification. Moreover, the understanding of these doctrines may continue to grow and be enriched in the future, not only through mystical experience, but through the practice of the sciences of philosophy and theology as guided by the Holy Spirit; exemplified, for instance, by the Scholastics such as Saint Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham in the High Middle Ages. A common metaphor used to explain this position is that of a seed: the acorn itself has neither branches nor leaves, yet once planted in fertile soil, it gradually grows into a tall oak; throughout its lifetime, however, it ever continues to be the same tree that was planted.

According to some, prior to the sixth century, the Church's teachings on morality were incoherent.[7] Catholic researchers such as Bernard Hoose and Mark Jordan have found that claims to a continuous teaching by the Church on matters of sexuality, life and death and crime and punishment are "simply not true". Not only was there "inconsistency, contradiction and even incoherence" in the Church's doctrines but the researchers' work has led them to conclude that "the tradition itself is not the truth guarantor of any particular teaching.".[8] However others disagree and argue differently.

Protestant position

Protestant denominations claim that the Bible alone is the source for Christian doctrine. This position does not deny that Jesus or the apostles preached in person, that their stories and teachings were transmitted orally during the early Christian era, or that truth exists outside of the Bible. For sola scriptura Christians today, however, these teachings are preserved in the Bible as the only inspired medium. Since in the opinion of sola scriptura Christians, other forms of tradition do not exist in a fixed form that remains constant in its transmission from one generation to the next and cannot be referenced or cited in its pure form, there is no way to verify which parts of the "tradition" are authentic and which are not.[a]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ For example, see the debate between James White and Patrick Madrid at vintage.aomin.org

References

  1. ^ http://www.ewtn.com/library/councils/v2revel.htm
  2. ^ McGrath, Alister. 1998. Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. Chapter 1 'The Patristic Period, c. 100–451.'
  3. ^ McGrath. op.cit. pp. 29–30.
  4. ^ McGrath. op.cit. p. 30.
  5. ^ McGrath. op.cit. p. 30.
  6. ^ "Tradition and Traditions", in Leonid Ouspensky and Vladimir Lossky, The Meaning of Icons, (Olten, Switzerland: Urs Graf-Verlag, 1952), 17, in the revised edition (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1982), 15.
  7. ^ Keenan, James F (17 January 2010). A History of Catholic Moral Theology in the Twentieth Century: From Confessing Sins to Liberating Consciences. ISBN 9780826429292.
  8. ^ Keenan, James F (17 January 2010). A History of Catholic Moral Theology in the Twentieth Century: From Confessing Sins to Liberating Consciences. ISBN 9780826429292.

Further reading

  • Agius, George (2005). Tradition and the Church. Rockford, Illinois: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. ISBN 978-0-89555-821-3.
  • Petley, D.A., ed. (1993). Tradition: Received and Handed on: [papers presented at] a Theological Conference held at the [Anglican] Cathedral Church of St. Peter, Charlottetown, P.E.I., 27 June-1st July 1993. Charlottetown, P.E.I.: St. Peter Publications. ISBN 0-921747-18-7

External links

Bible

The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, tà biblía, "the books") is a collection of sacred texts or scriptures. Varying parts of the Bible are considered to be a product of divine inspiration and a record of the relationship between God and humans by Christians, Jews, Samaritans, and Rastafarians.

What is regarded as canonical text differs depending on traditions and groups; a number of Bible canons have evolved, with overlapping and diverging contents. The Hebrew Bible overlaps with the Greek Septuagint and the Christian Old Testament. The Christian New Testament is a collection of writings by early Christians, believed to be mostly Jewish disciples of Christ, written in first-century Koine Greek. Among Christian denominations there is some disagreement about what should be included in the canon, primarily about the Apocrypha, a list of works that are regarded with varying levels of respect.

Attitudes towards the Bible also differ among Christian groups. Roman Catholics, high church Anglicans and Eastern Orthodox Christians stress the harmony and importance of the Bible and sacred tradition, while Protestant churches, including Evangelical Anglicans, focus on the idea of sola scriptura, or scripture alone. This concept arose during the Protestant Reformation, and many denominations today support the use of the Bible as the only infallible source of Christian teaching.

The Bible has been a massive influence on literature and history, especially in the Western World, where the Gutenberg Bible was the first book printed using movable type. According to the March 2007 edition of Time, the Bible "has done more to shape literature, history, entertainment, and culture than any book ever written. Its influence on world history is unparalleled, and shows no signs of abating." With estimated total sales of over 5 billion copies, it is widely considered to be the most influential and best-selling book of all time. As of the 2000s, it sells approximately 100 million copies annually.

Blessed Sacrament

The Blessed Sacrament, also Most Blessed Sacrament, is a devotional name used in the Latin Church of the Catholic Church, as well as in Anglicanism, Lutheranism, Methodism, and the Old Catholic Church, as well as in some of the Eastern Catholic Churches, to refer to the body and blood of Christ in the form of consecrated sacramental bread and wine at a celebration of the Eucharist. In the Byzantine Rite, the terms Holy Gifts and Divine Mysteries are used to refer to the consecrated elements. Christians in these traditions believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharistic elements of the bread and wine and some of them, therefore, practice Eucharistic reservation and adoration. This belief is based on interpretations of both scripture and sacred tradition. The Catholic understanding has been defined by numerous ecumenical councils, including the Fourth Lateran Council and the Council of Trent, which is quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (which explains the meaning of transubstantiation).The largest Portuguese feast in the world is held in New Bedford, Massachusetts in honor of the Blessed Sacrament attracting over 100,000 visitors each year.

Catholic Church

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's "oldest continuously functioning international institution", it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

Catholic theology is based on the Nicene Creed. The Catholic Church teaches that it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church founded by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles, and that the pope is the successor to Saint Peter upon whom primacy was conferred by Jesus Christ. It maintains that it practises the original Christian faith, reserving infallibility, passed down by sacred tradition. The Latin Church, the twenty-three Eastern Catholic Churches, and institutes such as mendicant orders and enclosed monastic orders reflect a variety of theological and spiritual emphases in the church.Of its seven sacraments the Eucharist is the principal one, celebrated liturgically in the Mass. The church teaches that through consecration by a priest the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. The Virgin Mary is venerated in the Catholic Church as Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, honoured in dogmas and devotions. Its teaching includes sanctification through faith and evangelisation of the Gospel as well as Catholic social teaching, which emphasises voluntary support for the sick, the poor, and the afflicted through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The Catholic Church is the largest non-government provider of education and health care in the world.The Catholic Church has influenced Western philosophy, culture, science, and art. Catholics live all over the world through missions, diaspora, and conversions. Since the 20th century the majority reside in the southern hemisphere due to secularisation in Europe, and increased persecution in the Middle East.

The Catholic Church shared communion with the Eastern Orthodox Church until the East–West Schism in 1054, disputing particularly the authority of the pope, as well as with the Oriental Orthodox churches prior to the Chalcedonian schism in 451 over differences in Christology. The Reformation of the 16th century resulted in Protestants breaking away.

From the late 20th century, the Catholic Church has been criticised for its doctrines on sexuality, its refusal to ordain women, as well as the handling of sexual abuse cases involving clergy.

Catholic theology

Catholic theology is the understanding of Catholic doctrine or teachings, and results from the studies of theologians. It is based on canonical scripture, and sacred tradition, as interpreted authoritatively by the magisterium of the Catholic Church. This article serves as an introduction to various topics in Catholic theology, with links to where fuller coverage is found.

Major teachings of the Catholic Church which were discussed in the early councils of the Church are summarized in various creeds, especially the Nicene (Nicene-Constantinopolitan) Creed and the Apostles' Creed. Since the 16th century the church has produced catechisms which summarize its teachings, most recently in 1992.The Catholic Church understands the living tradition of the church to contain the essentials of its doctrine on faith and morals and to be protected from error, at times through infallibly defined teaching. The Church believes in a Spirit-guided revelation in sacred scripture, developed in sacred tradition but entirely out of the original deposit of faith. This developed deposit of faith is protected by the "magisterium" or College of Bishops at ecumenical councils overseen by the pope, beginning with the Council of Jerusalem (c. AD 50). The most recent was the Second Vatican Council (1962 to 1965); twice in history the pope defined a dogma after consultation with all the bishops without calling a council.Formal Catholic worship is ordered by means of the liturgy, which is regulated by church authority. The celebration of the Eucharist, one of seven sacraments, is the center of Catholic worship. The Church exercises control over additional forms of personal prayer and devotion including the Rosary, Stations of the Cross, and Eucharistic adoration, declaring that they should all somehow derive from the Eucharist and lead back to it. The Church community consists of the ordained clergy (consisting of the episcopate, the priesthood, and the diaconate), the laity, and those like monks and nuns living a consecrated life under their constitutions.

According to the Catechism, Christ instituted seven sacraments and entrusted them to the Church. These are Baptism, Confirmation (Chrismation), the Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. The Catholic bishops at the Second Vatican Council, after centuries of celebration of the Mass in Latin, found it salutary to decree:

Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.

Christian tradition

Christian tradition is a collection of traditions consisting of practices or beliefs associated with Christianity. These ecclesiastical traditions have more or less authority based on the nature of the practices or beliefs and on the group in question.

Many churches have traditional practices, such as particular patterns of worship or rites, that developed over time. Deviations from such patterns are sometimes considered unacceptable or heretical. Similarly, traditions can be stories or history that are or were widely accepted without being part of Christian doctrine, e.g., the crucifixion of Saint Peter or the evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in India, which are widely believed to have happened but are not recorded in scripture. Similarly the names of the Magi who visited Jesus at his birth are thought to have been invented much later than the events; they are not considered authentic or obligatory, but can be considered a tradition.

Tradition also includes historic teaching of the recognized church authorities, such as Church Councils and ecclesiastical officials (e.g., the Pope, Patriarch of Constantinople, Archbishop of Canterbury, etc.), and includes the teaching of significant individuals like the Church Fathers, the Protestant Reformers, and the founders of denominations. Many creeds, confessions of faith, and catechisms generated by these bodies, and individuals are also part of the traditions of various bodies.

Council of Trent

The Council of Trent (Latin: Concilium Tridentinum), held between 1545 and 1563 in Trent (or Trento, in northern Italy), was the 19th ecumenical council of the Catholic Church. Prompted by the Protestant Reformation, it has been described as the embodiment of the Counter-Reformation.The Council issued condemnations of what it defined to be heresies committed by proponents of Protestantism, and also issued key statements and clarifications of the Church's doctrine and teachings, including scripture, the Biblical canon, sacred tradition, original sin, justification, salvation, the sacraments, the Mass, and the veneration of saints. The Council met for twenty-five sessions between 13 December 1545 and 4 December 1563. Pope Paul III, who convoked the Council, oversaw the first eight sessions (1545–47), while the twelfth to sixteenth sessions (1551–52) were overseen by Pope Julius III and the seventeenth to twenty-fifth sessions (1562–63) by Pope Pius IV.

The consequences of the Council were also significant in regards to the Church's liturgy and practices. During its deliberations, the Council made the Vulgate the official example of the Biblical canon and commissioned the creation of a standard version, although this was not achieved until the 1590s. In 1565, a year after the Council finished its work, Pius IV issued the Tridentine Creed (after Tridentum, Trent's Latin name) and his successor Pius V then issued the Roman Catechism and revisions of the Breviary and Missal in, respectively, 1566, 1568 and 1570. These, in turn, led to the codification of the Tridentine Mass, which remained the Church's primary form of the Mass for the next four hundred years.

More than three hundred years passed until the next ecumenical council, the First Vatican Council, was convened in 1869.

Dei verbum

Dei verbum, the Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 18 November 1965, following approval by the assembled bishops by a vote of 2,344 to 6. It is one of the principal documents of the Second Vatican Council, indeed their very foundation in the view of one of the leading Council Fathers, Bishop Christopher Butler. The phrase "Dei verbum" is Latin for "Word of God" and is taken from the first line of the document, as is customary for titles of major Catholic documents.

Divino afflante Spiritu

Divino afflante Spiritu ("Inspired by the Holy Spirit") is a papal encyclical letter issued by Pope Pius XII on 30 September 1943 calling for new translations of the Bible from the original languages, instead of the Latin Vulgate of Jerome, which was revised multiple times and had formed the textual basis for all Catholic vernacular translations until then. It inaugurated the modern period of Roman Catholic biblical studies by encouraging the study of textual criticism (or lower criticism), pertaining to text of the Scriptures themselves and transmission thereof (for example, to determine correct readings) and permitted the use of the historical-critical method (or higher criticism), to be informed by theology, Sacred Tradition, and ecclesiastical history on the historical circumstances of the text, hypothesizing about matters such as authorship, dating, and similar concerns. The eminent Catholic biblical scholar Raymond E. Brown described it as a "Magna Carta for biblical progress".

