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St. Jerome on the Bible
Zenit News Agency ^ | November 14, 2007 | Benedict XVI

Posted on 11/14/2007 3:04:44 PM PST by ELS

St. Jerome on the Bible

"Love Sacred Scripture and Wisdom Shall Love You"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 14, 2007 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today at the general audience in St. Peter's Square. The reflection focused on St. Jerome.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today we continue with the presentation of St. Jerome. As we said last Wednesday, he devoted his life to the study of the Bible, for which he was acknowledged as "eminent doctor in the interpretation of sacred Scripture" by one of my predecessors, Pope Benedict XV.

Jerome underlined the joy and importance of familiarizing oneself with the biblical texts: "Don't you feel, here on Earth, that you are already in the kingdom of heaven, just by living in these texts, meditating on them, and not seeking anything else?" (Ep. 53,10).

In truth, to converse with God and with his word means to be in heaven's presence, that is to say, in God's presence. To draw close to the biblical texts, above all to the New Testament, is essential for the believer, because "ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ." This is his famous sentence, also quoted by the Second Vatican Council in the constitution "Dei Verbum" (No. 25).

Truly "enchanted" by the word of God, Jerome asked himself: "How could we live without the science of Scriptures, through which we learn how to know Christ himself, who is the life of the believer?" (Ep. 30,7). Hence the Bible, the instrument "with which God speaks to the faithful every day" (Ep. 133,13), becomes catalyst and source of Christian life for all situations and for everyone.

To read Scripture is to converse with God: "If you are praying," he writes to a noble young lady from Rome, "you are speaking with the Groom; if you are reading, it is He who is speaking to you" (Ep. 22,25). The study and meditation of Scripture makes man wise and at peace (cf. In Eph., prol.). Certainly, to penetrate more deeply the word of God, a constant and increasing practice is necessary. This is what Jerome recommended to the priest Nepotian: "Read the divine Scriptures with much regularity; let the Holy Book never be laid down by your hands. Learn there what you ought to teach (Ep. 52,7)."

To the Roman matron Laeta he gave the following advice for the Christian education of her daughter: "Make sure that every day she studies some passages of Scripture. ... That she ensues from reading to praying and from praying to reading. ... Instead of loving jewelry and silk garments, may she rather love the divine books" (Ep. 107,9.12). With the meditation and the science of the Scriptures one "maintains the balance of the soul" (Ad Eph., prol.). Only through a deep spirit of prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit are we able to understand the Bible: "For 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 pervaded all of Jerome's life, a love that he sought to also awaken in the faithful. To a spiritual daughter he recommended: "Love sacred Scripture and wisdom shall love you; love it tenderly, and it will protect you; honor it and you shall receive its caresses. Let it mean to you as much as your necklaces and your earrings mean to you" (Ep. 130,20). And again: "Love the science of Scripture, and you shall not love the vices of the flesh" (Ep. 125,11).

A fundamental criterion Jerome used to interpret Scripture was to be in tune with the magisterium of the Church. Alone we are not able to read Scripture. We find too many closed doors and we are easily mistaken. The Bible was written by the people of God, for the people of God, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Only in communion with the people of God can we truly enter the core of the truth that God intends to convey us.

For him an authentic interpretation of the Bible always had to be in harmony with the faith of the Catholic Church. This is not an external requirement imposed on the book. The book itself is the voice of the people of God in pilgrimage, and only in the faith of these people we find the right frame of mind to understand sacred Scripture. Hence Jerome warned: "Stay firmly attached to the traditional doctrine that has been taught to you, so that you can preach according to the right doctrine and refute those who contradict it" (Ep. 52,7).

In particular, given that Jesus Christ founded his Church on Peter, he concluded that every Christian has to be in communion "with the chair of St. Peter. I know that on this stone the Church is built" (Ep. 15,2). Consequently, he declared: "I am with whoever is united to the chair of St. Peter" (Ep. 16).

Jerome obviously does not neglect the ethical side. Rather often he recalls the duty of reconciling life with the divine word, and that only by living it we manage to understand it. Such coherence is necessary for every Christian, especially for the preacher, to ensure that his actions are not a source of embarrassment when conflicting with his speech. So he urges the priest Nepotian: "Let not your actions deny your words, so that when you preach in church someone won't be able to say: 'Why don't you act this way?' Interesting is the teacher who, with his belly full, preaches about fasting -- even a thief can condemn greed -- but for the priest of Christ the mind and word have to match" (Ep. 52,7).

