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I'm In Love With St. Jerome

alec vanderboom

Today, I'm prepping before tomorrow's big Carmelite Feast Day for St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. (The Little Flower, or St. Therese of Lisieux). I was so delighted to discover it was St. Jerome's big day while I prayed my Daily Office. He is wonderful!

There is this special thing that happens with male and female saints become friends together. It can happen among married saints, like Louis and Zelie Martin, St. Therese's parents. (Who I guess are still technically blessed). Yet often this special spiritual friendship between men and women happens in a totally chase way. My own bff, St. Teresa of Avila became friends with contemporary St. John of the Cross. St. Scholastica had her brother, St. Benedict. St. Jerome had his friendship with St. Paula.

As a woman who lives intimately with her husband, I really get jazzed up by this idea that my love, isn't just my lover, my co-parent, my handyman, or a kind person who brings me chocolate and detective novels while I'm stuck in the hospital on bed rest. My husband and I have this buzzing spiritual friendship with Jesus that really produces new insights and new discoveries that I could have never gotten if I always prayed alone.

I love St. Jerome because of his chaste friendship with St. Paula.

I also love St. Jerome for his fiery temper! I am a Scot and I have a Scottish Temper.  You remember the Mel Gibson, "Braveheart" speech where he fires up his rag tag army saying "They will never take our freedom!" I can get just as fiery over my local City Hall's ineffective customer service when I pay my water bill. It does not take much to ignite my inner sense of injustice.

One of the hardest things about becoming Catholic was feeling like I didn't fit this popular notion of Catholic femininity based on Mary, the Mother of God. It could just be my imagination, but I feel like there is this notion that "proper" Catholic women are quiet, soft spoken, demur, and have perfect, flat hair tucked sweetly into their bobby pins.

I love St. Jerome because he is the antidote to all of that fake, surface-only, holiness stuff. St. Jerome is into honest holiness. He lets some things rip, because he cares. He lives passionately for Christ. Sometimes he left people in Rome pissed off because of that passion.

St. Jerome is a talent writer. He's a serious scholar. He's a desert hermit AND a posh city preacher. He was someone who served God.  I'm so grateful that he's a real friend to me.