III. The Interpretation of the Heritage of Faith
The heritage of faith entrusted to the whole of the Church
84 The apostles entrusted the "Sacred deposit" of the faith (the depositum fidei), contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to the whole of the Church. "By adhering to [this heritage] the entire holy people, united to its pastors, remains always faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. So, in maintaining, practising and professing the faith that has been handed on, there should be a remarkable harmony between the bishops and the faithful."
Being faithful to the Magisterium of the Church is to be faithful to Christ for the Magisterium teach what is contained either explicitly or implicitly in the Sacred Deposit of Faith.
The Magisterium of the Church
85 "The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ." This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.
This task of authentic interpretation of the Word of God was given to Peter and his successors (Matthew 16:18-16) and to the Body of Bishops (as successors of the Apostles) in communion to Peter (Matthew 18:18 ).
86 "Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith."48
The Magisterium is the Word of God's guardian.
87 Mindful of Christ's words to his apostles: "He who hears you, hears me",49 The faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.
Any individual who rejects the Pope, our Visible Head, or the Body of Bishops in communion with the Pope is rejecting the Body of Christ; therefore, Christ Himself. Not being in communion with Christ is automatically excommunication. Those are not worthy to receive Communion.
The dogmas of the faith
88 The Church's Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes in a definitive way truths having a necessary connection with them.
Infallible teachings such as the Pope having the charism of truth and never-failing (or wavering) faith (not able err gravely in matters of faith) are not to be rejected or obstinately doubted by the faithful. To claim otherwise is a heresy. An apostate, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs automatic excommunication (Canon 1364, n. 1).
89 There is an organic connection between our spiritual life and the dogmas. Dogmas are lights along the path of faith; they illuminate it and make it secure. Conversely, if our life is upright, our intellect and heart will be open to welcome the light shed by the dogmas of faith.50
Infallible teachings are certainly true. There is no error or possibility of error.
90 The mutual connections between dogmas, and their coherence, can be found in the whole of the Revelation of the mystery of Christ.51 "In Catholic doctrine there exists an order or hierarchy 234 of truths, since they vary in their relation to the foundation of the Christian faith."52
The higher ranked in this hierarchy is the Pope, our Supreme Pontiff. Only God can judge the Pope, no one else (Canon Law 1404).
The supernatural sense of faith
91 All the faithful share in understanding and handing on revealed truth. They have received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, who instructs them53 and guides them into all truth.54
We received the Holy Spirit in Baptism (non-formal baptisms such as blood or desire applies to those with no fault of their own). We were anointed at Confirmation. We have to strive to always be in communion with God and humbly ask Him of His Spirit, to enlighten us, to guide us. We have to take advantage of this grace.
92 "The whole body of the faithful. . . cannot err in matters of belief. This characteristic is shown in the supernatural appreciation of faith (sensus fidei) on the part of the whole people, when, from the bishops to the last of the faithful, they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals."55
Only as a body in union with our Visible Head, the Pope.
Canonization of Saints by the Pope make us believe that they are certainly in Heaven - Matthew 16:19 (some of them perhaps with a brief stay in Purgatory).
93 "By this appreciation of the faith, aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth, the People of God, guided by the sacred teaching authority (Magisterium),. . . receives. . . the faith, once for all delivered to the saints. . . the People unfailingly adheres to this faith, penetrates it more deeply with right judgment, and applies it more fully in daily life."56
The people who unfailingly adheres and perseveres to this faith will certainly go to Heaven to enjoy glory with God forever.
Growth in understanding the faith
94 Thanks to the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the understanding of both the realities and the words of the heritage of faith is able to grow in the life of the Church:
- "through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts";57 it is in particular "theological research [which] deepens knowledge of revealed truth".58
- "from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which [believers] experience",59 The sacred Scriptures "grow with the one who reads them."60
- "from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth".61
The Apostles entrusted the Sacred Deposit of Faith to the Church, but the understanding of this Faith grows with time. All was not understood at once for we are not God. We are limited creatures and, as such, we grow in understanding step by step. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, and, as such, She grows. Even Christ in His human nature grew in understanding (Luke 2:40). Even Christ taught us that the Church will grow in understanding (John 16:12-13).
95 "It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls."62
Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium is (not "are", but "is") a figure of the Trinity - Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
John 3:27; John 15:5; Matthew 19:26