Sacred Tradition as Revelation
Sacred Tradition is Roman Catholicism's ongoing journey in seeking divine truth. As described earlier, the scrutiny of many criteria and the passage of significant time were necessary in order to generate what today is known as the canon of Scripture or the Bible. During this long gestation period, Christians, and more specifically Roman Catholics, especially in the early centuries after Jesus, lived lives of faith without the benefit of the Bible. How did they know the revelation of Christ? How did they understand church teaching? The basic answer is they followed the tradition of their ancestors. This tradition, found in sources other than the Bible, was integral to the life of the community. Most of these traditions were based on texts that became part of the canon, but others are derived from apocryphal or even pseudepigraphal texts. Yet these teachings, as research and history show, were part of church teaching from the outset.
Two dogmas associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary are good examples of the application of Sacred Tradition. Neither the Immaculate Conception (belief that Mary was conceived without original sin) nor the Assumption (teaching that Mary, at the point of death, was assumed body and soul into heaven) are found in the Bible, yet they are basic Roman Catholic dogmas. These teachings did not arise at the time of their proclamation, namely 1854 and 1950 respectively, but rather had been part of Catholic teaching for centuries. They were, in other words, part of Sacred Tradition.