Today marks the feast of St. Jerome— a prolific writer, scholar, and friend of lions (he reputedly helped one by removing a thorn from its paw).

He’s also someone close to my own heart. In his youth, my father was a Christian Brother, and was given the name of “Brother Jerome” — a fact I didn’t discover until long after he had died, and my aunt gave me the pocket watch he carried, engraved “Br. J.”

Then, in 2002, on this very day, I joined dozens of other men and their wives for Evening Prayer at St. James Cathedral in Brooklyn, and we began together our journey of aspirancy to the diaconate. Bishop Daily greeted each of us and gave us a copy of the New American Bible. I remembered my father’s connection to the saint of the day, and saw it as a promising sign.

Five years later, to my amazement and wonder, I lay prostrate on the floor of a great basilica for my ordination, while the Litany of Saints was chanted over me, and grace hovered overhead. I heard St. Gregory. And St. Jerome. And I closed my eyes against gathering tears, remembering my father’s pocket watch, which at that moment was resting against my heart, pressed against the stone floor.

Happy Feast Day, Jerome. Happy Feast Day, Dad.

Almighty, ever-living God, you endowed Saint Jerome with a
deep reverence for Holy Scripture, which he loved with all his heart.
  Sustain us ever more with your word and help us to
find in it the source of life.
[We make our prayer] through our Lord Jesus Christ, your
  who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy
  God for ever and ever.

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