Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By F. K. Bartels

9/30/2009 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Let us, with St. Jerome, embrace the Catholic Church as a guiding, guarding and nurturing mother whose concern is that we receive truth.

St. Jerome died in 420, but his profound influence still works among us.

St. Jerome died in 420, but his profound influence still works among us.

Highlights

By F. K. Bartels

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/30/2009 (4 years ago)

Published in Living Faith


GLADE PARK, Colorado (Catholic Online) - St. Jerome is one of the four great Latin Doctors of the Church, and is perhaps best known for his translation of the Hebrew books of the Bible into Latin, termed as the Vulgate. During the turn of the century (391-406), St. Jerome brought this most productive work to fruition, and, as a result, Latin became the language of the Church. Up until 1979, when Pope John Paul II issued the Nova Vulgata, the Vulgate was the official Latin Bible of the Catholic Church.

St. Jerome was born into a Christian family, most likely in 342. At a young age, he was sent to Rome for his education and studied the classical authors, from which he developed a love for literature; at about the age of thirty, he spent five years as a monk in the desert of Calcis. He was ordained a priest in the East by Bishop Paulinus, and became the secretary of Pope Damasus. St. Jerome did not actively exercise his priestly office, instead preferring to remain a monk and scholar. As the Holy Spirit led him into deeper love for Christ, he directed his love for literature toward an intense study of Scripture.

"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ" – St. Jerome

While he is most frequently remembered for his Vulgate, St. Jerome was a prolific writer, and wrote many commentaries on Scripture. His whole life became focused on the Word, seeking truth, and defending that truth. Through his life of prayer, St. Jerome grew wise and insightful, gifts which he shared in his writings. In St. Jerome's famous letter to St. Eustochium (letter 22), he shows his understanding of the true value of voluntary celibacy and consecrated virginity as a self-giving act directed at obtaining the highest love: "How very difficult it is for the human heart not to love something! Of necessity, our minds and wills must be drawn to some kind of affection. Carnal love is overcome by spiritual love. Desire is extinguished by deeper desire. Whatever is taken from carnal love is given to the higher love."

As a defender of the Church and her teaching, St. Jerome refuted the objections of Helvidius in regards to the perpetual virginity of Mary. Among such false objections, as are common even today, were those based on scriptural references to "the brothers" of the Lord, the "carpenter’s son," and Mary’s "firstborn son" (see Mt 13:55; 1:24-25).

St. Jerome responded: "Every only-begotten son is a firstborn son, but not every firstborn is an only-begotten. By firstborn we understand not only one who is succeeded by others, but one who has had no predecessors." In reference to the Lord’s "brothers," St. Jerome tells us: "In Holy Scripture there are four kinds of brethren – by nature, race, kindred, love." Certainly we still associate the word "brother" with those same "kinds of brethren" today. St. Jerome explained that, as our holy Church teaches presently, the brothers of Jesus were his cousins and the nephews of the Virgin Mary. Showing both his usual yet wonderful bluntness, which often surfaced due to his love of truth, St. Jerome tells Helvidius: "You neglected the whole range of Scripture and employed your madness in outraging the Virgin."

If we learn nothing else from St. Jerome, let us learn the wise art of obedience to the Church’s authority, and, certainly, to the supreme earthly authority of the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ. For St. Jerome frequently showed his reliance on the authority of the pope, as well as the extreme importance of Church teaching for guidance on matters of doctrine.

In an appeal to Pope St. Damasus in order to decide a dispute, St. Jerome wrote: "My words are spoken to the successor of the Fisherman, to the disciple of the Cross. As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but Your Blessedness, that is, with the Chair of Peter. For this I know is the rock on which the Church is built. This is the house where alone the Paschal Lamb can be rightly eaten. . . "

St. Jerome, of course, understood that it is within the Catholic Church alone that we receive the true body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ as we receive the Eucharist under the signs of consecrated bread and wine. Yet St. Jerome’s understanding of how the "Paschal Lamb can be rightly eaten" was not based on Scripture alone, which, as he knew very well, can lead to error through a misguiided subjective interpretation not informed by Sacred Tradition.

His understanding of the nature of the Eucharist descended from On-High; that is, the truth of the Eucharist descends from Christ to the Church he founded, which is then transmitted to future generations through the apostles and their successors. Therefore St. Jerome arrived at the truth of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist through not only his intense study of Scripture, but also in combination with Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

St. Jerome was intimately familiar with the importance of the Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium or teaching authority of the Church. Remove any of them and truth is threatened in its integrity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the relationship: "It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others" (CCC, 95).

Speaking to the errors of a stubbornly subjective Scripture interpretation, a disturbing and widespread aspect of contemporary Christianity, St. Jerome, in his usual style of telling it as he sees it, had this to say: "The art of interpreting the Scriptures is the only one of which all men everywhere claim to be the masters . . . The chatty old woman, the doting old man, and the worldly sophist, one and all, take in hand the Scriptures, rend them in pieces and teach them before they have learned them . . . They do not deign to notice what the prophets and apostles have intended, but they adapt conflicting passages to suit their own meaning as if it were a grand way of teaching – and not rather the faultiest of all – to misrepresent a writer’s views and to force the Scriptures reluctantly to do their will . . . " (Fr. Christopher Rengers, The 33 Doctors of the Church, p. 97).

Let us, with St. Jerome, embrace the Catholic Church as a guiding, guarding and nurturing mother whose concern is that we receive truth; a truth she speaks in her ancient words which flow from the unfathomable light of the Holy Spirit. For without truth life becomes little more than a drab and meaningless existence, where we labor away the days and years with little fruit, unaware of our greater purpose, blind to the reality God has set before us, separated from the true beauty of living a life in Christ crucified.

The Church, "the pillar and bulwark of the truth," faithfully guards "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." she guards the memory of Christ’s words; it is she who from generation to generation hands on the apostles’ confession of faith. As a mother who teaches her children to speak and so to understand and communicate, the Church our Mother teaches us the language of faith in order to introduce us to the understanding and the life of faith" (CCC, 171).

There can be no doubt that during those years spent searching the Scriptures, living an ascetic life, immersed in constant prayer and reaching for God on-high that St. Jerome’s awareness of the reality of sin and man’s judgment became refined and polished: "Whether I eat or drink, or whatever else I do, the dreadful trumpet of the last day seems always sounding in my ears: ‘Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment!’" (attributed to St. Jerome by Rev. Alban Butler).

St. Jerome died in 420, but his profound influence still works among us. In his encyclical, "Spiritus Paraclitus," Pope Benedict XV says of St. Jerome: "His voice is not still, though at one time the whole Catholic world listened to it when it echoed from the desert; yet Jerome still speaks in his writings, which ‘shine like lamps throughout the world.’ Jerome still calls to us."

-----

F. K. Bartels operates catholicpathways.com, and may be reached via email at: bartels@catholicpathways.com. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Living Faith

Weakness and Failure in the Christian Life. We Hold This Treasure in Earthen Vessels Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

I have been reflecting upon my own weakness a lot these days. I have discovered that the older I get the less I know and the more imperfections I discover in myself. As a younger man, I labored under a misconception that living the Christian life would somehow ... continue reading


Labor Day: Human Work Has Been Raised to the Grandeur of God Watch

Image of For the Christian, all human work participates in the ongoing work of redemption

By Deacon F.K. Bartels

When God Incarnate entered into our created world, he sanctified humankind and the labor in which men engage in order to shape creation. It is in gazing through the supreme lens of the consummation of God's revelation, the Person of Jesus Christ, that the divine light ... continue reading


International community has done too little in Syria and Iraq, Cardinal Vegliò declares Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò met with Pope Francis last week. The President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants, Cardinal Vegliò me to discuss the plight of those fleeing the Islamist violence in Iraq. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Pope: 'God wants us to grow in the ability to come together, forgive each other' Watch

Image of Pope Francis drinks a traditional South American drink called mate offered by the faithful as he arrives to lead his weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis, addressing more than 12,000 people that had gathered for the pope's catechesis and blessing, touched upon a common human trait that everyone must strive to overcome. The Pope said that while envy, jealousy and cruelty are human instincts, they are ... continue reading


Why Do We Commemorate the Beheading of John the Baptizer? Watch

Image of The Beheading of John the Baptizer

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We now refer to this Feast as the Passion of John the Baptizer more often than the Beheading of John the Baptizer. However, given the realities we face in this new missionary age of the Church, the actual beheading rushes to the forefront. We are seeing it in our own ... continue reading


How much power do you really have? More than you think!

Image of YCVF continues to deliver quality learning tools to Catholic students.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Earlier this year, representatives from Catholic Team Global donated a batch of XO Tablets to a humble Catholic school. Now, Catholic Team Global is preparing to do it again with support from its members and valued readers of Catholic Online. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Challenging the just war theory

Image of The horrors of war persist long after the shooting stops.

By Tony Magliano

Is there such a thing as a just war? Can the massive death and destruction of armed conflict ever be morally justified by followers of the Prince of Peace? For the first disciples of Christ the answer was a resounding "No!"During the first 300 years of Christianity it ... continue reading


St Augustine Teaches Us How to Read the Bible Watch

Image of St. Augustine writing

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Bible is not some-thing, but reveals Some-One. In the words of St. Paul to Timothy, all Scripture is inspired by God. (2 Tim. 3:16) The Greek means God-breathed. They reveal Jesus Christ and our encounter with Him is the heart of what it means to be a Christian. ... continue reading


Spiritual Childhood and Contemplative Prayer Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

One of the greatest joys in this later chapter of my life is an unexpected gift, his name is Noah. He is my grandson. He calls me Poppi. He is seven years old and so very wise. Noah continually confronts me with the utter simplicity, trust, openness and beauty of ... continue reading


How to Avoid Sliding into Pharisee-ism Watch

Image of Christ Before the High Priest, by Gerrit van Honthorst (1590-1656) hangs in the London Museum of Art.  The painting depicts Jesus, standing before the High priest - with His holy hands bound. The Priest, who at the time I thought was a Pharisee, is looking up with an arrogant demeanor and a pointed finger.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

A priest friend once reminded me that not ALL the Pharisees were so blinded by their self-righteousness that they failed to recognize that the One whom they so often sought to correct was God Incarnate. And, of course, he was correct. The Pharisees were a genuine ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 2:10-16
10 to us, though, God has given revelation through ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13, 13-14
8 Yahweh is tenderness and pity, slow to anger, full ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:31-37
31 He went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 2nd, 2014 Image

St. Ingrid of Sweden
September 2: Born in Skänninge, Sweden, in the 13th century, St. Ingrid lived ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter