Readings & Reflections: Friday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time & St. Jerome, September 30,2016

Readings & Reflections: Friday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time & St. Jerome, September 30,2016

A native of Italy, Jerome was educated in the Latin and Greek classics. As an adult, he received baptism and embarked on a life of solitary penance in the desert of Calchis. He is perhaps best known for his hot temper. He relished controversy and treated the friends of the Church as harshly as her critics. Under Pope Damasus, Jerome revised the then-current translation of the Bible, producing the Vulgate, the Church’s official Latin biblical text. In time of schism, he was the papacy’s dogged defender: “He who clings to the Chair of Peter is accepted by me.” In later years, Jerome founded a monastic community in the Holy Land, where he composed commentaries on the Scriptures: “I beg of you, dear brother,” he wrote to a friend, “to live among these books, to meditate upon them, to know nothing else, to seek nothing else. Does not such a life seem to you a forestate of heaven here on earth?” He lived in a cave in Bethlehem: “He never rests, day or night,” it was observed. “He is reading or writing the whole time.” Jerome is one of the four great Latin Fathers. He died in Bethlehem in 420 A.D.


Opening Prayer

“Most High and glorious God, enlighten the darkness of our hearts and give us a true faith, a certain hope and a perfect love. Give us a sense of the divine and knowledge of yourself, so that we may do everything in fulfilment of your holy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Amen. (Prayer of Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226)

Reading 1
Jb 38:1, 12-21; 40:3-5

The LORD addressed Job out of the storm and said:

Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning
and shown the dawn its place
For taking hold of the ends of the earth,
till the wicked are shaken from its surface?
The earth is changed as is clay by the seal,
and dyed as though it were a garment;
But from the wicked the light is withheld,
and the arm of pride is shattered.

Have you entered into the sources of the sea,
or walked about in the depths of the abyss?
Have the gates of death been shown to you,
or have you seen the gates of darkness?
Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all:
Which is the way to the dwelling place of light,
and where is the abode of darkness,
That you may take them to their boundaries
and set them on their homeward paths?
You know, because you were born before them,
and the number of your years is great!

Then Job answered the LORD and said:

Behold, I am of little account; what can I answer you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
Though I have spoken once, I will not do so again;
though twice, I will do so no more.

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 139:1-3, 7-8, 9-10, 13-14ab

  1. (24b) Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
    O LORD, you have probed me and you know me;
    you know when I sit and when I stand;
    you understand my thoughts from afar.
    My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
    with all my ways you are familiar.
    R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
    Where can I go from your spirit?
    From your presence where can I flee?
    If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I sink to the nether world, you are present there.
    R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
    If I take the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
    Even there your hand shall guide me,
    and your right hand hold me fast.
    R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
    Truly you have formed my inmost being;
    you knit me in my mother’s womb.
    I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;
    wonderful are your works.
    R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.

Lk 10:13-16

Jesus said to them,
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
For if the mighty deeds done in your midst
had been done in Tyre and Sidon,
they would long ago have repented,
sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon
at the judgment than for you.
And as for you, Capernaum, ‘Will you be exalted to heaven?
You will go down to the netherworld.’
Whoever listens to you listens to me.
Whoever rejects you rejects me.
And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – Woe to you Chorazin and Bethsaida

The cities of  Chorazin and Bethsaida lay near Capernaum on the northern border of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus spent most of His time teaching and healing the people in these areas. His ministry was focused on these key cities and I consider it a great privilege for their people to be directly ministered and taught by Jesus.

But this privilege was accompanied by a greater responsibility which they were not able to live up to. They failed to respond to God ‘s Word. Their hard and stubborn hearts could not comprehend Who Jesus was. The arrogance in their hearts led them not only to reject Him but to persecute Him and in time, crucify Him on the Cross. Certainly, God’s very own could not act on His Word much more share it with the rest of the world.

This is then a reminder to all that being privileged entails a lot of responsibilities. Being with the Lord means living for God and sharing Him with everyone and much more. Being a leader in community is being the least, the last of all and the servant of all! The privilege of being a Christian leader entails not only leading, directing, managing and empowering God’s people but loving, sharing and caring for them- being Christ to them.

Today we may all be considered very privileged in lot of ways. Despite the gloom and doom of our present day economy, vast industry cutbacks, rising unemployment and the rising terrorism worldwide and an atmosphere of grim pessimism from all over, we may still be considered the most blessed among all generations. Amidst the outpouring of God ‘s grace upon us, have we really acted upon God and His call the way He wants us to?

Many of us pay more attention to the bad news on television than to the Good News of Jesus. We are all better students of world politics, public polls and Wall Street than we are of God ‘s Word. We have forgotten that it is still God Who is in charge and it is God ‘s sovereign hand which will prevail and His prophetic plan which we should closely look into.

Let us then look into our hearts and check how faithful we have been to God and His call. Let us be reminded of the words of Jesus Himself: “It will go ill with you, Chorazin! And just as ill with you, Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in your midst had occurred in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have reformed in sackcloth and ashes. It will go easier on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And as for you, Capernaum, ‘ Are you to be exalted to the skies? You shall be hurled down to the realm of death! ‘ ”  

Feeling like being exalted to the skies… beware for the realm of death may be upon all of us! Complacency can cause us to believe what is not true and reject God and His Word especially amidst the heights of success of God ‘s own creation!

Have we as faithful believers heard God’s Word and acted on it… have we received our Lord’s call to repentance with hearts that are open to the transforming grace of our Lord?

Have we as a community responded upon what the larger Church has envisioned in the last several years to be our role in our Lord’s vineyard?

As we lead God’s people, let us not abuse the authority and power vested upon us. Let us be reminded always of our Lord’s words: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you.


To hear God ‘s Word means to act respond to His call.


Heavenly Father, give us the grace to respond to your call and abide by your will. In Jesus we pray Amen.

Reflection 2 – Behold, I am of little account

The Book of Job deals with the theme of God’s Providence; it shows, according to Saint Thomas Aquinas, that human affairs are ruled by divine providence. One of the difficulties that the book has to address is an argument against divine providence: the fact that just men seem to be afflicted with evil without cause.

Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar all tried to figure out why Job, a just and virtuous man has suffered so many grave afflictions. Eliphaz, for example, holds that Job’s suffering has to be a punishment from God on account of Job’s sins (4:7,17). He asked rhetorically: Has anyone who was innocent perished? Can moral man be righteous before God? Happy, he says, is the man whom God reproves. Therefore Job should not despise the chastening of God the Almighty. God will deliver Job from his troubles. Job answers that he does not understand where he has erred or what wrong he spoke (6:24,30). He maintains his integrity throughout the conversation.

After Job’s three friends finish, a fourth person, a young man named Elihu speaks. He was angry at Job because he justified himself rather than God; he was angry at the three friends because they found no answer to the problem and declared that Job was in the wrong (32:2-3). Elihu argues that God speaks to man in order to turn man aside from evil deeds and to cut off pride from man. He does this to keep man from falling into the Pit and losing his life. When chastened by pain, man turns to God in prayer and enters into God’s presence with joy and recounts to men his salvation (33:26). God is just and Job is wrong to proclaim his self-righteousness.

After Elihu speaks to Job, God himself addresses Job. He answers out of the whirlwind. First, God proclaims his power, manifested in his creation. This power greatly surpasses Job, who was not there when God laid the foundation of the world, who did not set the limits of the sea, who does not have power over day and night, and who has limited knowledge of the animals of the earth.

Job can only respond: “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?”. Job remains in silence and awaits God’s word. This time, God asks Job why he has challenged Him, why he has condemned Him so that he can be justified. Job can only respond to God with humility and repentance. He says: “I have uttered what I did not understand; I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes”. The Lord accepts Job’s repentance, rebukes Job’s three friends and restores Job’s fortunes twofold.

The Book of Job, then, does not come to a definitive answer about the problem of why good men and women suffer. However, it does affirm two basic truths: on the one hand, it affirms God’s power, justice and wisdom. All things are in God’s hands, he acts with justice and guides all things. He created them and governs them. On the other hand, man should not be self-righteous or think he understands all things. Contemplating God’s creation and the fact that man himself is one of God’s creatures should lead to humility of heart and filial trust in God.

With the coming of Jesus Christ and his Passion and death, a more complete understanding of the problem of suffering is possible. Because of his sin, man is in need of redemption. Jesus is the innocent one, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world and forges a New Covenant that can never be broken. The New Covenant includes the forgiveness of sins, the food for Eternal Life, and the purifying Blood of Christ.

This is the Good News that Jesus brought and preached. Today, in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus condemns the cities that reject him and the message preached by the seventy disciples. Tyre and Sidon were Phoenician cities which were often the object of judgment by the prophets of old. However, neither city was privileged to witness the mighty works that the towns of Galilee – Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum – saw. Had the Phoenician cities seen the mighty works of Jesus and his disciples, they would have repented. The three cities of Galilee, however, refused to believe. They heard the Word, but did not understand it, and, instead of welcoming the Word, they rejected it.

Today’s Liturgy of the Word is both a warning and an invitation. It warns us about the danger of a prideful heart that justifies itself and a hardened heart that refuses to believe. The invitation, then, is to become like a child, who is simple of heart and to welcome the Word of God in faith and love. Read the source:

Reflection 3 – He who hears you hears me

If Jesus were to visit your community today, what would he say? Would he issue a warning like the one he gave to Chorazin and Bethsaida? And how would you respond? Wherever Jesus went he did mighty works to show the people how much God had for them. Chorazin and Bethsaida had been blessed with the visitation of God. They heard the good news and experienced the wonderful works which Jesus did for them. Why was Jesus upset with these communities? The word woe is also translated as alas. It is as much as an expression of sorrowful pity as it is of anger.

Jesus calls us to walk in the way of truth and freedom – justice and holiness
Why does Jesus lament and issue a stern warning? The people who heard the gospel here very likely responded with indifference. Jesus upbraids them for doing nothing! Repentance demands change – a change of heart and way of life. God’s word is life-giving and it saves us from destruction – the destruction of soul as well as body. Jesus’ anger is directed toward sin and everything which hinders us from doing the will of God and receiving his blessing. In love he calls us to walk in his way of truth and freedom, grace and mercy, justice and holiness. Do you receive his word with faith and submission or with doubt and indifference?

“Lord Jesus, give me the child-like simplicity and purity of faith to gaze upon your face with joy and confidence in your all-merciful love. Remove every doubt, fear, and proud thought which would hinder me from receiving your word with trust and humble submission.” – Read the source:

Reflection 4 – Can you hear God’s voice in the storm?

In today’s first reading, we hear God speaking to Job “out of the storm.” Think of a storm that’s raging in your life right now. Have you been able to hear Gods voice in it? Today’s scriptures are that voice. What is he saying to you?

He told Job, “What are you worried about? I AM still in charge of your life.” Job had been thinking that God was letting things get out of control. We often feel that way, too, don’t we? We say by our actions and by our words: “God, You’re late! This problem should be fixed by now. I’d better explain to You what You should do, so that we can get this finished in a more timely manner.”

And God replies, “Tell me, if you know all: Which is the way to the dwelling place of light, and where is the abode of darkness? Do you really know how to obtain good instead of bad?” And then God gets a little sarcastic: “Oh yeah, of course you do – you were born before I created light and dark, you’re so old!”

Job, humbled by the reminder of his inadequacies compared to the greatness of God, speaks for all of us as he says, “All right, I’ll shut up! I’ll even put my hand over my mouth … oops, I spoke again. I won’t do that again. Oops, I just did.”

(You didn’t know there was humor in that book of the Bible, did you?!)

To hear God speak in the storm, we have to repent of our prideful assumption that we know the right way to end our troubles. We must acknowledge that God truly is in charge, even if it doesn’t seem so, and that his timing is always perfect, even when we think he’s late.

Today’s responsorial Psalm reminds us that God can be trusted because of one big reason: He knows us better than we know ourselves. Therefore, his guidance and his timing are much better than our own. We can be certain that he cares about us, because he formed our innermost being (our souls) and our bodies (which he knit in our mother’s wombs). He loved us even before we were born. He made us wonderfully.

Did you hear that? He made you to be one of his wonderful works. Do you think he’d ruin one of his masterpieces?

The Gospel reading is God’s voice in the storm saying, “Don’t forget how I’ve helped you before! Of course I’ll help you again.” If we look only at our problems and neglect to spend time recollecting what he’s done for us in the past, it’s easy to distrust him. This kind of faith is no faith and it leads to destruction, just like what happened to Capernaum.

