Either by word of mouth or by letter

Synopsis (from Amazon and Goodreads): It’s 2002. In the aftermath of the twin towers — and the death of her beloved grandmother — Shirli Berman is intent on moving forward. The best singer in her junior high, she auditions for the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof, but is crushed to learn that she’s been given the part of the old Jewish mother in the musical rather than the coveted part of the sister. But there is an upside: her “husband” is none other than Ben Morgan, the cutest and most popular boy in the school. Deciding to throw herself into the role, she rummages in her grandfather’s attic for some props. There, she discovers an old violin in the corner — strange, since her Zayde has never seemed to like music, never even going to any of her recitals. Showing it to her grandfather unleashes an anger in him she has never seen before, and while she is frightened of what it might mean, Shirli keeps trying to connect with her Zayde and discover the awful reason behind his anger. A long-kept family secret spills out, and Shirli learns the true power of music, both terrible and wonderful.

Discussion: The central theme of Broken Strings is family traditions. The grandfather had let go of his family traditions due to the Holocaust. When his granddaughter encourages him to take them back up, he rediscovers himself and realizes a joy he hasn’t felt in many years. 

One of the things I love about the Catholic Church is the rich traditions. The Catholic Church is diverse in devotions, practices, and culture that anyone can find a home in the Universal Church. 

Tradition can have a double meaning in the church. There are ‘traditions’ (little t) and ‘Traditions’ (capital T). Those traditions with a little ‘t’ are practices. These are the devotions, feast days, or cultural differences between being a Catholic in the US versus being a Catholic in Guinea. These are human traditions that can change over time, and they never take precedent over God’s Commandments or the teachings of Christ (Mt 15:3, Mk 7:9, and Col 2:8). 

Those Traditions with a capital ‘T’ are Sacred Traditions. Here tradition comes from the Latin word tradere or “to hand on.” These are the things passed down from the Apostles from the Holy Spirit entrusted to them by Jesus Christ. 

Jn 16:12-15 I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 

The Catholic Church has both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, which gives us the fullness of God’s Word. Sacred Scripture is God’s written word influenced by the Holy Spirit. Sacred Tradition is the fullness of God’s word passed down through the generations (both orally and written). 

1 Thess 2:15 So then, brethren stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter. 

2 Thess 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.

1 Cor 11:2 I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.  

Mt 23:2 The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. 

The Catholic Church is criticized a lot for her Sacred Traditions, and I have been told by many that the bible is the only thing I need. There are many reasons why sola scriptura is self-defeating. 

First, Jesus didn’t hand the bible to the Apostles at the Great Commission to pass around the world. There were many years between Jesus’ ascension and the creation of the bible in the form we know and use today. I don’t believe God’s Word is dependent on the printing press. The first Christians relied solely on word of mouth and “held steadfastly to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:37-42). 

Second, by agreeing that the bible is the Word of God, one is already agreeing that someone had the authority to determine authentic scripture from false. I already mentioned, Jesus didn’t hand us the bible. We know there were many writings from around that time. Some were determined to be inspired by the Holy Spirit others were not. It was the Magisterium of the Catholic Church that made this determination. The Church that has Apostolic Succession (CCC 74-79). St. Paul himself said that the Church is the “pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim 15).

Third, the bible itself doesn’t tell us to only use the bible. There are a few bible quotes that are used to support the idea, but they are easily refuted. I won’t go into them here, but one can read about some at Catholic Answers: Scripture and Tradition.

Dei verbum 10 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 Christ. 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.

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