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Revelation. Through the Light of the Gospels & Through the Light of Human Reason. Tradition. We have seen how the Fathers of the Church contributed to solving many issues in the early Church. These men and women contributed to the living Tradition of the Church.

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Through the Light of the Gospels &

Through the Light of Human Reason

  • We have seen how the Fathers of the Church contributed to solving many issues in the early Church.
  • These men and women contributed to the living Tradition of the Church.
  • Tradition is the “handing on” of the teaching of Jesus Christ through the generations.
  • Tradition is handed on in three ways:
    • The Oral Tradition of preaching.
    • The Written Tradition of the Sacred Scriptures
    • The Magisterial Tradition of the teaching of the Church.
oral tradition
Oral Tradition
  • Most societies in the ancient world handed on their histories by word of mouth or oral tradition.
  • When the apostles were given the task of spreading the Gospel they did so first in the way which was most familiar to them.
  • Oral Tradition is the passing on of the Gospel message through the teaching and preaching of the Apostles.
  • From the preaching and teaching of the Apostles the Gospel message went out throughout the world:
written tradition
Written Tradition
  • When the work of evangelization was underway, the Apostles began to write down accounts of Jesus’ life and message.
  • These accounts became known as the Gospels or “Good News”.
  • Other Apostles, like St. Paul, wrote letters to specific Christian communities.
  • Paul’s letters were meant to guide his communities toward greater holiness through following Jesus’ teaching.
  • Other Apostles wrote letters to the wider Christian world, these letters became known as the Catholic Letters.
  • The Gospels, Paul’s letters, and the Catholic letters were copied and distributed to be read in Church as part of the liturgy and the instruction of the people.
apostolic succession
Apostolic Succession
  • To pass on the message of Christ, the Apostles ordained successors (bishops) to carry on their mission.
  • The line of Catholic bishops goes back to the time of the Apostles and serves as our direct link back to Christ.
  • We can be assured of the accuracy of the teaching of Christ by this unbroken line.
  • Apostolic Succession is seen most clearly through the ministry of the Pope, who is the successor of St. Peter. He guarantees that Jesus’ message is passed onto us.
the magisterium
The Magisterium
  • The Magisterium consists of the Pope and all the bishops in union with him and the generations of teachings from the Fathers of the Church and the Ecumenical Councils.
  • The Magisterium is the means by which the Church teaches.
  • The teaching of the Church in its entirety is called the Deposit of the Faith.
  • The Magisterium and the Deposit of the Faith is continuously being renewed and added to by the witness of the living Church.
  • Since God is infinite and our hunger for God will never be filled until heaven; we will constantly be learning about God and thus adding to the Deposit of the Faith.
  • An often misunderstood doctrine of the Church is infallibility.
  • There are two types of infallibility:
  • Papal
  • Apostolic
  • Papal Infallibility holds that the Pope is infallible when he proclaims a doctrine on faith and/or morals which is binding upon the whole Church.
  • This teaching is based on Christ’s promise to Peter, “…the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it [the Church]” Mt. 16:18
  • This doctrine is also based on the fact that the Pope can only teach what Christ taught and Christ’s teaching is without error.

The First Vatican Council proclaimed the Doctrine of Infallibility in 1870.

apostolic infallibility
Apostolic Infallibility
  • It is also important to remember that the Pope never does anything by his own power, rather he always consults and makes decisions with the whole Church.
  • Apostolic Infallibility is the normal means by which a teaching of Christ is proclaimed.
  • It is generally done at an Ecumenical Council where the entire body of Bishops in union with the Pope, makes a proclamation on faith and/or morality in the name of the entire Church.
  • We have already seen several examples of this type of infallible teaching: ex. The Councils of Nicaea, Chalcedon, Constantinople, etc.; all proclaimed infallible teaching.
  • The infallible pronouncements of an Ecumenical Council then are added to the Deposit of the Faith and add to a fuller expression of the Catholic faith.
the witness of the saints
The Witness of the Saints
  • “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…” Rev. 7:9
  • The numerous writings and teachings of the saints helped to hand on the living witness of the Gospels through the centuries.
  • Now in glory, the saints continue their mission to bring the Gospel to all by their prayers for mankind.
natural theology
Natural Theology
  • We have seen how the Revelation of God through the Jewish people in the Old Testament and supremely through Christ in the New Testament has been passed down through the Tradition by the Church.
  • But, is there a way to know the existence of God through a purely natural way?
  • Yes, the Church has always taught that the knowledge of the existence of God can been seen through the natural and created order.
  • This is the study of natural theology and/or the Philosophy of God.
faith and reason
Faith and Reason
  • Many mistakenly believe that Catholics/Christians place faith above reason.
  • Therefore, they mistakenly believe that Catholic Christians have little use for science.
  • The Church has always taught that faith and reason go together and are not opposed, Blessed John Paul II states:
  • “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves”

Fides et Ratio, Encyclical Letter 1998

proofs of the existence of god
Proofs of the Existence of God
  • Throughout the Church’s history certain theologians and philosophers have attempted to demonstrate the existence of God through natural reason.
  • These are known as the Proofs for the Existence of God.
  • A proof, as you know from mathematics, is a series of steps which arrives at a summation.
  • The Proofs for the Existence of God follow a series of logical steps and arrive at the existence of God.
  • We will focus our study on three proofs: two, from St. Thomas Aquinas and one from St. Augustine.
augustine s triangle proof
Augustine’s Triangle Proof
  • Imagine the shape to the left is a triangle wherein all three angles are perfectly equal.
  • What kind of triangle is it?
  • An equilateral triangle = a triangle wherein all three sides are perfectly the same.
  • Does an equilateral triangle exist in nature? Is it scientifically verifiable?
  • No, you cannot find one in nature nor can you create one in a lab because “perfection” does not exist in this world.
  • But, does the equilateral triangle exist?
  • Of course it does! It exists only as a mathematical idea. You would have to be a raving madman to say that it did not exist.
  • So the equilateral triangle exists only as an intelligent idea of a perfect shape.
triangle proof continued
Triangle Proof – Continued

And, when do ideas come into existence? When you think them for the first time? Or are they always accessible to be thought?

They are always able to be grasped by intelligent beings.

Another way of saying “always available” is “eternal”.

Now, we must find the source of the equilateral triangle, for everything, including ideas, must have a source.

The sources of things must contain all the characteristics of the things that spring from them.

Therefore, we are looking for a source which is: eternal, intelligent, capable of thought, and perfect.

The only Being Who fits the description is God! God is the source of the equilateral triangle.

God is also the source of such eternal ideas like: peace, hope, justice and love.

st thomas aquinas proofs for god s existence
St. Thomas AquinasProofs for God’s Existence
  • St. Thomas Aquinas was an Italian philosopher and theologian who proposed five proofs for God’s existence which were not based on the Bible or theology.
  • 1. Unmoved Mover = There is motion in the world and whatever is in motion had to be put in motion by another (Newton’s 1st Law of Motion). By looking at the series of motion in the world and going back to the creation of the universe, we conclude that there must have been a “First Mover” or an “Unmoved Mover” or God.
  • 2. First Cause =The world is a series of causes and effects. Taking those causes and effects back in history, to the moment of creation; we conclude, that there must have been a first cause of creation or God.