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ST AMBROSE, BISHOP, CONFESSOR, AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

ST AMBROSE, BISHOP, CONFESSOR, AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

ST AMBROSE, BISHOP, CONFESSOR, AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH – MEMORIAL: DECEMBER 7

Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, was the son of another Ambrose, a Roman citizen, and received a liberal education at Rome. Under the Prefect Probus, he was made governor of Liguria and Aemilia, and by his command, came with authority to Milan. When the Arian Bishop, Auxentius, died, the most violent disputes arose among the people about a choice of a successor.

“AMBROSE, BISHOP”

Ambrose came to the church in his official capacity, and urged upon the contending factions, in a long and powerful speech, the necessity of keeping the public peace, whereupon a child suddenly cried out “Ambrose, Bishop,” and the whole assembly took it up and unanimously called for his election. Whereupon he was baptised (for he was still a catechumen) and was admitted to sacred orders. Having ascended all the degrees of orders as prescribed by the Church, he was raised to the rank of Bishop.

DEFENDER OF THE TRUTH

In this office he strenuously defended Catholic truth and the Church’s laws, not only by word, but also in his writings. He converted to the true faith many Arians and other heretics, among whom he begot St Augustine in Jesus Christ. Having borne so many labours and cares for the Church of God, he died on the day before the Nones of April in the year 397.

PRAYER:

O God, you who have given blessed Ambrose to your people as a help for eternal salvation, grant, we beseech you, that we may be worthy to have him as our intercessor in heaven whom we have had as a teacher of life on earth.

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 

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SS. NAZARIUS AND CELSUS, MARTYRS

SS. NAZARIUS AND CELSUS, MARTYRS

SS. NAZARIUS AND CELSUS, MARTYRS – MEMORIAL: JULY 28

Nazarius, baptised by the Pope St Linus, when he went into Gail, there baptised a boy named Celsus, whom he had first instructed in Christian doctrine. Afterwards they both went to Milan, where they spread the faith of Christ and, most courageously confessing Christ to be God, were beheaded by the prefect Anolinus. Their bodies were discovered by St Ambrose.

VICTOR I, POPE AND MARTYR

On the same day is commemorated Pope St Victor, who governed the Church in the time of the Emperor Severus. He confuted Theodotus Coriarius and wrote on the question of Easter. Crowned with martyrdom, he was buried on Vatican hill on the fifth day before the Calends of August.

INNOCENT I, POPE AND CONFESSOR 

On the same day there is recalled Pope St Innocent who, after condemning Pelagius and Caelestius, issued a decree against their heresy. His body was buried in the cemetery called “Ad Ursum pileatum” (Bear with the Cap).

PRAYER:

May the martyrdom of your Saints, Nazarius, Celsus, Victor and Innocent, give us courage, O Lord, and may it give us a help to counter-balance our weakness. Through our Lord…

From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 

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NEITHER TIME NOR PLACE COULD KEEP AWAY THE MULTITUDE FROM JESUS (ON Lk 5:5-11)

NEITHER TIME NOR PLACE COULD KEEP AWAY THE MULTITUDE FROM JESUS (ON Lk 5:5-11)

On Luke 5:1-11 (for this Gospel reading, please click here.)

Since the Lord bestowed health upon so many, no matter what their disease, neither time nor place could keep back the multitude of those who wished to be healed.

Evening fell, and still they followed him; he came to the borders of the lake, and still they pressed on; therefore, the Lord went up into Peter’s boat. This is the ship which, according to Matthew, is still tossing about in the sea, but according to Luke it is filled with fishes.

From this we learn how in the beginning the Church was tossed about by storms, but afterwards was filled to overflowing. The fish signify men swimming through the waters of this life. In the ship of Matthew, Christ sleeps in the midst of his disciples, in the ship of Luke he gives commands; for he sleeps with the lukewarm, but watches with the perfect.

