Wednesday, September 01, 2010



"Temperance Restrains our Passions and the Attractions of Sense Pleasure. The Gift of Fear perfects this Virtue by making us more Generous in Mortifying our Senses and Passions. Impelled by this Holy Fear, we become more vigilant than ever . . . eager to renounce anything rather than Displease our Heavenly Father.”
(St. Jermone -From Divine Intimacy -299)

"When we speak of virtues — not only these cardinal ones, but all of them, every virtue — we must always have in mind the real man, the actual man. Virtue is not something abstract, detached from life, but, on the contrary, it has deep "roots" in life itself, it springs from the latter and forms it. Virtue has an impact on man's life, on his actions and behavior. It follows that, in all these reflections of ours, we are speaking not so much of the virtue as of man living and acting 'virtuously'; we are speaking of the prudent, just and courageous man, and finally, precisely today, we are speaking of the 'temperate' (or 'sober') man.

" Let us add at once that all these attributes, or rather attitudes of man, coming from the single cardinal virtues, are connected with one another. So it is not possible to be a really prudent, man, or an authentically just one, or a truly strong one, unless one also has the virtue of temperance. It can be said that this virtue indirectly conditions all other virtues, but it must also be said that all the other virtues are indispensable for man to be 'temperate' (or 'sober')." 
(John Paul II General Address entitled  "Virtue of Temperance" - 11/22/78)

Feastday: September 30
Patron of Librarians and Scholars
St. Jerome spent four years in the  Syrian desert area and wilderness outside of Antioch fasting and wrestling with his earthly desires.  He is a model of resisting the temptations, both from flesh and spirit.  He practiced severe austerities and focused on studying Hebrew and mastered it providing him with the expertise to later translate the Bible into Latin.
He was born in 347 in Dalmatia to a rich and Christian family. He was a good scholar, studied the classics in Rome, and was baptized in Rome at 18.  He became well-educated in Latin and Greek, traveled to Gaul, then Italy, and then Syria. He decided to become a monk.  Following a vision in which he beheld Christ, he redirected his studies to scripture and not secular writings.  Thus he could more completely be a follower of Christ, not of Cicero and pagan writers.  He wrote to a friend that in his vision Christ was a judge and said, "Thou art a Ciceronian. Where thy treasure is, there thy heart is also." (1)

Jerome traveled then to the desert and took up the study of Hebrew. He suffered from illnesses while practicing severe penances.  His words describe his state:
"In the remotest part of a wild and stony desert," he wrote years afterwards to his friend Eustochium, "burnt up with the heat of the sun, so scorching that it frightens even the monks who live there, I seemed to myself to be in the midst of the delights and crowds of Rome.... In this exile and prison to which through fear of Hell I had voluntarily condemned myself, with no other company but scorpions and wild beasts, I many times imagined myself watching the dancing of Roman maidens as if I had been in the midst of them. My face was pallid with fasting, yet my will felt the assaults of desire. In my cold body and my parched flesh, which seemed dead before its death, passion was still able to live. Alone with the enemy, I threw myself in spirit at the feet of Jesus, watering them with my tears, and tamed my flesh by fasting whole weeks. I am not ashamed to disclose my temptations, though I grieve that I am not now what I then was." (2)
Eventually Jerome received Holy Orders in Antioch, studied in Constantinople, and returned to Rome in 382 where he acted as secretary to the council.  Then Pope Damasus requested his service as his secretary and asked him to prepare a revised Latin text of the Greek New Testament.  He acted in this capacity for three years and also directed a group of patrician women in spiritual activities. He worked at tempering his fleshly desires, but he was not so successful in tempering his need to speak the truth boldly and at all times.  His work with these women led to unfortunate rash judgements by others.  "The infamy of a false crime has been imputed to me, but it is not the judgments of men which open or shut the gates of heaven."  (3)
He found refuge in the land of his Lord and settled in Bethlehem where he could walk in the footsteps of Christ. One of the Roman women, Paula, built him a monastery  where he continued his work on translating the scriptures into Latin, wrote numerous works of histories, polemics, biographies, and exegesis.   When Christians were forced to leave Rome when Alaric the Goth sacked the city, Jerome gave many refuge in his monastery.
He opened a free school there and also a hospice for pilgrims, "So that," as Paula said, "should Mary and Joseph visit Bethlehem again, they would have a place to stay."  He himself lived in a cave near the birthplace of the Lord. (4)  He continued translating the books of scripture including the Old Testament from the Hebrew.
"What has made his name so famous was his critical labor on the text of the Scriptures. The Church regards him as the greatest of all the doctors in clarifying the Divine Word. He had the best available aids for such an undertaking, living where the remains of Biblical places, names, and customs all combined to give him a more vivid view than he could have had at a greater distance." (5)
He died peacefully on September 30, 420 after a life of penances and fasting.  His translations are known as the Vulgate Bible.  In the Sixteenth Century, the Council of Trent declared these books of the Bible to be the authentic and authoritative Latin text.
Be ever engaged, so that whenever the devil calls he may find you occupied. (Letter 125, to the priest Innocent)

Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ. (Jerome's Prologue to the “Commentary on Isaiah”: PL 24,17)

Show me, O Lord, your mercy an delight my heart with it.  let me find you whom I so longingly seek.  See!  here is the man whom the robgers seized, mishandled, and left half dead on the road to Jericho.  O kind hearted Sararitan, come to my aid!  I am the sheep who wandered into the wilderness - seek after me and bring me home again to your fold.  Do with me what you will that I may stay by you all the days of my life, and praise you with all those who are with you in heaven for all eternity.  (6)
St. Jerome was declared a Doctor of the Church.  Here is a passage from:
If you have trouble controlling your temper at times, being patient and staying calm interacting with others, then you are normal. Nearly everyone blows-up now and then. Grace and virtue can harness and tame you to some degree but unless you live in isolation you will most likely lose your cool occasionally. Our habits become ingrained in us. That's the most important reason why we should cultivate good habits, especially mental habits. Our thinking needs guidance because thoughts beget habits. Jerome can enlighten you. Implore him for assistance.

Perhaps because of his wide exposures to many people and travels, he developed a pugnacious and cantankerous disposition at times. His keen intellect could be contentious when his vision of truth differed from others. Jerome was a passionate lover of biblical, written expression. His ill-nature, that all creatures possess due to original sin, was forever attacking, challenging and defending his pursuit of scriptural expression.

Those involved in research, biblical studies, languages or translations of God's holy word have a sure friend and guide in Jerome. He had a razor-sharp mind and his pen expressed everything precisely.

3.  The Lives of  the Saints,  Omer Englebert, 1951
5.  op cit
6.  Ordinary People and Extradinary Lives, Group 6/6 Teaching and Sharing


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