Scritpture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium

Personal Approbation Paper


In the life of the Catholic Church, God reveals Himself through sacred Scripture, sacred Tradition, and through the Magisterium.    My involvement in youth ministry has compelled me to help our youth to know how Jesus Christ reveals Himself through the eyes of the Church.  Over the years, I have realized that many Catholic teenagers today do not read the Bible as they should, and many do not understand the Sacred Traditions of our faith.   Our society today is entrenched in religious and ideological pluralism to such an extent that many misunderstand the Church’s authoritative role in preserving and defending the truths of the Christian faith.  Therefore, it is imperative as a Catholic involved in the lay apostolate to understand the connections between Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium.

 Scripture says that “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (Compendium 11).  For this reason, God gave us the Church to know His truths manifested through Scripture, Tradition, and the teaching authority of the Magisterium.   The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the deposit of faith, Scripture and Tradition, is entrusted to the Magisterium, which is the Pope and all the bishops in communion with him.  Our Catholic faith teaches that Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium are so closely united with each other that one cannot stand without the others  (Compendium 17).  The fact that the Catholic Church has endured for almost two-thousand years gives testimony to the integral relation between sacred scripture, sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Church.  

Even though I had finished confirmation when I was thirteen years old, I still did not have a clear understanding or appreciation of sacred scripture, sacred Tradition, and the Church’s teaching authority in the Magisterium.  I never even heard of the word ‘Magisterium’ until I graduated from college.  It was never mentioned at home, and none of my Catholic friends mentioned it either.  It was not until one of my own friends from our retreat apostolate had left the Catholic Church because of his evangelical girlfriend.   At the time, she asked us questions that neither my friend nor I were able to adequately answer.   The experience left a mark on my conscience about the need to better understand my own Catholic faith.  

Over time, my understanding of the relationship between Scripture, sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium had developed.   Eventually, I came to understand the importance of this relationship when I realized the dilemma regarding authority in interpreting scripture and various teachings of faith.  I discovered I could rely on a teaching authority that has been tested by time, and one that closely resembles the faith of the apostles and the early Church.  This is the living teaching office of the Magisterium, which has the authority to interpret our ‘deposit of faith’.  Many people misunderstand or disagree with the Catholic Church’s claim to have the power and authority to bind teaching as infallible, which is an apostolic Tradition.  Most of the youth in my retreat apostolate are not familiar with this concept of the Magisterium.  However, I have touched on this matter by challenging their understanding of how we determine truth in different matters.  For example, “What is the pillar and foundation of Truth? Is it the Bible or the Church?  What does the Bible say on this matter?  The Bible says “the church is the pillar and foundation of truth” (1 Tim 3:15). 

Catholics in general need to know the importance of Scripture, sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium of our Church.  Doing so will give them clarity and appreciation of their Catholic faith. 



Compendium to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part 1, Chapter 2, “Why and in what way is divine revelation transmitted?”, par. 11.
Compendium to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part 1, Chapter 2, “What is the relationship between Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium?”, par. 17.

Edited 12.30.08