Capernaum was an important, busy town when Jesus taught the Good News there. Today, the little towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth continue to thrive, but Capernaum has been lost to the “realm of death.” (Click here to see what it looks like today: HolyLand/capern3.jpg. See more by looking at a couple of pages from my Virtual Pilgrimage:

God is taking very good care of you! Listen for his voice. – Read the source:

Reflection 5 – “Whoever listens to you…”

Kierkegaard, a philosopher who loved Jesus very much, affirmed that God has created two categories of people: heroes and poets. The hero is the one who accomplishes great deeds and even does battle with death. The poet does not do impressive deeds, but he sings about the hero and is enthusiastic about the hero; he is as happy as if he were the hero himself, because his own genius can be expressed in sheer admiration and devotion. When he has found his hero, the poet goes from city to city and tells people that they too should admire the hero.

For us, Jesus is our hero, and we should be his poets. I do not mean in the sense that we should write poems about him but in the sense that we are in love with Jesus. The poets speak through their songs and succeed not only in convincing, but in taking others along with them.

Our evangelization should be Pentecostal: It should cause heartstrings to vibrate. In the place where the towers of Babel were first erected and people wanted to make a name for themselves, those towers are demolished and every one’s name is forgotten. Let us, therefore, lift up the name that is above all names and proclaim Paul’s words, “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9). – Source: Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. CAP, Magnificat, Vol. 16, No. 8 October 2014, pp. 57-58.

Reflection 6 – The price of being Christian

Jerome was born named as Eusebius Hieronymus Sophronius at Stridon, near Aquileia, in Dalmatia (present day Yugoslavia) in ca. 345 AD and died in Bethlehem on September 30, 420 AD. He translated the Old Testament from Hebrew and the New Testament from Greek into Latin. He was the foremost scholar and commentator of his time. He was a monk who became a priest and then secretary to Pope Damasus. He is often portrayed as a cardinal because of his position as papal secretary.

Jerome was also well known for his acid pen. He wrote scathing criticisms of the society of his time. He finally went to Bethlehem where he lived in a cave. He is a saint because he took the Gospel seriously. There is a tendency today to accommodate the Gospel message by taking away its bite. Jerome spoke of a Gospel without compromise. He took every sacred word seriously and passionately, whatever consequences. Jerome reminds us that the Gospel message deals with the serious matters of spiritual life and spiritual death.

In our American history on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, a southern brigade was about to break through the northern line when General Hancock ordered a much smaller regiment, the First Minnesota, to charge the overwhelming numbers to give him time to bring up reinforcments. Of the 262 Minnesotans who attacked, 215 were either killed or wounded; only 47 came back. These men knew the meaning of sacrifice and commitment.

Dietrich Bonhoefer, the German Lutheran pastor hanged by the Nazis in 1945, wrote a still influential book titled The Cost of Discipleship. Linking Jesus’ call (“Come, follow me”) to Jesus’ crucifixion, Bonhoeffer concluded, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Today’s Gospel account makes it clear that a true disciple must be willing to forego his possessions, make any sacrifice, and persevere in his response. In Bonhoeffer’s terminology, anything less than wholehearted commitment to Christ is “cheap grace.” The grace of true discipleship is “costly.”

Dorothy Day, Catholic social activist and founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, once famously said, “Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.” Dorothy’s rejection of the title had nothing to do with pride or humility – rather, she did not want her efforts on behalf of the poor and oppressed (for example, her begging for food, sleeping on the floor of a jail, or devotion to Holy Mass) to be thought the works of only special or extraordinary people. She wanted to make it clear that all who follow Christ are called to make sacrifices for the sake of the gospel and the good of their neglected brothers and sisters.

Our decision to follow Christ should not be made lightly. The consequences of our “yes” are dramatic. The Lord will always be with us. We have the support of the heavenly kingdom. But the cost of our discipleship is high – he meant it when he said we must pick up our cross if we wish to come after him! (Source: Norman Langenbrunner, Weekday Homily Helps. Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, September 30, 2009).

Reflection 7 – Your word became the joy of my heart

Saint Jerome was born in the Roman Province of Dalmatia in the town of Stridon (located in modern-day Slovenia) in 342/7, he studied in Rome and, after leaving behind a life of worldly pleasure, became a Christian in 366 and devoted himself to the ascetic life.

He made his way to the East and lived as a hermit in the Desert of Chalcis, where he learned Greek and Hebrew. As he studied and meditated on the Word of God, he experienced a deep regret for the sins of his youth. He was “keenly aware of the contrast between the pagan mentality and the Christian life: a contrast made famous by the dramatic and lively ‘vision’ – of which he has left us an account – in which it seemed to him that he was being scourged before God because he was ‘Ciceronian rather than Christian’ (cf. Ep. 22,30)” (Pope Benedict XVI, 7 November 2007).

Saint Jerome returned to Rome in 382 and worked as a secretary and counselor to Pope Damasus, who encouraged him to produce a new Latin translation of the Bible. When Pope Damasus died in 385, Jerome went to the Holy Land and Egypt. From 386 to his death on September 30, 419/20, he stayed in Bethlehem. There, “he commented on the Word of God; he defended the faith, vigorously opposing various heresies; he urged the monks on to perfection; he taught classical and Christian culture to young students; he welcomed with a pastor’s heart pilgrims who were visiting the Holy Land” (Pope Benedict XVI, 7 November 2007).

Saint Jerome comments on Matthew 13:46-52 as follows. With regard to the first parable about the pearl of great price: “The good pearls that the salesman seeks are the Law and the prophets… but the one pearl of very great price is the knowledge of the Savior and the concealed mystery of his Passion and Resurrection. When the businessman finds it, he acts as the apostle Paul does. He despises as off scouring and refuse all the mysteries of the Law and the prophets and the former observances in which he had lived blamelessly, that he might gain Christ. It is not the case that the finding of the new pearl means that the old pearls are condemned. Rather, it means that in comparison with it, every other gem is rather cheap” (Saint Jerome, Commentary on Matthew, CUA Press, 164).

In the second parable, Jerome sees a fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy: “Behold, I am sending many fishermen to you”  (Jeremiah 16:16). Jerome continues, saying that the fishermen who became apostles, cast a net of Gospel-doctrines “into the sea of the world, and it stretches out in the midst of the waves until the present day, capturing anything that falls into it from the salty and bitter waters. That is to say, it catches both good and bad men, both the best fish and the worse. But when the consummation and end of the world comes, as he explains more clearly below, at that time the net will be drawn to shore. Then a true judgment for separating the fish will be demonstrated, and, as though in some very quiet harbor, the good will be cast into the vessels of the heavenly mansions, but the flame of Gehenna will take the bad to be baked and dried” (Saint Jerome, Commentary on Matthew, CUA Press, 164-165).

Jesus wants his apostles not only to hear the parables, but to understand them since they will be teachers, a vocation that Jerome fulfilled faithfully. The apostles impress the Word of God on the tablets of their heart. “They had been instructed in the mysteries of the heavenly kingdoms. They were powerful in the wealth of the householder, and from the treasury of their doctrines they cast out new things and old. Thus whatever they proclaimed in the Gospel, they proved by means of the words of the Law and the prophets. This is why the bride says in the Song of Songs:  ‘I have save for you new things with the old, my brother’ (7:13)” (Saint Jerome, Commentary on Matthew, CUA Press, 165).

Saint Jerome teaches us first of all that, like him, we should seek the pearl of great price and be prepared to sell all things to obtain it. Second, we can imitate his love for Sacred Scripture, which is capable of giving us “wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus”. Ignorance of the Scriptures, Jerome says, is ignorance of Christ. Jerome saw prayer as our speaking to Christ and reading Scripture as Christ speaking to us. Third, Jerome served the Church with his talents and gifts, and, through the Latin translation of the Bible, made a lasting contribution. He invested the many talents given him and presented them to his Lord on the day of his passing. Fourthly, Jerome was known to have a difficult personality and hot-temper. He shows how even this passion and energy can be placed at the service of the Gospel. Throughout his long life, he was attentive to the Holy Spirit and was obedient to God. Read the source:

Reflection 8 – St. Jerome (345-420 A.D.)

Most of the saints are remembered for some outstanding virtue or devotion which they practiced, but Jerome is frequently remembered for his bad temper! It is true that he had a very bad temper and could use a vitriolic pen, but his love for God and his Son Jesus Christ was extraordinarily intense; anyone who taught error was an enemy of God and truth, and St. Jerome went after him or her with his mighty and sometimes sarcastic pen.

He was above all a Scripture scholar, translating most of the Old Testament from the Hebrew. He also wrote commentaries which are a great source of scriptural inspiration for us today. He was an avid student, a thorough scholar, a prodigious letter-writer and a consultant to monk, bishop and pope. St. Augustine (August 28) said of him, “What Jerome is ignorant of, no mortal has ever known.”

St. Jerome is particularly important for having made a translation of the Bible which came to be called the Vulgate. It is not the most critical edition of the Bible, but its acceptance by the Church was fortunate. As a modern scholar says, “No man before Jerome or among his contemporaries and very few men for many centuries afterwards were so well qualified to do the work.” The Council of Trent called for a new and corrected edition of the Vulgate, and declared it the authentic text to be used in the Church.

In order to be able to do such work, Jerome prepared himself well. He was a master of Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Chaldaic. He began his studies at his birthplace, Stridon in Dalmatia (in the former Yugoslavia). After his preliminary education he went to Rome, the center of learning at that time, and thence to Trier, Germany, where the scholar was very much in evidence. He spent several years in each place, always trying to find the very best teachers. He once served as private secretary of Pope Damasus (December 11).

After these preparatory studies he traveled extensively in Palestine, marking each spot of Christ’s life with an outpouring of devotion. Mystic that he was, he spent five years in the desert of Chalcis so that he might give himself up to prayer, penance and study. Finally he settled in Bethlehem, where he lived in the cave believed to have been the birthplace of Christ. On September 30 in the year 420, Jerome died in Bethlehem. The remains of his body now lie buried in the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.


Jerome was a strong, outspoken man. He had the virtues and the unpleasant fruits of being a fearless critic and all the usual moral problems of a man. He was, as someone has said, no admirer of moderation whether in virtue or against evil. He was swift to anger, but also swift to feel remorse, even more severe on his own shortcomings than on those of others. A pope is said to have remarked, on seeing a picture of Jerome striking his breast with a stone, “You do well to carry that stone, for without it the Church would never have canonized you” (Butler’s Lives of the Saints).


“In the remotest part of a wild and stony desert, burnt up with the heat of the scorching sun so that it frightens even the monks that inhabit it, I seemed to myself to be in the midst of the delights and crowds of Rome. In this exile and prison to which for the fear of hell I had voluntarily condemned myself, I many times imagined myself witnessing the dancing of the Roman maidens as if I had been in the midst of them: In my cold body and in my parched-up flesh, which seemed dead before its death, passion was able to live. Alone with this enemy, I threw myself in spirit at the feet of Jesus, watering them with my tears, and I tamed my flesh by fasting whole weeks. I am not ashamed to disclose my temptations, but I grieve that I am not now what I then was” (“Letter to St. Eustochium”).

Patron Saint of: Librarians

Related St. Anthony Messenger article(s) 

St. Jerome: Perils of a Bible Translator, by Leslie Hoppe, OFM

Read the source:

The life of St. Jerome

Saint Jerome, the priest, monk and Doctor of the Church renowned for his extraordinary depth of learning and translations of the Bible into Latin in the Vulgate, is celebrated by the Church with his memorial today, September 30.

Besides his contributions as a Church Father and patronage of subsequent Catholic scholarship, Jerome is also regarded as a patron of people with difficult personalities—owing to the sometimes extreme approach which he took in articulating his scholarly opinions and the teaching of the Church. He is also notable for his devotion to the ascetic life, and for his insistence on the importance of Hebrew scholarship for Christians.

Born around 340 as Eusebius Hieronymous Sophronius in present-day Croatia, Jerome received Christian instruction from his father, who sent him to Rome for instruction in rhetoric and classical literature. His youth was thus dominated by a struggle between worldly pursuits –which brought him into many types of temptation– and the inclination to a life of faith, a feeling evoked by regular trips to the Roman catacombs with his friends in the city.

