“Why do you believe that it can’t be found in the Holy Scriptures?” This is a question we often hear. The answer of course is: “It is to be found in Holy Tradition.” But what is Holy Tradition?
Holy Tradition is all those spiritual treasures which we inherited from our holy ancestors which are in absolute accord with the Holy Scriptures and which help us to understand rightly the Holy Scriptures.
The Holy Tradition is older and contains more than does the Holy Scriptures. St. John 31:25 says: “And there are many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.”
Included in Holy Tradition are short definitions and formulations of our Orthodox Creed, the doctrine of the seven holy Mysteries (Sacraments) and how they should be done, the canons of the Apostles, the canons of the seven Ecumenical Councils held between the years of 325 and 787 at which over 2000 representatives of the undivided Christian Church from all over the known world participated, and the canons and regulations of several provincial Synods. Included also are the disciplinary rules of St. Basil the Great and other saints – the teachings from the Divine Liturgies and other services, the writings of the Fathers of the Church, the lives of the Christian saints and martyrs and pious usages, signs and symbols as expressions of our Faith, Hope, and Love.
Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture are inseparable. In the light of Holy Tradition we rightly understand the Holy Scripture and in the light of the Holy Scripture we appreciate and love the Holy Tradition.
We shortchange Holy Tradition when we think of it only as customs which may be practiced in a parish or a certain diocese.