One of Ambrose's biographers observed that at the Last Judgment people would still be divided between those who admired Ambrose and those who heartily disliked him. He emerges as the man of action who cut a furrow through the lives of his contemporaries. Even royal personages were numbered among those who were to suffer crushing divine punishments for standing in Ambrose's way.
When the Empress Justina attempted to wrest two basilicas from Ambrose's Catholics and give them to the Arians, he dared the eunuchs of the court to execute him. His own people rallied behind him in the face of imperial troops. In the midst of riots, he both spurred and calmed his people with bewitching new hymns set to exciting Eastern melodies.
In his disputes with the Emperor Auxentius, he coined the principle: "The emperor is in the Church, not above the Church." He publicly admonished Emperor Theodosius for the massacre of 7,000 innocent people. The emperor did public penance for his crime. This was Ambrose, the fighter, sent to Milan as Roman governor and chosen while yet a catechumen to be the people's bishop.
There is yet another side of Ambrose—one which influenced Augustine of Hippo, whom Ambrose converted. Ambrose was a passionate little man with a high forehead, a long melancholy face, and great eyes. We can picture him as a frail figure clasping the codex of sacred Scripture. This was the Ambrose of aristocratic heritage and learning.
Augustine found the oratory of Ambrose less soothing and entertaining but far more learned than that of other contemporaries. Ambrose's sermons were often modeled on Cicero, and his ideas betrayed the influence of contemporary thinkers and philosophers. He had no scruples in borrowing at length from pagan authors. He gloried in the pulpit in his ability to parade his spoils—"gold of the Egyptians"—taken over from the pagan philosophers.
His sermons, his writings and his personal life reveal him as an otherworldly man involved in the great issues of his day. Humanity, for Ambrose, was, above all, spirit. In order to think rightly of God and the human soul, the closest thing to God, no material reality at all was to be dwelt upon. He was an enthusiastic champion of consecrated virginity.
The influence of Ambrose on Augustine will always be open for discussion. The Confessions reveal some manly, brusque encounters between Ambrose and Augustine, but there can be no doubt of Augustine's profound esteem for the learned bishop.
Neither is there any doubt that St. Monica loved Ambrose as an angel of God who uprooted her son from his former ways and led him to his convictions about Christ. It was Ambrose, after all, who placed his hands on the shoulders of the naked Augustine as he descended into the baptismal fountain to put on Christ.
Ambrose exemplifies for us the truly catholic character of Christianity. He is a man steeped in the learning, law and culture of the ancients and of his contemporaries. Yet, in the midst of active involvement in this world, this thought runs through Ambrose's life and preaching: The hidden meaning of the Scriptures calls our spirit to rise to another world.
"Women and men are not mistaken when they regard themselves as superior to mere bodily creatures and as more than mere particles of nature or nameless units in modern society. For by their power to know themselves in the depths of their being they rise above the entire universe of mere objects.... Endowed with wisdom, women and men are led through visible realities to those which are invisible" (Vatican II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, 14--15, Austin Flannery translation).
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Daily Prayer - 2015-12-07
Dear Lord as I come to you today
Lord you gave me life and the gift of freedom.
To be conscious about something is to be aware of it. Dear Lord help me to remember that You gave me life. Thank you for the gift of life. Teach me to slow down, to be still and enjoy the pleasures created for me. To be aware of the beauty that surrounds me. The marvel of mountains, the calmness of lakes, the fragility of a flower petal. I need to remember that all these things come from you.
The Word of God
Reading 1 Is 35:1-10
The desert and the parched land will exult;
Responsorial Psalm PS 85:9ab and 10, 11-12, 13-14
R. (Isaiah 35:4f) Our God will come to save us!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 5:17-26
One day as Jesus was teaching,
Some thoughts on today's scripture
What is stirring in me as I pray?
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Meditation: Luke 5:17-26
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Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Memorial)
Rise and walk. (Luke 5:23)
Sometimes it can feel as if our faith is helplessly frozen inside of us. We feel paralyzed spiritually, unable to sense the Holy Spirit or to feel God's loving presence. Not knowing what to do, we can end up spending days and weeks hoping for someone or some situation to lift us up and drop us at Jesus' feet.
In today's Gospel reading, we find someone in just the opposite situation. This man may not have been able to move his body, but his faith—along with the faith of his friends—was alive and well. It was powerful enough, in fact, to move him to take drastic measures just so that he could get to Jesus. That faith moved them to carry their friend through the streets of Capernaum all the way to the house where Jesus was preaching.
That faith also helped them overcome any embarrassment they might have felt as they saw that they would have to push their way through a large group of Pharisees and teachers who had come from all over the area to hear Jesus.
