What Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, St. Zélie Martin and St. Jerome Have Taught Me About Loving Scripture

Musings for a feast day, highlighting Jeremiah 29:11

Jeremiah 29:11 and 12, according to the New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, is appropriate to reflect upon on Sept. 30.
Jeremiah 29:11 and 12, according to the New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, is appropriate to reflect upon on Sept. 30. (photo: Amy Smith photo compilation; photos via Amy Smith and Unsplash)

When editing a piece about Blessed Franz Jägerstätter last Holy Week, I was struck by this line, an excerpt from a letter the martyr wrote his wife before his martyrdom:

“Even if yet more difficult things should come, all shall someday work out for the best for him that abides in love.”

Upon reading that lovely line, I thought of Romans 8:28, which is a Scripture I have long loved.

How I appreciate that the holy writings of holy people remind us of Scripture. When St. Zélie Martin wrote about the need to “carry on bravely,” was she thinking of Deuteronomy 31:6 or Philippians 4:13 or Mark 6:50? Maybe another verse was on her heart.

A verse that is always on my heart is Jeremiah 29:11: For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

The beautiful verse offers blessed insights into trusting God’s plan and living hopefully. And how the world needs hope right now!

Jeremiah 29:11 has been my favorite Bible verse for years, since my college days when I participated in and led a FOCUS Bible study. 

Living hopefully is rooted in our walk with Christ, as I note in my book: “If we put Christ first in our lives, we are truly living God’s plan for us, our personal guide to hope. That is the purpose of a 29:11 life ... in loving Jesus, we come to understand that God’s plan promises you and me that everything is ‘for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.’”

I reflect on Jeremiah 29:11 in a specific way when the end of September rolls around because of the saint of the day.

St. Jerome, who is celebrated by the Church on Sept. 30, is known for his Bible translation, referenced as St. Jerome’s Vulgate.

Pope Francis highlighted his life and work last year, in an apostolic letter for the 1,600th anniversary of the doctor of the Church’s death.

The Pope noted: “Jerome can truly be called the ‘library of Christ,’ a perennial library that, sixteen centuries later, continues to teach us the meaning of Christ’s love, a love that is inseparable from an encounter with his word.”

St. Jerome, who is famous for noting that “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ,” also advises: “Read the divine Scripture constantly; never let the sacred volume fall from your hand.”

As Pope Francis explained in the same 2020 letter: “A radiant example of this is the Virgin Mary, evoked by Jerome above all as Virgin and Mother, but also as a model of prayerful reading of the Scriptures. Mary pondered these things in her heart (Luke 2:19) ‘because she was a holy woman, had read the sacred Scriptures, knew the prophets, and recalled that the angel Gabriel had said to her the same things that the prophets had foretold. … She looked at her newborn child, her only son, lying in the manger and crying. What she saw was, in fact, the Son of God; she compared what she saw with all that she had read and heard’ [St. Jerome Christmas homily]. Let us, then, entrust ourselves to Our Lady who, more than anyone, can teach us how to read, meditate, contemplate and pray to God, who tirelessly makes himself present in our lives.” Amen!

Sister Scholastica Radel (left) and Mother Abbess Cecilia Snell of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, discuss the recent exhumation of the order's foundress, Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster, in an interview with ‘EWTN News In Depth’ on May 30 at their abbey in Gower, Missouri.

‘Sister Wilhelmina Is Bringing Everyone Together’: Nuns Share Their Story in Exclusive TV Interview on EWTN

On ‘EWTN News In Depth,’ two sisters shared details of their remarkable discovery — revealing, among other things, that Sister Wilhelmina’s body doesn’t exhibit the muscular stiffness of rigor mortis and how the traditional habit of their African American foundress also is surprisingly well-preserved — and reflected on the deeper significance of the drama still unfolding.