VATICAN CITY, NOV 14, 2007 (VIS) - At today's general audience, Benedict XVI continued the catechesis on St. Jerome which he had begun last week. Addressing the thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope explained how the saint was "enamoured of the Word of God," and "an eminent doctor in the interpretation of Sacred Scripture."
For St. Jerome, said the Holy Father, the Bible was "the stimulus and the source of Christian life for all situations and for all people. To read Scripture is to converse with God."
"For Jerome, a fundamental criterion for interpreting Scripture was that it should harmonize with the Magisterium of the Church," said the Pope, going on to observe that "we cannot interpret Scripture alone because we come across too many closed doors and fall into error. The Bible was written by the People of God and for the People of God. ... Only in this communion of the People of God can we enter 'with ourselves' into the heart of the truth that God Himself wishes to tell us." In this context, Benedict XVI recalled a phrase of St. Jerome: "He who clings to the chair of Peter is accepted by me."
The Pope went on to indicate how Jerome "did not overlook ethical aspects and often recalled the duty of living in accordance with the divine Word. Such coherence is indispensable for all Christians, and especially for preachers" whose actions must be "in keeping with their words."
On the subject of coherence the saint affirmed that "the Gospel must be translated into attitudes of true charity because the Person of Christ is present in every human being. ... And Jerome makes it clear that 'it is yours to clothe Christ in the poor, to visit Him in the sick, to feed Him in the hungry, to shelter Him in the homeless'."
The saint "also left us a rich and varied teaching on Christian asceticism," said the Holy Father. "He recalls the fact that courageous commitment to perfection requires constant vigilance, frequent mortification (with moderation and prudence), assiduous intellectual or manual work to avoid idleness and, above all, obedience to God."
"Among Jerome's main achievements as a pedagogue we must highlight the importance he attributed to healthy and complete education from earliest infancy, ... and the need for study in order to achieve a more complete human formation. Moreover, a question somewhat overlooked in antiquity but considered vital by our author was the promotion of women, whom he recognizes as having the right to a full education."
The Holy Father concluded his catechesis by emphasizing "the effective contribution" made by St. Jerome "in safeguarding the positive and important elements of the ancient Hebrew, Greek and Roman cultures in nascent Christian civilization."