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The Transmission of Divine Revelation

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on God the Father
General Audience, Wednesday, 24 April 1985 - in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. Where can we find what God has revealed, so that we may adhere to it with our convinced and free faith? There is a "sacred deposit," from which the Church draws and communicates its contents to us. As the Second Vatican Council says: "This sacred Tradition, therefore, and Sacred Scripture of both the Old and New Testaments are like a mirror in which the pilgrim Church on earth looks at God, from whom she has received everything, until she is brought finally to see him as he is, face to face (cf. 1 John 3:2)" (DV 7).

With these words the conciliar Constitution synthesizes the problem of the transmission of divine revelation, which is important for the faith of every Christian. Our "credo" should prepare man on earth to see God face to face in eternity. In every stage of history, the "credo" depends on the faithful and inviolable transmission of divine self-revelation, which reached its apex and plenitude in Jesus Christ.

2. Christ himself "commissioned the apostles to preach to all men that Gospel which is the source of all saving truth and moral teaching" (DV 7). By oral preaching first of all, they carried out the mission entrusted to them. At the same time, some of them "under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing"(DV 7). This was done also by some of those in the circle of the apostles (Mark and Luke).

Thus the transmission of divine revelation was carried out in the first generation of Christians. "In order to keep the Gospel forever whole and alive within the Church, the apostles left bishops as their successors, 'handing over' to them 'the authority to teach in their own place'" (according to the expression of St. Irenaeus, cf. Adv. Haer., III, 3, 1; DV 7).

3. According to the teaching of the Council, Tradition and Sacred Scripture reciprocally support and complete each other in the transmission of divine revelation in the Church. By these means the new generation of disciples and witnesses of Jesus Christ nourish their faith, because "what was handed on by the apostles includes everything which contributes toward the holiness of life and increase in faith of the people of God" (DV 8).

"This tradition which comes from the apostles develops in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down. This happens through the contemplation and study made by believers, who treasure these things in their hearts (cf. Lk 2:19, 51) through a penetrating understanding of the spiritual realities which they experience, and through the preaching of those who have received through episcopal succession the sure gift of truth. For as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her" (DV 8).

In this thrust toward the plenitude of divine truth, the Church constantly draws on the one original "deposit," constituted by the apostolic Tradition and Sacred Scripture. "For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end" (DV 9).

4. In this regard it is fitting to clarify and emphasize, in the words of the Council, that "it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed" (DV 9). This Scripture "is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, while sacred Tradition takes the word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the apostles, and hands it on to their successors in its full purity, so that led by the light of the Spirit of truth, they may in proclaiming it preserve this word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known" (DV 9). "Through the same tradition the Church's full canon of the sacred books is known, and the sacred writings themselves are more profoundly understood and unceasingly made active in her" (DV 8).

"Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit the entire holy people united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the apostles" (DV 10). Therefore both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal feelings of devotion and reverence.

5. The problem arises here of the authentic interpretation of the word of God written or handed down by Tradition. This task 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" (DV 10).

6. Here then is a further characteristic of faith. In the Christian sense, "to believe" also means to accept the truth revealed by God as it is taught by the Church. But at the same time the Second Vatican Council stated that "The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples' supernatural discernment in matters of faith when 'from the bishops down to the last of the lay faithful' they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God. Through it, the people of God adheres unwaveringly 'to the faith given once and for all to the saints,' (cf. Jude 3) penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life" (LG 12).

7. Tradition, Sacred Scripture, the Magisterium of the Church and the supernatural sense of faith of the entire People of God form that vivifying process in which divine revelation is transmitted to succeeding generations. "Thus God, who spoke of old, uninterruptedly converses with the bride of his beloved Son; and the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel resounds in the Church, and through her, in the world, leads unto all truth those who believe and makes the word of Christ dwell abundantly in them (cf. Col. 3:16)" (DV 8).

To believe in the Christian sense means to be willing to be introduced and led by the Spirit to the plenitude of the truth in a conscious and voluntary way."

After the Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai fedeli di lingua francese

Chers amis de la Vie Montante, je vois que votre famille s’est élargie depuis notre rencontre en 1982! En de nombreux pays de plusieurs continents, des personnes du troisième âge se réunissent selon l’originalité chrétienne de votre mouvement, pour approfondir leur spirítualité, dans le partage de la foi et de la prière, pour prendre leur part d’apostolat auprès de leurs frères et sœurs, en engageant leurs forces et leur expérience au service de l’Eglise et de la société, et pour se soutenir mutuellement, dans une amitié vraie et active, au milieu parfois des épreuves et de la solitude de la vieillesse. Tout cela est une chance pour l’Eglise, et je vous encourage à poursuivre votre route, à “monter” ensemble dans l’amour de Dieu et des autres, en vivant maintenant la dimension universelle, catholique de votre association, attentifs aux valeurs, cultures et réalités sociales des différents peuples et civilisations. Que le Seigneur soit votre paix, votre joie, votre espérance!

