Saint Jerome…

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…judges Francis’ defense of the Jovinian heresy

  • The question between myself and Jovinian is that he puts marriage on a level with virginity, while I make it inferior

Certain persons find fault with me because in the books which I have written against Jovinian I have been excessive (so they say) in praise of virginity and in depreciation of marriage; and they affirm that to preach up chastity till no comparison is left between a wife and a virgin is equivalent to a condemnation of matrimony. If I remember aright the point of the dispute, the question at issue between myself and Jovinian is that he puts marriage on a level with virginity, while I make it inferior; he declares that there is little or no difference between the two states, I assert that there is a great deal. (Saint Jerome. Letter XLVIII to Pammachius, 2)

  • Jovinian was condemned because he dared to set matrimony on an equality with perpetual chastity

Finally, a result due under God to your agency, he [Jovinian] has been condemned because he has dared to set matrimony on an equality with perpetual chastity. Or, if a virgin and a wife are to be looked on as the same, how comes it that Rome has refused to listen to this impious doctrine? A virgin owes her being to a man, but a man does not owe his to a virgin. There can be no middle course. Either my view of the matter must be embraced, or else that of Jovinian. If I am blamed for putting wedlock below virginity, he must be praised for putting the two states on a level. If, on the other hand, he is condemned for supposing them equal, his condemnation must be taken as testimony in favor of my treatise. (Saint Jerome. Letter XLVIII to Pammachius, 2)

  • Gold is more precious than silver, virginity more than marriage

We are not ignorant that ‘marriage is honorable …and the bed undefiled.’ (Heb 13:4) We have read the first decree of God: ‘Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.’ (Gen 1:28) But while we allow marriage, we prefer the virginity which springs from it. Gold is more precious than silver, but is silver on that account the less silver? Is it an insult to a tree to prefer its apples to its roots or its leaves? Is it an injury to corn to put the ear before the stalk and the blade? As apples come from the tree and grain from the straw, so virginity comes from wedlock. (Saint Jerome. Letter XLVIII to Pammachius, 2)

  • In a proportion of fruit, matrimony represents 30%, widowhood 70% and virginity 100%

Yields of one hundredfold, of sixtyfold, and of thirtyfold may all come from one soil and from one sowing, yet they will differ widely in quantity. The yield thirtyfold signifies wedlock […] . The yield sixtyfold refers to widows who are placed in a position of distress and tribulation. […]. Moreover, a hundred indicates the crown of virginity.” (Jerome, Adv. Jov. I, 3) (Saint Jerome. Letter XLVIII to Pammachius, 2)

  • I speak of marriage as silver and do not condemn it, but call virginity gold

Does a man who speaks thus, I would ask you, condemn marriage? If I have called virginity gold, I have spoken of marriage as silver. I have set forth that the yields an hundredfold, sixtyfold, and thirtyfold-all spring from one soil and from one sowing, although in amount they differ widely. Will any of my readers be so unfair as to judge me, not by my words, but by his own opinion? At any rate, I have dealt much more gently with marriage than most Latin and Greek writers; who, by referring the hundredfold yield to martyrs, the sixtyfold to virgins, and the thirtyfold to widows, show that in their opinion married persons are excluded from the good ground and from the seed of the great Father. (Saint Jerome. Letter XLVIII to Pammachius, 3)

  • Marriage and virginity is a gift of God, but there is a great difference between gift and gift

Can one who declares that it is a precept of the Lord that wives should not be put away, and that what God has joined together man must not, without consent, put asunder (Mt 19:6) -can such an one be said to condemn marriage? Again, in the verses which follow, the apostle says: “But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.” (1 Cor 7:7) In explanation of this saying we made the following remarks: (Ag. Jov. I.8) “What I myself would wish, he says, is clear. But since there are diversities of gifts in the church, (1 Cor 12:4) I allow marriage as well, that I may not appear to condemn nature. Reflect, too, that the gift of virginity is one thing, that of marriage another. For had there been one reward for married women and for virgins he would never, after giving the counsel of continence, have gone on to say: `But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner and another after that.’ Where each class has its proper gift, there must be some distinction between the classes. I allow that marriage, as well as virginity, is the gift of God, but there is a great difference between gift and gift. (Saint Jerome. Letter XLVIII to Pammachius, 4)

  • The difference between marriage and virginity is that between what is good and what is still better

At the end, also, of our comparison of virgins and married women we have summed up the discussion thus: (Ag. Jov. I.13) ‘When one thing is good and another thing is better; when that which is good has a different reward from that which is better; and when there are more rewards than one, then, obviously, there exists a diversity of gifts. The difference between marriage and virginity is as great as that between not doing evil and doing good-or, to speak more favorably still, as that between what is good and what is still better.’ (Saint Jerome. Letter XLVIII to Pammachius, 7)

  • Virgins are the first fruits unto God, then widows and wives who live in continence

Again, when I adduce evidence from the Apocalypse (Ag. Jov. I.40) is it not clear what view I take concerning virgins, widows, and wives? “These are they who sing a new song (Rev 14:3) which no man can sing except he be a virgin. These are `the first fruits unto God and unto the Lamb’ (Rev 14:4), and they are without spot. If virgins are the first fruits unto God, then widows and wives who live in continence must come after the first fruits-that is to say, in the second place and in the third” (Ag. Jov. I.40) We place widows, then, and wives in the second place and in the third, and for this we are charged by the frenzy of a heretic with condemning marriage altogether. (Saint Jerome. Letter XLVIII to Pammachius, 10)

  • I praise marriage, but it is because they give virgins to espouse the Lord

I praise wedlock, I praise marriage, but it is because they give me virgins. I gather the rose from the thorns, the gold from the earth, the pearl from the shell. ‘Doth the plowman plow all day to sow?’ (Is 28:24) Shall he not also enjoy the fruit of his labor? Wedlock is the more honored, the more what is born of it is loved. Why, mother, do you grudge your daughter her virginity? She has been reared on your milk, she has come from your womb, she has grown up in your bosom. Your watchful affection has kept her a virgin. Are you angry with her because she chooses to be a king’s wife and not a soldier’s? She has conferred on you a high privilege; you are now the mother-in-law of God. (Saint Jerome. Letter XXII to Eustochium, 20)

  • Whether you like it or not, the Church subordinates marriage to virginity

For the Church does not condemn marriage, but only subordinates it. It does not reject it altogether, but regulates it, knowing (as I have said above) that ‘in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor and some to dishonor. If a man, therefore, purge himself …he shall be a vessel unto honor meet …and prepared unto every good work.’“ (2 Tim. 20:2, Tim. 2:21) I listen with gladness, I say here, to every word said by the apostle in praise of marriage. Do I listen with gladness to the praise of marriage, and do I yet condemn marriage? The Church, I say, does not condemn wedlock, but subordinates it. Whether you like it or not, marriage is subordinated to virginity and widowhood. Even when marriage continues to fulfil its function, the Church does not condemn it, but only subordinates it; it does not reject it, but only regulates it. It is in your power, if you will, to mount the second step of chastity. (I.e. continence in marriage) Why are you angry if, standing on the third and lowest step, you will not make haste to go up higher? (Saint Jerome. Letter XLVIII to Pammachius, 11)

  • Virginity is described by Saint Ambrose as a means of recommending continence, marriage as a remedy for incontinence

What I have said about virginity and marriage diffusely, Ambrose has stated tersely and pointedly, compressing much meaning into a few words. Virginity is described by him as a means of recommending continence, marriage as a remedy for incontinence. And when he descends from broad principles to particular details, he significantly holds out to virgins the prize of the high calling, yet comforts the married, that they may not faint by the way. While eulogizing the one class, he does not despise the other. Marriage he compares to the barley bread set before the multitude, virginity to the body of Christ given to the disciples. There is much less difference, it seems to me, between barley and fine corn than between barley and the body of Christ. Finally, he speaks of marriage as a hard burden, to be avoided if possible, and as a badge of the most unmistakable servitude. He makes, also, many other statements, which he has followed up at length in his three books “On Virgins.” (Saint Jerome. Letter XLVIII to Pammachius, 14)

  • Virginity must be freely embraced, lest it seem that wedlock is condemned

‘Concerning virgins,’ says the apostle, ‘I have no commandment of the Lord.’ (1 Cor 7: 25) Why was this? Because his own virginity was due, not to a command, but to his free choice. […] Why then has he no commandment from the Lord concerning virginity? Because what is freely offered is worth more than what is extorted by force, and to command virginity would have been to abrogate wedlock. It would have been a hard enactment to compel opposition to nature and to extort from men the angelic life; and not only so, it would have been to condemn what is a divine ordinance. (Saint Jerome. Letter XXII to Eustochium, 20)

  • Tertullian, Saint Cyprian, Pope Saint Damasus and Saint Ambrose wrote with eloquence regarding virginity

How great inconveniences are involved in wedlock and how many anxieties encompass it I have, I think, described shortly in my treatise-published against Helvidius – on the perpetual virginity of the blessed Mary. It would be tedious to go over the same ground now; and any one who pleases may draw from that fountain. […] If you want to know from how many vexations a virgin is free and by how many a wife is fettered you should read Tertullian “to a philosophic friend,” and his other treatises on virginity, the blessed Cyprian’s noble volume, the writings of Pope Damasus (cf. ML vol 13, col. 347-418) in prose and verse, and the treatises recently written for his sister by our own Ambrose. (ML vol 16, col. 187) In these he has poured forth his soul with such a flood of eloquence that he has sought out, set forth, and put in order all that bears on the praise of virgins. (Saint Jerome. Letter XXII to Eustochium, 22)

…judges Francis’ idea that the Orthodox are no longer schismatics

  • There is no schism that does not invent a heresy to justify its distancing from the Church

Between heresy and schism this must be observed: heresy perverts the dogma, while schism, through episcopal rebellion, separates from the Church. […] Nevertheless, there is no schism that does not invent a heresy along with it to justify its distancing from the church. (Saint Jerome. Commentaries on the Letter of Saint Paul to Titus, Book I, c. 3, no. 10 – PL 26:598)

…judges Francis’ idea on conversion of the papacy

  • When a head has been appointed, there may be no occasion for schism

One among the Twelve is chosen so that when a head has been appointed, there may be no occasion for schism. (Saint Jerome. Against Jovinianus, Book I, 26)

…judges Francis’ idea on John the Baptist doubting the Messiah

  • The name ‘John’ means the grace of the Lord: John the Baptist searched into the reason and nature of things and kept himself for the coming of Christ

‘Whose name was John.’ (Jn 1:6) In his name, one senses grace for the name ‘John’ means the grace of the Lord. IO means the Lord, ANNA means grace. Whose name was ‘Ioannes’. Truly, he merits the name he bears (pheronumos). Why pheronumos? Because he is true to his name; he has received a very great grace; hence, in the desert, he searches into the reason and nature of things and keeps himself for the coming of Christ. Because he was to announce Christ, from day to day, he is fed in the desert; there, from day to day, he grows. He has no desire to converse with men; in the wilderness, he communes with the angels. John had always known that Christ would come. Not only had he known Him from infancy, but when he was in the womb of his mother, he had recognized Christ and had already greeted Him. It is written if fact: ‘the babe in the womb leapt for joy.’ Just think, as he was being formed in his mother’s womb, he perceived the advent of the Lord! […] Right after his birth, he lives in the wilderness; he is reared in the wilderness; there, he waits for Christ. He was waiting for Christ, he knew that he would come, and hence his eyes did not deign to contemplate anything else. (Saint Jerome. Homilies of Saint Jerome, Homily 87 on the Gospel of John, 1:1–14, Volume 2, pg. 212)

  • John the Baptist had the reward of baptizing his own Lord, and an increase of merits. He is called an “angel” not by participating in their nature, but by the dignity of his office

John is greater than the other prophets in that the one whom they had predicted as coming, he pointed out with his finger as having come, when he said: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world.” (Jn 1:29) And because in addition to the privilege of being his prophet there also came to the Baptist the reward of baptizing his own Lord, he then adds an auxésis [increase] of merits, producing the testimony from Malachi in which even the angel is predicted. Now here we should not think that John is called an “angel” as one who participates in their nature, but by the dignity of his office, namely, that of messenger. For he brought the message that the Lord was coming. (Saint Jerome. Commentary on Matthew. Book Two, ch.11, [11:8] pg. 129130)

  • Jesus revealed to the crowd that John the Baptist had not doubted in him

“Blessed is he who is not scandalized in me”, had been brought forth against John, as many think, how is it that now John is preached with such great praises? Rather, it was because the crowd standing around was not aware of the mystery of [John’s] question. They thought that John was in doubt about the Christ, whom he himself had pointed out. Therefore, in order that they might understand that John had asked not for himself but for his disciples, he says: “Why did you go out into the desert?” Surely it was not to see a man who is borne about by every wind like a reed, and that wavers with a fickleness of mind concerning the one whom he had previously predicted? (Saint Jerome. Commentary on Matthew. Book Two, ch. 11, [11:7] pg. 129–130)

  • Jesus revealed to the crowd that John the Baptist had not doubted in him

“Blessed is he who is not scandalized in me”, had been brought forth against John, as many think, how is it that now John is preached with such great praises? Rather, it was because the crowd standing around was not aware of the mystery of [John’s] question. They thought that John was in doubt about the Christ, whom he himself had pointed out. Therefore, in order that they might understand that John had asked not for himself but for his disciples, he says: “Why did you go out into the desert?” Surely it was not to see a man who is borne about by every wind like a reed, and that wavers with a fickleness of mind concerning the one whom he had previously predicted? (Saint Jerome. Commentary on Matthew. Book Two, ch. 11, [11:7] pg. 129–130)

  • The disciples of John had caustic feelings toward the Lord that sprang from resentment and envy

An earlier question also demonstrated, however, that the disciples of John were puffed up against the Lord. They had caustic feelings toward him that sprang from resentment and envy. The evangelist reports: “Why do we and the Pharisees often fast, but your disciples do no fast?” (Saint Jerome. Commentary on Matthew. Book Two, ch. 11 [11:1–2] pg. 128)

  • John sent his disciples to Christ so that seeing the miracles they believe in Him. He did not ignore the answer to their question: he had heard the Father’s voice thundering: ‘This is my beloved Son’

But when John heard in prison of the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples to say to him: “Are you he who is to come, or do we wait for another?” He asks, but not as one who is ignorant of the answer. For he had pointed him out to others who did not know about him when he said: “Behold the I am of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. (Jn 1:29) Also, he had heard the voice of the Father, thundering: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” (Mt 3:17) Rather, it is just as when the Savior asks where Lazarus has been laid. He did this so that those who pointed out the location of the tomb would at least be thus prepared for faith and see the dead man rising. (cf. Jn 11:34) Thus, when John was about to be killed by Herod, he sends his disciples to Christ, so that on this occasion, when they see the signs and miracles, they may believe in him and, with their teacher asking, learn for themselves. (Saint Jerome. Commentary on Matthew. Book Two, ch. 11 [11:1–2], pg. 128–129)

…judges Francis’ idea that Koran is a book of peace

  • Those of ‘good will’ are those who acknowledge the birth of Christ

Notice what the Gospel says. In Heaven, where there is no discord, glory rules; on earth, where every day is warfare, peace prevails. On earth peace. Peace among whom? Among men. Why are the Gentiles without peace; why, too, the Jews? That is exactly the reason for the qualification: Peace among those of good will, among those who acknowledge the birth of Christ. (Saint Jerome. Homily 88: on the Nativity of Our Lord)

…judges Francis’ idea on human suffering

  • The expelling of the merchants from the temple was one of the most wonderful miracles of the Lord

Among all the miracles wrought by our Lord, this seems to me the most wonderful, that one man, and He at that time mean to such a degree that He was afterwards crucified, and while the Scribes and Pharisees were exasperated against Him seeing their gains thus cut off, was able by the blows of one scourge to cast out so great a multitude. Surely a flame and starry ray darted from his eyes, and the majesty of the Godhead was radiant in his countenance. (Saint Jerome cited by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Catena Aurea, Mt 21:10-16)

…judges Francis’ idea on material charity

  • The wealth of doctrine: the more it is given away, the more it abounds

But it may be understood of the wealth of doctrine: wealth which never fails but the more of it is given away, the more it abounds. (Saint Jerome cited in the Catena Aurea on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Mt 5:38-42)