The Internet being down in the rectory was the only damage we sustained from the storms the past week. That prevented a post (and a lot of work getting done) yesterday.
Dei Verbum paragraph 9
Scripture says that you must be baptized.
But what does baptism mean? Who may be baptized? At what age does it occur? Who may do it? How is it done? Can it be re-done?
The answers to these questions are not necessarily found in Scripture. One could extrapolate some answers from Scripture and in fact many do and proclaim what they have come up with as the Truth of Scripture. Look at the tens of thousands of Protestant denominations that exist; each following the Bible and each certain it holds the truth to these questions as is clearly stated in Scripture and told to them under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. So we have churches that say baptism is regenerative and others simply symbolic, it is only for adults or infants may be admitted, anyone may do it or only clergy, using a Trinitarian formula or only in the name of Jesus, rebaptizing or having the idea of once baptized always baptized. The whole Christian Church held together in its teaching would look like a very frayed rope, the ends splaying out like a frozen explosion.
How does a Church keep on track? For the Catholic Church it is not only Scripture but also Tradition. (We’ve talked about Tradition before – this is not the “we always have Christmas trees at Christmas” kind of tradition but the teachings of Christ that comes down to us from the Apostles through the ages to this day. It is the teachings of Christ and the practice of the early Church in the first centuries of Christianity.) So the question is asked, “Should the Church baptize infants? We look and see that there is no moratorium on this in Scripture and in fact it says to go out and baptize all nations and that entire households were baptized. Secondly we look at the practice of the Church in the first, second, and third centuries and find that they indeed baptized infants. And thus Tradition acts as a corrective to our interpretation of Sacred Scripture and Scripture acts as a corrective to our understanding of Sacred Tradition. They are two rails on a track that keep us in the right direction.
In an age when we see most Churches changing their teachings at a dizzying pace to keep up with culture, we understand more than ever the necessity of Sacred Tradition to keep us firmly planted. Go back 100 years and most Churches would be virtually unrecognizable to what they teach today. Go back 2,000 years and the teachings of the Catholic Church remain the same. That is the gift of Sacred Tradition.