St. Jerome and Looking Forward, Not Back

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the memorial of St. Jerome, who both translated, and wrote many works of commentary on, the Bible. He was an avid student and scholar of whom St. Augustine once said, “What Jerome is ignorant of, no mortal has even known.” Less attractively, I have also read that he had a very bad temper and and that some of the letters he wrote were quite vitriolic. However, although swift to anger, he was also swift to feel remorse for his shortcomings.

Having said that, Jerome was a believer that we should not dwell on our shortcomings. We can sometimes get so caught up in our failure to meet our expectations of what we ought to have achieved that we divert our energies and attention from moving forward.

I think St. Jerome’s motto on this is a good one to keep in mind: “Happy the [one] who makes progress daily, who does not weigh what he did yesterday, but makes his resolution for today and keeps it. The holy [one] sets his heart on ascending.”

Each day is a new one. Maybe we didn’t do as well yesterday as we might on whatever it is we resolved for the day – perhaps to be more patient with a frustration at work, or to be more gentle with someone who tends to raise our ire. One response is to castigate ourselves for our weakness, getting worked up at all of the ways we didn’t measure up. Another is to soberly acknowledge our shortcoming of yesterday and treat today as a new day, resolving to do our best as we go forward.