God’s Two Great Books

Memorial of Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Thursday, September 30, 2021

St. Jerome in His Study by Domenico Ghirlandaio

Jerome is best known for his translation of most of the Bible into Latin
(the translation that became known as the Vulgate)
and his commentaries on the whole Bible. 

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19 which Charles Spurgeon, noted 19th century preacher, calls “the study of God’s two great books—nature and Scripture”.

Psalm 19 is a beautiful prayer for this time of year when nature erupts in unparalleled beauty. It is also perfect for this day when we celebrate Jerome who shaped our scriptures into the form we cherish today.

The psalm concludes with a wholehearted confession of faith and hope. It is a prayer all of us long to offer God in the sincerity of our hearts.


Scripture scholar James L. Mays notes that to comprehend this final expression of faith, we must pray with the whole psalm.

  • The psalm is divided into three parts
  • Creation’s testimony to the Creator (vv. 1–6),
  • the incomparable value of the law of the LORD (vv. 7–10), 
  • the human need for divine forgiveness and protection (vv. 11–13).

Two poems and a song captured the flow of my prayer today.

  1. As I pray the first part of the psalm , my spirit is opened to Creation’s power and beauty – an expression of God’s omnipotence and glory.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the firmament proclaims the works of his hands.
Day unto day pours forth speech;
night unto night whispers knowledge.

Psalm 19:1-3

To Autumn – William Blake

Motherhouse Front Lawn – Merion, PA
O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stain’d
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may’st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.
The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust’ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather’d clouds strew flowers round her head.
The spirits of the air live in the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.”
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat,
Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.
The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust’ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather’d clouds strew flowers round her head.
The spirits of the air live in the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.”
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat,
Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.

2. Praying the second part of Psalm 19, I think about the gift of the scriptures, and how I turn to them in all the seasons of my life.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart.

Psalm 19: 8-9

After Her Death – Mary Oliver

I am trying to find the lesson
for tomorrow. Matthew something.
Which lectionary? I have not
forgotten the Way, but, a little,
the way to the Way. The trees keep whispering
peace, peace, and the birds
in the shallows are full of the
bodies of small fish and are
content. They open their wings
so easily, and fly. It is still
possible.
           I open the book
which the strange, difficult, beautiful church
has given me. To Matthew. Anywhere.

And praying the third part of Psalm 19, I hear this hymn echoing in my spirit.

Only in God – John Michael Talbot

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