Skip to comments.On St. Jerome
Posted on 11/07/2007 7:03:18 PM PST by ELS
On St. Jerome
"To Ignore Scripture is to Ignore Christ"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 7, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today at the general audience in St. Peter's Square on St. Jerome.
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Dear brothers and sisters!
We will turn our attention today to St. Jerome, a Father of the Church who placed the Bible at the center of his life: He translated it into Latin, he commented on it in his writings, and above all he committed to live it concretely in his long earthly existence, despite his naturally difficult and fiery character, which he was known for.
Jerome was born in Stridon around 347 to a Christian family that educated him well, and sent him to Rome to complete his studies. Being young, he felt attracted to worldly living (cf. Ep. 22,7), but his desire for and interest in the Christian religion prevailed.
After his baptism around 366, he was drawn to the ascetic life, and upon moving to Aquileia, he joined a group of fervent Christians, whom he described as a type of "choir of the blessed" (Chron. Ad ann., 374), who were united around the bishop Valerian.
He then left for the East and lived as a hermit in the desert of Calcide, south of Aleppo (cf. Ep. 14,10), dedicating himself to serious study. He perfected his knowledge of Greek, began to study Hebrew (cf. Ep. 125,12), transcribed patristic codices and works (cf. Ep. 5,2). The meditation, the solitude, the contact with the word of God matured his Christian sensibility.
He felt intensely the weight of his youthful past (cf. Ep. 22, 7), and became vividly aware of the contrast between the pagan and Christian mentalities: a contrast made famous by the dramatic and vivid "vision" which he left to us. In this vision he saw himself being scourged in the presence of God because he was a "Ciceronian and not a Christian" (cf. Ep. 22,30).
In 382, he moved to Rome where Pope Damasus, recognizing his fame as an ascetic and his competence as a scholar, took him on as secretary and adviser. He encouraged him to undertake a new Latin translation of biblical texts for pastoral and cultural reasons.
Some members of the Roman aristocracy, above all noblewomen such as Paola, Marcella, Asella, Lea and others, desired to commit themselves to the way of Christian perfection and to deepen their knowledge of the Word of God, and they chose him to be their spiritual guide and teacher in the method to read sacred texts. These women also learned Greek and Hebrew themselves.
After the death of Pope Damasus, Jerome left Rome in 385 and undertook a pilgrimage, first to the Holy Land, silent witness to the earthly life of Christ, then to Egypt, a destination chosen by many monks (cf. "Contra Rufinum," 3,22; Ep. 108,6-14).
In 386, he decided to stay in Bethlehem, where, thanks to the generosity of the noblewoman Paola, a monastery for men was built, and another for women, as well as a hospice for pilgrims to the Holy Land "in memory of Mary and Joseph who found no shelter" (Ep. 108,14).
He remained in Bethlehem until his death, carrying on his intense activity. He commented on the Gospels; he defended the faith, vigorously opposing various heresies; he exhorted monks to perfection; he taught classical and Christian culture to young pupils; he welcomed pilgrims to the Holy Land like a pastor. He died in his cell near the Grotto of the Nativity on Sept. 30, 419/420.
His literary preparation and vast erudition allowed Jerome to revise and translate many biblical texts: an invaluable service for the Latin Church and for Western culture. Beginning with the original texts in Greek and Hebrew, and comparing them to earlier translations, he revised the translation of the four Gospels in Latin, then the Psalms and a good part of the Old Testament.
Taking into account the original Greek and Hebrew texts of the Septuagint, the classic Greek version of the Old Testament that dates back to pre-Christian times, and the earlier Latin translations, Jerome and his collaborators were able to offer a better translation. This is what we call the "Vulgate," considered the "official" text of the Latin Church, which was recognized as such by the Council of Trent. Despite the recent revision of the text, it continues to be the "official" text of the Church in the Latin language.
It is interesting to highlight the criteria that the great biblical scholar used in his work as a translator. He revealed them himself when he stated that he respected even the order of words in sacred Scripture, because "even the order of the words is a mystery," that is, a revelation.
He also reiterated the need to turn to the original texts: "Whenever a question is raised among the Latins regarding the New Testament due to discordant readings of the texts, we must turn to the original, that is, the Greek text in which the New Testament was first written. Likewise for the Old Testament, if there are divergences between the Greek and Latin texts, let us turn to the original text in Hebrew. In this way, "we will be able to find in the rivulets everything that flows from the spring" (Ep. 106,2).
Jerome also commented on several biblical texts. He said commentaries should offer many opinions so that "the astute reader, after reading different explanations and getting to know different opinions -- to accept or to reject -- may judge which one is most reliable, and like a currency expert, reject the counterfeit" ("Contra Rufinum" 1,16).
With energy and liveliness, he refuted the heretics who contested the tradition and faith of the Church. He also showed the importance and validity of Christian literature, which had by then come into its own, and deemed worthy to confront classical literature. He did this in "De viris illustribus," a work in which he presented the biographies of more than 100 Christian authors.
He also wrote biographies of monks, expounding the monastic ideal alongside other spiritual itineraries, and translated various works by Greek authors. Lastly, in the important Epistolary, a masterpiece of Latin literature, Jerome emerges characterized as a man of culture, an ascetic and a spiritual guide.
