20111207 Memorial of Saint Ambrose, bishop and doctor of the Church (Mt 11:28-30)
My dear brothers and sisters,
Today we are celebrating the memorial of Saint Ambrose(337?-397), Bishop of Milan. He was one of four original doctors of the Church, that is, St. Ambrose ranks with Augustine, Jerome and Gregory the Great, as one of the Latin Doctors of the Church.
Before Ambrose became the Bishop of Milan, he had it all – a successful career as a lawyer, an important position as governor of Milan, and a large estate. He was a very popular political figure and then, he was acclaimed bishop by the people although he was not yet baptized. Within a week, Ambrose was baptized, ordained and duly consecrated bishop of Milan on the 7th of December. As bishop, he immediately adopted an ascetic lifestyle, apportioned his money to the poor, donating all of his land.
St. Ambrose succeeded as a theologian despite his juridical training and his comparatively late handling of Biblical and doctrinal subjects. He is also called the “Patron of the Veneration of Mary”. He laid the foundation for Marian thinking in the West. His spiritual successor, Augustine, whose conversion was helped by Ambrose’s sermons, owes more to him than to any writer except Paul.
Ambrose left many important writings on the doctrines of our holy faith that we would be wise to ponder. Afterwards, he gave everything to the church. He died in 397, at about the age of 57. His memorial is celebrated today the date of his ordination as bishop.
May I introduce my favorite prayer that is attributed to Saint Ambrose, and is also found near the conclusion of chapter one of Anselm’s Proslogion. The title is “A Prayer Seeking God.”
teach me to seek you,
and reveal yourself to me
when I seek you.
For I can not 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.