Memorial of Saint Jerome, priest and doctor of the Church
Biographical Information about St. Jerome
Readings for Saturday
Reading 1 Eccl 11:9—12:8
Responsorial Psalm Ps 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 and 17
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Gospel Lk 9:43b-45
I interpret as I should, following the command of Christ: "Search the
Scriptures," and "Seek and you shall find." For if, as Paul says, Christ is the
power of God and the wisdom of God, and if the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ. (-St. Jerome: from a commentary on Isaiah)
St. Jerome is the patron saint of those who pursue scripture scholarship. He is one of those remarkable minds that surfaced in the early Church and is a person to whom we owe so much. In his day, the only means by which one could read scripture is if we understood ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. He took manuscripts in these languages and translated them into the Latin Canon know as the Vulgate. Every Christian in the fourth century owes him a debt of gratitude for his efforts. This post was opened with a quote from his commentary on Isaiah that should stir us all up to be more fervently dedicated to uncovering Christ in scripture.
Given all of the portraits painted of St. Jerome, you may wonder why I selected the one above by El Greco to lead with rather than the one below by Simon Vouet. It is because Jerome was a very complex person and his struggles with the spirit are clear in his life. Much like St. Augustine who lived centuries later, Jerome, born Eusebius Hieronymus Sophronius, spent his youth embracing the amoral secular Roman culture. It was not until later in his life that, through his academic pursuits, he was drawn into God’s service. Aside from his great work of translation he felt driven to seek solitude and the mortification of the flesh, becoming a hermit in the Syrian Desert. I give you another quote from the Saint we memorialize today:
The measure of our advancement in the spiritual life should be taken from the
progress we make in the virtue of mortification; for it should be held as
certain that the greater violence we shall do ourselves in mortification, the
greater advance we shall make in perfection.
Great works have come from this Saint and Doctor of the Church.
Supporting his memorial we have scripture from Ecclesiastes that seems to echo that almost mournful search for wisdom and comfort that Jerome himself must have sought in those desert wastes. Like the description we have from Qoheleth, the phases of our lives bring us to different responses to God. Let us hope that through examples like St. Jerome who answered that call, we to can do great things for the Church and to the greater glory of God.