What can we learn from St. Jerome? Above all I think it is this: to love the word of God in sacred Scripture. St. Jerome said, "To ignore Scripture is to ignore Christ." That is why it is important that every Christian live in contact and in personal dialogue with the word of God, given to us in sacred Scripture.
This dialogue should be of two dimensions. On one hand, it should be truly personal, because God speaks to each of us through sacred Scripture and has a message for each of us. We shouldn't read sacred Scripture as a word from the past, but rather as the word of God addressed even to us, and we must try to understand what the Lord is telling us.
And so we don't fall into individualism, we must also keep in mind that the word of God is given to us in order to build communion, to unite us in the truth along our way to God. Therefore, despite the fact that it is always a personal word, it is also a word that builds community, and that builds the Church itself. Therefore, we should read it in communion with the living Church.
The privileged place for reading and listening to the word of God is in the liturgy. By celebrating the word and rendering the Body of Christ present in the sacrament, we bring the word into our life and make it alive and present among us.
We should never forget that the word of God transcends time. Human opinions come and go; what is very modern today will be old tomorrow. But the word of God is the word of eternal life, it carries within itself eternity, which is always valuable. Carrying within ourselves the word of God, we also carry eternal life.
I conclude with a something St. Jerome had said to St. Paulinus of Nola, in which the great exegete expressed the reality that in the word of God we receive eternity, life eternal. St. Jerome said: "Let us seek to learn on earth those truths which will remain ever valid in heaven" (Ep. 53,10).
[Translation by ZENIT]
[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in six languages. In English, he said:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In our catechesis on the teachers of the early Church, we now turn to Saint Jerome, who was responsible for the Latin version of the Bible known as the Vulgate. Jerome made the Scriptures the centre of his life, translating the inspired word of God, commenting upon its teaching and, above all, striving to live his life in accordance with its precepts. Born in Dalmatia in the middle of the fourth century and educated in Rome, he embraced the ascetic life and devoted himself to the study of Hebrew and Greek. After a sojourn in the East, he returned to Rome as secretary to Pope Damasus, who encouraged him in his work of translation. He then retired to the Holy Land, where he founded monasteries and a hospice for pilgrims in Bethlehem. Jerome’s entire life, his vast erudition and the spiritual wisdom born of his ascetic lifestyle were devoted to the service of God’s word, the refutation of heresy and the encouragement of Christian culture. Let us take to heart the words which this great master of the spiritual life once addressed to Saint Paulinus of Nola, and "seek to learn on earth those truths which will remain ever valid in heaven".
I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from England, Ireland, Denmark, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and the United States. My special greeting goes to the members of the pilgrimage group from the Diocese of Rockville Centre, led by their Bishop. I also thank the orchestral and choral groups for their uplifting music. 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.
[Obviously, the photo below was not taken during the general audience. But, since the previous description mentioned the private audience, I figured I would post this photo. ELS]
Romania's Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu (L) meets Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican November 7, 2007. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano (VATICAN)
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He seems to me to be doing such a fine job at what he must know was intended by the Cardinals to be a kind of "keep the seat warm" papacy. Even when I'm not sure I exactly understand or agree, I find his teaching very helpful and provocative.
I'd like to explore his concept of "eros" since it figures so highly in the Phaedrus which I am not fool enough to pretend I understand.
But, in general, what a guy! I was glad when he was elected, and I'm still glad. God is gentle with us in this degenerate age.
put me on the list...catholicism rox!!!!!!!!
Have you read his encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love)?
When the tagline feature was initially added, I didn't use a tagline. Shortly after Benedict XVI became Pope I started using my present tagline. I am still overjoyed at his election. The Holy Ghost has given the Church and the world an amazing gift.
You have been added to the list. Welcome aboard.
Thank you for posting these Audience threads.
Gods angry man, His crotchety scholar
Was Saint Jerome,
The great name-caller
Who cared not a dime
For the laws of Libel
And in his spare time
Translated the Bible.
Quick to disparage
All joys but learning
Jerome thought marriage
Better than burning;
But didnt like womans
Didnt like Romans,
Didnt like Greeks,
For their Pagan ways,
Yet doted on Cicero all of his days.
A born reformer, cross and gifted,
He scolded mankind
Sterner than Swift did;
Worked to save
The world from the heathen;
Fled to a cave
For peace to breathe in,
For miles around
He filled the air with
Fury and sound.
In a mighty prose
For Almighty ends,
He thrust at his foes,
Quarreled with his friends,
And served his Master,
Though with complaint.
He wasnt a plaster sort of a saint.
But he swelled mens minds
With a Christian leaven.
It takes all kinds
To make a heaven.
From “Times Three” by Phyllis McGinley
Some kind person posted a link to a letter written by St. Jerome, very interesting to read. This particular letter is found at this link:
The introduction reads:
Letter CXXVII. To Principia. This letter is really a memoir of Marcella (for whom see note on Letter XXIII.) addressed to her greatest friend. After describing her history, character, and favourite studies, Jerome goes on to recount her eminent services in the cause of orthodoxy at a time when, through the efforts of Rufinus, it seemed likely that Origenism would prevail at Rome (§§9, 10). He briefly relates the fall of the city and the horrors consequent upon it (§§12, 13) which appear to have been the immediate cause of Marcellas death (§14). The date of the letter is 412 a.d.
On the same site is a very lengthy list of his letters: