I’m excited to announce that my talk on the Dark Passages of Scripture was just put out by the Augustine Institute as the CD-of-the-month. Of course, you can download it as an mp3 as well. Not the cheeriest picture, I realize–but I guess it gets the point across!
This talk is based on my book,Light on the Dark Passages of Scripture(OSV). I deal with some of the tough stuff in Sacred Scripture. Passages in the Old Testament can be frightening or strange, certainly difficult to read. I tried to shed some light in the dark corners of the Bible to reveal how to understand the balance of God’s justice and his mercy. I deal with questions about the Canaanite conquest, innocent suffering, hell, and ultimately the Cross. I hope you find it helpful and enjoyable. If you take a listen, I’d love to hear from you if you want to leave a comment on this post.
Today, in a surprise move, Pope Francis issued a new Apostolic Letter about St. Jerome (c. 345-420), whose feast day is today, September 30th. Today marks the 1600th anniversary of his death. The letter is entitled Scripturae sacrae affectus, “Devotion to Sacred Scripture.” Here is a brief summary of the letter:
Jerome had a “living and tender love” for Scripture as a “scholar, translator and exegete.” He was committed to ardent, even impetuous, defense of Christian doctrine, but was also a great ascetic, hermit and “sensitive spiritual guide.”
While originally a great student and lover of classical Latin literature—“an insatiable reader of the Latin classics”—he thought of Scripture as “uncouth and ungrammatical.” However, he eventually experienced a profound conversion and devoted the rest of his life to the study of Scripture for “the greater service of God and the ecclesial community.”
His spiritual journey followed a winding course from rhetoric study in Rome to the life of a monk in Gaul, to the deserts of Syria as a hermit and then back to Rome as a priest, and finally to Bethlehem as a lifelong pilgrim.
In the desert, he encountered God and engaged in “contemplation, interior trials and spiritual combat.”
He was characterized by a “stubborn will to learn” and became an “exegete, teacher and spiritual guide,” motivated to defend the faith and Scripture.
Pope Francis puts it beautifully: “Jerome saw his studies not as a pleasant pastime and an end unto itself, but rather as a spiritual exercise and a means of drawing closer to God.”
He provides some wonderful quotes from Jerome:
“I have the habit of asking questions.”
“The Bible was written by the People of God for the People of God.”
Jerome thinks of himself as “an ancient mariner, the survivor of several shipwrecks, attempting to teach a young sailor.”
“Read the Scriptures constantly; never let the sacred volume fall from your hand.”
Jerome’s life was characterized by two major dimensions:
“An absolute and austere consecration to God”
“A commitment to diligent study”
He is a model for monks and for scholars, inspired by the prophets of old from whom he “drew the inner fire that became a vehement and explosive word, necessary for expressing the burning zeal of one who serve the cause of God.”
Jerome’s zeal for Scripture was matched by his obedience to the Church and his commitment to communion with Peter’s successor, the Pope.
He was renown for his competence in biblical languages, careful analysis of the manuscripts, and his knowledge of the history of interpretation.
Pope Francis insists that every theology faculty should teach the interpretation of Scripture and that every Catholic family should read Scripture prayerfully, inspired by the Pope’s new “Sunday of the Word of God.”
He lauds Jerome’s Latin Vulgate translation of Sacred Scripture as a bridge-building gift to the Latin Church, which should encourage modern translators of Scripture.
The Pope says “For him, study was not limited to the years of his youthful training, but a continual commitment, a daily priority.”
The Letter is a beautiful summation of Jerome’s life and work, a call to love what he loved—namely Sacred Scripture. It is a clarion call to prayerful and diligent reading and study of the Bible for all Christians. What a great tribute to the great Doctor of the Church! Happy Feast Day, St. Jerome!
This week, I’ll be appearing on Johnnette Benkovic’s TV show, Women of Grace, on the EWTN channel. The 30-minute shows will air at 11:00am Eastern and 11:30pm Eastern Monday-Friday. We’ll be discussing my recent book, Light on the Dark Passages of Scripture. If you miss the TV broadcast, you can always watch the shows online on the Women of Grace website. The shows are entitled, “Light in the Darkness: A Look at the Dificult Passages and Themes of the Bible.” Let me know what you think of the shows!
Yesterday, I was on the Catholic Answers Live! show talking about my new book. Callers asked some tough questions about weird biblical passages–Abraham sacrifices Isaac, Jephthah sacrifices his daughter, innocent suffering, etc. You can listen to a recording of the hour here: