Friday, December 07, 2007

"I know of no bishop worthy of the name, except Ambrose"

...such at least was the opinion of Theodoret, and Melancholicus would not disagree.

Today, December 7th, is the feast of St. Ambrose, c. 340-397, bishop of Milan and Doctor of the Church. He is most famous for his correction of the emperor Theodosius, who in the year 390 had massacred 7,000 of the citizens of Thessalonica in retaliation for an uprising. After this bloody deed had been carried out, Ambrose would not permit Theodosius even to enter his church, let alone attend the celebration of the liturgy or receive holy communion. By comparison, today’s bishops are afraid to turn away from the altars public figures who pursue lifestyles of manifest grave sin, or who publicly uphold positions at variance with the teachings of the Church. To stand up to a fourth-century Roman emperor was a far more courageous act than to resist the petty politicians of today with their media backers. Theodosius even had the good grace to perform eight months of penance in atonement for his sin; the temporal powers of our time cannot even acknowledge that they have sinned, never mind be willing to undertake penance.

Ambrose also had the distinction of baptizing into the Catholic faith another great Doctor of the Church of late antiquity: St. Augustine of Hippo.

In the pre-1960 Roman calendar, it was also the vigil of the Immaculate Conception, one of the great Marian feasts, which occurs tomorrow, December 8th. The feast of St. Ambrose terminates with the office of none, and this evening’s vespers will be first vespers of the Immaculate Conception.

No comments: