Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By F. K. Bartels

9/30/2009 (5 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 (5 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'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Living Faith

Singer puts amazing, can't miss Easter spin on popular song 'Hallelujah' (WATCH) Watch

Image of Easter Sunday is on April 5.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As we approach Easter Sunday, it is important to remember the reason for the holiday. It is important to remember what Jesus Christ went through. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Singer/songwriter Kelley Mooney was asked to perform Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." ... continue reading


Unholy political positions in the Holy Land Watch

Image of

By Tony Magliano

As the minds and hearts of Christians throughout the world focus on the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, we naturally think of the Holy Land. Throughout much of history, in the land where the world's savior taught human beings to love one another as ... continue reading


'Current White House may be least friendly to religious concerns' A message from Archbishop Charles Chaput Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In noting that the Obama administration appears to be the least friendly to religious concerns in United States history, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, in a speech to seminarians in his archdiocese this month, examined the threats to religious liberty - in ... continue reading


St. Teresa of Avila dubbed the Pope Francis of her time Watch

Image of Witty, warm and personable, St. Teresa of Avila nonetheless pushed the Carmelite order to reform, teaching the faithful not to be caught up with creature comforts

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

St. Teresa of Avila of the 16th Century was in many ways the Pope Francis of her day. Witty, warm and personable, she nonetheless pushed the Carmelite order to reform. St. Teresa taught the faithful not to be caught up with creature comforts, to be true to ... continue reading


5 Disney movies you never knew had hidden religious messages Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Disney movies are a well-known and well-loved part of most people's childhood. These stories talk and teach us things, like believing in ourselves and follow our dreams. Recently, the stories inspire courage and kindness, as well as forms of "true love." But viewers ... continue reading


5 excellent tips on how to read the Bible Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Bible is one of the most popular published books ever written in the history of life, but also one of the hardest to read and understand. Unlike most books published today, the Bible contains a lot of statements that are full of dates, metaphors and written to ... continue reading


200 Christian teachers denied day off for Good Friday Watch

Image of The 2014-2015 school years are the first time in recent memory that officials scheduled classes during both Good Friday and the Jewish holidays.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Rhode Island school district is being sued over the claim that 200 Christian teachers were denied requests to take Good Friday off from work. The teacher's union claims that the decision denies educators the two religious days that they are afforded in their ... continue reading


For the first time in over 150 years -- Blood of St. Januarius liquefies during Francis' visit to Naples Watch

Image of According to legend, Januarius was allegedly born in Benevento to a rich patrician family that traced its descent to the Caudini tribe of the Samnites.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

For the first time in over 150 years, the blood of St. Januarius liquefied in the presence of a pope this past weekend. The phenomenon occurred when Pope Francis visited Naples this past weekend. It was the first time the blood liquefied in the presence of a ... continue reading


Church to Canonize Mom and Dad of St Therese, Show the Holiness of Christian Marriage Watch

Image of Pictured: Louis and Zelie Martin, the Mom and Dad of St Therese
For those called to live their Christian life in a consecrated Christian marriage, it is in the domestic church where progress in the spiritual life finds its raw material. The question we face every day becomes whether we live Christian marriage and family as a Christian vocation by responding to grace.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Louis and Zelie married in France in 1858. They had nine children. Five entered a consecrated or religious life in the Church. We have 218 letters which were written by Zelie.  They record the naturally supernatural pattern of a very real, human and devout ... continue reading


Drinking the Chalice of the Lord: Facing Suffering, Struggle and Failure Watch

Image of All of those who bear the name Christian are invited to follow the path of Jesus' struggle, to walk along with Him on the way of His rejection. We too are invited to climb the mountain of His great saving act of unmerited selfless Divine love. Golgotha beckons.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

James was the son of Zebedee and brother of John. From faithful stock, we see in this encounter that some forms of zeal may indeed be genetic. In fact, the zeal in both of these brothers caused the Lord to name them the Sons of Thunder.(Mk 3:14-17) However, human ... 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, Isaiah 50:4-9
4 Lord Yahweh has given me a disciple's tongue, for ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 69:8-10, 21-22, 31, 33-34
8 I am estranged from my brothers, alienated from my ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 26:14-25
14 Then one of the Twelve, the man called Judas ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 1st, 2015 Image

St. Hugh of Grenoble
April 1: Benedictine bishop of Grenoble, France, patron of St. Bruno. He ... 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