Baptized in 360 by Pope Liberius, Jerome traveled widely among the monastic and intellectual centers of the newly Christian empire. Upon returning to the city of his birth, following the end of a local crisis caused by the Arian heresy, he studied theology in the famous schools of Trier and worked closely with two other future saints, Chromatius and Heliodorus, who were outstanding teachers of orthodox theology.

Seeking a life more akin to the first generation of “desert fathers,” Jerome left the Adriatic and traveled east to Syria, visiting several Greek cities of civil and ecclesiastical importance on the way to his real destination: “a wild and stony desert … to which, through fear or hell, I had voluntarily condemned myself, with no other company but scorpions and wild beasts.”

Jerome’s letters vividly chronicle the temptations and trials he endured during several years as a desert hermit. Nevertheless, after his ordination by the bishop of Antioch, followed by periods of study in Constantinople and service at Rome to Pope Damasus I, Jerome opted permanently for a solitary and ascetic life in the city of Bethlehem from the mid-380s.

Jerome remained engaged both as an arbitrator and disputant of controversies in the Church, and served as a spiritual father to a group of nuns who had become his disciples in Rome. Monks and pilgrims from a wide array of nations and cultures also found their way to his monastery, where he commented that “as many different choirs chant the psalms as there are nations.”

Rejecting pagan literature as a distraction, Jerome undertook to learn Hebrew from a Christian monk who had converted from Judaism. Somewhat unusually for a fourth-century Christian priest, he also studied with Jewish rabbis, striving to maintain the connection between Hebrew language and culture, and the emerging world of Greek and Latin-speaking Christianity. He became a secretary of Pope Damasus, who commissioned the Vulgate from him. Prepared by these ventures, Jerome spent 15 years translating most of the Hebrew Bible into its authoritative Latin version. His harsh temperament and biting criticisms of his intellectual opponents made him many enemies in the Church and in Rome and he was forced to leave the city.

Jerome went to Bethlehem, established a monastery, and lived the rest of his years in study, prayer, and asceticism.

St. Jerome once said, “I interpret as I should, following the command of Christ: ‘Search the Scriptures,’ and ‘Seek and you shall find.’ For if, as Paul says, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, and if the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”

After living through both Barbarian invasions of the Roman empire, and a resurgence of riots sparked by doctrinal disputes in the Church, Jerome died in his Bethlehem monastery in 420 A.D.

Read from the source:


Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God’s invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
“Saint Jerome” redirects here. For other uses, see Saint Jerome (disambiguation) and Jerome (disambiguation).
St. Jerome
Bernardino Pinturicchio - Saint Jerome in the Wilderness - Walters 371089.jpg

Saint Jerome in the Wilderness by Bernardino Pinturicchio
Hermit and Doctor of the Church
Born c. 347
Stridon (possibly Strido Dalmatiae, on the border ofDalmatia and Pannonia)
Died 420 (aged c. 73)
Bethlehem, Palaestina Prima
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Anglican Communion
Oriental Orthodoxy
Major shrine Basilica of Saint Mary Major,Rome, Italy
Feast 30 September (Western Christianity)
15 June (Eastern Christianity)
Attributes lion, cardinal attire, cross, skull,trumpet, owl, books and writing material
Patronage archeologists; archivists; Bible scholars; librarians; libraries; school children; students;translators
Major works The Vulgate
De viris illustribus

Jerome (/əˈrm/; Latin: Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus; Greek: Εὐσέβιος Σωφρόνιος Ἱερώνυμος; c.  347 – 30 September 420) was a presbyter, confessor, theologian and historian. He was the son of Eusebius, born at Stridon, a village near Emona on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia, then part of northeastern Italy.[1][2][3] He is best known for his translation of most of the Bible into Latin (the translation that became known as the Vulgate), and his commentaries on the Gospels. His list of writings is extensive.[4]

The protégé of Pope Damasus I, who died in December of 384, Jerome was known for his teachings on Christian moral life, especially to those living in cosmopolitan centers such as Rome. In many cases, he focused his attention to the lives of women and identified how a woman devoted to Jesus should live her life. This focus stemmed from his close patron relationships with several prominent female ascetics who were members of affluent senatorial families.[5]

He is recognised as a Saint and Doctor of the Church by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, theLutheran Church, and the Anglican Communion.[6] His feast day is 30 September.


Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus was born at Stridon around 347 A.D.[7] He was of Illyrian ancestry and his native tongue was the Illyrian dialect.[8][9] He was not baptized until about 360–366 A.D., when he had gone to Rome with his friend Bonosus (who may or may not have been the same Bonosus whom Jerome identifies as his friend who went to live as a hermit on an island in the Adriatic) to pursue rhetorical and philosophical studies. He studied under the grammarianAelius Donatus. There Jerome learned Latin and at least some Greek,[10] though probably not the familiarity with Greek literature he would later claim to have acquired as a schoolboy.[11]

As a student in Rome, he engaged in the superficial escapades and wanton behaviour of students there, which he indulged in quite casually but for which he suffered terrible bouts of guilt afterwards. To appease his conscience, he would visit on Sundays the sepulchres of the martyrs and the Apostles in the catacombs. This experience would remind him of the terrors of hell:

“Often I would find myself entering those crypts, deep dug in the earth, with their walls on either side lined with the bodies of the dead, where everything was so dark that almost it seemed as though the Psalmist’s words were fulfilled, Let them go down quick into Hell.[12] Here and there the light, not entering in through windows, but filtering down from above through shafts, relieved the horror of the darkness. But again, as soon as you found yourself cautiously moving forward, the black night closed around and there came to my mind the line of Vergil, “Horror ubique animos, simul ipsa silentia terrent'”.[13][14]

Jerome used a quote from Virgil—”On all sides round horror spread wide; the very silence breathed a terror on my soul”[15]—to describe the horror of hell. Jerome initially used classical authors to describe Christian concepts such as hell that indicated both his classical education and his deep shame of their associated practices, such as pederasty which was found in Rome. Although initially skeptical of Christianity, he was eventually converted.[16] After several years in Rome, he travelled with Bonosus to Gaul and settled in Trier where he seems to have first taken up theological studies, and where he copied, for his friendTyrannius Rufinus, Hilary of Poitiers‘ commentary on the Psalms and the treatise De synodis. Next came a stay of at least several months, or possibly years, with Rufinus at Aquileia, where he made many Christian friends.

Some of these accompanied him when he set out about 373 on a journey through Thrace and Asia Minor into northern Syria. At Antioch, where he stayed the longest, two of his companions died and he himself was seriously ill more than once. During one of these illnesses (about the winter of 373–374), he had a vision that led him to lay aside his secular studies and devote himself to God. He seems to have abstained for a considerable time from the study of the classics and to have plunged deeply into that of the Bible, under the impulse of Apollinaris of Laodicea, then teaching in Antioch and not yet suspected of heresy.

St. Jerome reading in the countryside, by Giovanni Bellini

Seized with a desire for a life of ascetic penance, he went for a time to the desert of Chalcis, to the southeast of Antioch, known as the “Syrian Thebaid“, from the number of hermits inhabiting it. During this period, he seems to have found time for studying and writing. He made his first attempt to learn Hebrew under the guidance of a converted Jew; and he seems to have been in correspondence with Jewish Christians in Antioch. Around this time he had copied for him a Hebrew Gospel, of which fragments are preserved in his notes, and is known today as the Gospel of the Hebrews, and which the Nazarenes considered to be the true Gospel of Matthew.[17] Jerome translated parts of this Hebrew Gospel into Greek.[18]

Returning to Antioch in 378 or 379, he was ordained by Bishop Paulinus, apparently unwillingly and on condition that he continue his ascetic life. Soon afterward, he went to Constantinople to pursue a study of Scripture under Gregory Nazianzen. He seems to have spent two years there, then left, and the next three (382–385) he was in Rome again, as secretary to Pope Damasus I and the leading Roman Christians. Invited originally for the synod of 382, held to end the schism of Antioch as there were rival claimants to be the proper patriarch in Antioch. Jerome had accompanied one of the claimants, Paulinus back to Rome in order to get more support for him, and distinguished himself to the pope, and took a prominent place in his councils.

He was given duties in Rome, and he undertook a revision of the Latin Bible, to be based on the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. He also updated the Psalter containing the Book of Psalms then at use in Rome based on the Septuagint. Though he did not realize it yet, translating much of what became the Latin Vulgate Bible would take many years and be his most important achievement (see Writings– Translations section below).

This painting by Antonio da Fabriano II, depicts St. Jerome in study. The writing implements, scrolls, and manuscripts testify to Jerome’s scholarly pursuits.[19] The Walters Art Museum.

In Rome he was surrounded by a circle of well-born and well-educated women, including some from the noblest patricianfamilies, such as the widows Lea, Marcella and Paula, with their daughters Blaesilla and Eustochium. The resulting inclination of these women towards the monastic life, away from the indulgent lasciviousness in Rome, and his unsparing criticism of thesecular clergy of Rome, brought a growing hostility against him among the Roman clergy and their supporters. Soon after the death of his patron Damasus (10 December 384), Jerome was forced by them to leave his position at Rome after an inquiry was brought up by the Roman clergy into allegations that he had an improper relationship with the widow Paula. Still, his writings were highly regarded by women who were attempting to maintain a vow of becoming a consecrated virgin. His letters were widely read and distributed throughout the Christian empire and it is clear through his writing that he knew these virgin women were not his only audience.[5]

Additionally, his condemnation of Blaesilla‘s hedonistic lifestyle in Rome had led her to adopt ascetic practices, but it affected her health and worsened her physical weakness to the point that she died just four months after starting to follow his instructions; much of the Roman populace were outraged at Jerome for causing the premature death of such a lively young woman, and his insistence to Paula that Blaesilla should not be mourned, and complaints that her grief was excessive, were seen as heartless, polarising Roman opinion against him.[20]

In August 385, he left Rome for good and returned to Antioch, accompanied by his brother Paulinian and several friends, and followed a little later by Paula and Eustochium, who had resolved to end their days in the Holy Land. In the winter of 385, Jerome acted as their spiritual adviser. The pilgrims, joined by Bishop Paulinus of Antioch, visited Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and the holy places of Galilee, and then went to Egypt, the home of the great heroes of the ascetic life.

At the Catechetical School of Alexandria, Jerome listened to the catechist Didymus the Blind expounding the prophet Hoseaand telling his reminiscences of Anthony the Great, who had died 30 years before; he spent some time in Nitria, admiring the disciplined community life of the numerous inhabitants of that “city of the Lord”, but detecting even there “concealed serpents”, i.e., the influence of Origen of Alexandria. Late in the summer of 388 he was back in Palestine, and spent the remainder of his life working in a cave near Bethlehem, the very cave Jesus was born,[21] surrounded by a few friends, both men and women (including Paula and Eustochium), to whom he acted as priestly guide and teacher.

Painting by Niccolò Antonio Colantonio, showing St. Jerome’s removal of a thorn from a lion’s paw.

Amply provided by Paula with the means of livelihood and of increasing his collection of books, he led a life of incessant activity in literary production. To these last 34 years of his career belong the most important of his works; his version of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew text, the best of his scriptural commentaries, his catalogue of Christian authors, and the dialogue against the Pelagians, the literary perfection of which even an opponent recognized. To this period also belong most of his polemics, which distinguished him among the orthodox Fathers, including the treatises against the Origenism later declared anathema, of Bishop John II of Jerusalem and his early friend Rufinus. Later, as a result of his writings againstPelagianism, a body of excited partisans broke into the monastic buildings, set them on fire, attacked the inmates and killed adeacon, forcing Jerome to seek safety in a neighboring fortress (416).

It is recorded that Jerome died near Bethlehem on 30 September 420. The date of his death is given by the Chronicon ofProsper of Aquitaine. His remains, originally buried at Bethlehem, are said to have been later transferred to the basilica ofSanta Maria Maggiore in Rome, though other places in the West claim some relics—the cathedral at Nepi boasting possession of his head, which, according to another tradition, is in the Escorial.