In another letter Jerome confirms: "Even when mastering a wonderful doctrine, he who is condemned by his own conscience will be shamed" (Ep. 127,4). Always in terms of coherence, he observes, the Gospel has to translate into attitudes of true charity, because in every human being Christ is present. For instance, when addressing Paulinus (who became bishop of Nola and then a saint), Jerome advises: "The true temple of Christ is the soul of the faithful: adorn this sanctuary, embellish it, put your offerings in it and receive Christ. To what purpose do you adorn walls with precious stones, if Christ starves in the person of the poor?" (Ep. 58,7).

Jerome continues: It is necessary "to dress Christ among the poor, to visit him among the suffering, to nourish him among the starving, to host him among the homeless" (Ep. 130,14). The love for Christ, fed with study and meditation, makes us overcome any difficulty: "We love Jesus Christ, we always search the union with him: then all that is difficult will seem easy" (Ep. 22,40).

Jerome, defined as "a model of conduct and a master of the human kind" by Prosper of Aquitaine ("Carmen de Ingratis," 57), also left us a rich teaching on Christian asceticism. He reminds us that a courageous engagement toward perfection requires a constant alertness, frequent mortifications, even if with moderation and caution, an assiduous intellectual or manual work to avoid idleness (cf. Epp. 125.11 and 130,15), and above all obedience to God: "Nothing … pleases God as much as obedience. ... That is the most outstanding and the sole virtue" (Hom. De oboedientia: CCL 78,552).

The practice of pilgrimages can be included in the ascetic path. In particular, Jerome promoted pilgrimages to the Holy Land, where pilgrims were welcomed and accommodated in the buildings built near Bethlehem's monastery, thanks to the generosity of the noblewoman Paula, Jerome's spiritual daughter (cf. Ep. 108,14).

Finally, we have to mention Jerome's contribution to Christian pedagogy (cf. Epp. 107 and 128). He proposes to form "a soul that has to become the temple of the Lord " (Ep. 107,4), a "most precious gem" to the eyes of God (Ep. 107,13). With deep intuition he suggests to protect the soul from evil and from sinful events, to exclude equivocal or wasteful friendships (cf. Ep. 107.4 and 8-9; cf also Ep. 128,3-4).

Above all, he urges parents to create an environment of serenity and joy around the children, to encourage them to study and work, also through praise and emulation (cf. Epp. 107,4 and 128,1), to encourage them to overcome difficulties, to nurture in them good habits and protect them from bad ones because -- here he quotes a phrase that Publilius Syrus had heard as a schoolboy -- "you will barely succeed to correct those things that you are getting used to do" (Ep. 107,8).

Parents are the primary educators for children, their first life teachers. Addressing himself to the mother of a girl and then turning to the father, Jerome warns, with much clarity, as if to express a fundamental requirement of every human creature who comes into existence: "May she find in you her teacher, and may her inexperienced childhood look at you with wonder. May she never see, neither in you nor in her father, any actions that, if imitated, could lead her to sin. Remember that ... you can educate her more with the example than with the word" (Ep. 107,9).

Among Jerome's main intuitions as a pedagogue we must underline the importance attributed to a healthy and complete education from infancy, as well as the special responsibility acknowledged to parents, the urgency of a serious moral and religious education, and the need of study for a more complete human formation

Moreover, a vital aspect retained by the author but disregarded in ancient times is the promotion of the woman, to whom he acknowledges the right to a complete education: human, academic, religious, professional. We actually see today that the true condition to any progress, peace, reconciliation and exclusion of violence is the education of the person in its entirety and the education in responsibility before God and before man. Sacred Scripture offers us the guidance of education and of true humanism.

We cannot conclude these rapid notes on the great Father of the Church without mentioning his effective contribution to the safeguard of the positive and valid elements of ancient Israeli, Greek and Roman cultures in the rising Christian civilization. Jerome recognized and assimilated the artistic values, the rich feelings and harmonic images of the classics, which educate heart and fantasy to noble feelings.

