Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
This is the third part of answering the question of “How God Speaks To Us?” In the first part we addressed Sacred Tradition. In the second part we talked about Sacred Scripture or the Bible. Today we will explore the role of the Magisterium. To refresh our memories I want to remind us of “How God speaks To Us?”
As from the first, God speaks to His Church through the Bible and through Sacred Tradition. To make sure we understand Him, He guides the Church’s teaching authority – the magisterium – so it always interprets the Bible and Tradition accurately. This is the gift of infallibility. Like the three legs on a stool, the Bible, Tradition, and the magisterium are all necessary for the stability of the Church and to guarantee sound doctrine.
Together the pope and the bishops form the teaching authority of the Church, which is called the magisterium (from the Latin for “teacher”). The teachings related to the magisterium are found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church numbers 85-87 and 888-892.The magisterium, guided and protected from error by the Holy Spirit, gives us certainty in matters of doctrine. The Church is the custodian of the Bible and faithfully and accurately proclaims its message, a task that God has empowered it to do.
Keep in mind that the Church came before the New Testament, not the New Testament before the Church. Divinely inspired members of the church wrote the books of the new Testament, just as divinely inspired writers had written the Old Testament, and the Church guided by the Holy Spirit to guard and interpret the entire Bible, both Old and New Testaments.
Such an official interpreter is absolutely necessary if we are to understand the Bible properly. (We all know what the Constitution says, but we still need a Supreme Court to interpret what it means.) The magisterium is infallible when it teaches officially because Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles and their successors “into all truth.” (Pillar of fire-Pillar of truth, Catholic Answers.)
In the Gospel of John 16:12-15 we read “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
And so we come to understand that God speaks to us in three ways: Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium. To get a complete picture and an accurate understanding of what God tells us we need all three legs of the stool to help us to know God’s love for each of us.