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On St. Jerome

September 30, 2020

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Today the church remembers St.Jerome…

Not exactly a high point in the CofE.
Doctor of the Church
Cardinals hat! (though there were no cardinals)

But for us- significant:

Screen and Bible

When he was a young man Jerome was drawn to the hermetic monastic life-

He went searching…. For that Gospel fervency.

On his searching he found a hermit in Antioch and went to the desert

Terrible suffering. Couldn’t tame his passions.

The truth was that he still harboured very competing priorities.

His vision of standing in judgment and being told he was no closer to God than the average heathen. In classical art- he is scourged.

He loved the classics. OT dull in comparison.
There was no question of spurning learning
But he knew his love was divided.
His young and early calling had floundered.- Like Job he was near to despair
There was a profound gap between his Calling and vision.
And the reality. That he had too much love of the world.. Holding it

That led to the end of the first phase of his life.

The second was about to begin. It was his most fruitful but was essentially a long pause. He was often full of woe as one who felt that he had put his hand to the plough and turned back.

He did indeed go back to the world but there made a pragmatic- and very influential- use of his twin loves. In a long sojourn in Bethlehem he wrote many learned commentaries and was asked by the Pope to translate the newly canonical books of the Bible into Latin.

His translation is known as (common version) the Vulgate.

In the pause- which he later ceased to lament over-
which lasted the majority of his adult life- he, in fact, deepened his faith.

It was through doing what he could- with what he had- that later in life he recovered his first fervency- with a layer of profound religious maturity

The return- phase three- was now a sustainable return to the monastic life- this time in community with others. Leaving all AND knowing his NEED.

The oft painted image of him removing a thorn from the foot of Wounded lion… who became a companion of the monastary

Jeromes life – with its three phases
is a picture of much individual and corporate Xn experience.
The first love. The unconquerable hurdles to faith.
The courageous return to God in humility and maturity.

The legend of the Lion can also be read as a Pauline image of our journey
and that of the church.

Creatures imbued with power and energy
But with a thorn in the flesh. Limping and in in need of help.
The thorn removed- we are free to flourish at last.

IN ISAIAH the prophet tells us of this journey back into God:

For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel;
In returning and rest shall ye be saved;
in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength:

What about you?

Where are you?

In the first flushes? Struggling with disappointment.

In the midst of life – incomplete but struggling on?

Or ready- or in the final return?

I pray like Jerome- that in this meal you might have the courage to take another step the Vulgate.. And that you would take this sacrament to your comfort in your journey into God