The tradition is the set of settled habits, customs, opinions and thoughts being kept to be hand down from one generation to the next generation. It does matter what is handed down and whether it is done consistently and faithfully. The Gospel according Mark describes us already at the beginning (the end of 2nd and the beginning of the 3rd chapter) the dispute over the observing the Sabbath day. Our Lord Jesus is approving the possibility to pluck few of the grain heads and also helas on the Sabbath day. This his behaviour is understood as having no respect to the traditional observance of the Sabbath.
To these similar views is Christ adding the term „hypocrites“ when the dispute about purification in Mark 7 occured, as well as the words from the prophet Isaiah (29,13): „This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men“. „You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men.” (Mk 7,8). It applies, that there might be also the tradition created by men, which is twisted and spoiled concerning even the religious matters.
The above mentioned disapproval of abandoning the God´s commandments is the opposite to the sound tradition, which keeps the God´s commandments. Lk 4,16: „And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the Sabbath day.“ He went to the synagogue observing the good habit and the tradition, because He himself said: „Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. (Mt 5,17).
When refering to the tradition it might be headed up the opposite direction. This is described in the Gospel at the dispute about the divorce. The advocates of the divorce in Mark, chapter 10, argue, that it is traditional and the divorce was settled a long time ago: already „Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away (Dt 24,1). Yet, our Lord Jesus explains according the first book of the Bible Genesis (1,27 and 2,24) that: „For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment! But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.“ He continues then explaining to His disciples that living with another women or men becomes adultery.
The first council in Jerusalem, Acts 15, was solving the disharmony what should and what should not be kept from the tradition. According the example of Jesus there were taken into account the God´s commandments and it was decided, as the necessary matter, to abstain from everything which was sacrificed to idols, from blood, from what is strangled and from unchastity. We can read that this decision was after the decision of the Holy Spirit: „it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us“ (Acts 15,28).
St. John Damascus in his work On holy images writes: „A small thing is not small when it leads to something great, nor indeed is it a thing of no matter to give up the ancient tradition of the Church held by our forefathers, whose conduct we should observe, and whose faith we should imitate.“1
There exists the tradition of the hard hearts, that are far from God and the tradition of the Holy Spirit, the sacred Tradition, the tradition of the saints, whose hearts are close to God and let them to be transformed by God in case they did not keep it pure since the baptism like Our Lady from the conception. The tradition which is worth to be called the sacred tradition is very different from the tradition of human invention and deformation. The tradition to which should be given the maximum honor is in absolute accordance with the Sacred Scripture, as the apostle Paul teaches in 1Cor 15,3-5: „For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve…“ We can find out the importance of the tradition in the Sacred Sriptures and also in the fact, that Jesus Christ and most of His disciples did not write anything. His teaching and the example of the life was handed down by word mouth. This is handed down by the Tradition and is disformed by the traditions.
The Holy Bible writes about the wrong tradition and good Tradition. The Tradition has the same fate as the Sacred Scriptures, where the first pope Peter writes in the end of his second letter (3,16) about the letters of the apostle Paul: „There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.“ The Tradition, the Sacred Scriptures and the magisterium of the Church belong together similarly as three persons of the Holy Trinity. Attending the church is the example of the tradition as well as of the Tradition. I attend the church, because my grandfather and grandmother attended. Is this example about attending the church the traditional attending or based on the Tradition?! It is the traditional attending in that case, if it is attending not knowing why and thus it is only the human habit. When someone gets married and moves somewhere where people do not attend the church, then the different tradition is recieved, the tradition of not attending. He, who attends the church because of the Tradition, has his own conviction which is based on the true faith, which he recieved and by attending he wants to contribute that it is being kept. He wants in his family, village, town and nation to hand down the tradition which is christian, catholic, marian, cyrilomethodian, saintwencelawian and according the other saints. In case he change the living place, his age grows, or he changes the job or status, then he is always accompanied by this need to keep and develop the Tradition. He prays: „I thank you, Lord, for the Tradition. The heritage of our fathers, the sound Tradition, keep us o Lord! And protect us also from the wrong traditions, which leads the man astray from sound christianity, protect us from human inventions, nonsense, seducement, superstitions and innovations, which destroy this sound tradition. Amen.“
- St. John Damascene (published 1898) On holy images,