Each day can be seen as a new beginning, a fresh start. With every sunrise we have the opportunity to commend the new day to God and amend our ways. St. Jerome, whose feast day is today once wrote, “Begin now what you will be hereafter.”
St. Jerome is an unlikely saint, you might say. We could even call him a “prickly” saint. Before his conversion, in spite of his Christian upbringing, he led life as he wished and was not concerned about what others thought concerning his actions and practices. As a young man he lived in Rome where he continued his wild ways. “To alleviate the feelings of guilt he often felt afterwards, Jerome would visit the crypts … and imagine himself in hell. He did so every Sunday, even though he was not a Christian. Jerome succeeded in frightening himself, but not in changing his ways.” (Catholic Online)
Eventually, at the age of 24 he converted and was baptized by Pope Liberius. Jerome spent much of his life writing and translating. He is best known as the translator of the entire Bible into Latin, what is called the Latin Vulgate Bible, still the official Latin translation of Sacred Scriptures. He also wrote commentaries, established a religious community, and spent a great deal of his life in Bethlehem where he died on September 30, 420.
But he was a “prickly” saint. He struggled in his relationships with other Christians. He even exchanged heated words with St. Augustine. Eventually they repaired their relationship and were able to correspond as friends and colleagues. St. Jerome should give us hope as we aspire to be saints. I feel “prickly” even this morning as I read the critique of a coworker on email, or as I try to keep my mouth shut about things going on in our world, especially when opening it causes more harm. Confession: I scuttled the first blog I had written for today for that very reason.
“Begin now what you will be hereafter.” — St. Jerome
I am encouraged by Jerome and some of his pithy quotes can help us to begin fresh today:
- Instead of speaking saintly words we must act them.
- Be ever engaged, so that whenever the devil calls he may find you occupied.
- If then you remain constant in faith in the face of trial, the Lord will give you peace and rest for a time in this world, and forever in the next.
- We must love Christ and always seek Christ’s embraces. Then everything difficult will seem easy.
- There are things in life that are bigger than ourselves. Life is short, live it well.
- The Scriptures are shallow enough for a babe to come and drink without fear of drowning and deep enough for theologians to swim in without ever reaching the bottom.
- Be at peace with your own soul, then heaven and earth will be at peace with you.
O God, who gave the Priest Saint Jerome a living and tender love for Sacred Scripture, grant that your people may be ever more fruitfully nourished by your Word and find in it the fount of life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.