This content is taken from a series of sermons given by Fr. Chad Ripperger on Sacred Tradition and it is transcribed here by Tony Capobianco.
Permission to transcribe Father’s lecture was sought and permission was granted. The copyright remains that of Sensus Traditionis.
© 2019, Fr. Chad Ripperger - All Rights Reserved. © Sensus Traditionis
Fr. Ripperger 0:04
Despite the fact that most Traditionalists look down at everyone else in the Church, the fact of the matter is because most other people don't appreciate the Tradition or don't have an understanding, mostly Traditionalists are grossly ignorant of the Tradition. Now they might have a certain sense in which they think, “OK I’m coming to Mass, I like going to Mass”. They might recognize certain aspects like, “This is good. We should say the rosary”, or things of that sort. But when you actually sit down and talk to them and ask them you know, “what do you actually know about the Tradition?”, they usually tend to come up with nothing. Now by Tradition I actually mean what is Tradition?
Fr. Ripperger 0:37
Now the point is, I’m not here to beat up on people, what I’m here to say is that we should know what we’re doing. In other words we should understand what the Tradition is and have a certain sense of it. So Tradition, in order to get a grasp of this, I’m going to do a series of homilies on Tradition. It’s going to be dragged out for quite a while but I think it will be well worth it.
Fr. Ripperger 1:00
Tradition , is part of the Deposit of Faith. It is the means of transmission of that very deposit. Now, what this means is that there's a twofold aspect to Tradition. First, the thing that is passed on. Okay. That's called the Deposit of Faith, it’s the thing that’s passed on. The second thing is the mechanism or the means by which that is passed on.
Fr. Ripperger 1:21
Okay. So when you talk about Sacred Tradition, it encompasses the thing passed and the mechanism that is passing it. Okay. The expression that occurs that is, the Deposit of Faith, occurs in two letters of St. Paul in connection with the idea about the Doctrines of the Faith. The Deposit which St. Paul transmits to his faithful collaborator is the whole of Divine Revelation made up of the Dogmas of the Faith, so in other words the teachings of the Church, Christian morals, so in other words there is a coherent Christian Tradition regarding morality, the Sacraments, Holy Scripture, and the hierarchical constitution of the Church. The juridical act concept of the Deposit requires that it is not the property of the guardian. In other words it’s not the person who receives it that has ownership of it, but of the consignor who has handed it over to him to keep it in a safe state.
Fr. Ripperger 2:20
The Deposit of Faith has come from God. It is entrusted to those to whom a special assistance of the Holy Ghost is assured; That is, to those who succeed the Apostles in their Magisterium and in their ministry. Christ has transmitted the Deposit, whose content cannot be subject to alteration. So God as Christ transmitted the Deposit to the Apostles, and then they pass it on from generation to generation unaltered. The Church finds in the Deposit of Faith the riches that She communicates to Her children, the arms by which She fights Her adversaries. Okay, so it also includes the ability to combat certain things.
Fr. Ripperger 3:00
The Deposit of Faith is something given, “tradere” in Latin means to hand over or to give over or to pass over to somebody else, from which we get the word “Traditio” or Tradition. So the Deposit of Faith is something given by Christ, that is God, to the Church or more specifically to the Apostles. It was the Apostles who received it, which means that they have certain rights over it, even if they don’t own it, but they have certain rights over it and that will become important later when we talk about the Sacraments and whether they should be used outside the Church or not.
Fr. Ripperger 3:50
Second, whether they, that is the Apostles and their successors are permitted to change it. And this is where we run into a problem with certain members of the Magisterium who feel that even the Deposit of Faith is at their discretion. There’s a certain Hegelian dialectic, you don’t really need to know what that means, but it basically just indicates that things always change and that things cannot help but change. And so they think that even the Deposit of Faith changes and that each generation has successively modified it slightly in passing it on to the next generation, imparted itself into the next generation. This is absolutely heresy. The Deposit is the property of Jesus Christ, and therefore no one, not even the Pope, has the right to change it. The Pope is merely the custodian of the Mysteries of God, that is the Deposit, not the owner. And as a custodian he or anyone else is not permitted to change it. Now there are some things about Tradition that are open to change but those don’t pertain to the Deposit and some that aren’t. That we will talk about much later but the Deposit of Faith, those teachings which were essential to salvation, and all the sacraments, and those things, the Church does not have a right to modify it. Not necessarily the ritual but at least the content.
Fr. Ripperger 5:23
Third, the Deposit of Faith includes several elements, that is the Dogmas of the Faith, morals, the Sacraments, Holy Scripture and the hierarchical constitution of the Church. The Deposit of the Faith is what Christ left us. He left us the Sacraments with the Apostles, principally by the means of the reception of Holy Orders which are the principle way that the Sacraments are passed on from generation to generation. If the Sacraments are not part of the Deposit of Faith which is the essential intrinsic object of Tradition, then the transmission of the Sacraments from generation to generation would not enjoy the infallible guarantee of the Holy Ghost. Now, what does this mean? This is where we know that the sedevacants are in fundamental error because it is not possible for the Church to promulgate invalid Sacraments. It cannot promulgate invalid Sacraments because it goes contrary to the very nature of Sacred Tradition.
Fr. Ripperger 5:49
So this is something that you're starting to see more and more, there are groups that are outside the Church who claim that they are the right Tradition. We’ll see how that is just utterly absurd a little bit later. But the point is that there’s an infallible guarantee that the Sacraments will be transmitted from generation to generation. That doesn’t mean that certain people aren’t going to do something stupid and cause them to be invalid, but the Church as a whole transmits it from generation to generation.
Fr. Ripperger 6:18
Also at the heart of this is the hierarchical constitution of the Church. Now the hierarchical constitution includes things like being able to fight our adversaries, the power of exorcising the Devil, the power to bestow blessings and things of this sort which is power that the hierarchy actually has by means of Holy Orders and otherwise by jurisdiction. But the hierarchy is also the structure of the Church. Which again is where the sedevacantists are fundamentally in error. If you go a whole generation without a Pope, there's not a principle of unity for that generation. That means that the hierarchical structure of the Church has collapsed and the gates of Hell have in fact prevailed against it. It is not possible for the hierarchical structure of the Church not to be passed on from generation to generation and that includes the papacy, first and foremost. To hold that there’s not a Pope is nothing short of a damnable error. It’s heresy.
Fr. Ripperger 7:18
Tradition is normally divided into oral and written, insofar as the things which are handed on from generation to generation are passed on either in something written, that is Scriptures or orally, that is the transmission of the priesthood by means of the form of the Sacrament during ordination. In the beginning the entire Deposit of Faith was passed on orally for about a generation or so. Hence the Protestants who say, “only Scripture”, or “you have to read Scripture in order to be saved”, are in error because that would mean that immediately after Christ, the means of salvation weren’t passed on and therefore we have an entire generation immediately after Christ, that could not be saved. That's absurd. That means that Christ fundamentally failed in His mission. Not to mention the fact that literacy is something that really only became common in various countries in the last 100 or 150 years. Which means you basically would have generation after generation after generation who never read Scripture and therefore they couldn’t be saved. That’s absurd.
Fr. Ripperger 8:22
Tradition and the Deposit of Faith is not subject to change. The Deposit of Faith will always be passed on to each generation. Not that everybody in each generation is going to get the whole of it or that some people in a particular generation even members of the Magisterium can’t lapse into error. This comes from the fact however that the Sacred Tradition in the Church enjoys God as its cause and end so it ensures us that it will always be passed on intact. Now sometimes you hear Traditionalists and they get hopeless. I’m sorry but the reason that God has allowed the Church to get as bad as it has is to let people know that it doesn’t matter how bad it gets, it will still remain intact.
Fr. Ripperger 9:05
Traditions which come from a human cause, human care, and human industry do change. Any kind of tradition to be an authentic tradition, not really in a sacred sense but even in a profane sense, is done as a means of passing on what is esteemed as good. In other words, tradition is something that we're passing on from one generation to another. When something is truly good, we don't want to mess with it, we want to give it to our children so they have what we have. But there was an unfortunate generation, sometimes called the greatest generation, which decided that it wasn't going to pass on the Tradition intact and that was because they did not appropriate the suffering that they went through during the Depression and the Second World War and so they refused to deny themselves and their children nothing after that. They begot the hippie generation. That meant that they capitulated their authority and authority is a necessary thing to pass on the Tradition. They decided to modify everything in the Church, there's literally nothing that they cannot leave alone. It’s almost a sign of a compulsion and I hate to say that from the pulpit but it’s true. They can’t leave anything alone. It’s a sign of a moral problem. Whereas a true Traditionalist, he doesn’t care about himself. He doesn't care about how he feels about the thing, he just wants to make sure that what God wants passed on, the good things are passed on.
Fr. Ripperger 10:33
Sacred Tradition is not only a fact of history but it is a matter of Divine Law. The Divine Law to pass on the Tradition was given to the Apostles as Christ said, “Go teach them all that I have commanded you.” This now is given as the provision of a special institution, the Roman Catholic Church, which God set up to guarantee that the Tradition would be passed on intact. Then God constituted an authentic order of transmission, that is the means within that Church and that is the Church of the Magisterium.
Fr. Ripperger 11:04
And then He gave the promise of perennial assistance. Perennial means perpetual, it’s never going to end until Christ returns and then He resumes visible headship and then it doesn’t matter anyway. That is, the Holy Ghost guarantees, guides, and protects the passing on of what is necessary for salvation. The gates of Hell will not prevail. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t look like it. Sometimes it starts looking pretty bad but it’s always going to remain intact.
Fr. Ripperger 11:30
Without Tradition, revelation cannot be preserved and subsequent generations could not thereby be saved by the knowledge and the means of the Deposit of Faith. If a single heresy corrupts the Virtue of Faith and the subsequent generations just pass heresy that means that none of the subsequent generations can be saved because you have to have Faith in order to be saved.
