From Vatican News:

St Jerome bequeathed to the Church “devotion to the Sacred Scripture, a ‘living and tender love’ for the written word of God,” says Pope Francis in a new Apostolic Letter on the 1600th anniversary of the death of the great Doctor and Father of the Church.

“Jerome’s profound knowledge of the Scriptures, his zeal for making their teaching known, his skill as an interpreter of texts, his ardent and at times impetuous defence of Christian truth, his asceticism and harsh eremitical discipline, his expertise as a generous and sensitive spiritual guide”, the Pope writes in Scripturae Sacrae affectus (“Devotion to Sacred Scripture”), “all these make him, sixteen centuries after his death, a figure of enduring relevance for us, the Christians of the twenty-first century.”

Reviewing the life of the fourth century saint, Pope Francis notes that Jerome devoted himself entirely “to Christ and His word,” working unceasingly “to make the divine writings accessible to others. The Pope highlighted two dimensions of the saint’s life especially: his “absolute and austere consecration to God,” and “a commitment to diligent study, aimed purely at an ever deeper understanding of the Christian mystery.”

Pope Francis dwells on Jerome’s love of Scripture, which focused on the “humble character of God’s revelation,” more than on “the narrative and poetic genius of the Bible.” Jerome approached the Scriptures in an even “more systematic and distinctive way” than the other early Christian Fathers, emphasizing the necessity of knowing the Bible in order to know Christ.

Jerome’s study of the Scripture, the Pope says, was steeped in obedience, both to God Himself and “to those in the Church who represent the living Tradition that interprets the revealed message.” But, Pope Francis insists, “The ‘obedience of faith’ is not, however, a mere passive reception of something already known; on the contrary it demands an active personal effort to understand what was spoken.”

Pope Francis notes that many people find the Bible difficult to read—not because of illiteracy, but because they have not learned the skills necessary to make the sacred text intelligible.

“This shows the need for an interpreter,” writes Pope Francis, adding, “Jerome can serve as our guide… because he leads every reader to the mystery of Jesus.”

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The letter’s conclusion:

Jerome can truly be called the “library of Christ”, a perennial library that, sixteen centuries later, continues to teach us the meaning of Christ’s love, a love that is inseparable from an encounter with his word. be seen as a summons to love what Jerome loved, to rediscover his writings and to let ourselves be touched by his robust spirituality, which can be described in essence as a restless and impassioned desire for a greater knowledge of the God who chose to reveal himself .How can we not heed, in our day, the advice that Jerome unceasingly gave to his contemporaries: “Read the divine Scriptures constantly; never let the sacred volume fall from your hand “? 

A radiant example of this is the Virgin Mary, evoked by Jerome above all as Virgin and Mother, but also as a model of prayerful reading of the Scriptures. Mary pondered these things in her heart (cf. Lk 2: 19.51) “because she was a holy woman, had read the sacred Scriptures, knew the prophets, and recalled that the angel Gabriel had said to her the same things that the prophets had foretold… She looked at her newborn child, her only son, lying in the manger and crying. What she saw was, in fact, the Son of God; she compared what she saw with all that she had read and heard “.  Let us, then, entrust ourselves to Our Lady who, more than anyone, can teach us how to read, meditate, contemplate and pray to God, who tirelessly makes himself present in our lives.

Read the Apostolic Letter in its entirety here. 

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