Above all, he put the word of God at the center of his life and actions, a word that shows to man the paths of life and discloses the secrets of holiness. Today we can't be but deeply grateful to Jerome for all this.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in six languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In this week's catechesis we continue our reflections on Saint Jerome, the priest and scholar who was responsible for the Latin translation of the Bible known as the Vulgate. Convinced that "ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ", Jerome everywhere urged the daily, prayerful study of the word of God. He insisted that the correct interpretation of the Scriptures demands not only the interior assistance of the Holy Spirit but also conformity to the Church's authoritative teaching. Jerome stressed the importance for all Christians, but especially for preachers, of ensuring that their lives accord with the ethical teaching offered in the sacred texts. Devotion to the word of God also shaped Jerome's ascetic doctrine, which emphasized the virtue of obedience and encouraged the pious practice of pilgrimage, particularly to the Holy Land. Finally, by his spiritual counsel, especially to parents, he emphasized the importance of a broad and disciplined Christian education for the young, including women. Jerome's integration of the enduring values of classical civilization and the wisdom of the inspired word of God made him one of the great figures of the emerging Christian culture of late antiquity.

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors present at today's Audience, especially those from England, Denmark, Japan, Canada and the United States of America. I greet especially the Sisters of Saint Anne of Tiruchirapalli, who are preparing to celebrate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of their foundation. Upon all of you I cordially invoke an abundance of joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

© Innovative Media, Inc.

TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; History; Prayer
KEYWORDS: generalaudience; popebenedictxvi; stjerome; stpeterssquare

Pope Benedict XVI waves to a group from the Italian cooks association as he arrives to lead his weekly general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican November 14, 2007. REUTERS/Dario Pignatelli (VATICAN)

Pope Benedict XVI, left, shares a word with his personal secretary Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, during the weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2007. (AP Photo / Plinio Lepri)
1 posted on 11/14/2007 3:04:45 PM PST by ELS
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Relics of St. Therese of the Child Jesus in Rome

VATICAN CITY, NOV 14, 2007 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, the Pope addressed a special greeting to faithful from the French diocese of Bayeux and Lisieux, accompanied by Bishop Pierre Auguste Pican S.D.B., who have come to Rome on pilgrimage with the relics of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.

The Holy Father recalled how "120 years ago Therese of Lisieux came to Rome to ask permission of Pope Leo XIII to enter the Carmelite Order, despite her youth. Eighty years ago Pope Pius XI proclaimed her patron saint of missions, and in 1997 Pope John Paul II declared her a Doctor of the Church."

"In this audience," he went on, "I will have the joy of praying before her relics, as will many faithful over the course of this week in various churches in Rome. St. Therese would have liked to learn the languages of the Bible in order to better understand Sacred Scripture. Following her example and that of St. Jerome, dedicate time to frequent reading of the Bible. By familiarizing yourselves with the Word of God, you will discover Christ and remain in intimate contact with Him."

Benedict XVI then addressed relatives of the Italian soldiers who lost their lives in a bomb attack in Nassiriya, Iraq, four years ago. "May the memory of these our brothers, and of others who have made the supreme sacrifice of their lives for the noble cause of peace, contribute to supporting the journey to hopeful rebirth of the dear Iraqi people."

AG/ST. THERESE:IRAQ/...VIS 071114 (270)

Pope Benedict XVI prays next to the relic of Saint Teresa of Lisieux at the Vatican November 14, 2007. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano (VATICAN)

Pope Benedict XVI talks to relatives of the victims of a bomb attack against Italian forces in Nassiriya, Iraq four years ago, at the end of his weekly general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican November 14, 2007. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano (VATICAN)

2 posted on 11/14/2007 3:05:20 PM PST by ELS (Vivat Benedictus XVI!)
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To: All
Previous catecheses on the Early Church Fathers:
On St. Clement of Rome -The Church Has a Sacramental, Not Political Structure (March 7, 2007)
Truly a Doctor of Unity (St. Ignatius of Antioch) (March 14, 2007)
St. Justin Martyr: He Considered Christianity the "True Philosophy" (March 21, 2007)
St. Irenaeus of Lyons: The First Great Theologian of the Church (March 28, 2007)
St. Clement of Alexandria: One of the Great Promoters of Dialogue Between Faith and Reason (April 18, 2007)
On Origen of Alexandria: He Was a True Teacher (April 25, 2007)
Origen: The Privileged Path to Knowing God Is Love (May 2, 2007)
Tertullian: Accomplished a Great Step in the Development of the Trinitarian Dogma (May 30, 2007)
St. Cyprian: His Book on the 'Our Father' Has Helped Me to Pray Better (June 6, 2007)
On Eusebius of Caesarea (June 13, 2007)
On St. Athanasius (June 20, 2007)
On St. Cyril of Jerusalem (June 27, 2007)
On St. Basil (July 4, 2007)
St. Basil (August 1, 2007)
St. Gregory of Nazianzen (August 8, 2007)
St. Gregory Nazianzen's Teachings (August 22, 2007)
St. Gregory of Nyssa - A Pillar of Orthodoxy (August 29, 2007)
Gregory of Nyssa on Perfection (September 5, 2007)
On St. John Chrysostom's Antioch Years (September 19, 2007)
On Chrysostom's Social Doctrine (September 26, 2007)
St. Cyril of Alexandria (October 3, 2007)
On Hilary of Poitiers (October 10, 2007)
On St. Eusebius of Vercelli (October 17, 2007)
On St. Ambrose of Milan (October 24, 2007)
On St. Maximus of Turin (October 31, 2007)
On St. Jerome (November 7, 2007)
3 posted on 11/14/2007 3:06:37 PM PST by ELS (Vivat Benedictus XVI!)
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To: clockwise; bornacatholic; Miss Marple; bboop; PandaRosaMishima; Carolina; MillerCreek; ...
Weekly audience ping!

Please let me know if you want to be on or off this list.

4 posted on 11/14/2007 3:08:23 PM PST by ELS (Vivat Benedictus XVI!)
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To: ELS; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

Always a joy to read the teachings of the Holy Father. Thank you for posting this thread.

5 posted on 11/14/2007 4:52:51 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: ELS; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

Always a joy to read the teachings of the Holy Father. Thank you for posting this thread.

6 posted on 11/14/2007 4:53:39 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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Some say Jerome’s Latin wasn’t all that hot and that might be so but it is sure easy to read.

7 posted on 11/14/2007 4:55:48 PM PST by RightWhale (anti-razors are pro-life)
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Benedict XVI then addressed relatives of the Italian soldiers who lost their lives in a bomb attack in Nassiriya, Iraq, four years ago. "May the memory of these our brothers, and of others who have made the supreme sacrifice of their lives for the noble cause of peace, contribute to supporting the journey to hopeful rebirth of the dear Iraqi people."

The press sometimes misrepresents the Pope as a pacifist. Of course he wants peace. We all want peace. But sometimes peace has to be bought with the lives of soldiers in a just war. It seems to me that is what he is saying here.

True soldiers do not give their lives to perpetuate war. They give their lives in the hope that a just peace can be won and innocents can be protected by fighting a just war.

8 posted on 11/14/2007 5:32:21 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: RightWhale

My understanding was that the church fathers believed that the latin should be not as complicated as the classical, or more ancient, latin. A simpler latin was preferred because the scriptures themselves were “simple”. The claim that the medieval fathers weren’t very good with latin was all based in a misplaced educated snobbery of those who accused them, frankly.

At least, that was what I learned about it. Others may know more.

9 posted on 11/14/2007 5:46:13 PM PST by TruthConquers (Delendae sunt publici scholae)
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To: TruthConquers

True. Snobbery about Church Latin arose in the Renaissance with Erasmus and the other Humanists. If you didn’t write Ciceronian prose, they considered you to be barbaric.

Ironically, that was the beginning of the end of Latin as a LIVING LANGUAGE, as soon as it began to be treated as a fossilized language that had died 1400 years earlier.

10 posted on 11/14/2007 6:38:05 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Cicero

I had not heard that, but it makes sense.

Darn those secular humanists, they mess everything up!

11 posted on 11/14/2007 6:42:40 PM PST by TruthConquers (Delendae sunt publici scholae)
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To: Cicero


12 posted on 11/14/2007 7:51:34 PM PST by sandhills
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Thanks, ELS!

13 posted on 11/14/2007 9:00:38 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: TruthConquers

Jerome was actually chairman of the translation committee. I find the text to be fairly poetic, or rhythmic anyway, while being easy reading.

14 posted on 11/15/2007 8:41:10 AM PST by RightWhale (anti-razors are pro-life)
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Reading A commentary on Isaiah by St Jerome
Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ
I 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 Saviour 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.
  Should this argument appear weak to anyone, let him listen to the Apostle: Let two or three prophets speak, and let others interpret; if, however, a revelation should come to one of those who are seated there, let the first one be quiet. How can they be silent, since it depends on the Spirit who speaks through his prophets whether they remain silent or speak? If they understood what they were saying, all things would be full of wisdom and knowledge. But 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.

Let us pray.
Almighty, ever-living God, you endowed Saint Jerome with a deep reverence for Holy Scripture, which he loved with all his heart.
  Sustain us ever more with your word and help us to find in it the source of life.
[We make our prayer] through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
  who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
  God for ever and ever.

15 posted on 09/30/2010 8:28:25 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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