* * *

Je salue également les participants au Congrès de 1 Union européenne de l’Artisanat et des petites et moyennes Entreprises. En cette période de crise de l’emploi, Mesdames et Messieurs, comment ne pas apprécier les possibilités multiples que peuvent offrir vos entreprises? Non seulement elles contribuent à remédier au chômage et réalisent des travaux artisanaux si utiles à la société, mais elles permettent de développer, dans un climat de liberté, d’initiative, et dans un esprit de famille, les valeurs humaines importantes de responsabilité, de création artistique, de relations personnelles. Je vous souhaite de bénéficier des encouragements et des protections nécessaires dans la société, et, pour les chrétiens, de prendre une part active à la vie de l’Eglise, pour promouvoir avec elle les valeurs spirituelles.

A vous tous, chers pèlerins de France, de Monaco, de Suisse, du Canada, venus des paroisses, des clubs et des écoles, je donne de tout cœur ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

Ai numerosi pellegrini di lingua inglese

My greetings go to the English-speaking visitors present at today’s audience. I cordially welcome once again the international group of participants in the Up With People programme. I am also pleased to acknowledge the presence of the Officers and Crews of the Royal Yacht Britannia and of the Frigate Ajax.

* * *

My good wishes and prayers go to Bishop John McGann of Rockville Centre, New York, and to his priest-classmates from the Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre who have come to Rome to celebrate the Thirty-fifth Anniversary of their Ordination to the Priesthood. My brothers: may Christ the Good Shepherd sustain you in peace and joy as you continue to serve his people.

* * *

I am also happy to offer a word of greeting to the Patrons of the Vatican Museums from California. I thank you for your efforts in promoting a better knowledge of the artistic patrimony of the Vatican. Through your interest and support many people have come to appreciate the beauty of these artistic treasures. May God be praised in his created works and may all people come to acknowledge him as their Creator and Lord.

* * *

And to all who have come from England, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada I extend my warm greetings and I ask our Risen Saviour to grant you his choicest blessings.

A pellegrinaggi di espressione tedesca

Mit diesen kurzen Darlegungen grüße ich sehr herzlich alle heutigen deutschsprachigen Audienzteilnehmer. Mein besonderer Gruß gilt den zahlreichen anwesenden Jugendlichen, der Pilgergruppe der Katholischen Männerbewegung aus Graz, den Mitgliedern der ehemaligen Sturmschar des Katholischen Jungmännerverbandes sowie den Alumnen des Priesterseminars Würzburg. In der jetzigen Osterzeit ermahnt uns der auferstandene Herr in einer besonderen Weise, seine Zeugen zu sein: durch ein überzeugt christliches Leben, durch Bekennermut in Beruf und Gesellschaft und ein aufrichtiges Streben nach persönlicher Heiligkeit. Wie den Emmausjüngern sei Christus auch euch stets treuer Weggefährte! Das erbitte ich euch und allen anwesenden Pilgern von Herzen mit meinem besondern Apostolischen Segen.

Ai fedeli di lingua spagnola

Y ahora deseo dirigir mi cordial saludo, en la alegría de Cristo Resucitado, a todos los peregrinos de lengua española.

En particular, a las religiosas Hijas de Jesús, que participan en un curso de renovación espiritual, y al grupo de jóvenes profesoras de la Institución Teresiana. Os aliento en vuestra vida de entrega a Dios y de servicio al próximo.

* * *

Saludo a la numerosa peregrinación de Huesca. Vuestra presencia hoy aquí trae a mi memoria la grata visita que hice a vuestra región aragonesa en Octubre del año pasado. Que la Virgen del Pilar os proteja siempre.

* * *

Saludo igualmente a los peregrinos procedentes de la ciudad de México, de la Arquidiócesis de Medellín (Colombia) y de Argentina, y a los Caballeros y Damas de la Orden Ecuestre del Santo Sepulcro de Jerusalén venidos de Puerto Rico.

A todos los peregrinos procedentes de los diversos Países de América Latina y de España imparto de corazón la Bendición Apostólica.

Ai pellegrini giunti dal Brasile

Quero dirigir uma saudação particular aos amados irmãos e irmãs brasileiros - de São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Recife e Salvador - presentes nesta Audiência, com alguns Senhores Bispos em “Visita ad Limina”. Uma sombra passa no horizonte desta cordial saudação, pois o Brasil está de luto, pela morte de seu Presidente eleito. Doutor Tancredo Neves, que Deus tenha no eterno repouso. Compartilho esse luto e renovo aqui os votos já expressos à dileta Nação, exortando a todos pelos presentes, a levantarem o coração, animados pela esperança em Cristo, na caminhada histórica, cristã e eclesial do querido Povo brasileiro, que Deus assista, conforte e proteja sempre!