Translations and commentaries[edit]

St Jerome, by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 1607, at St John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta

Saint Jerome, unknown Southern Netherlandish artist, 1520, Hamburger Kunsthalle

Jerome was a scholar at a time when that statement implied a fluency in Greek. He knew some Hebrew when he started histranslation project, but moved to Jerusalem to strengthen his grip on Jewish scripture commentary. A wealthy Roman aristocrat, Paula, funded his stay in a monastery in Bethlehem and he completed his translation there. He began in 382 by correcting the existing Latin language version of the New Testament, commonly referred to as the Vetus Latina. By 390 he turned to translating the Hebrew Bible from the original Hebrew, having previously translated portions from the Septuagintwhich came from Alexandria. He believed that the mainstream Rabbinical Judaism had rejected the Septuagint as valid Jewish scriptural texts because of what were ascertained as mistranslations along with its Hellenistic heretical elements.[22] He completed this work by 405. Prior to Jerome’s Vulgate, all Latin translations of the Old Testament were based on the Septuagint not the Hebrew. Jerome’s decision to use a Hebrew text instead of the previous translated Septuagint went against the advice of most other Christians, including Augustine, who thought the Septuagint inspired. Modern scholarship, however, has cast doubts on the actual quality of Jerome’s Hebrew knowledge. Many modern scholars believe that the Greek Hexapla is the main source for Jerome’s “iuxta Hebraeos” translation of the Old Testament.[23]

For the next 15 years, until he died, Jerome produced a number of commentaries on Scripture, often explaining his translation choices in using the original Hebrew rather than suspect translations. His patristic commentaries align closely with Jewish tradition, and he indulges in allegorical and mystical subtleties after the manner of Philo and the Alexandrian school. Unlike his contemporaries, he emphasizes the difference between the Hebrew Bible “apocrypha” and the Hebraica veritas of theprotocanonical books. In his Vulgate’s prologues, he describes some portions of books in the Septuagint that were not found in the Hebrew as being non-canonical (he called them apocrypha);[24] for Baruch, he mentions by name in his Prologue to Jeremiah and notes that it is neither read nor held among the Hebrews, but does not explicitly call it apocryphal or “not in the canon”.[25] His Preface to The Books of Samuel and Kings[26] includes the following statement, commonly called the Helmeted Preface:

This preface to the Scriptures may serve as a “helmeted” introduction to all the books which we turn from Hebrew into Latin, so that we may be assured that what is not found in our list must be placed amongst the Apocryphal writings. Wisdom, therefore, which generally bears the name of Solomon, and the book of Jesus, the Son of Sirach, and Judith, and Tobias, and the Shepherd are not in the canon. The first book of Maccabees I have found to be Hebrew, the second is Greek, as can be proved from the very style.

Although Jerome was once suspicious of the apocrypha, it is said that he later viewed them as Scripture. For example, in Jerome’s letter to Eustochium he quotes Sirach 13:2.,[27] elsewhere Jerome also refers to Baruch, the Story of Susannah and Wisdom as scripture.[28][29][30]

Jerome in the desert, tormented by his memories of the dancing girls, byFrancisco de Zurbarán. Rome.

Jerome’s commentaries fall into three groups:

  • His translations or recastings of Greek predecessors, including fourteen homilies on the Book of Jeremiah and the same number on the Book of Ezekiel by Origen (translated ca. 380 in Constantinople); two homilies of Origen of Alexandria on the Song of Solomon (in Rome, ca. 383); and thirty-nine on the Gospel of Luke (ca. 389, in Bethlehem). The nine homilies of Origen on the Book of Isaiah included among his works were not done by him. Here should be mentioned, as an important contribution to the topography of Palestine, his book De situ et nominibus locorum Hebraeorum, a translation with additions and some regrettable omissions of the Onomasticon of Eusebius. To the same period (ca. 390) belongs the Liber interpretationis nominum Hebraicorum, based on a work supposed to go back to Philo and expanded by Origen.
  • Original commentaries on the Old Testament. To the period before his settlement at Bethlehem and the following five years belong a series of short Old Testament studies: De seraphim, De voce Osanna, De tribus quaestionibus veteris legis(usually included among the letters as 18, 20, and 36); Quaestiones hebraicae in Genesim; Commentarius in Ecclesiasten;Tractatus septem in Psalmos 10–16 (lost); Explanationes in Michaeam, Sophoniam, Nahum, Habacuc, Aggaeum. After 395 he composed a series of longer commentaries, though in rather a desultory fashion: first on Jonah and Obadiah (396), then on Isaiah (ca. 395-ca. 400), on Zechariah, Malachi, Hoseah, Joel, Amos (from 406), on the Book of Daniel (ca. 407), on Ezekiel (between 410 and 415), and on Jeremiah (after 415, left unfinished).
  • New Testament commentaries. These include only Philemon, Galatians, Ephesians, and Titus (hastily composed 387–388); Matthew (dictated in a fortnight, 398);Mark, selected passages in Luke, Revelation, and the prologue to the Gospel of John.

Historical and hagiographic writings[edit]

In the Middle Ages, Jerome was often ahistorically depicted as acardinal.

Jerome is also known as a historian. One of his earliest historical works was his Chronicle (or Chronicon or Temporum liber), composed ca. 380 in Constantinople; this is a translation into Latin of the chronological tables which compose the second part of the Chronicon of Eusebius, with a supplement covering the period from 325 to 379. Despite numerous errors taken over from Eusebius, and some of his own, Jerome produced a valuable work, if only for the impulse which it gave to such later chroniclers as Prosper, Cassiodorus, and Victor of Tunnuna to continue his annals.

Of considerable importance as well is the De viris illustribus, which was written at Bethlehem in 392, the title and arrangement of which are borrowed from Suetonius. It contains short biographical and literary notes on 135 Christian authors, from Saint Peter down to Jerome himself. For the first seventy-eight authors Eusebius (Historia ecclesiastica) is the main source; in the second section, beginning with Arnobius and Lactantius, he includes a good deal of independent information, especially as to western writers.

Four works of a hagiographic nature are:

The so-called Martyrologium Hieronymianum is spurious; it was apparently composed by a western monk toward the end of the 6th or beginning of the 7th century, with reference to an expression of Jerome’s in the opening chapter of the Vita Malchi, where he speaks of intending to write a history of the saints and martyrs from theapostolic times.


Saint Jerome by Matthias Stom

Jerome’s letters or epistles, both by the great variety of their subjects and by their qualities of style, form an important portion of his literary remains. Whether he is discussing problems of scholarship, or reasoning on cases of conscience, comforting the afflicted, or saying pleasant things to his friends, scourging the vices and corruptions of the time and against sexual immoralityamong the clergy,[31] exhorting to the ascetic life and renunciation of the world, or breaking a lance with his theological opponents, he gives a vivid picture not only of his own mind, but of the age and its peculiar characteristics. Because there was no distinct line between personal documents and those meant for publication, we frequently find in his letters both confidential messages and treatises meant for others besides the one to whom he was writing.[32]

Due to the time he spent in Rome among wealthy families belonging to the Roman upper-class, Jerome was frequently commissioned by women who had taken a vow of virginity to write them in guidance of how to live their life. As a result, he spent a great deal of his life corresponding to these women about certain abstentions and lifestyle practices.[5] These included the clothing she should wear, the interactions she should undertake and how to go about conducting herself during such interactions, and what and how she ate and drank. The letters most frequently reprinted or referred to are of a hortatory nature, such as Ep. 14, Ad Heliodorum de laude vitae solitariae; Ep. 22, Ad Eustochium de custodia virginitatis; Ep. 52, Ad Nepotianum de vita clericorum et monachorum, a sort of epitome of pastoral theology from the ascetic standpoint; Ep. 53, Ad Paulinum de studio scripturarum; Ep. 57, to the same, De institutione monachi; Ep. 70, Ad Magnum de scriptoribus ecclesiasticis; and Ep. 107, Ad Laetam de institutione filiae.

  • Letter to Dardanus (Ep. 129)

    You may delineate the Promised Land of Moses from the Book of Numbers (ch. 34): as bounded on the south by the desert tract called Sina, between the Dead Sea and the city of Kadesh-barnea, [which is located with the Arabah to the east] and continues to the west, as far as the river of Egypt, that discharges into the open sea near the city of Rhinocolara; as bounded on the west by the sea along the coasts of Palestine, Phoenicia, Coele‑Syria, and Cilicia; as bounded on the north by the circle formed by the Taurus Mountains[33] and Zephyrium and extending to Hamath, called Epiphany‑Syria; as bounded on the east by the city of Antioch Hippos and Lake Kinneret, now called Tiberias, and then the Jordan River which discharges into the salt sea, now called the Dead Sea.[34][35]

Theological writings[edit]

Practically all of Jerome’s productions in the field of dogma have a more or less vehemently polemical character, and are directed against assailants of the orthodox doctrines. Even the translation of the treatise of Didymus the Blind on the Holy Spiritinto Latin (begun in Rome 384, completed at Bethlehem) shows an apologetic tendency against the Arians andPneumatomachoi. The same is true of his version of Origen’s De principiis (ca. 399), intended to supersede the inaccurate translation by Rufinus. The more strictly polemical writings cover every period of his life. During the sojourns at Antioch and Constantinople he was mainly occupied with the Arian controversy, and especially with the schisms centering around Meletius of Antioch and Lucifer Calaritanus. Two letters to Pope Damasus (15 and 16) complain of the conduct of both parties at Antioch, the Meletians and Paulinians, who had tried to draw him into their controversy over the application of the terms ousiaand hypostasis to the Trinity. At the same time or a little later (379) he composed his Liber Contra Luciferianos, in which he cleverly uses the dialogue form to combat the tenets of that faction, particularly their rejection of baptism by heretics.

In Rome (ca. 383) he wrote a passionate counterblast against the teaching of Helvidius, in defense of the doctrine of theperpetual virginity of Mary and of the superiority of the single over the married state. An opponent of a somewhat similar nature was Jovinianus, with whom he came into conflict in 392 (Adversus Jovinianum, Against Jovinianus) and the defense of this work addressed to his friend Pammachius, numbered 48 in the letters). Once more he defended the ordinary Catholic practices of piety and his own ascetic ethics in 406 against the Gallic presbyter Vigilantius, who opposed the cultus of martyrs and relics, the vow of poverty, and clerical celibacy. Meanwhile, the controversy with John II of Jerusalem and Rufinus concerning the orthodoxy of Origen occurred. To this period belong some of his most passionate and most comprehensive polemical works: the Contra Joannem Hierosolymitanum (398 or 399); the two closely connected Apologiae contra Rufinum (402); and the “last word” written a few months later, theLiber tertius seuten ultima responsio adversus scripta Rufini. The last of his polemical works is the skilfully composed Dialogus contra Pelagianos (415).

Reception by later Christianity[edit]

The Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome and Nicholas of Tolentino byLorenzo Lotto

Jerome is the second most voluminous writer (after Augustine of Hippo) in ancient Latin Christianity. In the Roman Catholic Church, he is recognized as the patron saint of translators, librarians and encyclopedists.[36]

He acquired a knowledge of Hebrew by studying with a Jew who converted to Christianity, and took the unusual position (for that time) that the Hebrew, and not the Septuagint, was the inspired text of the Old Testament. The traditional view is that he used this knowledge to translate what became known as the Vulgate, and his translation was slowly but eventually accepted in the Catholic Church.[37] The later resurgence of Hebrew studies within Christianity owes much to him.

He showed more zeal and interest in the ascetic ideal than in abstract speculation. It was this strict asceticism that made Martin Luther judge him so severely. In fact, Protestant readers are not generally inclined to accept his writings as authoritative. The tendency to recognize a superior comes out in his correspondence with Augustine (cf. Jerome’s letters numbered 56, 67, 102–105, 110–112, 115–116; and 28, 39, 40, 67–68, 71–75, 81–82 in Augustine’s).[citation needed]

Despite the criticisms already mentioned, Jerome has retained a rank among the western Fathers. This would be his due, if for nothing else, on account of the great influence exercised by his Latin version of the Bible upon the subsequent ecclesiasticaland theological development.[38]

In art[edit]

Statue Of St. Jerome (Hieronymus) – Bethlehem, Palestine Authority, West Bank

16th century un-signed painting of St. Jerome, in private collection

This painting by the Workshop of Pieter Coecke van Aelst depicts St. Jerome in his study.[39] The Walters Art Museum.

In art, he is often represented as one of the four Latin doctors of the Church along with Augustine of Hippo, Ambrose, and Pope Gregory I. As a prominent member of the Roman clergy, he has often been portrayed anachronistically in the garb of a cardinal. Even when he is depicted as a half-clad anchorite, with cross, skull and Bible for the only furniture of his cell, the red hat or some other indication of his rank as cardinal is as a rule introduced somewhere in the picture. During Jerome’s life, cardinals did not exist. However, by the time of the Renaissance and the Baroque it was common practice for a secretary to the pope to be a cardinal (as Jerome had effectively been to Damasus), and so this was reflected in artistic interpretations.

