"Every Scholar, Then, Whose Learning Is of the Kingdom of Heaven Must Be Like a Rich Man, Who Knows How to Bring Both New and Old Things Out of His Treasure-house."

Lessons from the Proper, according to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite:

II Timothy 3: 14-17.
Psalm 119: 9-14.
Matthew 13: 47-52.

The Memorial of Saint Jerome, Priest & Doctor of the Church.

The Twenty-Sixth Tuesday of Ordinary Time

Return to ByzantineCatholicPriest.com.

9:32 AM 9/30/2014 Today Holy Mother Church celebrates the Memorial of the great priest and the first great Doctor of the Church from the West, Saint Jerome, who died in Bethlehem in the year of Our Lord 420. You've heard his name before: last week, when the first lessons for Mass were being taken from Proverbs, I had mentioned, perhaps in a flippant way, that the reason Proverbs is in the Bible at all is because Saint Jerome put it there. While that may or may not be true in fact, what is a fact is that Saint Jerome had a lot to do with determining the make up of the Bible as we know it, even though the actual books of the Bible wouldn't be codified in a definitive way until the Council of Trent in the Middle Ages.
     To say that Jerome was a man of great learning would be like saying that Einstein was good at math. He was fluent in just about every language that was, but his learning was not nearly as impressive as his personal holiness. He was personally responsible for the Catholic Church's official version of the Bible, the Vulgate, having been the first person to translate all the books of the Bible from their original languages into Latin. Msgr. Knox, whose version of the Scriptures I quote most often to you, based his English translation on Jerome's. But he not only translated the Scriptures, he also explained them; and, his explanations made many of the books of the Bible comprehensible for the first time.
     He was born in Dalmatia, and was baptized in Rome, and spent his whole life in service to the Church. In order to study the Sacred Scriptures more properly, he moved to Palestine, and lived the life of a hermit in the Syrian desert, living a life similar to that of the Desert Fathers of the East. Eventually, he was ordained a priest by Paulinus, the Bishop of Antioch, and resettled in Bethlehem, where he lived the life of a hermit very near the crib of Our Lord's birth.
     Questions on Holy Scripture were sent to him from all over the world. Pope Damasus and Saint Augustine both consulted him several times concerning difficult questions of Scriptural interpretation because he was the only person around who knew all the languages needed to understand the Bible: Hebrew, Latin, Greek, Chaldean; he know them all. He translated the Old Testament from the original Hebrew and, at the command of Pope Damasus, revised the New Testament to make it more faithful to the Greek original, creating in the process what we know today as the Latin Vulgate; and, in the process, commented and explained passages of the Bible that no one before him could figure out.
     He lived to an extreme old age, and was originally buried in Bethlehem; but, the Pope later commanded that his body be brought to Rome along with the crib of Our Lord, both of which now rest in the Basilica of St. Mary Major.
     He has been, for centuries, the patron saint of Scripture Scholars; and, in an age where Scripture Scholars sometimes find themselves at odds with the Church because they fail to take into account her teaching in their interpretations, Jerome is the prime example of what should be the true attitude of those who study Holy Writ: everything he did with the Bible was in service to Holy Mother Church; and, I would like to suggest that, for anyone who reads the Bible and who loves the word of God, Saint Jerome is the perfect patron saint. In fact, his influence on the Catholic Church's understanding of the Bible is such that, I would like to recommend, whenever we sit down to read from the Bible, we begin by offering a prayer to Saint Jerome, that he will guide our hearts and minds to understand God's Word in complete fidelity to the teaching of the Church, without which, as Saint Jerome taught, the Bible itself has no meaning and would not, in fact, exist.