Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bishop Blair: ‘‘Your Word Is a Light to My Path’’

The previous post about my Bishop reminded me that I had neglected to post anything from Bishop Blair's monthly column in The Catholic Chronicle, per my usual practice.

Toledo Bishop Leonard P. Blair writes in the November issue of The Catholic Chronicle:
‘‘Your word is a light to my path’’

Written by Leonard P. Blair, Bishop of Toledo
Friday, 07 November 2008


... So when it comes to handing on the Word of God, two closely interrelated "modes of transmission" are at work: Sacred Scripture and Tradition (not any and all traditions, but what pertains to the so-called "deposit of faith" from the Apostles).

The U.S. Adult Catechism states: "Both the living Tradition and the written Scriptures have their common source in the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. This is particularly important to understand and believe when one is faced with the postmodern attitude that Tradition cannot be trusted, and that what the Church teaches as Tradition is really just a reflection of particular judgments and biases. Knowing that what Tradition teaches has its ultimate foundation in Jesus Christ helps a person of faith to respond with trust" (page 25f).

Consider the following examples of contemporary prejudice against Tradition.

Many of today’s media stories on the Bible treat it as an object separated from the Tradition exercised by the authority of the apostles and their successors, the bishops. For example, when ancient heretical texts are "rediscovered," they are often reported as authentic voices of ancient Christianity that were suppressed by church authorities for self-serving motives.

However, one can readily see what the New Testament says about false teaching, and the need to discern and reject it. The authority of Tradition has been exercised in these matters from the beginning. That is why not everything in circulation in New Testament times made its way into the Bible.

Also, when I was a seminarian, a weekly Bible Vigil service was introduced in order to celebrate the call of the Second Vatican Council for a renewed appreciation of Sacred Scripture in Catholic life. As the Word of God, the Bible was enthroned, revered and incensed in the chapel.

Now almost a half century later, it is not uncommon to find Bibles marked with hand-written "corrections" by people who think they know what God really meant to say, or would have said had He lived to see enlightened times like ours! God’s Word certainly admits of interpretation, cultural context and the insights of scientific biblical scholarship, but there is often something else at work in modern "Bible wars."

The eminent American theologian Avery Cardinal Dulles, writing about the reservation of priestly ordination to men, says this: "Radical theology adopts a sharply critical attitude toward all the supposedly sacred sources. It criticizes popes and bishops in the light of tradition, but then criticizes tradition in the light of Scripture, and Scripture in the light of the ‘historical’ Jesus. If the historical reconstruction of Jesus does not yield the desired result, Jesus Himself is criticized in the light of whatever seems good and proper to the contemporary critic."


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