He is also often depicted with a lion, in reference to the popular hagiographical belief that Jerome had tamed a lion in the wilderness by healing its paw. The source for the story may actually have been the second century Roman tale of Androcles, or confusion with the exploits of Saint Gerasimus (Jerome in Latin is “Geronimus”).[40][41][42] Hagiographies of Jerome talk of his having spent many years in the Syrian desert, and artists often depict him in a “wilderness”, which for West European painters can take the form of a wood or forest.[43]

He is also sometimes depicted with an owl, the symbol of wisdom and scholarship.[44] Writing materials and the trumpet of final judgment are also part of his iconography.[44] He is commemorated on 30 September with a memorial.


Geronimo, a religious and military leader of the Chiricahua Apache, who tenaciously fought against Mexico and the United States’ expansion into Apache tribal lands for several decades during the Apache Wars, was initially known by his Apache name: “Goyahkla” (One Who Yawns). “Later he was called Geronimo (Spanish for Jerome), most likely because of the way he fought in battle against Mexican soldiers who frantically called upon St. Jerome for help. He willingly accepted the name.”[45]

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up^ Scheck, Thomas P. Commentary on Matthew (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 117). p. 5. “”
  2. Jump up^ Maisie Ward, Saint Jerome, Sheed & Ward, London 1950, p. 7 “It may be taken as certain that Jerome was an Italian, coming from that wedge of Italy which seems on the old maps to be driven between Dalmatia and Pannonia.”
  3. Jump up^ Tom Streeter, The Church and Western Culture: An Introduction to Church History, AuthorHouse 2006, p. 102 “Jerome was born around 340 AD at Stridon, a town in northeast Italy at the head of the Adriatic Ocean.”
  4. Jump up^ Schaff, Philip, ed. (1893). A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church. 2nd series. VI. Henry Wace. New York: The Christian Literature Company. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b c Megan Hale Williams, The Monk and the Book: Jerome and the Making of Christian Scholarship, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2006)
  6. Jump up^ In the Eastern Orthodox Church he is known as St Jerome of Stridonium or Blessed Jerome. Though “Blessed” in this context does not have the sense of being less than a saint, as in the West.
  7. Jump up^ Williams, Megan Hale (2006), The Monk and the Book: Jerome and the making of Christian Scholarship, Chicago
  8. Jump up^ Pevarello, Daniele (2013). The Sentences of Sextus and the origins of Christian ascetiscism. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. p. 1.ISBN 9783161525797.
  9. Jump up^ Wilkes 1995, p. 266: “Alongside Latin the native Illyrian survived in the country areas, and St Jerome claimed to speak his ‘sermo gentilis’ (Commentary on Isaiah 7.19).”
  10. Jump up^ Walsh, Michael, ed. (1992), Butler’s Lives of the Saints, New York: HarperCollins, p. 307
  11. Jump up^ Kelly, JND (1975), Jerome: His Life, Writings, and Controversies, New York: Harper & Row, pp. 13–14
  12. Jump up^ Psalm 55:15
  13. Jump up^ Jerome, Commentarius in Ezzechielem, c. 40, v. 5
  14. Jump up^ Patrologia Latina 25, 373: Crebroque cryptas ingredi, quae in terrarum profunda defossae, ex utraque parte ingredientium per parietes habent corpora sepultorum, et ita obscura sunt omnia, ut propemodum illud propheticum compleatur: Descendant ad infernum viventes (Ps. LIV,16): et raro desuper lumen admissum, horrorem temperet tenebrarum, ut non tam fenestram, quam foramen demissi luminis putes: rursumque pedetentim acceditur, et caeca nocte circumdatis illud Virgilianum proponitur (Aeneid. lib. II): “Horror ubique animos, simul ipsa silentia terrent.”
  15. Jump up^ P. Vergilius Maro, Aeneid Theodore C. Williams, Ed. Perseus Project (retrieved 23 Aug 2013)
  16. Jump up^ Payne, Robert (1951), The Fathers of the Western Church, New York: Viking, p. 91
  17. Jump up^ Rebenich, Stefan (2002), Jerome, p. 211, Further, he began to study Hebrew: ‘I betook myself to a brother who before his conversion had been a Hebrew and’…
  18. Jump up^ Pritz, Ray (1988), Nazarene Jewish Christianity: from the end of the New Testament, p. 50, In his accounts of his desert sojourn, Jerome never mentions leaving Chalcis, and there is no pressing reason to think…
  19. Jump up^ “Saint Jerome in His Study”. The Walters Art Museum.
  20. Jump up^ Joyce Salisbury, Encyclopedia of women in the ancient world, Blaesilla
  21. Jump up^ Bennett, Rod (2015). The Apostasy That Wasn’t: The Extraordinary Story of the Unbreakable Early Church. Catholic Answers Press. ISBN 1941663494.
  22. Jump up^ “(…) die griechische Bibelübersetzung, die einem innerjüdischen Bedürfnis entsprang (…) [von den] Rabbinen zuerst gerühmt (…) Später jedoch, als manche ungenaue Übertragung des hebräischen Textes in der Septuaginta und Übersetzungsfehler die Grundlage für hellenistische Irrlehren abgaben, lehte man die Septuaginta ab.” Verband der Deutschen Juden (Hrsg.), neu hrsg. von Walter Homolka, Walter Jacob, Tovia Ben Chorin: Die Lehren des Judentums nach den Quellen; München, Knesebeck, 1999, Bd.3, S. 43ff
  23. Jump up^ Pierre Nautin, article Hieronymus, in: Theologische Realenzyklopädie, Vol. 15, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin – New York 1986, p. 304-315, here p. 309-310.
  24. Jump up^ “The Bible”.
  25. Jump up^ Kevin P. Edgecomb, Jerome’s Prologue to Jeremiah
  26. Jump up^ “Jerome’s Preface to Samuel and Kings”.
  27. Jump up^ Barber, Michael (2006-03-06). “Loose Canons: The Development of the Old Testament (Part 2)”. Retrieved 2007-08-01.
  28. Jump up^ Jerome, To Paulinus, Epistle 58 (A.D. 395), in NPNF2, VI:119.: “Do not, my dearest brother, estimate my worth by the number of my years. Gray hairs are not wisdom; it is wisdom which is as good as gray hairs At least that is what Solomon says: “wisdom is the gray hair unto men.’ [Wisdom 4:9]” Moses too in choosing the seventy elders is told to take those whom he knows to be elders indeed, and to select them not for their years but for their discretion [Num. 11:16]? And, as a boy, Daniel judges old men and in the flower of youth condemns the incontinence of age [Daniel 13:55–59 aka Story of Susannah 55–59]”
  29. Jump up^ Jerome, To Oceanus, Epistle 77:4 (A.D. 399), in NPNF2, VI:159.:”I would cite the words of the psalmist: ‘the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,’ [Ps 51:17] and those of Ezekiel ‘I prefer the repentance of a sinner rather than his death,’ [Ez 18:23] and those of Baruch, ‘Arise, arise, O Jerusalem,’ [Baruch 5:5] and many other proclamations made by the trumpets of the Prophets.”
  30. Jump up^ Jerome, Letter 51, 6, 7, NPNF2, VI:87-8: “For in the book of Wisdom, which is inscribed with his name, Solomon says: “God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity.“[Wisdom 2:23]…Instead of the three proofs from Holy Scripture which you said would satisfy you if I could produce them, behold I have given you seven”
  31. Jump up^ “regulae sancti pachomii 84 rule 104.
  32. Jump up^ W. H. Fremantle, “Prolegomena to Jerome”, V.
  33. Jump up^ Bechard, Dean Philip (1 January 2000). Paul Outside the Walls: A Study of Luke’s Socio-geographical Universalism in Acts 14:8-20. Gregorian Biblical BookShop. pp. 203–205. ISBN 978-88-7653-143-9. In the Second Temple period, when Jewish authors were seeking to establish with greater precision the geographical definition of the Land, it became customary to construe “Mount Hor” of Num 34:7 as a reference to the Amanus range of the Taurus Mountains, which marked the northern limit of the Syrian plain (Bechard 2000, p. 205, note 98.)
  34. Jump up^ Sainte Bible expliquée et commentée, contenant le texte de la Vulgate. Bibl. Ecclésiastique. 1837. p. 41. Quod si objeceris terram repromissionis dici, quae in Numerorum volumine continetur (Cap. 34), a meridie maris Salinarum per Sina et Cades-Barne, usque ad torrentem Aegypti, qui juxta Rhinocoruram mari magno influit; et ab occidente ipsum mare, quod Palaestinae, Phoenici, Syriae Coeles, Ciliciaeque pertenditur; ab aquilone Taurum montem et Zephyrium usque Emath, quae appellatur Epiphania Syriae; ad orientem vero per Antiochiam et lacum Cenereth, quae nunc Tiberias appellatur, et Jordanem, qui mari influit Salinarum, quod nunc Mortuum dicitur; (Image of p. 41 at Google Books)
  35. Jump up^ Hieronymus (1910). “Epistola CXXIX Ad Dardanum de Terra promissionis (al. 129; scripta circa annum 414ce)”. Epistularum Pars III —Epistulae 121-154, p. 171 (The fifty-sixth volume of Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum also known as the Vienna Corpus: Letters Part 3, Containing letters 121-154 of St. Jerome.) Image of p. 171 at
  36. Jump up^ “St. Jerome: Patron Saint of Librarians | Luther College Library and Information Services”. Retrieved 2014-06-02.
  37. Jump up^ Stefan Rebenich, Jerome (New York: Routlage, 2002), pp. 52–59
  38. Jump up^ “Jerome, St.” Pages 872-873 in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Third Edition Revised. Edited by E. A. Livingstone; F. L. Cross. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.
  39. Jump up^ “Saint Jerome in His Study”. The Walters Art Museum.
  40. Jump up^ Hope Werness, Continuum encyclopaedia of animal symbolism in art, 2006
  41. Jump up^ Eugene Rice has suggested that in all probability the story of Gerasimus’s lion became attached to the figure of Jerome some time during the seventh century, after the military invasions of the Arabs had forced many Greek monks who were living in the deserts of the Middle East to seek refuge in Rome. Rice conjectures (Saint Jerome in the Renaissance, pp. 44–45) that because of the similarity between the names Gerasimus and Geronimus – the late Latin form of Jerome’s name – ‘a Latin-speaking cleric . . . made St Geronimus the hero of a story he had heard about St Gerasimus; and that the author of Plerosque nimirum, attracted by a story at once so picturesque, so apparently appropriate, and so resonant in suggestion and meaning, and under the impression that its source was pilgrims who had been told it in Bethlehem, included it in his life of a favourite saint otherwise bereft of miracles.'” Salter, David. Holy and Noble Beasts: Encounters With Animals in Medieval Literature. D. S. Brewer. p. 12. ISBN 9780859916240.
  42. Jump up^ “a figment” found in the thirteenth-century Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine Williams, Megan Hale. The Monk and the Book: Jerome and the Making of Christian Scholarship. Chicago: U of Chicago P. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-226-89900-8.
  43. Jump up^ “Saint Jerome in Catholic Saint info”. Retrieved 2014-06-02.
  44. ^ Jump up to:a b The Collection: St. Jerome, gallery of the religious art collection of New Mexico State University, with explanations. Accessed August 10, 2007.
  45. Jump up^ “GERONIMO (ca. 1829–1909)”. Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved 2015-01-08.

Voting and Living as Good Citizens: “Four points of guidance, … as we discern our choices as voters”

Voting and Living as Good Citizens: “Four points of guidance, … as we discern our choices as voters”

Here is the latest column from Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska, reprinted from the Southern Nebraska Register.


This November, American Catholics have the opportunity to shape the direction of our nation, our states, and our local communities in the voting booth. Good citizenship is a moral obligation for all Catholics, and voting is an important part of that obligation. In the United States, the responsibility for our government’s direction lies with us, as citizens, and we can’t take that responsibility lightly. We cannot, because of apathy, or discouragement, or perfectionism, abandon our obligation to vote.

In the past few months, many Catholics have asked me how to make good choices in the voting booth. Many Catholics have especially expressed to me being uncertain about how to make choices when faced with two presidential candidates they find intolerable or unacceptable. While a bishop should never tell Catholics who they should vote for, I would like to offer four points of guidance, drawn from wisdom of the Church, as we discern our choices as voters.

The first is that government has an important purpose, and our votes help to achieve that purpose.

The Catholic Church teaches that the purpose and obligation of our government is to support the common good. The Second Vatican Council said that the common good is “the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment.” Our common good has three elements: respect for the dignity, rights, obligations, and freedom of the human person; respect for the well-being, development, and flourishing of the entire community; and peace, in the stability and security of a well-ordered community, governed by the rule of law.

When we vote, we do so in order to promote the common good, to express it, advance it, and protect it. There are some issues in which the common good is clear and some issues which require careful discernment and prudent judgment. This discernment can, therefore, lead to different conclusions and ideas among people of good will. In fact, often the best solutions to difficult political issues can come from robust discussion among people with the same goals in mind, and different ideas about the best ways to achieve those goals.

My second point is that on some issues the moral obligations of Catholics, and the demands of the common good, are abundantly clear. For example, no Catholic can vote in good conscience to expand legal protection for abortion, or to support the killing of unborn children.

Mother Teresa of Kolkata, who was canonized a saint earlier this month, said it best in a 1994 letter she wrote to the United States Supreme Court. She said that “Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has shown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts –a child– as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience…. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign.”

Abortion is a grave, unconscionable, and intolerable evil, and we cannot support it in the voting booth.

My third point is that when we vote, we need to carefully consider the specifics of each race. Blind partisanship can be dangerous, and we have to look past political rhetoric and media alarmism to make prudent discernments.

In each race, we need to discern whether there is a candidate who can advance human dignity, the right to life, and the common good. When there is, we should feel free to vote for that candidate—whether they are a member of a major party or not. In extraordinary circumstances, some Catholics may decide, in good conscience, there is not a suitable candidate for some particular office and abstain from voting in that particular race.

We also need to remember that we are not responsible for the votes of other people.  Choosing not to vote for “Candidate A” is not the same as actively voting for “Candidate B.” No Catholic should feel obliged to vote for one candidate just to prevent the election of another.

In good conscience, some Catholics might choose to vote for a candidate who, with some degree of probability, would be most likely to do some good, and the least amount of harm, on the foundational issues: life, family, conscience rights and religious liberty. Or, in good conscience, some might choose the candidate who best represents a Christian vision of society, regardless of the probability of winning. Or, in good conscience, some might choose not to vote for any candidate at all in a particular office.

As a matter of conscience, faithful Catholics have to weigh all those pertinent issues, and make the choice that seems most in accord with the common good of our nation: with respect for human dignity, social well-being, and peace. Catholics will make different judgments about those questions, and come to different conclusions—this reflects the fact the Lord has given us free intellects and free wills.

My final point is that we need to remember that being good citizens—building a culture of life and a civilization of love—is a much broader obligation, and opportunity, than the voting booth. Americans today, are, in many ways, disengaged, discouraged, and divided. Much of our political rhetoric is unhelpful. And family, community, and public life are in decline. We need a broader vision of public life, which values and proclaims the dignity of every human life, and which aims for the flourishing of individuals, families, and communities. This broader vision won’t come through an election. It will come through life in Jesus Christ. The most important part of being good citizens is living as faithful and active missionary disciples of Jesus Christ.

In fact, Christ is the broader reason we are called to hope. God calls us to be faithfully engaged in working to build up and proclaim the Kingdom. That includes our vocation to the public square. But our hope is in the eternal mercy of God—the salvation won in the Incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This month at Notre Dame, Archbishop Charles Chaput said that “Christians are not of the world, but we’re most definitely in it. Augustine would say that our home is the City of God, but we get there by passing through the City of Man.” Our hope is in the Lord. We are his faithful disciples when we work to help others to know the Lord. But the success is according to his plan. We are called to be faithful to his call, as we make thoughtful, prudent, and prayerful choices as citizens. And we are called to trust in the Providence of his plan for the world. Christ is the only real source of our nation’s hope.

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Pope Francis asks world superpowers to bring peace to Syria and not turn a blind eye

Pope Francis asks world superpowers to bring peace to Syria and not turn a blind eye

Published on Sep 29, 2016


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September 29, 2016. He supports the UN initiative and denounces “hidden interests” which keep the war alive.

Pope: ‘The Answer to Drama of Evil Lies in Christ’

Francis Stresses to Cor Unum and Aid Agencies That Each of Us Can, Must Become a Peacemaker; Makes Appeal to Those With Political Responsibility

Pope in Paul VI Hall: Copyright Photo.Va - Archives L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope In Paul VI Hall: Copyright Photo.Va – Archives L’Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis has given the answer to the drama of evil: Christ.

While addressing the Vatican’s charitable dicastery, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, and aid agencies this morning in the Vatican, and reflecting on the suffering plaguing the world, Francis underscored this.

The Pope began his discourse thanking those gathered for all the Church is doing to alleviate the suffering of the millions of victims of these conflicts, and urging for a renewed cooperation at all levels between the different actors working in this sector.

Despite extensive efforts made in a variety of areas, the Pontiff lamented, “the logic of arms and oppression, hidden interests and violence continues to wreak devastation on these countries and that, even now, we have not been able to put an end to the exasperating suffering and repeated violations of human rights.”

The Pope decried the dramatic consequences of the crisis are already visible well beyond the borders of the region, and seen especially “in the grave phenomenon” of migration.

“Violence begets violence, and we have the impression of being caught up in a spiral of arrogance and inertia from which there is no escape. This evil which grips our will and conscience should challenge us.”

“Why, even at the cost of untold damage to persons, property and the environment,” he continued, “does man continue to pursue abuses of power, revenge and violence?”

Response to Evil

During this Jubilee Year, in which we are to fix our gaze more intensely on Christ, Francis reminded those present of Saint John Paul II’s words: “The limit imposed upon evil, of which man is both perpetrator and victim, is ultimately the Divine Mercy(Memory and Identity).”

“Yes,” Francis said, “the answer to the drama of evil lies in the mystery of Christ.”

Peace, in Our Hands

The Holy Father noted how the efforts of all committed to helping refugees and to safeguarding their dignity, is a reflection of God’s mercy and, as such, “a sign that evil has limits and does not have the last word.”

What our brothers and sisters in Syria and Iraq want today more than anything else–Francis stressed–is peace.

“And so I will never tire of asking the international community for greater and renewed efforts to achieve peace throughout the Middle East, and of asking not to look the other way.

The Holy Father pointed out that putting an end to the conflict is in the hands of men and women.

Appeal to Those With Political Responsibility

“Each of us can and must become a peacemaker, because every situation of violence and injustice is a wound to the body of the whole human family,”

“This request is my daily prayer to God, to inspire the minds and hearts of all who have political responsibility, that they may be able to renounce their own interests in order to achieve the greater good: peace.”

The Pope thanked and encouraged international organizations, in particular the United Nations, at the meeting, for their work of support and mediation among various governments.


He also noted that working toward an agreement to end conflict and help the defenseless must be traveled together with patience and perseverance, but also with urgency.

The Holy Father then entrusted the Christian communities of the Middle East who suffer and are afraid, and those helping them, to the intercession of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, “exemplar of charity and mercy.”

“May the Lord bless you and our Blessed Mother keep you,” the Pope concluded.


On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Text:

Pope’s Address to Cor Unum, Mideast Aid Agencies

‘Putting an end to the conflict is also in the hands of men and women: each of us can and must become a peacemaker, because every situation of violence and injustice is a wound to the body of the whole human family.’

Pope in Paul VI Hall: Copyright Photo.Va - Archives L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope In Paul VI Hall: Copyright Photo.Va – Archives L’Osservatore Romano)

Below is a Vatican-provided translation of Pope Francis’ address to the Vatican’s charitable dicastery, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, and Mideast aid agencies this morning in the Vatican:


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I thank you for your participation during this moment of common reflection on the Church’s work in the context of the Syrian and Iraqi crisis. I greet all of you, Bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful. In particular, I wish to greet Mr Staffan de Mistura, Special Envoy to Syria of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, whom I thank for his presence. I express my grateful appreciation to Monsignor Dal Toso and the Pontifical Council Cor Unum for the attentive and effective support for what the Church is doing to alleviate the suffering of the millions of victims of these conflicts. In this respect, I would like to stress the importance of renewed cooperation at all levels between the different actors working in this sector.

We must note with great sadness that since our last meeting a year ago, despite extensive efforts made in a variety of areas, the logic of arms and oppression, hidden interests and violence continues to wreak devastation on these countries and that, even now, we have not been able to put an end to the exasperating suffering and repeated violations of human rights. The dramatic consequences of the crisis are already visible well beyond the borders of the region. This is seen in the grave phenomenon of migration.

Violence begets violence, and we have the impression of being caught up in a spiral of arrogance and inertia from which there is no escape. This evil which grips our will and conscience should challenge us. Why, even at the cost of untold damage to persons, property and the environment, does man continue to pursue abuses of power, revenge and violence? We think of the recent attack on a United Nations humanitarian convoy… This is the experience of the mysterium iniquitatis, that evil which is present in man and in history and which needs to be redeemed. Destruction for destruction’s sake. And so, during this Year, in which we fix our gaze more intensely on Christ, on Mercy incarnate who has conquered sin and death, I am reminded of the words of Saint John Paul II: “The limit imposed upon evil, of which man is both perpetrator and victim, is ultimately the Divine Mercy” (Memory and Identity). It is the only limit. Yes, the answer to the drama of evil lies in the mystery of Christ.

Seeing the many suffering faces in Syria, in Iraq and in the neighbouring and distant countries where millions of refugees are forced to seek shelter and protection, the Church beholds the face of her Lord in his Passion.

The work of all who like you, represent so many workers in the field, who are committed to helping refugees and to safeguarding their dignity, is certainly a reflection of God’s mercy and, as such, a sign that evil has limits and does not have the last word. This is a sign of great hope, for which I wish to thank you, and also the many unnamed people – though not nameless to God – who, especially in this Jubilee Year, are praying and interceding in silence for the victims of conflicts, particularly for children and the weak, and who in this way are also supporting your work. In Aleppo, children have to drink polluted water!

Beyond the necessary humanitarian aid, what our brothers and sisters in Syria and Iraq want more than anything else today is peace. And so I will never tire of asking the international community for greater and renewed efforts to achieve peace throughout the Middle East, and of asking not to look the other way.

Putting an end to the conflict is also in the hands of men and women: each of us can and must become a peacemaker, because every situation of violence and injustice is a wound to the body of the whole human family.

This request is my daily prayer to God, to inspire the minds and hearts of all who have political responsibility, that they may be able to renounce their own interests in order to achieve the greater good: peace.

In this regard, our meeting gives me the opportunity to thank and encourage international organizations, in particular the United Nations, for their work of support and mediation among various governments, so that there can be agreement which ends conflict and finally gives priority to the good of defenceless populations. It is a path we must travel together with patience and perseverance, but also with urgency, and the Church will certainly continue to make her contribution.

Finally, my thoughts turn to the Christian communities of the Middle East who suffer the consequences of violence and look to the future with fear. In the midst of so much darkness, these Churches hold high the lamp of faith, hope and charity. As they courageously and without discrimination assist all who suffer and work for a peaceful coexistence, Christians in the Middle East today are a clear sign of God’s mercy. They have the admiration, recognition and support of the universal Church.

I entrust these communities and those who work at the service of victims of this crisis to the intercession of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, exemplar of charity and mercy.

May the Lord bless you and our Blessed Mother keep you.

[Original Text: Italian] [Vatican-provided translation]

Pope: Call on Archangels as You Fight Against Evil

Prays that Michael, Gabriel, Raphael will remind us of God’s presence in our lives,_Florence.jpg

At the end of Wednesday’s general audience, Pope Francis mentioned today’s feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

“They are ‘ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation,’” the Pope said in greetings to Polish pilgrims.

He added that we should “be aware of their invisible presence,” and invited his listeners to “invoke them in prayer so that in every moment they remind us of the presence of God, supporting us in the struggle against evil and leading us safely on the roads of our life.”



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by Aaron Maxwell  •  •  September 29, 2016

ROME ( – On Saturday, a Catholic priest martyred at the Nazi concentration camp in Dachau, Germany was beatified.

Father Engelmar Unzeitig was born in Greifendorf, Czech Republic in 1911. When Unzeitig was just 18 he entered the Mariannhill Missionaries seminary, where he spent 11 years, and was ordained a priest in 1939. The next year he became a parish priest in Glockelberg, Austria.

