Saint Ambrose and Pearl Harbor

First, let’s not forget the brave men and women who serve and have served in our armed forces.  Today we remember especially those who lost their lives on that day that lives in infamy, when we were brutally attacked at Pearl Harbor.  May they rest in peace.

This anniversary reminds us that the world was and is a dangerous place.  It was dangerous in 1941, it’s even more dangerous in 2010.  It was also dangerous in the 4th century, the time of Saint Ambrose.  Today is Ambrose’ feast day.  I think his comments writing to someone who had just become a bishop are very relevant today.  He wrote:

“You have entered upon the office of bishop.  Sitting at the helm of the Church, you pilot the ship against the waves.  Take firm hold of the rudder of faith so that the severe storms of this world cannot disturb you.  The sea is mighty and vast, but do not be afraid, for as Scripture says ‘He has founded it upon the seas, and established it on the waters.’

“The Church of the Lord is built upon the rock of the apostles among so many dangers in the world; it therefore remains unmoved.  The Church’s foundation is unshakable and firm against the assaults of the raging sea.  Waves lash at the Church but do not shatter it.  Although the elements of this world constantly beat upon the Church with crashing sounds, the Church possesses the safest harbor of salvation for all in distress.”

 

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The Fourth Monday of Advent

Mary visits ElizabethIn today’s Office of Readings Saint Ambrose reflects on Mary’s visit to Elizabeth.  Quoting Luke’s Gospel he writes, “as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting the child leapt in her womb, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.

“Notice the contrast and the choice of words.  Elizabeth is the first to hear Mary’s voice, but John is the first to be aware of grace.  She hears with the ears of the body, but he leaps for joy at the meaning of the mystery.  She is aware of Mary’s presence, but he is aware of the Lord’s.”

Ambrose explains that John received the Holy Spirit from Jesus’ presence and Elizabeth received the same Spirit from John.  Elizabeth received the Spirit after John was conceived where Mary received the Spirit before Jesus was conceived.  As Elizabeth says to Mary:  Blessed are you because you have believed.

Then Ambrose speaks to you and me when he says, “You are also blessed because you have heard and believed.  A soul that believes both conceives and brings forth the Word of God and acknowledges his works…..Christ has only one mother in the flesh, but we all bring forth Christ in faith. ”

We all have the opportunity to share the Spirit with others when we proclaim our belief in the Incarnation, in our actions and our words.  And isn’t that the greatest Christmas gift of all?