Most important, though, their faith kept them from turning around in discouragement when they saw that the house was too full to accommodate them. Instead, it inspired them to climb onto the roof and lower their friend down into the house so that he landed at Jesus' feet. Now that's faith!
If this paralyzed man and his friends have anything to teach us, it's that faith is far from passive. There is a big difference between the kind of faith that accepts the truths of our creed and the kind of faith that propels us to acts of trust even when we don't feel anything!
In the Church today, the Holy Spirit is renewing the gift of healing. Priests and laypeople alike are being raised up to pray with people who are sick—and we are seeing real healings come from these prayers. That's why Jesus wants to help us increase our faith. He wants to see us pray for the sick and pray for conversions for those who have lost their faith. May we all find the courage to say, "Rise and walk!"
"Father, I believe in you. I put my hope in you. I will push forward today even as I face obstacles. Help me to walk by faith today."
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The Prophet Isaiah was saying a prophecy, but at the same time it is an exhortation for us to do the will of the Lord. When we were gathering to do a healing prayer at the church this year, I would ask for a prophecy from each one as we huddled together. The words can seem vague but you know they can apply to you. I remember once I said something like "Jesus is hurting", and the question is, "who is hurting Him?". We can blame things or each other, but we really have to look in the mirror...who is it that is hurting Him? And so we have the Word of God today exhorting "Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak" as if to say give each other a hand, show the love of God, and help those that can't use their knees, in prayer, in supplication, in adoration of the Lord our Father! "Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not!" Again and again our Lord says in the bible to not be afraid. People are afraid to come to the Lord. They may act like they are not afraid of anything, but truth is, if you poke them a little, they are more than afraid. And so this is the reason we need Church. This is the reason we need one another, to help us in our fears, to help us have faith, to help each other come to Jesus.
"Our God will come to save us!" This we prayed today. What we should be afraid of is to not come to Him. Yet we are backwards. Something keeps us aloof, something keeps us apart, something keeps us in disaccord, and that something is so awful, that it is possesive. " Justice shall walk before him, and salvation, along the way of his steps." This is an invitation to follow Him, the way of His steps, for we read in today's 1st Holy Scripture "A highway will be there, called the holy way". What then does it mean to be holy? It means to be set apart for Him. We shall be set apart for Him. That is to live for Him and love Him above all, if you want the prince of peace in your home. Let this be a prophecy. Let it be clear, He is coming, and His timing is perfect. So let us be found on the Way. Our God will come to save us, will go to meet Him?
Jesus comes into our lives today by way of the Holy Gospel; a few men, good men, have a friend, a crippled man that needs healing, his knees are weak, his feeble hands need strength, and so the men become the hands and feet, they become one with the cripple, the lame, the poor, the needy, and together they come to Jesus, and when they surpass all the obstacles, the crowds, the buildings which they shoved through, scaled a wall, heaved up the heavy cross, and lowered him through the roof where he would be raised, that's where they heard Jesus say "your sins are forgiven". Imagine, we take one another through life, help one another with their cross, and in the end, are buried, and upon death, to find oneself with the Lord, "your sins have been forgiven". Yet, this only after having being set apart, unlike the crowds, the efforts for salvation were extraordinary, and that is what is being called from us this day. Make extra ordinary efforts for salvation. Don't just settle to go with the flow, but be set apart. You can love Jesus like no other. You can seek Him like no other. You can bring others to Him like no other. And the "others" are everyone that is not you! LOL. It's not about who you'd like to save, but who God brings into your life for salvation. Your children, your neighbor, those you run across day after day, those co-workers that need the light of Christ. Ours is an emphatic race for conversions, for salvations, for reaching souls to obtain life and life everlasting. Don't settle, and don't listen to the temptations of the world, the temptations to be too busy, the temptations to be led into false pleasures, the temptations to be led astray from the truth and the Way. What the world needs to see is extreme holiness, in you, not that person you think needs Jesus, but YOU. You be the hands and feet that care and carry the cross. You be the love of God. You be the compassion, and all things that lead to salvation and that salvation is JESUS, the SON OF GOD. THe one all the bible spoke about and would fulfill. And the bible continues it's love story of the Father and His children, even with a Mother. This is family. This is a calling for a holy family. Who will stand up for the family? Who will defend the family? Who will protect from conception? You will. From this day it's on you and me. We will be strengthened with the body of Christ and we will have perseverance if we so seek it, for the Lord knows to give what is Holy and Good to His children, by way of a cross, and by way of peace. Suffer for Love.
Let the prophecies be fulfilled in your soul!
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