Sunday, December 7, 2014

Saint Ambrose was elected by the 'mob'

To-day is St. Ambrose, (Aurelius Ambrosius) *339, 397†, one of the four Latin Doctors of the early church. Ambrose lived in a time when Arians (anti-Nicene) and Catholics (Nicene) were both active and adversarial in the Church. In those days, Milan was more important than Rome. Auxentius, an Arian, was bishop of Milan and died in 374. An assembly of Christians were to elect a new bishop. Ambrose was the governor of the region, and came to prevent a disturbance. Ambrose was spontaneously elected bishop by the assembly. At that time, Ambrose was not baptised. He went into hiding, but he was discovered. In a week, he was baptised, ordained, and installed as Bishop of Milan.

He is the only early Christian that we have an existing likeness of, see the mosaic in the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio Milan, the church that was first built when Ambrose was bishop as Basilica Martyrum (379-386), it has been expanded several times. In 1943 it suffered aerial bombing.

The saying, ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’ is popularised from his words, “When in Rome, live as the Romans do; when elsewhere, live as they live elsewhere”, and “When I am at Rome, I fast on a Saturday; when I am at Milan, I do not. Follow the custom of the church where you are”.

He said, and wrote, other stuff too:

“Wealth, which leads men the wrong way so often, [should be] seen less for its own qualities than for the human misery it stands for. The large rooms of which you are so proud are in fact your shame. They are big enough to hold crowds -- and also big enough to shut out the voice of the poor! The poor man cries before your house, and you pay no attention. There is your brother, naked, crying, and you stand there, confused over the choice of an attractive floor covering.”

“There is nothing evil save that which perverts the mind and shackles the conscience.”

“It is not from your own goods that you give to the beggar; it is a portion of his own that you are restoring to him. The Earth belongs to all. So you are paying back a debt and think you are making a gift to which you are not bound.”

“God, who preferred the correction rather than the death of a sinner, did not desire that a homicide be punished by the exaction of another act of homicide.”

“Nothing graces the Christian soul so much as mercy; mercy as shown chiefly towards the poor, that thou mayest treat them as sharers in common with thee in the produce of nature, which brings forth the fruits of the earth for use to all.”

“Jesus came as a gentle, humble man. He excludes no one, nor does he send anyone away.”

“If you have two shirts in your closet, one belongs to you and the other to the man with no shirt.”

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