Jerome: Christ, the Temple and the Church Thursday, Oct 31 2013 

St.-Jerome-of-StridoniumOn Jeremiah 30:18-31:9

The Lord says this: I will restore the tents of Jacob and have compassion on his dwellings, and the city shall be rebuilt on its hill.

There was already a symbol of these things in the time of Zerubbabel and Ezra, when the people returned to Jerusalem and the city began to be rebuilt on its hill and the law of the Temple observed, and so on as related in the book of Ezra.

But the prophecy was more fully and perfectly fulfilled in the time of our Lord and Saviour, and of the Apostles, when that city of which it is written: A city built on a hill cannot be hidden was built on its hill.

Moreover, the Temple was established with its rites and ceremonies, so that whatever was done outwardly among the people of the past might be fulfilled spiritually in the Church.

Then songs of thanksgiving will come from them, for all the Apostles said: Grace and peace to you. It will be the sound of people dancing, not like those who ate and drank and rose up to dance, but as David danced before the ark of the Lord.

And they will increase and not diminish, so that the whole world may believe in God the Saviour. They will be honoured, so that what was written may be fulfilled: Glorious things are told of you, city of God.

And its sons, that is, the Apostles, will be like the men of old, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who founded the Israelite race. At that time the Lord will punish all the hostile powers that oppressed God’s people.

And their leader will be one of themselves undoubtedly our Lord and Saviour who was born an Israelite; their ruler will come from their own number.

The Father placed him near himself, and he came so close to him that his Son could declare: I am in the Father, and the Father is in me; for no one can place his heart so near the Lord, nor be as closely united to him as the Son is to the Father.

And the words: You shall be my people and I will be your God we see partly fulfilled in Israel and completely in all the nations of the world.

Jerome (347-420): Commentary on Jeremiah, 6.30 (24:904-905); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Wednesday of Week 31 in Ordinary Time, Year 1

Jerome: A Soul which Cherishes an Ardent Love of Wisdom is Freely Infilled by the Spirit of God Monday, Oct 7 2013 

St.-Jerome-of-StridoniumOn Daniel 2:19-22

Verse 19. “And Daniel blessed the God of heaven, and spoke, saying….

In contrast to those who occupy themselves with this world and delude the earthly minded with demonic arts and illusions, Daniel blessed the God of heaven. For the gods who did not create heaven and earth will pass away.

Verse 21. […] “He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who acquire learning.” 

This accords with the scripture: “The wise man will hear and increase his wisdom” (Prov. 1:5). “For he who has, to him it shall be given” (Matt. 25:29).

A soul which cherishes an ardent love of wisdom is freely infilled by the Spirit of God. But wisdom will never penetrate a perverse soul (Wisdom 3).

Verse 22. “It is He who reveals deep and hidden things, and He knows what is placed in the darkness, and with Him is the light.” 

A man to whom God makes profound revelations and who can say, “O the depth of the riches of the knowledge and wisdom of God!” (Rom. 11:33), is one who, by the indwelling Spirit, probes even into the deep things of God, and digs the deepest of wells in the depths of his soul.

He is a man who has stirred up the whole earth, which is wont to conceal the deep waters, and he observes the command of God, saying: “Drink water from thy vessels and from the spring of thy wells” (Prov. 5:15).

As for the words which follow, “He knows what is placed in the darkness, and with Him is the light,” the darkness signifies ignorance, and the light signifies knowledge and learning. Therefore as wrong cannot hide God away, so right encompasses and surrounds Him.

Or else we should interpret the words to  mean all the dark mysteries and deep things concerning God, according to what we read in Proverbs: “He understands also the parable and the dark saying.”

This in turn is equivalent to what we read in the Psalms: “Dark waters in the clouds of the sky” (Ps. 17:12).

For one who ascends to the heights and forsakes the things of earth, and like the birds themselves seeks after the most rarified atmosphere and everything ethereal, becomes like a cloud to which the truth of God penetrates and which habitually showers rain upon the saints.

Replete with a plenitude of knowledge, he contains in his breast many dark waters enveloped with deep darkness, a darkness which only Moses can penetrate (Ex. 23) and speak with God face to face, of Whom the Scripture says: “He hath made darkness His hiding-place” (Ps. 17:12).

Jerome (347-420): Commentary on Daniel 2:19-22.

Jerome: Ignorance of Scripture is Ignorance of Christ Monday, Sep 30 2013 

St.-Jerome-of-StridoniumI interpret as I should, following the command of Christ: Search the Scriptures, and Seek and you shall find. 

Christ will not say to me what he said to the Jews: You erred, not knowing the Scriptures and not knowing the power of God. 

For if, as Paul says, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, and if the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.

Therefore, I will imitate the head of a household who brings out of his storehouse things both new and old, and says to his spouse in the Song of Songs: I have kept for you things new and old, my beloved. 

In this way permit me to explain Isaiah, showing that he was not only a prophet, but an evangelist and an apostle as well.

For he says about himself and the other evangelists: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news, of those who announce peace. And God speaks to him as if he were an apostle: Whom shall I send, who will go to my people? And he answers: Here I am; send me.

No one should think that I mean to explain the entire subject matter of this great book of Scripture in one brief sermon, since it contains all the mysteries of the Lord.

It prophesies that Emmanuel is to be born of a virgin and accomplish marvellous works and signs. It predicts his death, burial and resurrection from the dead as the Savior of all men.

I need say nothing about the natural sciences, ethics and logic. Whatever is proper to holy Scripture, whatever can be expressed in human language and understood by the human mind, is contained in the book of Isaiah.

Of these mysteries the author himself testifies when he writes: You will be given a vision of all things, like words in a sealed scroll. When they give the writings to a wise man, they will say: Read this. And he will reply: I cannot, for it is sealed. And when the scroll is given to an uneducated man and he is told: Read this, he will reply: I do not know how to read.

[…] It was not the air vibrating with the human voice that reached their ears , but rather it was God speaking within the soul of the prophets, just as another prophet says: It is an angel who spoke in me; and again, Crying out in our hearts, Abba, Father’, and I shall listen to what the Lord God says within me.

Jerome (347-420): Commentary on Isaiah (Nn. 1.2: CCL 73, 1-3) from the Office of Readings for the Feast of St. Jerome, September 30th  @ Crossroads Initiative.

Jerome: “Our Soul is Escaped as a Bird out of the Snare of the Fowlers” Thursday, Feb 14 2013 

St.-Jerome-of-StridoniumWhen the hosts of the enemy distress you, when your frame is fevered and your passions roused, when you say in your heart, “What shall I do?”

Elisha’s words shall give you your answer, “Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”

He shall pray, “Lord, open the eyes of thine handmaid that she may see.”

And then when your eyes have been opened you shall see a fiery chariot like Elijah’s waiting to carry you to heaven, and shall joyfully sing:

“Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken and we are escaped.”

So long as we are held down by this frail body, so long as we have our treasure in earthen vessels; so long as the flesh lusteth against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, there can be no sure victory.

“Our adversary the devil goeth about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” “Thou makest darkness,” David says, “and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. The young lions roar after their prey and seek their meat from God.”

The devil looks not for unbelievers, for those who are without, whose flesh the Assyrian king roasted in the furnace. It is the church of Christ that he “makes haste to spoil.”

According to Habakkuk, “His food is of the choicest.” Job is the victim of his machinations, and after devouring Judas he seeks power to sift the other apostles.

The Saviour came not to send peace upon the earth but a sword.

Lucifer fell, Lucifer who used to rise at dawn; and he who was bred up in a paradise of delight had the well-earned sentence passed upon him, “Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord.”

For he had said in his heart, “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God,” and “I will be like the Most High.”

Wherefore God says every day to the angels, as they descend the ladder that Jacob saw in his dream, “I have said ye are Gods and all of you are children of the Most High. But ye shall die like men and fall like one of the princes.”

The devil fell first, and since “God standeth in the congregation of the Gods and judgeth among the Gods,” the apostle writes to those who are ceasing to be Gods—“Whereas there is among you envying and strife, are ye not carnal and walk as men?”

Jerome (347-420): Letter 22 (to Eustochium), 3-4.

Jerome: We Too Can Give Birth to Christ if We Wish Friday, Dec 21 2012 

St.-Jerome-of-StridoniumTo the Jews it was promised that a saviour would come, but to us who were outside God’s law no such promise was made.

This means that mercy has been shown to the Gentiles, but God has kept faith with the Jews by sending them what he had promised….