Dogma in the Catholic Church

In the Catholic Church, a dogma is a definitive article of faith (de fide) that has been solemnly promulgated by the college of bishops along with the Pope at an ecumenical council or by the pope alone, when speaking in a statement ex cathedra, in which the magisterium of the Church presents a particular doctrine as necessary for the belief of all Catholic faithful. For example, Christian dogma states that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the basic truth from which salvation and life is derived for Christians. Dogmas regulate the language, how the truth of the resurrection is to be believed and communicated. One dogma is only a small part of the Christian faith, from which it derives its meaning. A dogma of the Catholic Church is defined as "a truth revealed by God, which the magisterium of the Church declared as binding." The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

The Church's Magisterium asserts that it exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging Catholics to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these.

Dogma can also pertain to the collective body of the Church's dogmatic teachings and doctrine. The faithful are required to accept with the divine and Catholic faith everything the Church presents either as solemn decision or as general teaching. Yet not all teachings are dogma. The faithful are only required to accept those teachings as dogma if the Church clearly and specifically identifies them as infallible dogmas.

Not all theological truths have been promulgated as dogmas. A tenet of the faith is that the Bible contains many sacred truths, which the faithful recognize and agree with, but which the Church has not defined as dogma. Most Church teachings are not dogma. Cardinal Avery Dulles pointed out that in the 800 pages of the Second Vatican Council documents, there is not one new statement for which infallibility is claimed.

Glossary of the Catholic Church

This is a glossary of terms used within the Catholic Church.

Panagia Portaitissa

The Panagia Portaitissa (Greek: Παναγία Πορταΐτισσα; Georgian: ივერიის ღვთისმშობლის ხატი) or the Iviron Theotokos is an Eastern Orthodox icon of the Virgin Mary which was painted by Luke the Evangelist, according to the Sacred Tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The icon is referred to as "Wonderworking" meaning that numerous miracles have been attributed to the intercession of the Theotokos (Mother of God) by persons praying before it. The original of this image is found in the Georgian Iviron monastery on Mount Athos in Greece, where it is believed to have been since the year 999. The synaxis (feast day) for this icon is on February 12, as well as on Bright Tuesday, and also on October 13 for the translation to Moscow of the Iveron icon.The icon belongs to a family of images of the Theotokos known as Hodegetria (Greek: Όδηγήτρια, "she who leads the way") after the prototype from Constantinople. In these icons, the Christ Child sits on his mother's left arm and she is depicted pointing to Christ with her right hand. Another famous icon based upon Hodegetria is Our Lady of Częstochowa.

A unique characteristic of this icon is what appears to be a scar on the Virgin Mary's right cheek or her chin. A number of different traditions exist to explain this, but the one most commonly held by Orthodox Christians is that the icon was stabbed by a soldier in Nicaea during the period of Byzantine iconoclasm under the Emperor Theophilus (829–842). According to tradition, when the icon was stabbed, blood miraculously flowed out of the wound.

The original in Iveron is encased in a chased riza of silver and gold covering almost all the image except the face, as is common with the most venerated icons.

Papal infallibility

Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church that states that, in virtue of the promise of Jesus to Peter, the Pope is preserved from the possibility of error "when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church." "Infallibility means more than exemption from actual error; it means exemption from the possibility of error;..."This doctrine was defined dogmatically at the First Ecumenical Council of the Vatican of 1869–1870 in the document Pastor aeternus, but had been defended before that, existing already in medieval theology and being the majority opinion at the time of the Counter-Reformation.According to Catholic theology, there are several concepts important to the understanding of infallible, divine revelation: Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Sacred Magisterium (Teaching Authority). The infallible teachings of the Pope are part of the Sacred Magisterium, which also consists of ecumenical councils and the "ordinary and universal magisterium". In Catholic theology, papal infallibility is one of the channels of the infallibility of the Church. The infallible teachings of the Pope must be based on, or at least not contradict, Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture.

The doctrine of infallibility relies on one of the cornerstones of Catholic dogma: that of Petrine supremacy of the pope, and his authority as the ruling agent who decides what are accepted as formal beliefs in the Roman Catholic Church. The use of this power is referred to as speaking ex cathedra.

The solemn declaration of papal infallibility by Vatican I took place on 18 July 1870. Since that time, the only example of an ex cathedra decree took place in 1950, when Pope Pius XII defined the Assumption of Mary as an article of faith. Prior to the solemn definition of 1870, there were other decrees which fit the definition of ex cathedra, for example, Pope Boniface VIII in the bull Unam Sanctam of 1302, and Pope Pius IX in the Papal constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 1854.

Prophets of Christianity

In Christianity the figures widely recognised as prophets are those mentioned as such in the Old Testament and the New Testament. It is believed that prophets are chosen and called by God.

The main list below consists of only those individuals that have been clearly defined as prophets, either by explicit statement or strong contextual implication, (e.g. the purported authors of the books listed as the major prophets and minor prophets) along with the Biblical reference to their office.

In Roman Catholicism, prophets are recognised as having received either public or private revelation. Public revelation is part of the "deposit of faith", which refers to the entire revelation of Jesus Christ passed to successive generations in the forms of sacred scripture (the Bible) and sacred tradition.The secondary list consists of those individuals who are recorded as having had a visionary or prophetic experience, but without a history of any major or consistent prophetic calling. A final list contains the names of those described in the Bible as prophets, but are presented as either misusing this gift or as fraudulent.

Royal Hours

The Royal Hours is a particularly solemn celebration of the Little Hours in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. The Royal Hours is celebrated only three times a year: on the Eve of the Nativity, the Eve of Theophany, and Great Friday.

The members of the church chant verses from the Bible which describes one powerful man's jealousy and fear during the service. This service takes its name from the fact that it used to be officially attended by the Emperor and his court at Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. Because of the presence of the Emperor, there was a special singing of "Many Years" to the Emperor, the Imperial Court, and the Hierarchy. This singing of "Many Years" continues to this day (in modified form) in cathedrals and monasteries. By his presence, the Emperor acknowledged his submission to Christ the true King.

The three holy days on which the Royal Hours are celebrated were chosen as days in the church year which most particularly demonstrate Jesus' kenosis (self-emptying), and thus His true royal majesty.

According to Sacred Tradition, the Royal Hours of Great Friday were composed by St. Cyril (378 - 444), Patriarch of Alexandria.

Although the Royal Hours are splendid, they are also penitential. On days when the Royal Hours are celebrated it is not permitted to celebrate the Divine Liturgy.The Royal Hours is an aggregate of five services, all served together as one:

First Hour

Third Hour

Sixth Hour

Ninth Hour

TypicaFor the Royal Hours, the priest vests in Epitrachelion and Phelonion, and the deacon vests fully in Sticharion, Orarion and Epimanikia. The Holy Doors and Curtain are open for most of the service, and the Gospel Book is placed on an analogion (lectern) in the center of the Temple (church). At the beginning of each Hour the priest or deacon censes the Gospel, Icons and people.

When it is time to begin the First Hour, the bell is rung in the usual manner (blagovest). At the beginning of each of the succeeding Hours, the bell is struck the number of times that corresponds to the Hour (i.e., three times at the beginning of the Third Hour, six times at the beginning of the Sixth Hour, nine times at the beginning of the Ninth Hour). At the beginning of the Typica the bell is struck twelve times.

At each of the Hours, one of the three fixed Psalms is replaced by a Psalm that is significant to the Feast being celebrated; the Troparion and Kontakion of the day are replaced by numerous hymns chanted by the choir; and each Hour has an Old Testament reading, a Prokeimenon, and an Epistle and Gospel.

There was a service of Royal Hours for Pentecost composed by the priest Nicholas Malaxus (fl. c. 1538), and published in 1568. This service, however, has not come to wide usage in the Church.

Saint Veronica

Saint Veronica was a woman of Jerusalem in the first century AD, according to extra-biblical Christian Sacred tradition. A celebrated saint in many pious Christian countries, the 17th-century Acta Sanctorum published by the Bollandists listed her feast under July 12, but the German Jesuit scholar Joseph Braun cited her commemoration in Festi Marianni on 13 January.

According to Church tradition, Veronica was moved with sympathy when she saw Jesus carrying his cross to Golgotha and gave him her veil that he might wipe his forehead. Jesus accepted the offering, held it to his face, and then handed it back to her—the image of his face miraculously impressed upon it. This piece of cloth became known as the Veil of Veronica.The story of Veronica is celebrated in the sixth Station of the Cross in many Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist and Western Orthodox churches.

