Most of the saints are remembered for some outstanding virtue or devotion which they practiced, but Jerome is frequently remembered for his bad temper! It is true that he had a very bad temper and could use a vitriolic pen, but his love for God and his Son Jesus Christ was extraordinarily intense; anyone who taught error was an enemy of God and truth, and St. Jerome went after him or her with his mighty and sometimes sarcastic pen.
He was above all a Scripture scholar, translating most of the Old Testament from the Hebrew. He also wrote commentaries which are a great source of scriptural inspiration for us today. He was an avid student, a thorough scholar, a prodigious letter-writer and a consultant to monk, bishop and pope. St. Augustine (August 28) said of him, "What Jerome is ignorant of, no mortal has ever known."
St. Jerome is particularly important for having made a translation of the Bible which came to be called the Vulgate. It is not the most critical edition of the Bible, but its acceptance by the Church was fortunate. As a modern scholar says, "No man before Jerome or among his contemporaries and very few men for many centuries afterwards were so well qualified to do the work." The Council of Trent called for a new and corrected edition of the Vulgate, and declared it the authentic text to be used in the Church.
In order to be able to do such work, Jerome prepared himself well. He was a master of Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Chaldaic. He began his studies at his birthplace, Stridon in Dalmatia (in the former Yugoslavia). After his preliminary education he went to Rome, the center of learning at that time, and thence to Trier, Germany, where the scholar was very much in evidence. He spent several years in each place, always trying to find the very best teachers. He once served as private secretary of Pope Damasus (December 11).
After these preparatory studies he traveled extensively in Palestine, marking each spot of Christ's life with an outpouring of devotion. Mystic that he was, he spent five years in the desert of Chalcis so that he might give himself up to prayer, penance and study. Finally he settled in Bethlehem, where he lived in the cave believed to have been the birthplace of Christ. On September 30 in the year 420, Jerome died in Bethlehem. The remains of his body now lie buried in the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.
Jerome was a strong, outspoken man. He had the virtues and the unpleasant fruits of being a fearless critic and all the usual moral problems of a man. He was, as someone has said, no admirer of moderation whether in virtue or against evil. He was swift to anger, but also swift to feel remorse, even more severe on his own shortcomings than on those of others. A pope is said to have remarked, on seeing a picture of Jerome striking his breast with a stone, "You do well to carry that stone, for without it the Church would never have canonized you" (Butler's Lives of the Saints).
"In the remotest part of a wild and stony desert, burnt up with the heat of the scorching sun so that it frightens even the monks that inhabit it, I seemed to myself to be in the midst of the delights and crowds of Rome. In this exile and prison to which for the fear of hell I had voluntarily condemned myself, I many times imagined myself witnessing the dancing of the Roman maidens as if I had been in the midst of them: In my cold body and in my parched-up flesh, which seemed dead before its death, passion was able to live. Alone with this enemy, I threw myself in spirit at the feet of Jesus, watering them with my tears, and I tamed my flesh by fasting whole weeks. I am not ashamed to disclose my temptations, but I grieve that I am not now what I then was" ("Letter to St. Eustochium").
Patron Saint of:
Daily Prayer - 2015-09-30
Lord, you are always there
Lord grant me the grace
There is a time and place for everything, as the saying goes.
The Word of God
Memorial of Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Reading 1 Neh 2:1-8
In the month Nisan of the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes,
Responsorial Psalm PS 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
R. (6ab) Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!
Alleluia Phil 3:8-9
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 9:57-62
As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding
Some thoughts on today's scripture
Dear Jesus, I can open up my heart to you.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Meditation: Nehemiah 2:1-8
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Why do you look sad? (Nehemiah 2:2)
What makes you sad?
Someone hurt me long ago. I don't have a spouse, a child, a satisfying job, robust health, financial security, or a nest egg. I long for answers to challenges that seem insurmountable, dilemmas that seem insoluble.
I may be sad because someone else is hurting. My child or friend is suffering because of an incurable illness or an ill-advised choice. So many people in our world are hungry or homeless, their very lives at risk because of warfare, genocide, or natural disaster. I feel helpless.
Although he lives in exile, Nehemiah has a secure position in the pagan court. So when he hears about the sorry state of affairs back in his homeland, he could easily have dismissed the news as irrelevant. "It's a good thing I'm doing well here. Too bad for everyone back home." Instead, he identifies so strongly with his God and his countrymen that he can't help feeling sad. He pays attention to how he feels.
But Nehemiah doesn't stop there. He asks God, "What shall I do about this? How can I turn my strong emotion into action?"
When the king notices his sadness and asks why, Nehemiah pauses to pray before he answers. God shows him what he is in a position to do, so Nehemiah boldly petitions the king for the resources to help his countrymen.
Sadness is a God-given emotion. In fact, there are many things that sadden our Lord. It's fine to linger with that sadness, but the direction of our prayer should always be, "Holy Spirit, thank you for this strong emotional reaction. What are you calling and equipping me to do about it?"
One person can set a chain of events in motion that makes a huge difference. Think about St. Monica praying tirelessly for her son, Augustine. Think about St. Catherine of Siena admonishing the pope. Think about Mother Teresa picking up a dying man on the streets of Calcutta. Each of these individuals was saddened by a situation, and turned to the Lord for guidance. Then each took one small step that set the whole world on a different path.
"Holy Spirit, what makes me sad or angry today? What are you inviting me to do about it?"
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The first Holy Scripture brings us to attention, Nehemia wants to go back home, to work, to rebuild, to care, to devote himself, to not live for self but for others...the Kingdom of God. This is a reading that was left in the books of the Bible on purpose. God wants it to be remembered forever. For the day you find the Church in shambles, or is lacking in something, and you know what would be good, then it is a call for you to step in, fill in what is missing. Because there are way more critics than servants. There are far too many pharisees than actual followers of God's will. There are far too many audience members and not enough players in the field. Too many spectators with their own commentaries that sound like the commentaries they hear. That's what bores me about sports. The chatter about the players and their dramas and performances. I'd rather be a doer than a talker. Nehemiah could've been a chatter about how bad things went down back home, but instead, he dove into with Love to do as the Lord was calling Him to do. I sort of like the stories of these undercover warriors that have gone to fight terrorists on their own, not that it is the best way, but it is so admirable that they are laying down their lives to save one, a few, or thousands of future lives. This though, is said so that you might consider giving your life...to JESUS.
The Psalms pray the TRUTH "Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget You!" Lord. In the years I have devoted myself to the Lord, I've noticed something. When life turns more sinful than holy, silence begins. And the charity and love of work for the Lord begins to slide. I've noticed people put conditions on the Lord "oh, I'll serve until I start to not enjoy it anymore". Sounds selfish right? What's worse? It is a temptation of the devil, and it is kind of rubbing onto others. Yet we have some serving mad instead of madly in love with God. Can you see the difference? What's the difference? Perseverance in Love and the pursuit of holiness. Those that can enjoy joy of the Lord are those that continuously pursue holiness. The Lord wants you back for good. Does that mean forever? Does that mean for goodness? Yes, all of the above.
The Lord speaks "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." The Son of Man has nothing when He comes to the earth and leaves with nothing. He comes and leaves His family by leading His family that follows Him. LOL. In other words, This total surrender to God's will called Him everywhere, and His Mother followed, and His disciples followed, not asking any questions or having doubts about what was sacrificed. Who loves like that? Who follows like that? If you're a priest reading this, and you've ever doubted what could've been, think about what can be. Because I've just lost a brother seminarian to the priesthood, he looked back and became a pillar of salt. He fell into temptation, moved in with a girl, fell into his old ways, and got arrested and is now in prison. No girl, no seminary, no freedom. Notice two propositions then. Look back to temptation, or look back to the homeland...the Kingdom of God. And if you are a lay person reading this (non-clergy), the story applies the same. Are you serving the Lord? Are you building the Kingdom? Or are you merely focused on work and family and not so much God? Am I saying family is not important, nor work? No. Of course not, the Holy Catholic Church teaches that the families are the building blocks of the Church. Am I saying work is not important? No. We all have to work, the Holy Church teaches us so. What the Lord is saying is that if you love work and family more than Him...then there is questioning of your true discipleship. If your family is not holy, it's not all the world's fault. You were given this family, it is on you to bring them to Him. Who else will do it? The CCD teachers? They are in the same boat as you! The 8 minute talk on Sunday going to do it? Let me stop right there. I've been noticing the Lord speaking here for years. I've noticed very frequently the bringing up of the Holy Sacraments and the Commandments. This is critical...for your own good. I saw a show that said last night that canned food drives don't really help the food pantries so much, but they are allowed because it brings the community into action and awareness. It's not like God needs all of us, but the Sacraments and Commandments bring us together and He makes it Good. What I'm trying to say is to persevere in holiness and eat Holiness...Jesus in the Eucharist, with a clean heart, because it is a promise and what promise are you bringing to the altar? A promise with sacrifice? Or an empty promise. A promise with work, or a promise with laziness? A promise to love more? Or a promise to continue until you get tired of it. Because those that couldn't follow Jesus closely were those that were focused on their loves more than the love of Christ. I'm a family man. We got six kids and one on the way. We got a family business. And we're very active in the Church. I am backwards. I'll tell my wife, "we'll let the kids play sports...until sports gets in the way of Church". Nowadays, if there is something going on, Church has to take a back seat...not important enough. You see how easy it is to not fit the Kingdom? Am I saying eradicate sports now and family and work? NO! I AM saying God is at the forefront of everything. Consider dying to pride and the pursuit of false happiness and pursue a life with Jesus. How hard can that be? Foxes have houses, birds have nest and they rest...but we followers rest not our head but into His. This is remaining in the Body of Christ with Him as our Head. He decides everything, where we are going, what we are doing. I'm not going to decide. This is living life in the Spirit. We say "it's His will" but how much of it did you have to do? Like a pastor that took the wife of one in his church and they told the poor guy "this was God's will", YEAH RIGHT! Liars and cheaters. Stop lying about God to God. Living life in the Spirit gives up more and more to God and to others. Today's saint wound up dying in a cave, and he was a brilliant and zealous man for the Lord. One other thing that aggrevates me to hear "I've served the Lord for THIS MANY YEARS" or "I used to do this and that for the Lord". It sounds like someone is keeping count, and it's true, because I've heard old people say "I've done so much for the church and where are they now? Nobody is ever looking out for me". As if to be charging what is owed. What is owed is gratitude. Because you GET TO serve God. That's why The Psalms pray on about being silenced if we forget God. You don't get to sing to God or read aloud about God if you are silenced in sin. I visited a cousin in jail last week and he stopped our conversation and asked if he could read the bible to us, Psalm 37. He GOT TO read the bible, whereas before he was lost in drugs and sin and darkness. It is an honor to serve God. The more, if you can, the better. I'm limited as a married man as to how much I can do but the real limits are self imposed. How often do I get to pray with my wife and kids? How often do I get to read the bible with them? How often do I get to be in Church with them? That's the real honor. Why? Because we are not of this world. We are a people of limits. We limit God in our daily lives. He can only go so far. Jesus wants you to love/follow Him without limits. Can you begin to understand what we are being asked for here?
As we will pray in Holy Hour for First Friday Adoration of The Most Blessed Sacrament (Exposition of the Eucharist)
LORD HELP US LOVE THEE MORE AND MORE!
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