– St Ambrose, Bishop, Book 4 on Luke, Ch. 5, from: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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“WITHOUT SHOES, WITHOUT BREAD, WITHOUT MONEY” – ON LUKE 9:1-6

“WITHOUT SHOES, WITHOUT BREAD, WITHOUT MONEY” – ON LUKE 9:1-6

At that time: Having summoned the twelve apostles, Jesus gave them power and authority over all the devils, and to cure diseases. And so forth. Luke 9:1-6

Homily of St Ambrose, Bishop

What kind of man he should be, who preaches the kingdom of God, is clearly shown by the precepts given in the Gospel. He is to set off without staff, without packet, without shoes, without bread, without money; that is to say, not seeking the support of this world’s goods, but strong in faith, he is to consider that the less he wishes such things, the more they will abound.

Now we can, if we will, so interpret these things that this passage seems to bear a spiritual sense alone. For a man would seem to have stripped himself, as it were, of a bodily garment, when he has not only rejected power and despised wealth, but has, moreover, renounced the alluring pleasures of his own flesh.

To men such as these is given in the first place a general commandment of peace and stability, that they bring peace, that they be steady in conduct and observe the laws laid down for guests. For it does not become a preacher of the kingdom of heaven to be always going from house to house abusing the enviolate laws of hospitality.

The laws and the benefits of hospitality

But as the disciples are told to be grateful for hospitality, so also they are told when they are not received, to shake off the dust of that city and depart.

We are further taught that the reward of hospitality is no small good, since not only do we bring peace to our hosts, but if they are under the shadow of some faults of earthly vanity, they are removed when they entertain apostolic preachers.

And it is not without reason that, according to Matthew, the apostles are told to make a careful choice of the house they are to enter, that there may be no reason to change their host and thus break the ties of hospitality. But the same caution is not commanded the host, lest, in selecting his guest, his hospitality should be lessened.

The inner meaning of heavenly mystery

Yet, as in its literal sense, this passage instructs us concerning the sacred rites of hospitality, so also does it charm us with its inner meaning of heavenly mystery.

Now, when the house is chosen, a worthy host is sought for. Let us see whether this does not signify that the Church and Christ are to be preferred above all others.

What house is more fit to receive the apostolic preacher than the Church? Or who is more worthy of our choice than Christ who is accustomed to wash the feet of his guests, and does not allow those whom he has received into his house to remain there with unclean feet; but though their life is defiled, he deigns to cleanse them? This is the one host, from whom no man should depart nor seek a change of roof. And to him it is well said: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we believe.”

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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THE WORKS OF THE LORD IN HIS HUMAN NATURE ARE A MANIFESTATION OF HIS DIVINITY (LK 4:23-30)

Homily of St Ambrose on Luke 4:23-30

No mean degree of envy was that which led these men to turn what should have been a reason for love into an occasion of bitter hatred, unmindful of the charity due to a fellow-citizen.

In this passage it is shown both by example and by word that, if you envy the fruits of virtue in other men, you will look in vain for the assistance of heavenly mercy. For the Lord is a despiser of the envious; and from those who persecute other men for possessing divine benefits, he turns away the wonders of his power. For the works of the Lord in his human nature are a manifestation of his divinity; and the invisible things of them are shown to us by means of those that are visible.

Envy of another’s spiritual benefits

Not without reason, therefore, does the Saviour excuse himself, that he worked miracles of his power in his own country; lest perchance anyone should consider that we ought to think lightly of affection for one’s own country. Indeed it was impossible for him not to love his fellow-citizens, since he loved all men; but it was they themselves who, in giving way to envy, forfeited the love due to fellow-citizens.

In truth I say to you: there were many widows in the days of Elia. Not that the days belonged to Elia, but that they were the days in which Elia worked; or that Elia made day appear to them who saw in his works the light of spiritual grace, and were converted to the Lord. And, therefore, heaven was opened to those who saw eternal and divine mysteries; it was shut and there was a famine when there was no longer an abundance of the knowledge of God. But of this we spoke more fully when we wrote concerning widows.

Heaven was opened to those who saw eternal and divine mysteries

“And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Eliseus, the Prophet; and none of them was cleansed but only Naaman, the Syrian.” By these words the Lord and Saviour clearly teaches and exhorts us to be zealous in our reverence for divine things: because no one is shown to be made whole and have his body freed from the defilements of disease, except the man who seeks to be healed through the performance of religious duties.

For, God does not bestow his blessings on the slothful, but on those who observe his commandments. In another book we said of that widow to whom Elia was sent, that she was set as a type that prefigured the Church. The people gathered together and formed the Church, that other people might follow what had been gathered together out of strange nations.

The people that before were leprous, the people that before were defiled, as soon as they had been baptised with the mystic waters, as soon as they had been washed from the stains of body and mind, were now no longer like a leper but became a spotless virgin without wrinkle.

– St Ambrose, Bishop, Bk. 4, on Luke, Ch. 4; from: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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ST AGNES, HOLY BEYOND HER YEARS (BY ST AMBROSE)

St Agnes, virgin and martyr; feast day: January 21

Let us keep with joy the feast of this most holy Virgin, and call to mind the holy passion of blessed Agnes; in her thirteenth year she overcame death and found life,*

Because she loved the only giver of life.

V. Reckoned but a child in years, she understood more than the ancients.

From the book of St Ambrose, Bishop, on Virgins

This is a virgin’s birthday; let us then follow the example of her chastity. It is a Martyr’s birthday; let us then offer sacrifices. It is the birthday of the holy Agnes; let men then be filled with wonder, little ones with hope, married women with awe, and the unmarried with emulation. But how shall I set forth the glory of her whose very name is an utterance of praise?

St Agnes was holy beyond her years

It seems to me that this being, holy beyond her years, received the name of Agnes, not as an earthly designation, but as a revelation from God of what she was to be. The virgin’s name is an appellation of modesty.

Her name is an appellation of modesty

I will call her a Martyr; I have praised her enough. Copious is that praise, which is not sought after but is given by others. None is more praiseworthy than she, for whose praise all mouths are fitted. There are as many heralds proclaiming her praise, as there are men who speak of her as a Martyr. Tradition says that she suffered martyrdom at the age of thirteen. Detestable, indeed, the cruelty that spared not so tender an age; but great was the power of faith that could find even children as witnesses.

– From The Roman Breviary, an approved English translation of the official text of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, 1964

 

 

 

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O FOUNT OF MERCY, TO THEE I HASTEN TO BE HEALED

O gracious Lord Jesus Christ, I, a sinner, nothing presuming on my own deserts, but trusting in Thy mercy and goodness, with fear and trembling approach to the Table of Thy most sweet Feast.

For my heart and body are stained with many sins; my thoughts and lips not diligently guarded.

Wherefore, O gracious God, O awful Majesty, in my extremity I turn to Thee, the Fount of Mercy; to Thee I hasten to be healed, and take refuge under Thy protection; and Thee, before whom as my Judge I cannot stand, I long for as my Saviour.

To Thee, O Lord, I show my wounds, to Thee I lay bare my shame. I know my sins are many and great, for which I am afraid. My trust is in Thy mercies, of which there is no end. Look therefore upon me with the eyes of Thy mercy, O Lord Jesus Christ, God and Man, crucified for man; hearken unto me, whose trust is in Thee; have mercy upon me, who am full of sin and misery, O Thou fount of mercy, that wilt never cease to flow.

Hail, saving Victim, offered for me and all mankind on the Cross of suffering and shame. Hail, noble and precious Blood, flowing from the wounds of my crucified Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and washing away the sins of the whole world. Be mindful, O Lord, of Thy creature, whom thou hast redeemed with Thine own Blood.

I repent that I have sinned; I desire to amend what I have done. Take therefore away from me, O most merciful Father, all my iniquities and sins: that, being cleansed both in body and soul, I may worthily taste the Holy of Holies; and grant that this holy feeding on Thy Body and Blood, of which, unworthy as I am, I purpose to partake, may be for the remission of my sind, and the perfect cleansing of all my offences, for the driving away of all evil thoughts and the renewal of all holy desires, for the healthful bringing forth of fruit well-pleasing unto Thee, and the most sure protection of my soul and body against the wiles of all my enemies. Amen.

– Prayer by St Ambrose before Holy Communion

 

 

 

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