Sola scriptura

Sola Scriptura (Latin: by scripture alone) is a theological doctrine held by some Christian denominations that the Christian scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith and practice.

While the scriptures' meaning is mediated through many kinds of secondary authority, such as the ordinary teaching offices of a denominated church, the ecumenical creeds, the councils of the catholic church, and so on - sola scriptura, on the other hand, rejects any original infallible authority other than the Bible. In this view, all secondary authority is derived from the authority of the scriptures and is therefore subject to reform when compared to the teaching of the Bible. Church councils, preachers, Bible commentators, private revelation, or even a message allegedly from an angel or an apostle are not an original authority alongside the Bible in the sola scriptura approach.

Sola scriptura is a formal principle of many Protestant Christian denominations, and one of the five solae. It was a foundational doctrinal principle of the Protestant Reformation held by many of the Reformers, who taught that authentication of scripture is governed by the discernible excellence of the text as well as the personal witness of the Holy Spirit to the heart of each man. Some evangelical and Baptist denominations state the doctrine of sola scriptura more strongly: scripture is self-authenticating, clear (perspicuous) to the rational reader, its own interpreter ("Scripture interprets Scripture"), and sufficient of itself to be the final authority of Christian doctrine.By contrast, Anglicanism and Methodism, also considered forms of Protestantism, uphold the doctrine of prima scriptura, with scripture being illumined by tradition, reason, and in Methodism, experience as well, thus completing the four sides of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. The Eastern Orthodox Church holds that to "accept the books of the canon is also to accept the ongoing Spirit-led authority of the church's tradition, which recognizes, interprets, worships, and corrects itself by the witness of Holy Scripture". The Catholic Church regards the apostolic preaching and writing (referred to as tradition and scripture respectively) as equal since they believe that many of their traditions also came from the Apostles. The Catholic Church describes this as "one common source ... with two distinct modes of transmission", while some Protestant authors call it "a dual source of revelation".

Ut unum sint

Ut unum sint (Latin: 'That they may be one') is an encyclical by Pope John Paul II of 25 May 1995. It was one of 14 encyclicals issued by John Paul II. Cardinal Georges Cottier, Theologian emeritus of the Pontifical Household, was influential in drafting the encyclical.Like many encyclicals, this one derives its title from its "incipit" or first few words, which are taken from the prayer of Jesus in the Vulgate translation of the Gospel according to John. It deals with the Catholic Church's relations with the Orthodox Church and other Christian ecclesial communities. This document reiterated that unity of these two sui juris churches is essential, as well as further dialogue and unity with the Protestant churches. This document shows that the Catholic Church is officially moved to unity. It has become a common piece of study in ecumenical classes.

In paragraph 54 the Pope wrote that "the Church must breathe with her two lungs!" In paragraph 79, five subjects are noted to be important for "more clear" understanding that will bring unity:

The relationship between Sacred Scripture, as the highest authority in matters of faith, and Sacred Tradition, as indispensable to the interpretation of the Word of God;

The Eucharist, as the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, an offering of praise to the Father, the sacrificial memorial and Real Presence of Christ and the sanctifying outpouring of the Holy Spirit;

Ordination, as a Sacrament, to the threefold ministry of the episcopate, presbyterate and diaconate;

The Magisterium of the Church, entrusted to the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him, understood as a responsibility and an authority exercised in the name of Christ for teaching and safeguarding the faith;

The Virgin Mary, as Mother of God and Icon of the Church, the spiritual Mother who intercedes for Christ's disciples and for all humanity.

Venerable John the Hermit

Venerable John the Hermit began his ascetic life at a young age according to records. He was born in Armenia to an Orthodox Christian mother in the fourth century. John was the spiritual son of St. Pharmutius who discipled him for a time. Eventually John chose to enter into a greater solitude, taking abode in the depths of a dry well where Pharmutius would bring him bread daily; bread provided by an angel according to sacred tradition.

Venerable John lived the life of hermit with great ascetic fervor for ten years and then is held to have gone to the Lord.

John the Hermit is commemorated 29 March in the Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches of Byzantine rite. The Orthodox Church also commemorates him on 16 October.

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