Friday, October 8, 2010

Pax Sinica Article (2010年10月11日): Understanding Divine Tradition and the Development of Doctrine 聖傳與教義的進展

In the last seven weeks we have studied the lives and teachings of the Church Fathers. They remind us that not all the truths revealed for us by God are found in the Bible; some truths are found in Divine Tradition. Scripture and Tradition are of equal value as sources of revelation.
    Divine Tradition is the unwritten word of God, revealed truths taught by Christ and His apostles, which were given to the Church only by word of mouth and not through the Bible. The truths originally handed down by word of mouth were gradually recorded. By the end of the fourth century there were written records of Tradition such as: decrees of Popes and councils, creeds, liturgical books, acts of martyrs, writings of the Fathers, and inscriptions on tombs and monuments.
    "Development of doctrine" is the growth in the Church's understanding of the truths of divine revelation. St. Vincent of Lerins and the recently beatified John Henry Newman taught eloquently on the subject.
    The writing of St. Vincent was used at the Office of Readings last Friday (Friday of Week 27). He compared the development of doctrine to the development of body: "Whatever develops at a later age was already present in seminal form: there is nothing new in old age that was not already latent in childhood."
    "Development means that each thing expands to be itself, while alteration means that a thing is changed from one thing into another."
    The understanding of revealed truths can develop and become more explicit over the course of time, but revealed truths can never be changed or be added onto. Blessed Newman pointed out the infallibly of the Church as the principle of preservation in the development of doctrine.


    Three steps


    There are three steps in the handing down of tradition. Monsignor Schumacher illustrated these three steps with the example of infant baptism.
    The first of the three steps is oral tradition. After the Ascension of Christ, the apostles began to baptize infants, and they ordered other disciples to do likewise. The latter went to distant countries and told their own disciples to do the same thing. Nobody was alarmed by the practice and nobody objected to it. As the faith spread, so did the practice.
    The second step is written tradition. In the second century someone wrote about infant baptism in his book. Other writers followed and wrote about infant baptism as a normal practice of the time, and within 100 years it was recounted numerous times.
    The third and final step is the solemn declaration of the Church. In the 16th century someone questioned the practice of infant baptism. Therefore the Church, by her infallible authority, solemnly declared infant baptism to be right and true; so what was first oral tradition, and then written tradition, now became a declared article of faith.


    Reading the Fathers


    The Church Fathers had great love for Sacred Scripture. Their reflections and commentaries on the Scriptures are spiritual gems. The Navarre Bible and The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible contain commentaries which are solid in Catholic doctrine and rich in spiritual content. There are numerous references to the teachings of the Fathers in these commentaries.
    Daily reading of the Fathers is beneficial to our spiritual life. I warmly recommend a new book compiled by Mike Aquilina: A Year with the Church Fathers - Patristic Wisdom For Daily Living. In this book the wisest, most practical teachings of the Fathers of the Church are gathered. They are presented in a format suitable for daily meditation and inspiration.

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探討過眾教父們的生平和教導後,我們仍要明白,天主啟示給我們的真理,不獨來自聖經,亦來自教會的聖傳。所以,聖經和聖傳,對接收天主的啟示,同樣重要。

聖傳並非像聖經一樣,天主以文字直接給我們說祂的真理,而是來自基督及宗徒們的口授,教會世代普遍地套用和流傳。口授的聖傳漸漸地被寫下來。在四世紀末,對聖傳已有相當的文字記載,例如:教宗和大公會議的決議、信經、禮儀書籍、有關殉道者的紀錄、教父們的箸作、墓碑或紀念碑的題辭等。

「教義的進展」是教會對啟示真理認識的加深。聖味增爵.雷冷(萊林. 聖文生) St. Vincent of Lerins和近日被宣福的若望,亨利.廖文Bl. John Henry Newman,特別精於這方面的教導。

去週五(常年期第二十七週)的誦讀日課,就採用了聖味增爵的寫作,他把教義的進展和身體的成長作出比較:「人體隨年齡所顯示的較為成熟的部份,早在胚胎期已經存在了。因此,老人身上並沒有新的部份,因為早已隱藏在兒童身上了。」

「教義的進展是信仰的真正進展,而不是改變。『進展』是說教義的每一點本身的擴張;而『改變』是指某一物從一物變成另一不同的物。」

對啟示真理的理解,我們可隨年月而不斷發展,趨然日揭,更加明顯;但不存在任何變動或刪增。真福廖文指出,教會不能錯的訓導權,是保護教義進展的主力。

三個步驟

聖傳有三個步驟去傳遞。舒默加蒙席Monsignor Schumacher以嬰孩接受聖洗為例:

第一步是口傳的開始。宗徒們在耶穌升天後,已經為嬰孩付洗,亦令他們的門徒照辦;毫無異議下,教會就如此世代承習。

第二步是文字的記傳。第二世紀時,某些書本實記有關嬰孩接受聖洗聖事,之後相繼其它多本書刊有同樣的記載,反映近百年的教會,已普遍給嬰孩施洗。

第三步是最後經由教會審慎確定。十六世紀,因為有人質疑給嬰孩付洗的適合性,所以教會以其「不能錯」的權威,確定此舉是可援的先例,更是正確的做法。

聖傳以口頭相傳開始,續有相應記載的文獻或記錄,再由教會隆重確認,成為教理。

閱讀教父

教會的教父們都酷愛聖經,他們慎密的思考和註釋是靈性的寶庫。英文的 The Navarre Bible 和 The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible對教義及屬靈的詮釋,甚為豐富。詮釋內多次轉載教父們的教導。

每日閱讀教父們的教訓,對我們的靈修生活大有裨益。容我在此推薦彌格.阿奎諾Mike Aquilina編箸的一本新書 A Year with the Church Fathers --- Patristic Wisdom For Daily Living。該書包涵了教父們最明智、最實用的教訓,適用於日常的默想和思維啟迪。

歡迎讀者以中文分享您的感受和意見。

Published at Pax Sinica column (October 11) of The B.C . Catholic newspaper