Ai fedeli polacchi

Serdecznie witam wszystkich pielgrzymów z Polski i z emigracji. Witam Księży Biskupów: Biskupa opolskiego oraz Koadiutora z Płocka, oraz pielgrzymów z różnych parafii: z parafii Kozy w archidiecezji krakowskiej; z parafii bł. Brata Alberta z Nowej Huty; z parafii św. Antoniego z Wrocławia i św. Klemensa z Wrocławia; z archidiecezji wrocławskiej: z parafii św. Jadwigi Śląskiej w Trzebnicy - z parafii ojców salwatorianów; z parafii Najświętszej Maryi Panny Królowej Polski z Gdyni; również z Gdyny - z parafii Najświętszego Serca Pana Jezusa. Szczególnie serdecznie witam lekarzy neurologów z Warszawy, Łodzi i innych miast Polski, jako też pielgrzymów z archidiecezji warszawskiej. . . . Wszystkim, którzy znajdują się na drodze wiary, obecnym tutaj, także wszystkim moim rodakom życzę, ażeby tę wiarę coraz świadomiej posiadali, coraz bardziej poglębiali i żeby drogą wiary dążyli do tego celu, do którego wiara nas prowadzi.

A un gruppo di pellegrini giapponesi

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo! Dilettissimi pellegrini giapponesi, vi imparto la mia benedizione apostolica, con tutto il mio affetto paterno, affinché il frutto del vostro pellegrinaggio fiorisca nella vostra vita quotidiana, sotto la protezione della Madonna. Sia lodato Gesù Cristo. Ad alcuni gruppi italiani Desidero ora esprimere il mio saluto a tutti i partecipanti a questa udienza che sono di lingua italiana. Rivolgo in modo particolare il mio pensiero ai fedeli della diocesi di Alatri, venuti in grande numero, insieme con il loro Pastore, Monsignor Umberto Florenzani, a restituirmi la visita pastorale da me compiuta a quella comunità diocesana lo scorso mese di settembre.

Carissimi Alatrini, nel ricordare la splendida testimonianza di fede da voi resa durante la mia breve visita alla vostra antica città, vi rinnovo l’espressione del mio sincero affetto, con particolare pensiero alle autorità civili e religiose che furono tanto premurose nei miei confronti.

Questo pellegrinaggio a Roma sia per voi anche occasione per rafforzare la vostra adesione di fede verso Cristo e la sua Chiesa; vi serva di stimolo a orientare sempre meglio la vostra condotta secondo le esigenze del Vangelo, ad essere sempre più generosi nel rendere ragione della speranza che è in voi e costruire così una comunità cristiana, in cui ogni uomo di buona volontà si senta accolto e amato.

Con questi voti vi benedico tutti nel nome del Signore e vi affido l’incarico di portare la mia benedizione ai vostri cari.

* * *

Un saluto assai cordiale va poi al gruppo dei sacerdoti della diocesi di Lugano della classe del 1920.

Carissimi, vi ringrazio per questa gradita presenza e vi esprimo il mio apprezzamento per l’opera di evangelizzazione e di animazione cristiana che lodevolmente promuovete. Il Signore vi assista nel vostro prodigarvi per la salvezza delle anime; egli ricompensi i vostri sforzi e vi benedica.

Ai giovani

Mi rivolgo ora a tutti voi, giovani e ragazzi, presenti a questa udienza, dicendo a tutti: siate i benvenuti!

Saluto innanzitutto gli studenti; in particolare i numerosi alunni dell’Istituto Tecnico Statale “Masullo” di Nola e il gruppo della parrocchia di San Giulio di Castellanza, per i quali accenderò una fiaccola votiva che essi porteranno a piedi da Roma alla loro città, dove brillerà durante le celebrazioni mariane del mese di maggio.

* * *

Vorrei ricordare, inoltre, la rappresentanza delle scuole elementari e medie di Bergamo.

Carissimi giovani e ragazzi, nella luce di questo fulgido tempo pasquale vi raccomando di accogliere senza riserve l’amore che Gesù vi offre. Esso è dono che vi permette di affrontare le varie circostanze dell’esistenza con la misura del cuore: del cuore di Cristo.

Mentre prego perché il Signore risorto sia sempre per voi testimonianza evidente dell’amore che vince il male e la morte, vi imparto la mia benedizione.

Agli ammalati

Ora, in modo tutto speciale, porgo il mio saluto a voi, cari ammalati, a cui sono sempre molto vicino con la preghiera. La contemplazione del mistero pasquale mi spinge a indicarvi nel Cristo morto e risorto il segno della compassione di Dio verso l’uomo e ad assicurarvi che il Signore della vita non abbandona mai chi confida in lui. Forti di questa consolazione, non cessate di offrire le vostre sofferenze al Padre per essere, uniti al Redentore, fonte di tanta grazia per la Chiesa. Vi accompagno con la mia benedizione apostolica, che volentieri estendo a quanti vi assistono.

Agli sposi novelli

E ora a voi, sposi novelli, va il mio saluto, insieme con le mie felicitazioni e i miei auspici, per la vita nuova che avete da poco iniziato.

Con gioia e trepidazione avete celebrato il sacramento del matrimonio, per porre il vostro affetto in Cristo. Sappiate che egli vi sarà sempre vicino. Accanto a voi per trasfigurare il vostro amore, per arricchirne i valori già così grandi e nobili con quelli ancora più stupendi della sua grazia. Accanto a voi, per rendervi sempre più consapevoli del compito che avete di essere collaboratori della creazione divina, mediante la trasmissione del dono prezioso della vita.

A voi, cordialissima, la mia benedizione.


© Copyright 1996 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana