At the end of September the Church celebrates the memory of Saint Jerome. Born a saint, he was not: he had a fiery and explosive temper that brought him many enemies, fierce and long temptations against chastity that he battled with prayer and prolonged fasting, and long prayer vigils—this was Saint Jerome.
Despite his temperamental defects and frequent assaults from the enemy, Jerome had a keen intellect, a love for study, but especially a love for the Bible, the Word of God.
The Church owes a huge debt of gratitude to Saint Jerome especially for his great love for the Word of God and his work in studying it. However, most important is that Saint Jerome, after many years, finished translating the Bible from Greek into the Latin—which we call the “Vulgate” and from the Latin Vulgate the Bible would eventually be translated into our own languages—English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, etc. All thanks to the strenuous work of Saint Jerome.
The Second Vatican Council published four famous Dogmatic Constitutions, the pillars of the Church in the Modern world: Sacrosanctum Concilium, Gaudium Spes, Lumen Gentium and Dei Verbum. In the later, Dei Verbum, which deals with Divine Revelation and the Word of God, Saint Jerome, is cited. This has become one of the key citations in this document and a key for appreciating the importance of the Bible, the Word of God. Here it is: “Ignorance of Sacred Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
How true! If we do not read the Bible, especially the Gospels, then we cannot know who Jesus is; then we cannot really love Him; then consequently it will be hard to follow Him as His friend and disciple. With this being said, let us offer our Lord homage, love and respect for His Word the Bible, by carrying out and implementing at least some of the following.
1. Purchase A Catholic Bible.
There are many Bibles, but you should try to purchase a good Catholic Bible. A suggestion: The Navarre Bible or the Jerusalem Bible are two Bibles with excellent translations. Check them out and buy one of them; maybe buy two!
2. Give A Catholic Bible Away.
Weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, Confirmations, family gatherings—why not give a Bible, the Word of God? What could be better?
Take the Bible to the priest and let the priest, who represents Jesus, to bless it. This will be your friend and companion the rest of your life. Your Light, your shield, your Rock—good names for the Word of God.
4. Reverence and Respect.
Enthrone your Bible in a special place. Never treat it irreverently. This means, never throw it, place it on the floor, or place a beer mug on top of it. Remember: This is the Word of God and should be respected with the greatest of reverence.
5. Read and Meditate.
The Bible is not a Christmas decoration or a collector’s item, or a souvenir. Quite the contrary: the Bible is meant to be read, meditated, day and night. Remember Psalm 1: “Happy those who do not follow the counsel of the wicked, nor go the way of sinners, nor sit in the company of scoffers. Rather, the law of the Lord is their joy; God’s law (Bible, Word of God— my own interpretation) they study day and night.” (Psalm 1: 1-2). May we cherish reading and meditating on the Word of God day and night!
6. Memorize Key Verses.
Jesus is our example! Fasting for forty days and nights, the devil tempts Jesus. The first of the temptations of the devil was to turn stones into bread. Jesus responded with these words: “It is written: One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” (Mt. 4:4).
7. Defend Your Faith With the Word of God.
Saint Paul says that the Word of God is like a two-edged sword separating bone from marrow. Obviously, Saint Paul means that the Word of God, the Bible, is powerful and should be used for spiritual warfare to fight the enemies of the truth- Satan and his minions and those who promote lies. Read Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Summa Theologica and how this great saint defended doctrine relying heavily on the Word of God.
8. Holy Mass and the Word of God.
Attend Daily Mass—the greatest prayer underneath the heavens! The Dogmatic Constitution, Sacrosanctum Concilium—which explains the Mass and the Liturgy, states that there are two tables that nourish us at Mass: the table of the Word of God and the Table of the Body of the Lord—namely, the Eucharist. Go for this double nourishment—indeed a heavenly banquet!
9. Spiritual Exercises and the Word of God.
When you have the chance, try to make the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. This might be the retreat lasting a month, or eight days, or a weekend, or what is common today, retreat in daily life which can last from six months up to a year, done with an able Director. The bulk of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola is the meditation or the contemplation of the Word of God. Try it! You will never regret it!
10. Mary and the Word of God.
Finally in your growing pursuit of love for the Word of God never forget to turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary carried the Word made flesh within her sacred womb for nine months. But the New Testament teaches us that Mary meditated upon the Word of God in her Immaculate Heart. After the Shepherds came to visit her Infant Child, the Evangelist points to a key activity of Mary: “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” (Lk. 2:19).
May Our Lady encourage us to do the same—to daily meditate upon the Word of God in our hearts by reading the Bible, praying over the Bible, assimilating the Bible and like Mary living out the Word of God!