For a long time I've imagined St. Jerome as a very gruff man -- obviously very learned but more than a bit cold. So much of what I've read about him has to do with him feuding with various other churchmen of his time. And then you have the influence of Luther on my opinion of Jerome. Luther would occaisionally cite Jerome's opinion in support of a point he was making, but hardly ever without also noting what a worthless chowderhead Jerome was in general.
But as fate would have it, this week I was reading Mario Masini's book Lectio Divina wherein he quotes frequently from St. Jerome's Letter to Eustochium. What a jewel this is! It has me reconsidering what kind of man Jerome might have been.
Jerome wrote this letter to Eustochium, whom Masini describes as the first Roman noble woman to take a vow of consecrated virginity, to encourage her in her newly chosen way of life. One of the remarkable things about the letter is the flourish with which he employs the Song of Solomon in describing the monastic life. Here are two of the passage which Masini quotes:
Be then like Mary; prefer the food of the soul to that of the body. Leave it to your sisters to run to and fro and to seek how they may fully welcome Christ. But do you, having once for all cast away the burden of the world, sit at the Lord's feet and say: "I have found him whom my soul loveth; I will hold him, I will not let him go." (Song 3:4) And He will answer: "My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her." (Song 6:9)Is this really the same Jerome noted for his constant bickering? His friends must have been baffled by the side of him his rivals saw.
Do you pray? You speak to the Bridegroom. Do you read? He speaks to you. When sleep overtakes you He will come behind and put His hand through the hole of the door, and your heart shall be moved for Him; and you will awake and rise up and say: "I am sick of love." (Song 5:8) Then He will reply: "A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed." (Song 4:12)
A few other blogs (none of which I have seen before today and therefore cannot vouch for) which are celebrating St. Jerome's feast:
Liberty, Order and Tradition
The Church Militant
And a blog which I have seen before: