The ongoing life of God’s People is called Holy Tradition…The New Testamental or Christian Tradition is also called the apostolic tradition and the tradition of the Church. The central written part of this tradition is the New Testament… This Christian tradition is given over from people to people, through space and time. Tradition as a word means exactly this: it is that which is “passed on” and “given over” from one to another. Holy Tradition is, therefore, that which is passed on and given over within the Church from the time of Christ’s apostles right down to the present day. Fr. Tom Hopko
There are five basic sources that comprise Orthodox Tradition, passed down from one generation to the next, from Christ to the Apostles, in written and unwritten forms. The first (and of primary importance is Holy Scripture, both Old and New Testaments. The second source is the Liturgy, which includes the entire body of the Church’s common and public worship (including the sacraments of the Church). The third are the councils of the Church, the first one recounted in the Book of Acts (Acts 15), and their subsequent creeds and canons. The fourth are the Saints of the Church, especially the writings of a particular group of saints called the “church fathers”. The fifth source of Church Tradition is Church art. Saint John of Damascus said that words written in books are “images,” as are material images like icons. Art is the use of the material to express the intangible and the revelation of God.
We count fasting or kneeling in worship on the Lord’s day to be unlawful. [ed. note: Jesus rose on the Lord’s day, so it was for rejoicing only.] We rejoice in the same privilege also from Passover to Pentecost. At every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on our clothes and shoes, when we bathe, when we sit at table, when we light the lamps, on couch, on seat, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace upon the forehead the sign [i.e., of the cross]. If, for these and other such rules, you insist upon having positive Scriptural injunction, you will find none. Tradition will be held forth to you as the originator of them, custom as their strengthener, and faith as their observer. You will perceive that reason will support tradition, custom, and faith, or you will learn from someone else who knows. Meanwhile, you will believe that there is some reasoning [behind these traditions] to which submission is due. Tertullian, c. A.D. 200 in De Corona 3
Looking Ahead: tomorrow’s blog will be on our primary source of holy tradition; the Scriptures