Saturday, September 30, 2023

The Thunderer

 Today is the feast of St. Eusebius Euphronius Hieronymus, more commonly known as St. Jerome of Stridon, Doctor of the Church. From his work, Against Jovinianus (Book II, section 34), in which he is arguing (among other things) against the notion that there are no gradations in the Church (note, since it might not be immediately obvious, that the last sentence is sarcastic):

The whole account of the land of Judah and of the tribes is typical of the church in heaven. Let us read Joshua the Son of Nun, or the concluding portions of Ezekiel, and we shall see that the historical division of the land as related by the one finds a counterpart in the spiritual and heavenly promises of the other. What is the meaning of the seven and eight steps in the description of the temple? Or again, what significance attaches to the fact that in the Psalter, after being taught the mystic alphabet by the one hundred and eighteenth psalm we arrive by fifteen steps at the point where we can sing: Behold, now bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord: ye who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God. Why did two tribes and a half dwell on the other side of Jordan, a district abounding in cattle, while the remaining nine tribes and a half either drove out the old inhabitants from their possessions, or dwelt with them? Why did the tribe of Levi receive no portion in the land, but have the Lord for their portion? And how is it that of the priests and Levites, themselves, the high priest alone entered the Holy of Holies where were the cherubim and the mercy-seat? Why did the other priests wear linen raiment only, and not have their clothing of wrought gold, blue, scarlet, purple, and fine cloth? The priests and Levites of the lower order took care of the oxen and wagons: those of the higher order carried the ark of the Lord on their shoulders. If you do away with the gradations of the tabernacle, the temple, the Church, if, to use a common military phrase, all upon the right hand are to be up to the same standard, bishops are to no purpose, priests in vain, deacons useless. Why do virgins persevere? widows toil? Why do married women practise continence? Let us all sin, and when once we have repented, we shall be on the same footing as the apostles.