When we talk about the Church as a whole, we always talk about three hallmarks—Scripture (the Word of God), Magisterium (the teaching authority of the Church's bishops), and Tradition. But what is Tradition?

Tradition is the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains Tradition further:

"[Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound, and spread it abroad by their preaching" (CCC 81).

The Gospel was handed on in two ways:


  • orally "by the apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received—whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or whether they had learned it at the prompting of the Holy Spirit."
  • in writing "by those apostles and other men associated with the apostles who, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, committed the message of salvation to writing" (CCC 76).


In simpler words, Tradition contains stories, prayers, testimonies, and inspirations received by the apostles and spread by word of mouth and in various texts found outside the Bible.


"There was much else that Jesus did; if it were written down in detail, I do not suppose the world itself would hold all the books that would be written." (John 21:25)

Imagine all the stories that where not written in the Bible. How the apostles and specially Mary had so much to tell to all of those who where just entering the faith. Would all those stories not count just because they were not written? What about all the messages that the Holy Spirit kept sending through them? Tradition is a very important part of our faith, and through tradition the Holy Spirit has guided the Church.


So how does Tradition become such a vital part of the life of the faithful and of the Church? We see the impact of Tradition in our worship practices, our understanding the faith, the magisterium, and the dogmas. And all of this has been handed down from generation to generation over 2000 years!

"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us" (2 Thess. 2:15).

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