The Deposit of Faith

What a treasure is faith! And like all treasures, it is also guarded and deposited in a place of its own. There, it remains untouched by the depletion of the centuries, protected from the storms of the world, and safe from the onslaughts of thieves.

Newsroom (19/10/2021 7:00 PM, Gaudium Press) For more than two thousand years, the Catholic Church has subsisted amidst the wanderings of the world and has advanced intrepidly towards its destiny: the Kingdom of God. Now, incredible as it may seem, in all this time she has only counted on a single deposit, from which she continuously draws the faith that is indispensable for her survival. This deposit, although it is only one, is made up of two distinct but inseparable elements: Sacred Scripture and Tradition.[1]

Indeed, after the Incarnation of the Word, all the truths necessary for the Christian salvific economy were revealed,[2] and these truths, like a precise treasure, are found both in Scripture and in Tradition.

As the Second Vatican Council’s constitution Dei Verbum states: “Sacred Scripture is the word of God, inasmuch as it is written down under the action of the Holy Spirit; Sacred Tradition, on the other hand, transmits in its entirety to the successors of the Apostles the word of God, entrusted by Christ the Lord and by the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, so that under the light of the Spirit of truth they might faithfully preserve, expound and spread it in their preaching.[3]

Thus, any theological explicitness, any mystical outburst, any planning for the future of religion, etc. is only valid to the extent that it coincides with these truths contained both in Scripture and Tradition.

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In her immense wisdom, the Church wanted her children, when shaping the future, not to fail to consult the past.

The Guardian of this Deposit

However, there are many ways to interpret it…

Therefore, either there is an authority that defines the true interpretation, or in this very fertile field of faith, the weeds will choke the wheat.

In this sense, the aforementioned constitution states: “The office of authentically interpreting the written or transmitted word of God has been entrusted solely to the living Magisterium of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.”[4]

It is, therefore, by means of Magisterial definitions that the faithful can have a sure and unequivocal access to the words and examples of this deposit.

But this does not mean that the Magisterium is independent of Tradition or Scripture, for Dei Verbum continues: “This Magisterium is not above the Word of God, but at its service, teaching only what has been handed down, in the sense that, by divine mandate and with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, it religiously hears it, keeps it holy and faithfully expounds it, drawing from this one deposit of faith whatever it proposes to the faith as divinely revealed.”[5]

For this reason, it would be absurd, for example, for a magisterial pronouncement to rely on Scripture but to the detriment of Tradition, or vice versa. For, as Pius IX states, “the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter in order that, by his revelation, they might manifest a new doctrine, but that, with his assistance, they might sanctifyingly preserve and faithfully expound the revelation transmitted by the Apostles, that is, the deposit of faith.”[6]

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The Magisterium is the guardian of the faith, not its creator

It is clear, therefore, that the “Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium of the Church, according to the most wise design of God, are united and associated in such a way that one without the others cannot stand, and all together, each in its own way, under the action of the same Holy Spirit, contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.”[7]

By Thiago Resende Barbosa

[1] Cf. PAUL VI. Constitution Dei Verbum. II, 10. In: DH 4213.

[Op. Cit. I, 4, in: DH 4204.

[Cit. 2, 9, in DH 4212.

[4] Op. Cit. In: II, 10. In: DH 4214.

[5] Idem.

[6] PIUS IX. Constitution Pastor Aeternus. IV. In. DH 3070.

[7] PAUL VI, OP. CIT. Op. Cit. In: II, 10. In: DH 4214.


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