Thursday, September 30, 2010

St. Jerome

So, as a part of my aforementioned efforts to "get along" with the saints, I've taken to having these fabulous women pick out for me a yearly "patron saint".  It's really a matter of stepping out in faith for me, and trying to find out if I feel like I'm worshipping mortals, or just more fully engaging in the commuion of the saints in which I profess to believe.  I'm not sure how they do it, whether it's out of a hat, or some random number generator, or some sort of prayer scenario, or what.  But hey, even casting lots is Biblical, so method doesn't really matter to me. 

What matters is the two that they've picked. 

In 2009, I was most certainly not "getting along" with St. Paul.  I was in a place where the man, quite simply, drove me nuts.  "I'm the humblest person ever - be like me, be like me, be like me."  "Sure, I'm 'chief of sinners', but I'm also awesome.  Just look at me be 'all things to all people.'"  What I really wanted to say was, "Shut. Up.  When you wrote these letters, you'd been a Christian, for what?  A few years?  Some of us have been working at this a long time.  Who the heck are you to tell me how to live my faith?"  [Yeah, I know.  I look back at this, and I have no earthly idea how I ever justified this position.  Thank God for grace.] the end of 2008, I started having the sense that God was telling me, "Ok, we're done with that now.  I let you get away with it for a while, but it's time to move past your Pauline Issues."  Of course, I'm already registered for my "Pauline Studies" class on Galatians and I Corinthians, from one of my favorite professors.  And I was excited about that.  But when the Pious Sodality of Church Ladies found me St. Lydia, seller of purple cloth, well that was interesting.  Especially because the attendant verse of the assignment was Acts 16:14: "A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul."  Ever have something happen where you just have to say, "Aw, criminy God, OK.  I'm listening." ??  Yeah, that was me.  And while I wasn't really sure what I was supposed to "do" with a patron saint (I'm still not, really), I can't deny that 2009 was a really good year for me, faith-wise.  Not that I don't still argue with Paul from time to time (respecting and loving God's messengers doesn't mean that you don't occasionally have personality conflicts with them, I suspect).  And not that my life was totally, completely, radically transformed by the notion of having a patron saint.  But it was interesting.

Interesting enough, apparently, to throw my name back in the hat for 2010.  

Now, let's bear in mind that I was registered to take audit Latin this spring, and had been contemplating the idea of a PhD for several months, with Latin as my research language.  Whatevs, right?  But the ladies picked none other than St. Jerome for me this year.  And when I get the email, I, who knows my church history, thinks to myself, "Self, are we talking about the Jerome who translated the Bible into Latin?"  And indeed we were.  Do you ever get the sense that God is looking down at you, winking, saying, "Relax, I've got this all under control?" 

Anyway...I haven't done a much better job of living into this patron saint thing, but maybe that's in part because I'm not entirely sure what I'm supposed to be doing.  But it turns out that today is the feast day for St. Jerome.  I asked a Catholic SuperMom friend of mine what I was supposed to be doing to celebrate such feast days, and she referred me here.  Now, Jerome, it turns out, was super smart, but apparently pretty cranky and crotchety, so there's not a whole lot of, say, recipes or activities.  But the site recommends the following:

  • Jerome had a violent temper and was very strong-willed. He made a lot of enemies because of his temperament. To overcome these faults, he prayed and did penance. His canonization shows us that canonized saints aren't perfect, but have faults just like us. They just worked on them and cooperated with grace more fully to overcome them. What faults do we have that we need to work more diligently on overcoming?

  • St. Jerome was a wonderful spiritual director, especially for women. It is important to have a spiritual director to grow in the spiritual life. Find out what a director can do for you, and make some arrangements for one.

  • The Bible was of utmost importance in Jerome's life and should be in ours. Make a point to read the Bible daily. Jerome was known to say that ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.

Sounds good to me.  And I guess I have three months of 2010 left to focus on this.

Incidentally, I made a really freakin' spectacular dinner, and apple crisp to celebrate.  =)

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