Growth in understanding the Faith

Cathal Barry examines what the Catechism says about how the heritage of faith is able to grow in the life of the Church.

All the faithful share in understanding and handing on revealed truth, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The Catechism also states that the faithful have received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, “who instructs themand guides them into all truth”.

It cites the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium which states: “The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples' supernatural discernment in matters of faith when from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals.”

“That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God.

“Through it, the people of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints, penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life,” the document says.

Thanks to the assistance of the Holy Spirit, according to the Catechism, “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 it is in particular theological research which deepens knowledge of revealed truth;

– from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which [believers] experience, the sacred Scriptures grow with the one who reads them;

– and from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth.

It is clear, therefore, according to the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God's most wise design, “are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls”.