It wasn’t long until Fr. Unzeitig was arrested by the Gestapo, the secret police of Nazi Germany, in 1941, for preaching against the Nazi’s treatment of the Jewish people and the Third Reich, encouraging his congregation to be faithful to God and to resist the lies of the Nazi regime.

Father Unzeitig was sent to Dachau, considered the largest “monastery” in the world because so many priests were held there — roughly 2,700. While there, Fr. Unzeitig studied Russian to help prisoners from Eastern Europe, offering Mass, translating Bible texts and assisting other prisoners however he could.

Even though life in Dachau was extremely difficult, Fr. Unzeitig found hope in his faith. In a letter he wrote to his sister, he said,

Whatever we do, whatever we want, is surely simply the grace that carries us and guides us. God’s almighty grace helps us overcome obstacles … love doubles our strength, makes us inventive, makes us feel content and inwardly free. If people would only realize what God has in store for those who love him!

“Even behind the hardest sacrifices and worst suffering stands God with his Fatherly love,” he contined, “who is satisfied with the good will of his children and gives them and others happiness.”

In December of 1944, a Typhus epidemic broke out, killing many of the prisoners. Father Unzeitig and 19 other clergy volunteered to help the sick, an almost-certain death sentence. He eventually succumbed to the disease, dying in March 1945. All but two of the 20 priests who had volunteered to minister to the typhoid victims suffered the same fate as Unzeitig.

Three weeks later, the camp was liberated by the Allied armies.

Father Unzeitig’s beatification process took place in Würzburg, Germany on Saturday, the same city where his cause was initiated on July 26, 1991. Pope Francis declared Fr. Unzeitig a martyr in January. Sunday in Rome, the Holy Father said of him, “Killed in hatred of the Faith in the extermination camp of Dachau, he opposed hatred with love, and answered ferocity with meekness: May his example help us to be witnesses of charity and hope even in the midst of trials.”

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Aaron Maxwell is a member of the PAUSE Program and a staff writer for



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by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.  •  •  September 29, 2016

NEW YORK ( – Thursday morning, Cdl. Timothy Dolan of New York appeared on Fox News to discuss the controversy surrounding his invitation of pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage Democrat Hillary Clinton to the archdiocese’s annual fundraising dinner. confirmed September 19 that Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will be guests of honor at this year’s Al Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, a $3,000-a-plate affair held annually at the Waldorf-Astoria that raises money for charity, and is spearheaded by the archdiocese of New York. Cardinal Dolan is president of the board.

After the “Fox & Friends” panel cited a poll showing 70 percent of Americans believe this election season has brought out the “worst in people,” Ainsley Earhardt asked, “How can you talk to family and friends about politics without getting into a bitter debate and keep it civil around the dinner table?”

In response, Cdl. Dolan said, “We do need some healing and we need some unity and reconciliation.” He went on to criticize Monday night’s presidential debate for failing to focus on the issues and instead lodging personal attacks.

“I don’t mind good, hearty, hot debate and controversy — as long as it’s not reduced to attacks on people,” he commented. “Nothing is worth damaging charity and civility.”

Dolan caused scandal in 2012 when he invited pro-abortion, pro-gay rights Democrat President Obama to be a guest of honor. Although thousands of faithful signed multiple petitions asking the cardinal to rescind the invitation, he went forward with the event, and during his closing speech at the dinner said nothing to challenge Obama’s pro-abortion stance.
Cardinal Dolan’s two predecessors — Cdl. John O’Connor and Edward Egan — had refused to invite previous Democratic nominees because of the scandal of their support for abortion.
Thursday morning, Fox News commentator Steve Doocy remarked that both Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney were “hilarious” at the 2012 Al Smith Dinner. After laughter, Dolan replied, “That, of course, is the purpose of the dinner.”
According to the cardinal, the annual fundraiser is meant to bring together politicians in “a real climate of amity.” “Except for the debates, it’s the only time in the political season that the two candidates come together — at the Al Smith Dinner, sponsored by the archdiocese of New York,” he explained.
“We’re supposed to build bridges,” he went on, “most of all between humanity and Divinity — but on that day, I kind of feel like a bridge, because I’ll be sitting between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.”
President Obama with Cdl. Dolan
at the 2012 Al Smith Foundation Dinner

In the Fall of 2012, Obama was suffering with the Catholic vote because of his war with the bishops over the HHS contraceptive mandate. A good photo op with what many see as the most important Catholic prelate in the U.S. Church would do much to restore his credibility with the Catholic populace.

The predicted photo op took place at the October fundraiser, and Obama went on three weeks later to win the election, securing more than 50 percent of the Catholic vote.

The consistent roster of pro-abortion Democrats at each year’s Al Smith Dinner is not surprising, considering a number of board members of the Al Smith Foundation are wealthy supporters of Democrat lawmakers, including the Foundation’s chairman Al Smith IV, former head of NBC Robert Wright, CEO of Mutual of America Thomas Moran, and New York Private Bank & Trust president Howard Milstein, among others. Federal Elections Commission records show they’ve donated thousands to various Democratic politicians, including some who’ve donated to Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Cardinal Dolan is among the American prelates who don’t enforce Canon 915, which mandates that pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage politicians must be denied Holy Communion. In his opinion, the law is optional, and should be left to the discretion of bishops in their dioceses to decide on a case-by-case basis. “I think most bishops have said, ‘We trust individual bishops in individual cases,'” he commented in 2014. “Most don’t think it’s something for which we have to go to the mat.”

His opinion contradicts that of the Vatican’s doctrinal chief in 2004, Cdl. Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, who sent a memo to the U.S. bishops clarifying that Canon 915 is mandatory, andbishops must deny Holy Communion to Catholic politicians who cause scandal by publicly supporting abortion, gay “marriage” and other positions that violate Church teaching.

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Christine Niles is an executive producer at Follow Christine on Twitter: @ChristineNiles1



by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  September 29, 2016

Vatican tells nuncios that the Pope has final say in nominating China’s bishops

VATICAN ( – The Vatican’s secretary of state assured nuncios recently gathered in Rome that Chinese officials can’t nominate prospective bishops for their country and the Pope has the final word in all episcopal appointments.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, meeting with Church diplomats in mid-September, confirmed that appointments of new bishops in China can be made by the Chinese episcopal conference under the following conditions:

  • Appointments are made in union with the 30 “underground bishops,” who as yet are not officially recognized by Beijing
  • Any of the 70 “official” bishops recognized by China that are not reconciled with Rome are excluded from the nomination process
  • The Roman Pontiff has final veto power over all nominations

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This marks the first time since China’s communist revolution that the government is open to Rome’s involvement in appointing bishops. Until now, the “official” state-run Church in China, called the Catholic Patriotic Association, has kept completely separate from the Catholic, or “underground,” Church.

Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 declared the position of this “official” Church “incompatible with Catholic doctrine.”

[It] is clear that the claim of some entities, desired by the State and extraneous to the structure of the Church, to place themselves above the Bishops and to guide the life of the ecclesial community, does not correspond to Catholic doctrine … . [T]o implement “the principles of independence and autonomy, self-management and democratic administration of the Church” is incompatible with Catholic doctrine.

The question of Sino-Vatican relations has been a hot-button issue of late, as persecution of “underground” Catholics increases. Catholic priests in China must now either approve of the state-run Church or cease operating in China.

The struggle to resist communist authorities from appointing bishops while normalizing priestly activities in China led former bishop of Hong Kong, Cdl. Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun, to denounce any concessions that might come from Rome to Beijing. Zen did say he was in agreement with how the Vatican has allowed Vietnamese officials to participate in selecting Catholic bishops.

I support the method of letting the Vietnamese bishop and the Catholic Church select [their candidates] and then letting the government approve the decision, because … their bishop is truly one of our people — their conference of bishops is legitimate. China’s conference of bishops is practically non-existent — it is completely under the government’s control — how can we let them pick?

Cardinal Parolin emphasized that all bishops in China, whether “underground” or government-approved, must be united, and all bishops must pledge fidelity to Rome before being allowed to nominate any potential bishops.

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Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th. is a staff writer for Follow Bradley on Twitter: @BradleyLEli

WATCH THE FULL SHOW: ‘THE DOWNLOAD—THE LAST CHANCE’- It’s the most important election in U.S. history

WATCH THE FULL SHOW: ‘THE DOWNLOAD—THE LAST CHANCE’- It’s the most important election in U.S. history

Watch the Full Show: ‘The Download—The Last Chance’

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by Church Militant  •  •  September 29, 2016

It’s the most important election in U.S. history

The stakes are incredibly high. On the one hand, we have Donald Trump, who, though not perfect, has surrounded himself with a solid team of faithful Catholics advising him on matters of policy — advice that has led him to produce a list of pro-life Supreme Court nominees, and who, if Trump makes it to the Oval Office, will advise him on policy favorable to the Catholic Church and the Faith.

On the other hand, we have Hillary Clinton, a clear enemy of the Church. A Hillary presidency would guarantee persecution for Catholics, an already persecuted religious group being forced to accommodate gay weddings and transgender “rights” all over the country. Clinton has declared abortion a “human right,” and has publicly said religious views that contradict her position “must be changed.” She has also aggressively pushed the LGBT agenda for years.

Watch the panel discuss what’s at stake, and tune in to Monday, October 4, 2016, for our live analysis of the vice presidential debate.

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– Archbishop 



Get briefed on today’s top stories with Christine Niles.

September 29, 2016

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THE VORTEX: ST. MICHAEL, DEFEND US – Time to bring back St. Michael

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THE VORTEX: ST. MICHAEL, DEFEND US – Time to bring back St. Michael

THE VORTEX: ST. MICHAEL, DEFEND US – Time to bring back St. Michael

September 29, 2016

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Before the 1960s, the Church offered the prayer to St. Michael following every Mass. Saint Michael is guardian/protector of the Church. His was the first case in the history of the universe of confronting Satan.

Think about that for a moment.  Pause and consider. There was no one, no being, no creature, whom Michael could model himself after in opposing Satan. There had been no evil, no rebellion, up to that point which required opposing. So Michael was the very first. He “blazed the trail,” so to speak, and became a model. He had been in the lower choirs of angels and is now Prince of the heavenly host.

Satan — at that point Lucifer — was far exceeding Michael in rank and glory. But when he refused to serve God, this angelic being from the lower ranks rose up and charged him with the great sin of comparing himself to God. His name is what he charged Lucifer with — his great pride: Who is like God? Micha-El?

It was the charge, the rhetorical question challenging the great pride of lucifer, a pride that transformed him from the angel of light to the angel of darkness. The great conflict that erupted between Michael, a virtual sergeant in the heavenly ranks, and the great general Lucifer is recounted in St. John’s Apocalypse. “Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven” (Apoc. 12:7–8).

Notice the reference to “his angels,” meaning St. Michael. They came under his command at that point, thus being given charge of all the heavenly host. A long-held pious tradition even holds that Michael was the guardian angel of Our Blessed Lord Himself. We know that angels ministered to Our Lord. We know too that Our Lord’s entire mission was to free mankind from the snare of Satan, so there is nothing in this pious tradition that would go against the Faith. And it is strengthened when one considers that since the foe of Our Lord directly was Satan that Michael would be granted the great honor — having defeated him once before — to be the same one to witness his everlasting defeat and stand at the side of the God-Man as this was accomplished.

It was, in fact, the very pre-announcement of this God-Man that had provoked Lucifer to rebellion, thereby raising St. Michael to the heights he has been raised in opposing him. One biblical commentary says of Our Lord having a guardian angel: “The Creator of all, who is never in need of the help of his creatures, is ready to accept, as man, consolation and help from those who can give it.”

We here at the St. Michael’s Media apostolate desire to inspire greater devotion to St. Michael, and so we are introducing a one-time offer which will do this very thing while also helping us in continuing our work.

A great friend of the apostolate, Bernadette Shonka, has handcrafted 100 extremely beautiful St. Michael chaplets for us to give away to the first 100 people who donate $100 specifically for this cause. The St. Michael chaplet was first introduced into Catholic life in 1851 by Pope Pius IX after a Portuguese Carmelite nun, Servant of God Sr. Antonia d’ Astanaco, received a vision of St. Michael in 1751.

The Prince of Heaven told Sr. Antonia to honor him by nine prayers to the nine choirs of angels. Saint Michael promised that whoever would adopt this devotion in his honor would have an escort of one angel from each of the nine choirs of angels when approaching for Holy Communion. He also assured that reciting the chaplet daily would bring about his continual assistance and that of all the the holy angels during life.

