From the Desk of Fr. Nickolai - October 4, 2020
I’m finishing the column this week on the feast of St. Jerome, remembered and honored largely for translating the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin. That alone would have been achievement enough for a lifetime, but he also produced other works.
I recall my own experience with Greek in high school, what painstaking work it could be to translate a sentence or two. How well St. Jerome must have come to know Scripture, through this work — reading the same passage over again in different manuscripts, sussing out the right meaning of an obscure phrase, writing and rewriting.
One blessing I’ve enjoyed for the last several years is praying the Liturgy of the Hours, or Divine Office. Since my ordination as a transitional deacon, I’ve been obliged to pray it every day, although it has not (usually) felt like a burden. I’ve discovered, through sheer repetition, without my making a big effort to do so, that I’ve learned parts of the Office by heart; they’ve become, in a way, part of me.
Every morning begins with Psalm 95, for instance, called the “Invitatory,” since it invites us to prayer: “Come, let us sing to the Lord, and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us.” Every Friday, the last prayer of the day, Night Prayer, uses Psalm 88: “Lord my God, I call for help by day, I cry at night before you.”
“Rote memorization” is not in vogue these days, but I think there’s something to be said in favor of furnishing our minds with good literature, good poetry, and with the Word of God. After all, how many advertising slogans are stuck in our brains, just from hearing them again and again? So I offer this as a small, practical suggestion, inspired by St. Jerome: spend some time with a passage of Scripture, get to know it, take it into your heart so it will always be with you.