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Monday, September 29, 2014

St Jerome

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

St Jerome is one of the most important scripture scholars in the history of the church. His translation of the bible into Latin, known as the Vulgate, was the basis of every translation into modern languages until the middle of the 20th century. His brilliance and discipline were such that he was able to produce not only a translation of the bible that continues to be a resource for contemporary students of scripture, he also wrote dozens of commentaries on the bible, and more than a hundred letters. An advisor to Popes, he was also often called upon by theologians as they grappled with heresies and misinterpretations of the bible.

This being said, Jerome was a volatile, tempestuous and driven man. Reading a few of his letters makes you glad you were not in his sights! Jerome lived at a time and in a church that badly needed reform and his answer was a rigid asceticism. In what many consider his most famous letter, he warns St. Eustochium about every possible threat to her virginity while also acknowledging that even when he went to the desert to escape the insanity of the Rome of his day, he was tormented by fantasies of Roman dancing girls.While no one denies the importance of virginity and celibacy in a world obsessed with sex, it is not the only or even primary avenue to salvation.  Marriage and family, which Jerome seems to dismiss as less than the call to virginity, (1) remain the vocations to which most people are called, and their path to holiness.

I write all this about Jerome because for me he is a powerful example of how God works with us as we are and uses even our faults for the good of others. Jerome’s life reminds us that when we submit ourselves to God, great things happen, and that God and history remember all the good Jerome did and underplay his shortcomings. What a wonderful lesson for us.

Today, ask for forgiveness of your sins, but don’t forget to be grateful for the gifts God has given you.

How do you emphasize the strengths of others, not their faults?

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