When the psalm says: Justice and peace have embraced it is telling us that mercy and truth have made friends, and that means that Gentiles and Jews are now united under a single shepherd, Christ.

Truth has grown up from the earth. Jesus Christ said: I am the way, the truth, and the life.

Truth incarnate has grown up from the earth, for Scripture says: There shall come forth a shoot from Jesse’s stock, and out of his root a flower shall blossom: and another text says: God has wrought salvation in the heart of the earth.

These texts show us that the truth that has grown up from the earth is our Saviour, born of Mary.

And justice looked down from heaven. That the Saviour should have mercy on his people was indeed an act of justice.

See what the Scripture says: O how just are God’s judgments and how unsearchable his ways!

On the one hand truth, that is, a saviour, has grown up from the earth, and on the other justice looks down from heaven in the person of that same Saviour who is himself justice.

It is right and just for a potter to treat his works of art gently and for a shepherd to show compassion on his flock.

And so, because we are the Lord’s people and the work of his own hands, he grew up from the earth and looked down from heaven at one and the same time….

Finally, look at the words: The Lord will show his kindness, and you will hear a note of mercy, not of harshness, in the word justice, because the very reason for justice looking down from heaven was to show pity to his handiwork.

And our earth will yield its fruit. Truth has indeed grown up from the earth: that is a historical fact. But when the psalm goes on to speak of the earth yielding fruit, the verb is in the future tense.

So do not be disheartened by the fact that Christ’s birth from Mary is an unrepeatable event of the past.

He is also born in us every day. Our earth will yield its fruit; we too can give birth to Christ if we wish.

Our earth will yield the fruit from which the bread of heaven is made, the bread of which Jesus said: I am the bread of heaven.

Jerome (347-420): Commentary on Psalm 84 (CCL 78, 107-108);from the Monastic Office of Vigils, 23rd December, Year 1

Jerome: With Unveiled Faces We Contemplate the Glory of the Lord and are Transformed into the Likeness of Our Creator Tuesday, Nov 22 2011 

St.-Jerome-of-StridoniumThe glory of the God of Israel enters by the East Gate through which it departed when the anger of the Lord struck the city.

It enters, or, rather, it returns to it, for this glory was the distinguishing mark of the Lord’s Temple on the mountain.

Yet something much greater follows: The Spirit of the Lord lifted me up and brought me into the outer court. And behold, the house of the Lord was filled with his glory.

First the glory of the Lord merely entered; now the fullness of the glory is said to be in the Temple.

Of this glory Isaiah wrote: I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and lifted up.

Our house is full of this glory when with unveiled faces we contemplate the glory of the Lord, and are transformed into the likeness of our Creator.

The voice of the Lord was like the sound of many waters like the sound of many peoples throughout the world, or like the voice of an army, or of multitudes massing together as the hosts of heaven come to know the mysteries of God.

In another place it is said: The chariots of God are thousands upon thousands.

The heavenly hosts, the thousands upon thousands, all make the same utterance since all are united in the praise of God.

To the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit they sing: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts; heaven and earth are full of his glory.

And the earth shone with his glory.

This was only really fulfilled in the coming of Christ when the preaching of the Apostles went forth through all the earth, and their words to the utmost bounds of the world.

It is daily fulfilled in believers, and will come to perfection when this corrupt nature puts on incorruption and this mortal nature is clothed with immortality.

I heard someone speaking to me from within the Temple.

This must surely have been the Lord, for who else could have said, Son of man, this is the place of my throne, the place where I set my feet, and where I shall dwell among the Israelites forever, but he who dwells in the Church, in the midst of the Israel that recognises the Lord, and who will dwell there, not only for a time, as he did in the Temple of Solomon, but forever.

And his dwelling-place, writes the Psalmist, will be peace, that peace which passes all understanding.

Jerome (347-420): Commentary on Ezekiel (PL 25:434-437); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Friday of Week 34 in Ordinary Time, Year 1

Jerome: Do Not Despair of His Mercy, for Great Mercy Will Take Away Great Sins Friday, Aug 26 2011 

St.-Jerome-of-StridoniumReturn to me with all your heart and show a spirit of repentance with fasting, weeping and mourning; so that while you fast now, later you may be satisfied, while you weep now, later you may laugh, while you mourn now, you may some day enjoy consolation.

