The Catholic Church's Treasures

6th Week of Ordinary Time: The Catholic Church's Treasures

By Francis Fernandez-Carvajal

3/43.1 The Deposit of Faith. A treasure that each generation receives from the hands of the Church. She keeps it faithfully with the help of the Holy Spirit and expounds it with authority.

Our Lord tells us in the Gospel of Sunday's Mass[2982] that He has not come to abolish the Old Law, but to bring it to fulfilment. He restores, perfects and raises the precepts of the Old Testament to a higher order. The doctrine of Jesus is of eternal value to the men of all times. It is the source of all saving truth and moral discipline.[2983] It is a treasure that each generation receives from the hands of the Church. She keeps it faithfully under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and has authority to give an authentic interpretation of it. When we accept the Faith which the Church proposes, we communicate directly with the Apostles ... and through them we communicate with Jesus Christ, our first and only Teacher. We go to their school, as it were, and overcome the distance of centuries that separates us from them.[2984] Thanks to this living Magisterium we can say that, in a way, the whole world has received his doctrine and has been transformed into Galilee. The whole of the earth becomes Jericho and Capharnaum. All humanity stands on the shores of Lake Gennesareth.[2985]

To keep the truths of faith in their fulness is essential for the salvation of mankind. What truth is there that can save other than the truth of Christ? What new truth could be of interest, even if it sprang from the wisest of men, if it led us away from the teaching of the Master? Who would dare to interpret, alter or accommodate the divine Word to suit his own whims? That is why Our Lord warns us today: Whoever then relaxes as much as one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.

Saint Paul exhorted Timothy: Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have altogether missed the mark as regards the Faith.[2986] The Church continues to use the expression deposit for the unalterable content of the Faith as transmitted to us through the centuries, to designate the truths she has received from Christ himself and which she is charged to preserve until the end of time.

The truth of faith does not change with the passage of time. It is not superseded or modified or overtaken by the course of history. It can allow fresh insights or even call for the kind of pedagogical and pastoral restatements appropriate to the characteristics of a living language, and thus follow a line of development, but without deviating from the well-known traditional formula of Saint Vincent of Lerins: ‘quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus’: ‘what has been believed everywhere, always, by everyone’ must be preserved as part of the deposit of faith ... This stability of dogma defends the authentic patrimony, the Apostolic wholeness of the Catholic religion. The Creed does not change. It does not get out of date. It does not disintegrate.[2987] It is a solid supporting pillar, an unshakeable column, and we cannot give way even in little things, although by temperament we might be inclined to compromise. You are afraid of hurting people, of creating divisions and of giving the appearance of being intolerant ... and you are giving in on certain positions and certain points (though you assure me they are not serious ones) which will have fateful consequences for many.

Forgive my sincerity: through your behaviour, you are falling into nothing less than the stupid and harmful intolerance that you were concerned to avoid: that of not allowing the truth to be proclaimed.[2988] Proclaiming the truth is often the greatest good we can do for those who surround us.

Further sections of this reading found within In Conversation With God: Volume 3

[4122] cf Luke 10:27

[4123] Lev 19:9-10

[4124] Lev 19:18

[4125] Luke 10:25-37

[4126] Cardinal M. González Martín, Free, in Charity, p.58

[4127] ibid, p.59