This blog seems to be read by many: believers and non-believers; those within the Church and those outside of the Church. The words about St. Leo and Tradition and the beautiful photos below are an explanation for all of you!
2 Thessalonians 2:14 – “Therefore, brethren, stand fast. Hold on to the traditions which you have learned, whether by word or by epistle. “ St. Paul, right from the beginning, teaches the Gospel and then tells us to hold on to his teaching. Hold on to everything that was taught from the beginning, whether you learned it by reading or whether you learned it by hearing someone talk to you.
In this way the word “tradition” has a large and important meaning. We dare not let go of the teachings of the Apostles, again, whether it was passed on by oral teaching or whether it was passed on to us by reading something.
But how do we know the same teaching got passed on, without any changes? Well, several ways, but for the purposes of this posting, St. Leo the Great is an example of one of those ways.
In his generation, as in every generation, there are people who would put forth a “new understanding” of elements of the Christian faith. They (or their group) know a “better way”; they have the “real truth.” At that time there were attacks against the doctrine concerning the divinity of Christ. That is, some people had a way to explain that the “Son of God” didn’t mean that Jesus is God.
But St. Leo was a watchful vicar (prime minister) of the Body of Christ who worked vigorously to ensure that the Christian teaching was passed on exactly as he had received it. At the great Council of Chalcedon the teachings of these influential religious leaders, Eutyches, Dioscorus, and Nestorius, were condemned and with the help of the teachings and writings of St Leo, official Council documents were drawn up and approved.
Traditional teaching was saved, and the Church had taken her stand to teach only what St. Paul and all the Apostolic Fathers had learned from Christ Himself.
Today, we see many trends away from traditional teaching. It can be confusing and overwhelming and much, much easier to follow whatever seems right to the individual.
How do we” stand fast and hold on to Traditional Christian teaching”? It’s important to know what’s true, because, as St. Ambrose taught, “A man is not held innocent if he fails to learn what he is obliged to know.”
I like this way: “Seek and you shall find….”(etc.) And “know that God is, and He is a rewarder of those who seek Him….” Keep searching and testing what you find out.
Another way: Some of us can read; that’s really helpful, but it is not necessary to know how to read. For 1,500, 1,600, even 1,700 hundred years after Jesus, it was not common to know how to read – and very uncommon to be able to afford a book, not even a personal Bible.
So, it became “traditional” to tell the stories of the Bible and present the teachings of our Faith in pictures, where everyone could see.Yes, these are faded and almost in ruins now, but for centuries, beautiful murals like this taught the common people the traditions of the Faith.
The story-pictures were even put on the ceilings!
It is traditional to teach that Christ has defeated Satan, and in the end, St. Michael, the chief of the army of angels, will be victorious over that Old Dragon in the Final Battle.
It is traditional to teach that Christ is our Light, and to get that point across any way the Church can:
It is traditional to tell the stories of great men of faith, so that we can sit and contemplate what they have to tell us, so we may be inspired and dedicate our lives to a similar life of courage and faith:
We build the teachings of the Faith into structures of architectural beauty and dignity that exemplify, as best that human hands can do, the Glories of God and of His love for us. And then we invite everyone in!
And we ask that everyone “hold on to the traditions” that were handed on to us. It costs very little for us to read, to contemplate beautiful art, to practice our faith throughout the day and on special days, and with certain habits and practices, and to pray much.
And some day we may be strengthened for when “holding on to tradition” costs us much more.
THANKS to my Friend-in-Rome for these beautiful photos! (I “took” a few more photos from you while you’re busy studying for exams – but you said I could! )