Monday, December 07, 2009

Reflections on the feast of St. Ambrose

Today is the feast of this courageous and holy saint who withstood a bloodstained Roman Emperor (Theodosius) by barring the latter from his church until he had done penance for his sin; he had slaughtered 7,000 of the inhabitants of Thessalonica in retaliation for the assassination in that city of his governing appointee. To resist a fourth-century Roman Emperor was a different matter to resisting a pro-gay, pro-abortion politician in our own time, but with only a few honourable exceptions, our bishops show themselves more timorous in dealing with such pygmies than did Ambrose with the mighty Theodosius.

A bishop truly worthy of the name.

We have lately begun a new liturgical year, and stand almost on the cusp of a new civil year. Melancholicus does not know how many episcopal Sees will become vacant in 2010, but as the world is divided into two-thousand-odd dioceses, apostolic vicariates, prefectures and administrations containing three-thousand-odd bishops (including auxiliaries, titulars and retirees), there are bound to be more than a few vacancies in the coming year. Will many of those chosen to fill vacant Sees pattern themselves on St. Ambrose, or solicit his intercession for their episcopate? Melancholicus is not confident that they will; poor-to-middling prelates seem to be a perennial fact of ecclesiastical life. But if even one of the new appointees would take Ambrose as a model, what a difference it would make to the whole world!

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