Fr. Ripperger 11:51
Therefore Sacred Tradition needs an unfailing means by which the things of Tradition are passed. That means (the means of transmission) is necessary so that Dogma remains incorrupt despite our human condition. That is, without the means of transmission of Tradition, we don’t get things right. Things would become like the game called telephone where you tell someone something and the thing goes around, around, around... and by the time that you get to the end, it’s completely altered. This is one of the signs that Sacred Tradition is Divine because it’s been passed on for 2000 years intact.
Fr. Ripperger 12:19
I also said that authentic organic Tradition which was instituted by Christ, namely the Church, especially the hierarchy, with which He promised to be with until the end of time. The Tradition is a continual preaching from age to age by the apostolic successors under the charism, that is a gift or an ability or some sort of talent, of assistance of the Holy Ghost of the revelation by Christ Himself and first received orally by the Apostles. This means that Tradition is first at root an oral Tradition, not a written one. Some things are written down but even those only have a guarantee orally by the Church and this is were the Protestants get it wrong. Somebody has to give witness to the fact that scripture is authentic. And that authority, that witness has to come from some authority. Well I'm sorry, but a human authority doesn't suffice. Some guy who's decided to hang his shingle up and call himself Reverend doesn’t suffice. It has to be someone who Christ said, “You’re the authority, you’re entrusted with this and you have to pass it on to each generation”, and they will receive that same authority and then we receive from that authority, the guarantee that these things are in fact true. With the contents of Scripture we couldn’t have any guarantee unless the Church Herself was to guarantee it.
Fr. Ripperger 13:45
The requirement to teach, pass on, “tradere” the teaching of Christ was manifest when He said, “Go therefore and Teach ye all nations.” That means everybody is to be proselytized, prudence being observed of course. Christ continues, “Baptizing them in in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world.” The Apostles are the guardians, the faithful dispensers, not inventors of the doctrine of Christ. The Apostles and their successors are to conserve the doctrinal integrity of the teachings of Christ. “Teach ALL”, if you change it then you're not teaching it all. “Teach ALL that I have commanded you.”
Fr. Ripperger 14:38
Therefore the Apostles and their successors are not allowed to substitute Christ’s teaching with their own teaching. With the institution of the order of Tradition is given an indefectible charism, namely Magisterial infallibility. This charism is necessary to know without doubt, that is being assured that there is no error, what Christ taught. Even Scripture, as I mentioned cannot be guaranteed without a continual Tradition informing each generation that it’s true.
Fr. Ripperger 15:18
The charism of indefectibility, that is that the Church will not fail applies to all that is contained in Tradition, namely the teachings, that is the knowledge necessary for salvation, the Sacraments, the organ of Tradition itself, the Magisterium. The Magisterial offices are passed on from each generation.
Fr. Ripperger 15:37
The institution of The Order of Tradition was not done in a haphazard manner. Christ knew what He was doing. He did it in a very specific way. He did it in an oral way, which constitutes a perpetual living preaching. This is also necessary since again we can’t be sure of the truth of Scripture or even of the documents of the Magisterium without the subsequent generation of the Magisterium assuring us of their authenticity. The institution of the Order of Tradition is indivisible in itself, that is it’s really a mark of unicity of the Church. In other words there can only be one Church, which can have the ability to transmit indefectibly. No other Church, no other religion, can and does this without error creeping in.
Fr. Ripperger 16:12
In fact it’s a visible structure as well. The Church is a visible institution. Those who cut themselves off from the Church are no longer a part of the organ of Sacred Tradition. This applies to schismatics and it applies not just to those who everybody agrees are schismatics, like the Orthodox, but we’re talking about because of a history of it, those under excommunicable sentences are also subject to this; which means once they become excommunicated it does not matter what their subjective state is, it's irrelevant in relationship to the actual passing on, of being an official part of the organ of Tradition. Any Bishop who is subject to the excommunication of the Holy Father, it doesn't matter what a Cardinal says, it doesn't matter how many books are written on it, that they didn’t incur it, it doesn't matter. The public judgement of the Church is levied by the Holy Father. He determines who's part of the Magisterium and therefore if that sentence is levied they are cut off from the official organ of the Church, which means they are no longer part of the Tradition of the Church. Period. Until they come back in and get reconciled.
Fr. Ripperger 17:35
In fact, the schismatics as a general rule, normally lapse into heresy within 100 years of their separation from the Barque of Peter. It usually doesn't take even that long. Since they have cut themselves off from the organ of Tradition, which enjoys the charism of infallibility, there is no guarantee of their doctrinal interpretations of things. This is something that has to be kept in mind. There is no guarantee that they will pass on the teachings of Christ in their entirety.
Fr. Ripperger 17:59
So what does all of this mean? Well it means to have great Hope and trust in God at the fact that He will always pass on intact, make sure that it is passed on intact, the Tradition of the Church. And from that we have hope and gratitude that in the end, in these times particularly, peace.
© 2019, Fr. Chad Ripperger - All Rights Reserved.
© Sensus Traditionis
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