Consider this very real scene: Every day, we each have demons coming at us to try and have us cooperate in our own ruin. And as we know, they attack us a thousand different ways. Imagine their dread in approaching us, only to find a phalanx of their former comrades protecting us — the same angels who had already defeated them before time. And standing there, heavenly sword drawn, is the Prince of the heavenly host himself.

If you can, please click on the button and make a donation of $100 to receive one of these spectacular chaplets. And for the sake of clarity, we were only given a hundred for this, so when they’re gone, they’re gone. It was a labor of love for Bernadette to do this, and we are extremely grateful to her.

She is an Oblate of St. Benedict, and for that reason there is also the medal of St. Benedict attached, which should have the proper formula blessing made over it. Included in the packet will be the instructions on how to pray the chaplet as well as an information sheet on the St. Benedict medal.

The prayers of each small grouping center around each of the nine choirs who are presented to us in Sacred Scripture: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominations, Powers, Virtues, Principalities, Archangels and Angels. Those choirs are found in Isaiah, Genesis, Colossians, Ephesians and Romans (Isa. 6:2; Gen. 3:24; Col. 1:16; Eph. 1:21; Rom. 8:38).

Saint Thomas Aquinas, himself named the Angelic Doctor of the Church, explored the glories of the angelic realm in great detail, writing extensively on them. Meditating on the angels, Michael, the choirs and of course having recourse to our own guardian angel, is an excellent way of keeping the reality of spiritual warfare in front of us.

We pray that Michael will always have his sword drawn in protection of us — and once he has escorted us to the throne of Divine Judgment, that we will witness him sheathe it in our case and lead us into the Beatific Vision where the battle will be over. We will be with the angels we plead to for help now.

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The Angels are purely spiritual creatures, incorporeal, invisible, immortal, and personal beings endowed with intelligence and will. They ceaselessly contemplate God face-to-face and they glorify him. They serve him and are his messengers in the accomplishment of his saving mission to all (CCC:328-333;350-351). The Church joins with the angels in adoring God, invokes their assistance and commemorates some in her liturgy. “Beside each believer stands an angel as a protector and shepherd leading him to life” (St. Basil the Great; CCC: 334-336; 352).

Sacred Scripture says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The Church in her profession of faith proclaims that God is the Creator of everything, visible and invisible, of all spiritual and corporeal beings, that is, of angels and of the visible world and, in a special way, of man (CCC: 325-327).

Police Shootings and the Proper Respect for Authority

Police Shootings and the Proper Respect for Authority


Police shootings have been lighting up the media for the last couple of years, with incidents such as Philando Castile’s death in Falcon Heights, MN and Alton Sterling’s in Baton Rouge, LA continuing to raise questions and inspire protests this summer. Hardly had the nation composed itself before blood ran again, this time in Tulsa, Oklahoma when Officer Betty Shelby shot and killed unarmed Terence Crutcher on the night of Friday the 16th. So many heated opinions surround both the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the seemingly opposed Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter movements, that it can be very hard to determine what really lies at the crux of any of the matters. Before any details regarding an incident have been released, protests have already gotten underway because many seem to assume police can have no reasons for shooting. Occasionally, such grim assumptions have proven correct.

In the vast number of cases, however, authority and the lack of proper respect due to it were the determining factors. Rather than understanding that authority comes from God, and is meant to serve, even as Jesus served his apostles, and washed their feet, though he confirmed himself as their authority:  “You hail me as the Master, and the Lord; and you are right, it is what I am. Why then, if I have washed your feet, I who am the Master and the Lord, you in your turn ought to wash each other’s feet.” (Jn 13:13-14) Many of these police shootings could have been avoided if those involved merely respected the demands of legitimate authority, understanding the nature of service inherent in authority. Sadly, mayhem, such as this violence, arises naturally from years of a widespread undermining of authority.

According to the Washington Post, in 2015 there were 990 people shot dead by police. Though only about 5 percent of those were known to be unarmed, one may still wonder how so many unarmed people get themselves killed. Deven Guilford, an unarmed 17-year-old white kid who ended up shot after merely flashing his lights at a cop, is a perfect example. When he was pulled over on February 28, 2015, for flashing his lights at Sergeant Frost, Guilford commenced a campaign of total denial and failure to comply. Rather than politely listen to the cop’s reasons for pulling him over, and cooperating as fully as possible, Guilford argued to no end.

Sergeant Frost approached Guilford’s vehicle, and, as captured on his body camera, the conversation began this way:

“Hello! Pulled you over ’cause you flashed me—”

“I didn’t even have my brights on!”

“Yes you did sir!”

“Nope I didn’t partner”

Deven interrupts several times to disagree. Frost continues “License, registration, proof of insurance please.”

“I did not have them on.”

“You did, trust me I know.” Deven, emphasizing that he knows better than the cop. Again Frost requests “license, registration, proof of insurance please.”

Now Deven really goes on the offensive: “How do I even know you’re an officer?” (Sergeant Frost was driving a marked patrol car, and wearing a uniform.)

“You’ve been pulled over. My name is Sergeant Frost from the Country Sheriff’s office.”

“Can I see your badge number?”

“You cannot see my badge number.”

Four minutes after being pulled over, the argument had escalated so much that Frost called for backup, and ordered Guilford out of the car, still resisting and becoming increasingly aggressive. Eventually, after a stun gun failed to subdue the 17-year-old, the kid charged the cop, knocked him over on the snowy ground and began beating him in the head, giving the officer a concussion. Frost began to lose consciousness and feared for his life, so, he shot Deven 7 times, killing him. All Mr. Guilford had to do was cooperate with authority, and accept responsibility for his actions. If he had only said “Yes Sir. Sorry Sir, it won’t happen again,” the cop would have let him off with a warning. But accepting responsibility for ones actions is a lost art, and humility a relic of a bygone age. Respect for authority was so abysmally undesirable, the poor kid put his own life at risk instead. Not all police-shooting deaths are so gut-wrenchingly pitiful, but a common thread of failure to cooperate with legitimate demands exists amongst the vast majority.

Ultimately, these incidents alert us to a very real problem in the way we Americans respond to authority. In 1955, Thomistic philosopher Josef Pieper wrote: “One thing, of course, is indispensable: that a sense of the greatness and dignity of governing and ruling be revived in the mind of the public. This is all the more necessary since the ‘intellectuals’ of the past hundred years have been virtually defined by their ironical treatment of the terms ‘authority’ and ‘subject,’ with the result that nowadays these words can hardly be spoken or understood without bias.” In general, people hate the very notion of authority. Great attempts have been made to dig it out of the culture by the root. One can see such attempts in modern education, which encourages teachers to allow children to make the rules for their classroom. According to popular modern education theory, a “Teacher’s role is interactive, rooted in negotiation” as opposed to the traditional method in which a “Teacher’s role is directive, rooted in authority.” There’s no notion that authority has so much to offer that is both good and irreplaceable, such as experiential knowledge, truth, and wisdom.

Authority has also been attacked in the family, as parents follow so-called “parenting experts” who advise that rather than instructing children with clear directions or commands, parents should bargain with their children. Doctor Leonard Sax offers some common sense, bolstered by his experience as a family doctor and psychologist. Sax warns against those who “offer their children choices instead of telling them what to do.” He explains the common notion among parents that exercising authority should be avoided, in order to make kids “happy.” Movies and TV shows regularly portray weak parents, especially favoring the buffoonish father. Rather than understanding authority as primarily a service to others, authority is generally perceived as a cramp on individual freedom. Almost everywhere one turns, the ability of the individual to control the rules governing his or her life has been equated with rightful liberty—what kind of liberty would be a good question.

Parents, teachers, police officers—these all have legitimate authority, without which society suffers. Police have a multi-faceted obligation, as employees of the government to protect the innocent, and ensure that laws are enforced for the safety and well being of the populace. They play a crucial role in bringing about the common good of a society. In order to effectively fulfill their duties, officers have a legitimate authority and dignity vested in them by the state. Josef Pieper points out: “The purpose of power is to realize justice.” Corresponding to such authority is a certain response on the part of the people. St. Thomas Aquinas clarifies that “Honor is due to the excellence of persons in positions of dignity, on account of their higher rank.” And Josef Pieper adds to this:

The individual, in his private existence, profits from the proper administration of public offices—by the judge, the teacher, and the like. These men and women create a well-ordered communal life. For this, the individual finds himself indebted to the holders of such offices in a fashion which cannot be acquitted fully by “payment.” It is this situation which is acknowledged by the “respect” shown a person holding an office of public responsibility. The objection that irresponsible and inefficient men may hold offices is of little weight. Thomas’s answer is that the office and, in a more general sense, the community as a whole are honored in the person who holds the office.

In other words, the work done by police officers assists every private individual because of the important communal effect it has. They respond to 911 calls, keep burglars out of houses by nabbing them at a jewelers, put domestic abusers behind bars, direct traffic, arrest drunk drivers, face gunfire, knives, brass knuckles—what have you. Everyone benefits when police do their job. In justice, the response private individuals ought to have is respect. That there are certainly unworthy police officers does not change the fact that one should show respect on account of the position itself. Going along with respect for proper authority comes obedience to legitimate demands. St. Thomas, using the Greek term doulia, translated as “worship” but meaning a specific form of honor given to other men, says “In respect of the exercise of his government, there is due to him worship, consisting in rendering him service, by obeying his commands.” By obeying commands from a legitimate authority, one offers the reverence that is due to them, in justice.

Reverend Jarrett Maupin, outspoken member of the Black Lives Matter movement, led demonstrations in Phoenix after the 2014 shooting of Rumain Brisbon. As documented by Fox News, Maupin can be heard yelling into a loudspeaker, “We want his badge! We want his gun! We want his job!” while marching in protest of the local Police Department. However, Rev. Maupin accepted an invitation from the County Police to run through several police training simulations, filmed by Fox News. Maupin was given a fake weapon, and asked to respond, as a cop, to 3 different situations. Maupin obviously tries to avoid the use of force in the first scenario, but ends up “shot” by the suspect. In the next two simulations, he is much faster to draw a weapon, feeling decidedly threatened, and in the second of the three simulations he actually “shot” an unarmed person. Maupin’s comments following his experience walking in the shoes of a police officer are extremely enlightening. When asked why he shot in the second scenario, he said, “Hey, he rushed me… I shot because he was in that zone… I felt that it was an imminent threat. I didn’t see him armed, he came clearly to do some harm to my person… It’s hard to make that call; it shakes you up.” Asked to give his overall conclusion from the training, he answered: “I didn’t understand how important compliance was. But after going through this, yeah my attitude has changed. This is all unfolding in 10 to 15 seconds. People need to comply with the orders of law enforcement officers—for their own sake.”

Without authority, there will be chaos. Perhaps that is what we are starting to see now, as people cannot even take a simple command from a police officer without putting up a fuss, or attacking the officer. In fact, Josef Pieper wrote over 60 years ago, “the question can arise whether the void created by the disappearance of the notion of observantia(respect due to those in authority) … may not have permitted the establishment of another form of relation between superior and subordinate: the shameful expression of mutual contempt.” That mutual contempt seems to have come to the surface with a vengeance in recent years. Obviously, police need to be held accountable if they’ve exceeded their authority. However, those who claim both the protection police offer and also the right to harass and attack civil servants should remember their duty to respect authority. Rights and duties go hand in hand and cannot survive long without the other. Pope St. John Paul II emphasizes this point in his Encyclical Pacem in Terris: “Those, therefore, who claim their own rights, yet altogether forget or neglect to carry out their respective duties, are people who build with one hand and destroy with the other.” Asserting one’s rights only has value when one fulfills corresponding duties, such as treating with respect those in authority.

It is easy to blame all these violent incidents on racism, and therefore have reason to be angry, and people to hold accountable. It is much harder to face the deep roots of the problem, which may include ourselves: That as a culture, we have systematically attacked authority and the respect due to it. Today we are only seeing the natural result of that surgical undermining of authority.

Editor’s note: The picture above depicts graduates of the Austin Police Academy on July 8, 2016. (Photo credit: Miguel Gutierrez, Jr. / KUT radio)

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Elizabeth Anderson is a stay at home mother and independent writer. After graduating from Christendom College, she worked for several years for Population Research Institute. She resides in Michigan with her husband, Matthew, and their three small children.