It is customary for those in sorrow or adversity to tear their garments…. I bid you not to tear your garments but rather to rend your hearts which are laden with sin. Like wine skins, unless they have been cut open, they will burst of their own accord.

After you have done this, return to the Lord your God, from whom you had been alienated by your sins. Do not despair of his mercy, no matter how great your sins, for great mercy will take away great sins.

For the Lord is gracious and merciful and prefers the conversion of a sinner rather than his death. Patient and generous in his mercy, he does not give in to human impatience but is willing to wait a long time for our repentance.

So extraordinary is the Lord’s mercy in the face of evil, that if we do penance for our sins, he regrets his own threat and does not carry out against us the sanctions he had threatened. So by the changing of our attitude, he himself is changed.

[…]  In like manner, given all that we have said above – that God is kind and merciful, patient, generous with his forgiveness, and extraordinary in his mercy toward evil – lest the magnitude of his clemency make us lax and negligent, he adds this word through his prophet: Who knows whether he will not turn and repent and leave behind him a blessing?

In other words, he says: “I exhort you to repentance, because it is my duty, and I know that God is inexhaustibly merciful, as David says: Have mercy on me, God, according to your great mercy, and in the depths of your compassion, blot out all my iniquities.

“But since we cannot know the depth of the riches and of the wisdom and knowledge of God, I will temper my statement, expressing a wish rather than taking anything for granted, and I will say: Who knows whether he will not turn and repent?”

[…] To these words the prophet adds: Offerings and tribulations for the Lord our God. What he is saying to us in other words is that, God having blessed us and forgiven us our sins, we will then be able to offer sacrifice to God.

Jerome (347-420): Commentary on Joel, from the Office of Readings for Friday in the 21st week of Ordinary Time @ Crossroads Initiative.

Jerome: To Live in the Midst of Scripture – a Dwelling-Place in the Heavenly Kingdom Already Here on Earth Thursday, Oct 21 2010 

St.-Jerome-of-StridoniumScripture says: I shall destroy the wisdom of the wise, and con­demn the intelligence of the intelligent.

True wisdom will destroy the false; and although preaching about the cross is foolishness, yet Paul speaks wisdom among the mature.

He does not speak the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, who pass away; but wisdom of God which was hidden in a mystery, and which God predestined from the beginning.

The wisdom of God is Christ. For Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.

This wisdom was hidden in a mystery, in which all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge were hidden, and he who was hidden in the mystery was predestined from the beginning.

He was predestined and prefigured in the Law and the Prophets. That is why the Prophets were also called seers: for they saw him whom the rest did not see.

Abraham saw his day and rejoiced. The heavens were opened to Ezekiel on behalf of a sinful people.

Open my eyes, said David, so that I may gaze at the wonders of your law.

For the law is spiritual and needs to be revealed to be understood, and so that we may contemplate the glory of God when his face is revealed.

In the Apocalypse there is shown a book sealed with seven seals. If you give it to a literate man to read, he will tell you: I cannot, because it is sealed.

How many people today think they are literate, and are in possession of a sealed book which they cannot open unless he unlocks it who holds the key of David, and when he opens it no one can shut it, and when he shuts it no one can open it?

In the Acts of the Apostles there is a holy eunuch who was reading Isaiah, and when Philip asked him: Do you really understand what you are reading?

[…] He loved the law and divine knowledge…yet all the time that he was holding the book, ruminating on the Lord’s words…he did not know whom he was unwittingly revering in the book. Then Philip came and showed him Jesus, who lay enclosed in the text in secret.

[…] I have touched briefly on these matters, to make you under­stand that you cannot enter upon the holy Scriptures without someone to go before you and show you the way.

I beg you, dearest brother, to live in the midst of these things, meditate on them, know nothing else, look for nothing – does that not seem to you to be a dwelling-place in the heavenly kingdom already here on earth?

Jerome (347-420): Ep. LIII ad Paulinum (PL 22:544-549) from the Monastic Office of Vigils for Thursday in the 29th week of Ordinary Time.

Benedict XVI: Dialogue with God, with His Word, is a Presence of Heaven Thursday, Sep 30 2010 

Jerome emphasized the joy and importance of being familiar with biblical texts:

“Does one not seem to dwell, already here on earth, in the Kingdom of Heaven when one lives with these texts, when one meditates on them, when one does not know or seek anything else?” (Ep. 53, 10).

In reality, to dialogue with God, with his Word, is in a certain sense a presence of Heaven, a presence of God.

To draw near to the biblical texts, above all the New Testament, is essential for the believer, because “ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ”….

Truly “in love” with the Word of God, he asked himself: “How could one live without the knowledge of Scripture, through which one learns to know Christ himself, who is the life of believers?” (Ep. 30, 7).

The Bible, an instrument “by which God speaks every day to the faithful” (Ep. 133, 13), thus becomes a stimulus and source of Christian life for all situations and for each person.

To read Scripture is to converse with God: “If you pray”, he writes to a young Roman noblewoman, “you speak with the Spouse; if you read, it is he who speaks to you” (Ep. 22, 25).

[…] Jerome recommends…: “Read the divine Scriptures frequently; rather, may your hands never set the Holy Book down. Learn here what you must teach” (Ep. 52, 7).

To the Roman matron Leta he gave this counsel for the Christian education of her daughter: “Ensure that each day she studies some Scripture passage…. After prayer, reading should follow, and after reading, prayer…. Instead of jewels and silk clothing, may she love the divine Books” (Ep. 107, 9, 12).

Through meditation on and knowledge of the Scriptures, one “maintains the equilibrium of the soul” (Ad Eph., Prol.).

Only a profound spirit of prayer and the Holy Spirit’s help can introduce us to understanding the Bible: “In the interpretation of Sacred Scripture we always need the help of the Holy Spirit” (In Mich. 1, 1, 10, 15).

A passionate love for Scripture therefore pervaded Jerome’s whole life, a love that he always sought to deepen in the faithful, too.

He recommends to one of his spiritual daughters: “Love Sacred Scripture and wisdom will love you; love it tenderly, and it will protect you; honour it and you will receive its caresses. May it be for you as your necklaces and your earrings” (Ep. 130, 20).

And again: “Love the science of Scripture, and you will not love the vices of the flesh” (Ep. 125, 11).

Benedict XVI (b. 1927): Love Sacred Scripture and Scripture Shall Love You (translation by Zenit).

Jerome: “Like a Deer that Longs for Springs of Water, so my Soul Longs for You, O God” Thursday, Sep 30 2010 

St.-Jerome-of-StridoniumLike a deer that longs for springs of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. Now just as those deer long for springs of water, so do our deer.

Fleeing Egypt – that is, fleeing worldly things – they have killed Pharaoh and drowned all his army in the waters of baptism.

Now, after the devil has been killed, they long for the springs of the Church: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

We can find the Father described as a spring in Jeremiah: They have abandoned me, the fountain of living water, to dig themselves leaky cisterns that cannot hold water.

About the Son we read somewhere: They have forsaken the fountain of wisdom.

Finally, of the Holy Spirit: Anyone who drinks the water that I shall give will have a spring inside him, welling up to eternal life.

Here the evangelist is saying that the words of the Saviour come from the Holy Spirit. So you see it very clearly confirmed that the springs that water the Church are the mystery of the Trinity.

These are the springs that believers long for. These are the springs that the souls of the baptized seek, saying My soul thirsts for God, the living God.

The soul does not just feel like seeing God, it longs for him fervently, it is on fire with thirst for him.

Before they received baptism, the catechumens spoke to each other and said, When shall I come and stand before the face of God?

What they asked for has now been given them: they have come and stood before the face of God. They have come before the altar and been confronted by the mystery of the Savior.

Welcomed into the body of Christ and reborn in the springs of life, they confidently say: I will go up to your glorious dwelling-place and into the house of God.

The house of God is the Church, the ‘dwelling-place’ where dwells the sound of joy and thanksgiving, the crowds at the festival.

So then, you who have followed our lead and robed yourselves in Christ, let the words of God lift you out of this turbulent age as a net lifts the little fishes out of the water.

[…] As long as we were in the world, our eyes were peering into the depths and we led our lives in the mud. Now we have been torn from the waves, we begin to see the true light.

Moved by overwhelming joy, we say to our souls: Put your hope in the Lord, I will praise him still, my Saviour and my God.

Jerome (347-420): Sermon on Psalm 41, from the Office of Readings for Thursday in the 13th week of Ordinary Time @ Crossroads Initiative.