Spirituality for Today – Winter 2016/2017 – Volume 21, Issue 3

Saint of the Season
St. Ambrose – December 7

A painting of Saint AmbroseSaint Ambrose

Born about 340 into an aristocratic family, Ambrose was educated in Rome, became a successful lawyer and was appointed governor of Milan by the emperor. As a lawyer and governor, he was known for his justice and eloquence. But when the Bishop of Milan died, Ambrose's life took a different path.

The Church was divided over Church doctrine at the time, and both factions wanted power. A riot threatened to erupt, and Ambrose pleaded with the people not to fight, but to elect someone peacefully. To his astonishment, the people elected him. Ambrose, who had not been baptized yet, accepted reluctantly. His first act as bishop was to distribute all his land and money where he felt it would do the most good for the Church and the poor.

The new bishop threw himself into the study of scripture and theology. His eloquent sermons were soon drawing large crowds every Sunday. His preaching even converted St. Augustine, who became a powerful influence in the Church. Meanwhile, Ambrose never lost sight of the poor and helpless, once using his church's treasures to ransom captives of an invasion. When criticized, he argued it was better to "save souls" than to "save treasures."

Conflicts continued to plague the early Church. When the emperor's widow instigated an attack on the basilica, Ambrose and his people barricaded themselves inside. To give them courage, Ambrose prayed and taught them hymns he had composed himself until the soldiers backed down. Ambrose was eventually named a Doctor of the Church for his teachings and writings.

Lord, teach me to seek You
and reveal Yourself to me
when I seek You.
For I cannot seek You
unless You first teach me,
nor find You
unless You first reveal Yourself to me.
Let me seek You in longing
and long for You in seeking.
Let me find You in love
and love You in finding.

St. Ambrose of Milan

For Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary People.