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Monday, December 7, 2009

Saint Ambrose Pastoral Doctor of the Church

Saint Ambrose
Pastoral Doctor
Feast Day December 7th
Proclaimed Doctor by Pope Boniface XIII 1295

Saint Ambrose, born around 339, the son of the Roman prefect of Gaul, is the first Doctor of the Catholic Church. Saint Ambrose did not grow up in the church, or in any organized religion. As an adult he began his career much like his father, in law and politics and by 370 he had become the Imperial governor of Northern Italy. He possessed a powerful presence by his words and actions and though not religious, Saint Ambrose was known for his exemplary virtues. God however, called St. Ambrose through the voice of the people of Milan. The Episcopal see of Milan became vacant in 374 and the people demanded that Saint Ambrose become their bishop. After some convincing, Saint Ambrose accepted this call as the will of God and became catechumen Ambrose, was baptized, ordained deacon, priest and finally bishop all in one week. Saint Ambrose immediately immersed himself in prayer and scripture study.

Saint Ambrose of Milan died on Holy Saturday 397 AD. His deep love of scripture coupled with the oratorical skill he practiced to perfection during his early career in law and politics, made him one of the greatest pastoral preachers of the early church.

The following quotes, excerpts regarding the mystery of the Consecrated Host as being the Body and Blood of Jesus, are taken from On the Mysteries, originally spoken to newly baptized Christians around 370 AD by St. Ambrose.

 "Fresh from the [baptismal] waters and resplendent in these garments, God’s holy people hasten to the altar of Christ, saying: I will go in to the altar of God, to God who gives joy to my youth. They have sloughed off the old skin of error, their youth renewed like an eagle’s, and they make haste to approach that heavenly banquet [Eucharist]. They come and, seeing the sacred altar prepared, cry out: You have prepared a table in my sight."

"It is wonderful that God rained manna on our fathers and they were fed with daily food from heaven. And so it is written: Man ate the bread of angels. Yet those who ate that bread all died in the desert. But the food that you receive [Eucharist], that living bread which came down from heaven, supplies the very substance of eternal life, and whoever will eat it will never die, for it is the body of Christ."

"Consider now which is the more excellent: the bread of angels or the flesh of Christ, which is indeed the body that gives life. The first was manna from heaven, the second is above the heavens. One was of heaven, the other is of the Lord of the heavens; one subject to corruption if it was kept till the morrow, the other free from all corruption, for if anyone tastes of it with reverence he will be incapable of corruption. For our fathers, water flowed from the rock; for you, blood flows from Christ. Water satisfied their thirst for a time; blood cleanses you forever. The Jew drinks and still thirsts, but when you drink you will be incapable of thirst. What happened in symbol is now fulfilled in reality."

For devotional Catholic gifts 

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